By Toby Hewson
Let me spare you making the same mistake I did when I was new to the event industry. I was full of ideas, I was full of enthusiasm, I was full of confidence – in short, I was full of it! My first attempt to attract sponsorship to an event was a constant battle and I couldn’t understand why. The event was a great event, visitors had a great experience and I was (in my own, not-so-humble opinion) a great salesman.
So why did I struggle to get potential sponsors interested? This was a real blow to the ego until I realised that there was nothing wrong with me – it was them (phew!) What I mean by that was that I had identified the right people and was communicating well to them just how great the event was – but that was not what they wanted to hear.
Things didn’t change for me until I changed the way I sold the idea to them. The problem was I was selling the event to them as if they were visitors, not sponsors. I was so enthusiastic that I told them all the reasons it was a great event to attend, instead of what I should have been telling them – what was in it for them.
This is the most important element of attracting sponsors – you have to make them understand exactly how they would benefit from sponsoring your event and exactly what they will receive in return for their investment.
If you get this bit right, then you are giving your sponsor the information they need to turn this into a straightforward commercial decision.
Q: So what should you be telling them? What is the commodity you are selling, if not the event?
Everything your potential sponsors want to hear is centred around the people who are their potential customers. You need to know exactly who will be visiting, attending, watching, following and interacting with your event in order to sell them. This may require research and analysis, but the basics you need to cover are:
People who attend the event
People who interact with the event
People who follow the event on social media
People your marketing for the event reaches
For this you are going to need numbers, follows, shares, etc. Then you need to break down all the people above into as many specifics as possible such as:
• Income bracket
• Geographical location
• Industry (for industry events)
*this is not an exhaustive list – there may be more specifics that are particularly relevant to your event and sponsors that you may want to include as well.
It is also a good idea to include some more ‘global’ data about your event marketplace or potential audience. This is not something you can hang a number on necessarily, but it does add colour and context to what you are doing.
For example, if you were doing a classical music festival, you might want to include numbers of orchestras, classical music appreciation societies etc and related markets such as opera fans and historical music fans to indicate potential interested audiences. You could also add details of the size of the fan-base of the top authors writing about classical music today or the visitor numbers for the top websites – including demographics if available. The potential audience reach of your planned marketing campaign should also be included (as accurately as possible).
Do you get the picture? Don’t place too much emphasis on the global data because the likelihood is that most of the global audience will not be attending your event. Just pick a few of the more impressive-sounding pieces of your global data because this indicates your potential for growth. You should also include your growth ambitions and you should be ambitious with them too, don’t be shy – would you rather invest in someone who’s goal is to be the best in the county or in someone who’s goal is to be the best in the world?
You should also sell how good the actual event experience is – but this is always going to be a secondary factor as it is your opinion, rather than a fact. There are companies out there who can handle the sponsorship side for you. Some are like SponsorPark, which is almost like an online match-making platform, and some are like ProFest who will ask how much sponsorship you need and then find a sponsor for you without taking any of your budget. However you approach this, even if you do involve another company to help, it’s still very likely that you will have to do some of the research – and you should – because knowing your audience better will help you in many more areas than just sponsorship.
So, to sum up, when you are pitching for sponsorship you need to remember these points:
• It’s not about you – it’s about what’s in it for them
• Know your audience
• Get cold, hard figures to back you up
• Paint a global picture
• Be ambitious
I can’t guarantee that you will find your ideal sponsor by implementing these points – but I can guarantee you’ll stand a much better chance if you do.
About the author: tobyhewson.com is the home of good writing. When not writing his novels, Toby combines his writing and his business experience to help people write original and compelling online marketing content on a freelance basis. Training is also provided to help businesses to write their own content and find their own ‘stories’.
Toby is involved in event management, from conferences and training seminars to charity events and festivals.
Did you find this post helpful or do you want to know more about this topic? Feel free to let us know in the comments down below.
“Image source – Flickr, usage under Creative Commons license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)”