In my last article, I talked about creating a solid sponsorship strategy. Now let’s focus on the next step: acquiring your sponsors. We know why sponsors are important. They drive revenue and thereby help you increase the value of the event for attendees. But what will motivate sponsors to spend valuable marketing dollars with you?
Too often we do not look at our sponsors as customers when we design packages. Sponsors should expect to reach their business objectives by boosting brand awareness, increasing sales opportunities, and enhancing business relationships. They should also expect to have a positive experience with event logistics and hospitality. It is your job to help them achieve both.
Here are six tips to securing sponsors for your next event:
1. Start onsite. Don’t wait until after your last event to start asking clients about marketing plans for next year. Connect with all your sponsors onsite. Ask about their goals for next year and gather candid and anecdotal feedback about their sponsorship experience. Early-bird incentives or other benefits to past sponsors will also create loyalty and drive commitment.
2. Listen and learn. Gathering pre- and post-conference feedback is imperative. What is even more important? Listening to this feedback and sharing big changes and improvements throughout the year.
3. Solicit the right way. How are you attracting the interest of target sponsors? Have you thought about your entire acquisition strategy? Don’t stop at just one email or one form of communication. Build into your communication strategy several follow-up touch points to get the attention of your targets. But don’t be annoying. Sponsors will think you are desperate and will instead be turned off from your event completely.
4. Are you easy to work with? Give your sponsors everything they need in a timely manner. If they feel your event is not only easy, but enjoyable, they will be begging their VP’s for the money to attend again next year.
5. Over communicate. You have all the necessary plans in place to keep your attendees informed before your event, but what about your sponsors? Keep your sponsors informed leading up to the event by leveraging all relevant communication channels. Providing regular sales updates, revenue forecasts, and attendee numbers will only enhance your relationships among sponsors.
6. Sponsor-only access. Beef up your online presence by offering an online portal for sponsors. This resource center should include a checklist management tool, documents, download area for marketing materials, and a pre-event attendee list.
Remember, more isn’t always better. Sometimes you can reach your financial targets with just a few sponsors. Determine sales goals upfront and be committed to them. Regardless of how many sponsors you have, one thing remains the same: You must ensure your event delivers a solid return and enjoyable experience for everyone to make the sponsorship worthwhile.