How to get sponsors for your event: 5 “MUST HAVES” Checklist

27 December 2013
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Are you looking to plan an event this year?

Zco-hanging-sponsor-banner copyOK. Let me rephrase that question…If you’re going to launch an event this year, who is going to sponsor it and how will you sell them on the idea that coughing up their money to bankroll your event is a good idea?

The idea of hosting an event for your business, corporation, non-profit or just for entertainment value is the easy part. Finding and convincing a bunch of “suits” to give you money is a where the real struggle lies. Have you ever heard someone say “so what’s in it for me?” They’re looking for a reason to justify doing as you requested. Whether its money, time or energy, we as humans are always looking for something in return. A benefit that’s comes as a result of our contribution.

Finding event sponsors is just like finding a bunch of buddies to break their backs on the day you plan on renting that U-Haul truck for your big move out of your parent’s basement. In order to get them to help, you have to sell them on the fact that it will yield a positive return. This…for that!

In the following post, I am going to provide you with a checklist of “must have” material that every planner must have ready prior to asking anyone to sponsor an event.

□ a list of benefits that will interest your target sponsor

WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) Businesses sponsor events to either build brand awareness, or generate smoking HOT leads for their sales team. Never has a business sponsored an event out of the kindness of their own heart. When posed with this question, be prepared to have a swift and accurate reply.

THEM: “Why should I sponsor your event?”

YOU: “Last year’s event attracted over 500 attendees. 85% were male college students between the ages of 18 and 21. If I’m not mistaken, that demographic is your target audience. Seeing that I am going to be marketing this event to repeat attendees, it looks like I’m putting your ideal customer at your door step. Is that not something you’d be interested in? If not, (insert competitor) will most likely be willing to fill the role of Title Sponsor.”

You are answering the WHY with a WHO. The audience is one of the most important things to a sponsor. They want to know that their name will be seen by the people who are most likely to buy their product.

□ an answer to the question “Why would someone attend this event?”

Your idea sounds great, the event sounds great, but how do you know people will come? Of course you can’t see into the future, but what you can do, is provide your target sponsor with a well thought-out action plan. Tell them exactly how you are going to promote the crap out of this event using several different platforms. Each media source has been researched, and based on the return analytics, you’re excited about the accuracy of your marketing efforts.

Your passion and excitement for the event is not going to be the answer they’re looking for. A sponsor wants to know how exactly you plan on netting in the promised 500+ attendees that fit their ideal client description. In this instance, the more detailed the plan you share the better!

□ a list of additional sponsors who’ve already signed on

Oh how we love sticking it to our competitors! It’s human nature to best those we view as the enemy. If you are calling bank A, and thirty minutes earlier bank B agreed to be the Silver Sponsor, you can almost guarantee (if your pitch is right) that bank A will be quick to grab that Gold Sponsor position.

But don’t use this tactic immediately! Start your pitch by revealing the associated benefits of sponsorship. Answer the WIIFM. And then, if all of your “sexy” has been wasted on a reluctant target, bust out the big guns!

THEM: “I don’t think we’re interested.”

YOU: “OK sir. Thank you for listening, but I just wanted to let you know that bank B has agreed to be our Silver Sponsor. If you change your mind, please give us a call. The Bronze Sponsorship may still be available. Thanks again for your time.”

□ sponsorship levels and costs

Don’t be too fast to bring up the cost of each level. It’s going to come up quickly in the conversation, but try to redirect the focus to what benefits are associated with each level. One of the coolest things I’ve seen from an event planner, was a photo of the event venue filled wall-to-wall with people. In the image, she had Photoshopped the target sponsor’s logo on the large banner behind the stage, and sent the image to them just prior to making her call. Her target now has a visual reference of what his or her business logo will look like from the perspective of an event attendee.

This simple trick allowed her to refocus the pitch on a “what if” rather than a “how much!”

With FREE tools online like PicMonkey.com, you can easily copy her tactic, and manipulate photos to entice and sexify the idea of sponsoring an event.

□ testimonials from past attendees

Social influence is a powerful thing. Be sure at any event, and especially if you plan on making it an annual thing, you garner a massive amount of testimonials in various forms. Social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram has made this process insanely easy! Using a tool like Jing (FREE from TechSmith.com) you can grab comments off of your social profiles, and save them as an image file. Include these in your sponsor request packages, mailings and emails.

Every smart phone these days has a camera that takes decent video. You can print off a generic release form online, and ask attendees to participate in a  video that is being created to promote next year’s event. They sign the release, take a quick twenty-second video of them telling the camera how AWESOME the event was, and how they can’t wait for next year’s. You can then sweeten the deal by getting their contact information, and sending them FREE tickets for the 2015 bash and a link to the video.

Do you think they will share that video with their Facebook friends? Duh! That’s extra promotion for you, at the dissemination cost of $FREE.99!

If you have all of this information ready and waiting to present to your target sponsor, you should have no trouble convincing them why sponsoring your event is a great idea! Pitching a sponsor opportunity is not something you can simply “wing,” you have to prepare! In 2014, you need to be planning for the 2015 event, 2015…2016 and so on.

And remember, WIIFM?!

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P.S. If you need help garnering massive amounts of promotional material for your event, please give us a call at 815.441.2219. Not only will we get a bunch of awesome audio, video and written testimonials, we’ll teach you how to use it. Our goal is to create a “must attend” event promotion template for you to use over an over again. Once you learn how to harness the power of technology, your creative flood gates will open, and you’ll never find yourself begging for last-minute sponsor money again! ~Andy #themarketingguy

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