How Sponsorship Works
In brief, sponsors are companies, organizations or individuals who fund your event, in part or in full, typically in exchange for promotion. Event sponsorship is exceedingly common in the corporate world and is largely considered to be a mutually beneficial agreement. After all, corporate events require a lot of time and money to plan and execute — so knowing how to get sponsored by companies that can help with the heavy lifting can be vital. To secure a sponsorship, you’ll want to break down your process into a few steps:
- Define your event & its goals.
- Determine why companies should want to sponsor your event.
- Imagine your ideal sponsor.
- Research companies ready to sponsor that meet your criteria.
- Make a final list of potential sponsors.
- Pitch your sponsorship to your prospects.
- Secure the sponsorship & build relationships.
What Do Sponsors Do?
A corporate sponsor’s level of involvement depends on the parameters of the sponsorship, the event and the industry, but generally, sponsors provide one or more of the following to event organizers:
- Other resources
Corporate sponsors provide monetary support for the event in exchange for boons like brand exposure, access to attendee data, speaking opportunities at the event or discounted tickets. They may also put their name behind an event for a cause they care about to boost that event’s credibility or draw in their pre-existing audience. In some cases, sponsors may provide other resources in addition to their financial support — for instance, if Pepsi sponsors an event, they may provide a quantity of free beverages. A sponsorship from Intel might include the donation of Intel-powered laptops for the event’s raffle. The depth and breadth of a sponsor’s involvement beyond their signature on a check is determined by the type of sponsorship and the parameters set therein by the event organizer.
What Types of Sponsorships Are There?
There are four main types of corporate sponsorships that you will encounter and secure as an event planner for your company: Financial, in-kind, media and promotional. The type of sponsorship you will want to negotiate with each sponsor will depend on your event’s specific goals and needs. If you are mainly interested in receiving financial support to use in a variety of different manners to support your event, securing a financial sponsorship will clearly be the priority. If you are in need of certain services or goods, an in-kind sponsorship will be the way to go. Take a look at the breakdown of sponsorship types below to help you understand what types of sponsorships you may wish to pursue for your event:
- Financial Sponsorship: The most common type of sponsorship, in which a sponsor offers money to an event organizer in exchange for promotion at the event, or other benefits outlined in their sponsorship agreement.
- In-Kind Sponsorship: An in-kind sponsorship offers goods or services to the event organizer rather than money. These types of sponsorships may be found with venues, food producers or caterers, companies in the digital or tech sectors, or with any company that may offer up their physical products for use as prizes.
- Media Sponsorship: A type of sponsorship born from our ever-advancing digital era, media sponsorships provide publicity, advertising and news or social media coverage for events. These sponsorships are especially beneficial to companies or organizations who may not have the budget for splashy ad campaigns, like nonprofit organizations.
- Promotional Sponsorship: Unlike most corporate sponsors, which are typically larger brands or organizations, a promotional sponsor is an individual with a significant social media following or platform. These sponsors can promote your event to their fan base in exchange for a fee, event tickets, free products, etc.
Does Your Event Need a Sponsor?
Many events could benefit from sponsorship, but it’s important to determine whether you really need to invest the time and effort into securing one for your event. Small, intimate events or events centered around your company’s employees, like training or appreciation events, likely don’t need a sponsorship to be successful. But if you’re planning an event that is larger in scale, public-facing or otherwise significant to your company, ask yourself these questions:
- Is your event very large or high profile? Does it feature sought-after speakers or guests?
- What are your event goals? Would they be impossible to achieve without additional cash flow to your budget?
- Are you aiming to expand your customer base or overall brand awareness?
- Do you need help coordinating a major component of your event, like a venue, transportation, accommodations or catering?
- Is your event the first of its kind? Do you need to build your brand’s credibility in the industry?
If you answered “Yes” to one or more of these questions, congratulations: Your event is prime sponsorship material.
Why Should Someone Sponsor My Event?
As you plan your pitch to potential sponsors, ask yourself: Why should someone sponsor me and my event? Look at your event through your prospects’ eyes. What are the benefits to sponsoring your event that you can play up in your presentation? Possible benefits of sponsorship might include:
- Brand interaction
- Access to attendee data
- Media exposure
- Direct audience engagement
- Brand prestige
How To Find Sponsors For An Event
Now comes the big question: How to look for sponsors for an event? In general, the ideal sponsors for your event will be companies or organizations that share something with your own company, be it an audience, industry or value. When considering potential sponsors, ask yourself these questions:
- Does this sponsor make sense for an event with my stated goals?
- Does this sponsor make sense for an event in this industry? Do we share an audience?
- What does this sponsor add in terms of value? Can they provide a different sector of audience, a much-needed resource, etc?
- Does this sponsor align with our company values and beliefs in its words and actions?
- Does this sponsor understand the value they’d receive via sponsorship of this event? Are they focused on ROI?
- Does this sponsor have a track record of sponsoring events of similar type, scale and intention?
Find Sponsors From Related Events
That last bullet point above is a crucial one: Are there related events you can look to for ideas to add to your potential sponsorship companies list? Find similar events in your industry and see who appears on their list of sponsors. Furthermore, take a look at the benefits those events offer to their sponsors — you may want to take a page from their book and offer similar opportunities.
Ask Your Audience or Look Locally
If you’re wondering how to recruit sponsors for an event, you may not have to look very far: Local companies and organizations are a great resource for sponsorships. These brands are likely already aware of your company and are invested in keeping your local business community thriving. That means they’ll be that much more motivated to sponsor your event.
How to Get Local Sponsors
To secure a local sponsor for your event, you’ll want to follow this roadmap:
- Pursue companies with a big presence in your community.
- Fine-tune your pitch to include personalized references to your shared interests in the community.
- Be clear about the benefits you’re offering and why they should partner with you.
- Be open-minded — you may go into your pitch hoping for a financial sponsorship, but find that the company in question is interested in an in-kind arrangement. Be open to the discoveries these meetings might bring!
- Secure the deal and build upon the relationship.
Try These Tools
Still looking for companies that may be open to sponsoring your event? It could be time to turn to the digital marketplace for help! Try these handy online tools to search for companies that fit your event’s goals, industry, audience and needs:
- LookingForSponsor: Ideal for individual content creators, event organizers and teams of all kinds, LookingForSponsor streamlines the search process by curating a database of companies looking to sponsor, and making it easy to post opportunities looking for sponsors.
- OpenSponsorship: Specific to athletes, teams and sports-related organizations and events, this site boasts over 5,000 active sponsors and athletes.
- Sponeasy: If you’d rather not build a sponsorship deck yourself (or don’t have the design skills to do so), this user-friendly drag-and-drop builder with handy templates is about to be your favorite new resource.
- SponsorMyEvent: If this marketplace for event sponsorships can work for Forbes and TEDx, it can likely work for your event!
SponsorPitch: Proprietary filter-and-search tech helps you discover highly-qualified partners quickly while discarding the ones that aren’t a good fit.
How To Ask For Sponsorship
Once you’ve put in the time to research your list of ideal sponsors, you’ll want to put some legwork into crafting the perfect pitch. Don’t just wing it: Plan in advance, with enough time to polish your presentation and make your sales pitch compelling. You should have your sponsorship details, previous event statistics and analytics, and event plans handy before you walk into the room.
How to Approach Sponsors For an Event
When you first connect with your prospective sponsors, be it via email, phone or in person, keep it concise and compelling. Offer up your elevator pitch for sponsorship, then follow up on your initial outreach to gauge interest. If a prospect responds that they’re interested in hearing more, you’ve officially got your foot in the door and are well on your way to securing your first sponsorship!
How to Pitch a Sponsorship
You’re in the room for your official pitch meeting, and you want to make sure that your deck has everything you need to seal the deal. Here’s a quick checklist of must-have details for pitching your event sponsorship:
- Ticket, registration and/or attendance numbers
- Audience demographics
- Vendor demographics
- Social media data analytics for your company and your event
- Details of the potential sponsorship agreement, including sponsorship levels (like Gold, Silver and Bronze) and sponsor benefits for each
- Timeframe of the sponsorship, from the moment the money is exchanged to the final mention of the sponsor in your post-event follow-up email
- Testimonials from past sponsors, including results, if applicable
How to Promote Sponsors
Promotion is the key to securing sponsors for your event: The higher-quality your promotional efforts, the more likely you are to obtain great sponsors and build lasting relationships for future events. Quality doesn’t just include the quantity of promotions and visibility to your audience — it also includes your creativity, and how successfully you are able to integrate the sponsorship into various aspects of your event.
How to Display Sponsors at an Event
Event banners or flyers featuring your sponsor’s logo, branded booths, “sponsored by” language plastered on every promotional material — these are all tried-and-true display methods for sponsors at corporate events, generally assumed as part of most contemporary sponsorship agreements. With that in mind, there are some more interesting and eye-catching ways to display sponsors at your event. Why not offer some unique benefits or display opportunities to sponsors, like a free booth at your trade show or an agreed-upon number of social media posts promoting the sponsor’s brand? Here are some other creative sponsorship benefit ideas and display ideas to get you started when considering what to offer event sponsors:
- A photo op wall or booth branded with your sponsor’s logo and social media handles
- Mention in your company’s blog posts, social media posts and email newsletters before and after the event
- A sponsor-branded charging station for smartphones, laptops, etc. during the event
- Offer event-related freebies or discounts to customers who purchase the sponsor’s products or services
- Include the sponsor’s logo on all your event’s promotional gear or merchandise
- Branded table centerpieces or floral arrangements throughout the event
- A sponsored lounge, bar, game area or outdoor space
- Prominent sponsor placement on your event’s website, ticketing page, etc.
- Shout-outs to the sponsor’s social media channels during the event’s livestream, radio or TV promotion, etc.
Found a Sponsor? Host Your Event at Earle Brown
Secured your dream sponsorship and ready to book your venue? We can’t wait to host you! Earle Brown Heritage Center’s team of experienced planners are experts in executing corporate events of all sizes, scopes and goals, and we’d be delighted to help you make your next sponsored event a smash hit. Contact us today to learn more about extraordinary events at Earle Brown!