22 May

Event Sponsorship: The Tricks of the Trade

Did You Know? The Golden Rules of Attracting Sponsorship for Your Next Event


Event sponsorship is now a well-established part of the classic marketing mix and many brands have an interest and (even better) a budget for it.

However, there is no magic formula, no ‘one size fits all’ approach to attracting sponsors. This should not be seen by event organizers as a problem, but as a massive opportunity. The field is open and any brand connected to or interested in your event could be a potential sponsor.

While there is no easy answer to finding sponsors, there are some golden rules that will help make your search and negotiations easier:

1. Know thyself

The first questions that you must answer before you even begin to search are:

What am I offering to sponsors? And why am I offering it?

It might be as simple as needing more money in, to add to your bottom line – there is nothing wrong with that. However, if you need to pay for your PA system or enhance your event in some way, you may be able to negotiate a VIK (value in kind) supply deal. This could be a win-win for both sides.

This is why you need to be clear what inventory you are offering. Is it just branding? Does it include mentions in speeches? Branding in publications? Social media messaging?

There is nothing wrong either with being creative and flexible with your inventory but make sure you work out a clear value to negotiate with.

2. Know thy worth

Which brings us to know what you are worth. Again, there is no X+Y magic formula to apply but you need to attach a value to each element. Starting with its cost and applying the importance of that element to your event.

Once you have your inventory, you can create an accurate sales document or deck as your starting point for negotiations.

3. Know your sponsor

Once you have interest from potential sponsors, it is absolutely crucial that you know their brand inside out. As well as the intrinsic value of demonstrating professionalism, this will allow you to know if there is an obvious sweet spot. (Think of the NME sponsoring a stage at a music festival or the all-time classic: Specsavers sponsoring referees).

It may be that there is no obvious sweet spot, often there isn’t; sponsorship is still a great way for brands to introduce themselves to customers. The better you know your potential sponsors, what they do and why the better placed you will be to tailor all or part of your inventory.

4. Know your enemy

Your enemy is complacency, and clarity is your ally. In other words, be clear with your sponsor on expectations. Be clear on things like production schedules, be clear on the smallest of details like logo sizes and file types. Attention to detail will help both sides deliver what is needed from the sponsorship.

Remember that as soon as you start the relationship your sponsor is now a partner and you should do your utmost to make sure that stays that case. You should consider them a potential partner for your next event too. They won’t come back unless you deliver.

A friendly relationship will also help with the inevitable snags and how you troubleshoot them. Slipped deadlines are sometimes unavoidable but they are always better managed with clear dialogue between event and partner.

5. Know what happens next

What happens next, whether the sponsorship is viewed as a success and whether you can consider this as a long-term partnership is entirely in your hands.

So make sure you evaluate the sponsorship as much as you can. Plan to gather evidence and present it back to your sponsor.

You can be creative with your evaluation too. For example, the basic facts and figures could back up a video with ‘vox pops’ from attendees and quotes from social media posts.

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