The search for the right event sponsor can be a long, difficult or even grueling task, and the process is unique for every planner and for each type of event. You don’t simply want to accept any sponsors you can find, but rather carefully consider the evaluative steps that will help you in your search. Working these considerations into your event strategy will have a lasting effect on how well each sponsor will fit into your event, how long it will take to establish the sponsorship, and how effective the sponsor will be in terms of partnership engagement and quality.
Money, of course, plays a crucial role for sponsorship and its potential delays. Generally, the larger the sponsor (along with the costs associated with it), the longer the onboarding process will be. In fact, higher budgets can easily take a couple of months of negotiation before the sponsor will commit and transfer the money. To help speed up the process, planners need to be able to calculate event ROI and justify it to their sponsors. For event planners looking to ensure a more reliable budget, especially those who plan annual events, it could be worth investing in session tracking event technology to prove to your sponsors your ROI in a measurable way.
Keep an Eye on Company Size
Smaller companies and larger corporations bring different strengths to the table. In a small company, typically the owner or one of the partners decides whether to sponsor an event or not. This essentially speeds up the process and facilitates the negotiations. Getting to know these leaders, what their company stands for, and what they can bring to your event, are all important facets of the event sponsorship decision making process.
Bigger companies—on the other hand—typically follow a hierarchy and workflow for approval, and quite often your contact person might not have the power to decide over a budget alone. Depending on the number of involved persons, this can take a few days, up to even a couple of weeks in the worst case. Additionally, there are far more opportunities for plans to fall through. Do your best to evaluate which type of sponsor is best for your event, and always have a backup plan.
Perfect Your Pitch
Taking time to really personalize your pitch will pay off in the long run. The more complete the pitch is, the more streamlined the negotiations will be. Be sure to include these key elements for your pitch:
- A careful and comprehensive description of the event, to ensure you and the sponsor can focus on really relevant questions instead of wasting time later trying to figure out basics.
- The reasons why the sponsor should get involved, including attendee demographics (gender, age, industry and title, etc.) and examples of the visibility the sponsor can expect at the event. Additional information about the marital or employment status, as well as regional demographics might also be crucial depending on the type of the event.
- Engaging sponsorship packages and any other details that may be deemed relevant.
Event planners 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. It is always extremely helpful to put yourself in the position of the sponsor to anticipate the questions they will ask you. This will speed up the process and avoid unnecessary pitfalls and roadblocks. It can be helpful to see the sponsor as someone who is investing in your mission and event, rather than simply considering them a cash-cow.
Do you have everything ready in advance like contracts, invoices, asset-lists, etc.? The sponsor might ask you to provide these things even before anything is signed, and if no one has them prepared them, it can considerably slow down the process. It not only puts yourself in a stressful situation, but you will make a very unprofessional impression to the sponsor. CRMs provide great ways to streamline the sponsor outreach and to handle the entire deal-flow. They might include tasks, to-do lists, document management, tracked emails and many more things that help event planners getting things done. The downside is, of course, the steep learning curve that comes with adding in a CRM. Starting early and being efficient pays off. It is time consuming to follow up on every point of contact, but event planners should not make the mistake to hope for a quick sale after the first contact has been established. Set milestones and deadlines, and stay on top of them often.