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5 Tips for Approaching Sponsors for Your Event

Event sponsors help you make the most of your event. Their investment can be the difference between delivering a mind-blowing event – or a subpar experience attendees will condemn you for.

Don’t let the latter happen to you! With so many events competing for the same sponsors, you’ve only got a few moments to make a good first impression and grab their attention.

So how do you approach sponsors the right way to gain their partnership? Most people want to dive right in and send a proposal with all the things they think sound great – resist this urge. Instead, start with getting in the heads of your sponsors and find out what they are looking for.

1. Ask the right questions

Before you submit a proposal, build a relationship with your potential sponsor. When it comes down to it, event sponsorship is an investment and they’re going to want proof of their ROI. But you won’t grab their attention without building a level of trust, first. So, you’ll have to take the time to ask prospects what they are looking for.

Ask questions to get to know their business goals. You’ve probably compiled a list of details that match what you think your sponsor’s goals are, but the only way to really know is to ask. What are their key objectives? What do they hope to gain from your attendees? These questions help you dig deep and show sponsors that you’re dedicated to building a true partnership.

Ask questions that show you’re a value-add partner. Start your relationship off strong by getting clear on what sponsors expect from you. How would you like to measure your ROI? What would your ideal partnership look like? Show your sponsors that you’re focused on what matters to them, and are prepared to deliver on their expectations.

That way, when you finally reach out with a proposal, they’ll already be better positioned to receive your pitch with a positive mindset.

2. Write a personalized sponsorship proposal

After you’ve asked your deep-digging questions, you’ll be ready to develop a proposal. Now, you’ve built trust in your company and gained insights into what a good sponsorship experience means to them.

Use what you’ve learned about their company to personalize every touch point of your proposal to their specific goals.  For example, if you’ve discovered that they don’t value logo placements but love interactive branding, then you can tailor their opportunity accordingly. Include how you plan to measure their ROI based on what key metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) are important to them.

End your proposal by encouraging feedback from your sponsor. Ask what they like or dislike about your proposal, and if they have any concerns. This shows you’re open to negotiation, committed to helping them achieve their goals and, in turn, more likely to win them over.

3. Tiered sponsorship levels are a thing of the past – don’t use them

Categorizing your sponsors into levels like “gold, silver and bronze” goes against the tips already mentioned here. No sponsor will be excited to buy your “bronze” package, but instead may want to know what branding or product giveaway opportunities you can offer.

Presenting sponsors with a bunch of assets they’re not interested in and having them to choose between meaningless levels can lead to missed opportunities and, in turn, lost revenues.

Rather, give sponsors a list of assets to choose from that align with their objectives. Allowing them to pick “a la carte” style shows sponsors you’re creating something exclusive for them. This can lead to bigger sponsorship deals and longer lasting, more valuable partnerships.

4. Know your value

Before you send your sponsorship proposal, know your value first. Most event organizers don’t know how much to charge for their sponsorship assets which is usually why they opt for the “gold, silver, bronze” approach. Don’t make this mistake! Sponsors will expect to know the value of each asset they will be receiving in return for their investment.

Your sponsors know exactly how much a social mention or brand advertisement is worth, so you should too. Determine the value of each logo placement, social media mention, branded email, speaking opportunity and every other asset you’re offering your sponsor. That way, when a prospect asks you what the value is of X, you will be prepared with an answer. This also helps you avoid selling yourself short and offering a valuable asset for less than it’s worth.

5. Communicate, communicate, communicate

This tip comes in immediately after you sell your sponsorship package. You should already have set a communication strategy in place based on their expectations (who to report to, how often they like to be updated). Showing that you’re committed to transparency keeps your sponsors happy and maintains their confidence in their investment.

To do this, create and fulfillment strategy of all your deliverables and share this with your sponsors. This can be displayed in a simple chart that outlines everything you’ve promised to do. Include important details along with the date each will be carried out. Presenting their expectations in a clear and organized way will help you meet them consistently and show your sponsors that they can count on you every step of the way. If you follow these five tips you’ll be right on track for creating a great sponsorship experience that both you and your sponsors will enjoy.

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