The success of a majority of events depends on sponsorships. Yet it’s surprising how often event organizers make crucial mistakes when attracting sponsors. At SponsorMyEvent, we review dozens of upcoming events every day and many are sent back or are denied to be featured on the our website because they are not fit to be presented to potential sponsors. And many of their pitfalls could have been easily avoided. Here are some common mistakes event organizers make again and again when reaching out to sponsors:
1. Missing sponsor focus
Reaching out to sponsors isn't the same thing as reaching out to attendees. You need to provide tailor-made information for sponsors. I often see sponsorship pitch decks with descriptions that are clearly copied and pasted from an Eventbrite profile. The sponsor is not interested in attending your event; they want to know how much visibility they will get at your event, and that’s fundamentally different from what attendees are interested in. In my workshops and consulting sessions, I always urge organizers to think of their event from a sponsor's perspective, which means looking at the audience and not as a member of it.
All the elements of a sponsorship pitch deck need to be revised and oriented towards the sponsor, paying particular attention to the visibility and added value the sponsor can expect while getting involved in the event.
2. Description hiccups
It is shocking how often I see sponsorship pitch decks with just one or two sentence descriptions, sometimes even from events looking for over $10k in sponsorship money. With a lack of information, sponsors will struggle to think of event organizers as reliable and professional business partners (because sponsorship is B2B). Of course the description texts should remain reasonably short and concise, but the organizer shouldn't forget to clearly highlight why businesses should sponsor the event, instead of just providing basic event information. It's one of the most crucial points in the whole pitch deck.
3. No demographics
Sponsors are business people and therefore are striving to generate a solid ROI or ROO (return on objectives) through sponsorships. That means that they want to bring their brand, product or service in front of the right audience. In this case, the right audience means the sponsor's exact target group. The most fundamental demographics that every event organizer should have ready for their event are the gender, age, income situation and the education level. Additional information about the marital or employment status, as well as regional demographics might also be crucial depending on the type of the event.
Seasoned event organizers will not have any problems when it comes to providing this information to sponsors, but newer professionals many not always think to be prepared. Always assume that the sponsor will ask for these demographics. An event organizer who’s unable to answer these questions will not be a happy camper throughout the sponsor negotiation process.
4. Boring sponsorship packages
Sponsorship has a boring history - and it is still often boring today. Luckily this is changing with a shift in mindset towards interactive sponsorship techniques. An increasing number of sponsors have become aware that they need to be seen as added value for an event instead of being a necessary evil. But how can we avoid boring while organizers still proudly put “logo on the flyer” as an option in their sponsorship packages? Organizers have an obligation to come up with compelling proposals of how to include sponsors and how to add value to their events, while sponsors today have to contribute to the success of the event. This can only happen if the organizers involve the sponsors early on in the event planning process and give them a certain amount of space to develop creative ideas. I have seen some laziness from the organizer side when it comes to going the extra mile when developing compelling sponsorship packages. Coming up with interesting ideas means a lot of brainstorming, as well as the willingness to disrupt tradition and follow new paths.
5. Unprofessional follow up
It's surprising how many event organizers are missing out on the opportunity to sell their event to sponsors by messing up the sales follow up instead of learning how to apply proven sales techniques. Of course it is time consuming to follow up on every contact, but organizers should not make the mistake to hope for a quick sale after the first contact has been established. The bigger the sponsorship is, the longer it will probably take to close the deal. The way to go is to establish a working sales funnel. There are plenty of great tutorials around how to build a sales funnel. As a matter of fact, you should always consider using a CMS to handle your contacts. Setting milestones and a clear schedule for follow-up activities is an obvious choice - yet many organizers neglect these basic rules.
About the author:
Peter Poehle is the CEO and co-founder of SponsorMyEvent.com, the marketplace for sponsorships. He spoke and speaks on various occasions about the future of sponsorship, holds a weekly webinar and consults both organizers and sponsors how to make their sponsorship successful.
Peter can be reached at email@example.com