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Event Sponsorship Strategy for Beginners

Event Sponsorship Strategy for Beginners

We’re only a couple months into the year, how are you doing with your career goals? Whether you’re an event planner, manager, or business owner seeking brand expansion by hosting an event, you HAVE to know about event sponsorship and its value.

As much as I want this post to be about the homemade hot cocoa DIY I’ve been consuming, I thought getting your hands on thousands in sponsorship dollars was more important…for now!

Fortunately, hot chocolate isn’t the only thing keeping me warm in winter. No matter how cold it gets outside, that internal entrepreneurial fire inside me has me up early every single morning tackling emails, phone calls, updating my blog, and creating so much impactful content that is going to transform you and your event business!

Regardless of how swamped I get, I am relentless at helping you understand the power and opportunities that come with finding and creating long-lasting relationships with event sponsors. Many planners or hosts are intimidated at the prospect of finding, marketing, and landing an event sponsorship but for beginners, it’s especially daunting.

Here are a few tips and tools for landing serious cash and brand awareness in the form of event sponsorship.

8 out of 10 event planners, managers, and strategists are overwhelmed by the concept of cold emailing an event sponsor. This to me is mind-blowing! Event sponsorship isn’t easy to obtain but it’s also not that hard either (as long as you know the secret and how to apply them!). 

Sponsorships are a huge part of being successful in the event industry. So much so, that I provide courses, one on one coaching, and a group membership program specifically for creating sponsorship onboarding strategies. Because I can only cover the basics in a blog post, these opportunities to dive deeper are accessible to you.

The word “sales” has the ability to instill fear and wariness into even the bravest of souls, especially when it goes hand and hand with asking for sponsorship. Jampacked with lessons, worksheets, and bonus material, you’ll learn how to sell smarter (not harder) and get step-by-step guidance on everything from creating prospect lists and sales pipelines to putting together enticing sponsorship packages.

Alecia May | Eventistry

Continuing your education is crucial to being able to land your dream event sponsors. For now, let’s get into some of the obstacles that beginners face and how to overcome them.

Choose Sponsors Your Audience Would Support

An event sponsor provides a large portion of the resources and momentum necessary for creating a successful and potentially profitable event. Event sponsors do more than finance. The right sponsor will elevate the authority of your brand and message of the event. But sponsors (especially high-value ones) can be a challenge to win over.

Landing the perfect event sponsor is worth the effort once you understand the impact it will have on your event. The perfect event sponsor reflects your brand and its mission, adds value and attracts your target audience.

The first and more considerably the most important thing to note when choosing your ideal event sponsor is that their brand reflects your values and that of your target audience. Before you pick up the phone or send an email, study your desired sponsors. Would they be supported by your tribe?

Choosing an event sponsor who brings on-brand notoriety is much like selecting a (temporary) business partner. It’s important to be able to share interests and be able to mutually benefit from the event.

Fitting a sponsor’s brand is equally important as them fitting yours. Capitalize on the target audience being brought in by your sponsor. In order to appeal to them–brand alignment has to make sense.

If you land a sponsor with a less-than-perfect brand-alignment, it may provide an opportunity to expand your exposure to an entirely new audience. Exposure isn’t measured solely by attendees. If you really want to get noticed, choose a brand with a strong online presence including active social media.

Uglow explains how one auto company used event sponsorship to change the perception and increase its brand exposure in order to become an authority.

“Even though Hyundai made a good car for many years, the perception in America was that they did not. So they started sponsoring golf tournaments and other prestigious events,” Uglow says. “It’s one of the reasons why Hyundai is competing directly — and even winning in some markets — with Honda and Toyota.”

Your brand can compete in other markets and industries and your business may gain more attention than you ever thought it would. It can be a risk but it may be worth it.

Big Dreams — Realistic Approach

You probably already know of a few brands that align with your brand and event. When you’re picking out who to pitch, though, be realistic of what you can offer in return. While it’s good to aim high, if you’re organizing a smaller or newer event, the bigger corporations will probably be out of your league for the time being.

Don’t let that discourage you, though. There are a ton of smaller independent businesses, many of which fall into the same category and are more attainable. These partnerships are a great way to build connections and they’re mutually beneficial – the smaller brand has the chance to reach a new segment of their target market (which isn’t always easy to do solo) and you get a little extra padding in the budget.

Unless you’re an influential well-known brand, it’s going to be hard convincing massive corporations of the benefits they’ll receive from sponsoring you. Unless, of course, you happen to have the leverage of an offer from their competition!

Finding and Landing Your Event Sponsorship

This is one of the most crucial aspects of your sponsorship process is landing the sale. So, you will have to come up with ready-made and persuasive reasons that will convince your prospects.

Consider the following:
  • Demonstrate how your event or conference will raise awareness and preference for their brand. There are also other corporates offering similar services as your prospects. This point is very important as they also need leverage over their competition.
  • Show how their sponsorship of your event will increase their positive public relations and give their organization a more dominant presence. This is most relevant to companies operating out of a local community that tends to keep to brand loyalty more than a diverse urban area.
  • Establish how your program will include a sales promotion campaign that will benefit the sponsor.
  • Utilize your past record of success or the indices that determine your event will be successful if you are just starting out. Sponsors naturally only want to associate with successes as they are not really doling out charity but also expecting benefits in return.

Another way to find potential sponsors would be to watch your social media (of course). Somewhere along the line, a company of similar values has interacted with your posts or followed you. These are great brands to reach out to and propose a partnership too.

Make Contact With the Person in Charge of Event Sponsorships

Leave behind the good old “Dear Potential Sponsor” emails. Instead, create a custom email for your top 10 sponsors that you want to approach. Each proposal should be as specific to the brand as possible and resonate a genuine desire to connect with them. But, all of this means nothing if it lands in the wrong inbox.

Get in direct contact with the person in charge of sponsorships. Don’t waste a perfectly good email pitch on the wrong staff member. You don’t want to be waiting around for a call, while your strategic email sits in the secretaries “other” folder. This will require a little digging and research, but it’s a little-added effort that makes a huge difference.

Common Event Sponsorship Cold Emailing Mistakes

Before we get into the steps to drafting your email, let’s focus on the uncomfortably common mistakes people make that turn business emails into awkward first impressions.

  1. “Hope you’re well”. You are not reconnecting with your Aunt Sharon looking for her old cookie recipe. This phrase seems harmless but, if you haven’t had a few previous interactions with your desired sponsor, “hope you’re well” is just out of place.
  2. Avoid overusing “I” or “Me”. This is about them and what they offer and why they are a perfect match for the event.
  3. Don’t be too formal. Your tone should be approachable. Your email is meant to land a call, not a sale. Keeping the tone conversational doesn’t reveal sales intentions or put them off.
  4. Don’t copy/paste. If you’re sending out a generic mass email…fuh-geta-bout -it. It went straight into the trash.

Phew! Now that we’ve dodged those failed approaches, let’s look at what actually works.

Drafting the Email

Every email you send will be unique but it will follow the same set of guidelines. Here is your set-up:

A) Be short, but direct. Honor your sponsors time by keeping your first email brief. Anything requiring more than 3 minutes to read or watch becomes “high-risk”. The first contact is your chance to show you know the added value they offer, your need and how they fill that need, and what your business relationship can offer them. Remember, it’s all about mutual benefits.

B) Remain authentic. There’s a specific reason why you want them as a sponsor. Their brand resonates your vision or you have a shared audience, whatever the case may be as to why you believe you’d a perfect fit, make that feel like the reason for the email. So, highlight why you’d be a good match for each other instead of just the fact that you need a sponsor.

C) Position them as an authority by seeking advice that’s relevant to the event. “We understand you to be an expert at _____, any ideas on how we could_____!?”

For hands-on coaching where I dive deeper into what I’ve done to land over $1 million in sponsorships let’s hop on a call or shoot me an email! From sponsors to event marketing, selling out seats and everything in between–together we’ll strategize the ultimate event to up-level your brand and business.

Find an Insider

Landing event sponsorships is my specialty. Along with some serious brand-power they bring along quite a bit of $$$$$. Wondering how I’ve landed millions in event sponsorships over the length of my career?

Well, I can’t spill all of my secrets here, but what I can tell you is that I have made meaningful long-term relationships with my sponsors, they trust me, I trust them and we treat each other like humans! SHOCKER! SO many people put sponsors on a pedestal when they just want to be treated like a colleague. My straight-shooter approach helps sponsors understand the mutual benefits of the event experience.

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Work with me today and I’ll have sponsors on the phone tomorrow!

So, when cold-emailing or calling your dream event sponsors, start with a “Hey, how are you!?” and get to know them and recognize why their brand message aligns perfectly with your event theme. You wouldn’t give away money to someone you didn’t know, right? When they say “it’s who you know”, I don’t typically agree, but when it comes to event sponsors– I’m sittin’ pretty. So, who needs help!? These sponsors are waiting!

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