How to Get Corporate Sponsorship for Your Event

9 March 2016

From the local charity 5k to the world’s biggest, most breathtaking sporting events via corporate conferences, branded venues and fundraisers, it’s hard to think of events without the billboards, banners and branding.

Corporate sponsorship is a huge part of modern events, and securing the right sponsor can be the difference between just ‘pulling it off’ and delivering a legendary event that is talked about for years. Sponsors can lend an event weight and legitimacy, contribute significantly towards costs, and help to secure speakers, venues and further sponsorship.

The world of corporate sponsorship can be difficult to navigate and massively competitive, but we’ve got you covered. Read on for some of our top tips on how to find, approach and retain the perfect sponsor for your event.

1. Understanding Sponsors

Securing sponsorship starts with understanding why brands sponsor events. The main reason is obvious: done right, corporate sponsorship can make everyone money. Measurable ROI is essential for sponsors, so you need to demonstrate how your event can help deliver value by boosting exposure and improving profile from the outset. If you can work in a way of proving event-related conversions and sales lift then the battle is already half won.

If you are running a charity or not-for-profit event then you may benefit from potential sponsors’ CSR programmes. Equally, companies may sponsor events as a marketplace positioning move or to establish relationships with the event host.

2. Research Your Attendees, Know Your Event

To sell your proposition to prospective sponsors you need a handle on your attendee demographics, why they are attending, how the event relates to your own business objectives, and how it could relate to the sponsor’s objectives.

Understanding your audience is key. Scale often appeals to sponsors—larger audiences mean more exposure, more profile building, more opportunities for substantial ROI—but profiling even a smaller audience may create opportunities to offer brands niche captive audiences.

There are many ways of profiling attendees before an event, with one of the most popular being compulsory questions built intoonlinesign up pages. Done properly, profiling your audience will add massive value to your proposal and help steer your sponsor search.

3. Build Your Offering: Sponsorship Levels

Creating a set of sponsorship levels can help with structuring your proposition and upselling both new and existing sponsors.

The scale and scope of your event will help to determine your levels. If you are looking for large-scale corporate sponsors for an event for a large, globally-dispersed salesforce, then your entry-level sponsorship will need to be low only relative to your 'gold' level. Equally, if you need sponsors ranging from smaller local businesses to large multinationals then your levels will need to reflect the budgets available at those organisations.

The key is clearly defined costs and benefits to each level. People need to know what they have to put in and what they can expect to receive in return.

4. Finding the Right Sponsors

Blanket emails and unsolicited calls cost time and money. Projected attendee figures, demographics and motivations, an understanding of the business objectives behind your event, and a sense of how your event could provide an opportunity for a brand to connect with your audience can all help you to hone your search and find the right sponsors.

Dig deep, look for personal connections to potential sponsors within your team, and find out who has sponsored events like yours in the past. Remember, potential sponsors may not be directly related to your event or industry, and could occupy a complementary market—drinks companies sponsoring music festivals is a great example. Use LinkedIn to profile companies and individuals, ensure that your event is relevant to them and their business objectives, and find the decision makers.

5. Making Contact

However you reach out, follow one golden rule: don't make contact with potential sponsors until you have a clear, concise and valuable sponsorship proposition tailored to each individual prospect (one size fits all emails and scripted calls just won’t cut it). Offer them a specific level of sponsorship and the benefits of that level: a projected number of impressions (total number of times that their name / brand will be seen, heard or talked about over an event), projected brand audience across the event, and any other benefits.

You could also include details of the other sponsorship levels available here with the aim of upselling them through your clearly distinguished, well-structured sponsor benefits.

6.Building & Maintaining Relationships with Sponsors

Aftercare is vital for building valuable relationships with sponsors, and will help to secure repeat sponsorship in the future, saving man hours and budget chasing new leads. Send letters of thanks, reports on attendance and highlight the sponsor’s part in your event’s success. Add value by sending photos and figures showing how often, when and where their brand appeared, how people interacted with it, and share some positive quotes from attendees about them. Show them how any concerns they had before the event were addressed positively, ask for feedback, and ensure that you stay in touch moving forward.

The key to obtaining corporate sponsorship is to keep a structured, personalised approach, and not to let the ignored phone calls and emails throw you off. It’s worth sticking with it—the reward is event funding and a mutually valuable relationship between your organisation and the sponsor. Need more help with getting your event set up? Get in touch below via our contact page, we'd love to hear from you.