Event sponsorships help your event reach its potential. The dollars invested from a sponsorship add value to your event — without passing the cost on to your attendees. But approaching sponsors with a winning proposal can be tricky.

Step one in writing a winning sponsorship proposal is to do a little digging. That is, you have to dig into your event data to quantify the value you bring to the table. To learn about the specific data relevant to sponsors and where to find it, check out “How to Win Sponsors With Your Event Data.”

From there you’ll compile a list of potential sponsors and research their business goals to understand why they should sponsor your event.

Discovering the value of event sponsors

If you hope to win quality sponsors that invest more dollars in your event, customise each opportunity to their specific business goals. To understand a potential sponsor’s goals and unlock your event’s value, consider the following steps:

1. Start online: Look at a potential sponsor’s company website, LinkedIn profile, and social media accounts. Identify any overlaps between their audience and yours. Next, go to your favourite search engine and search terms like “sponsored by” or “events sponsored by” followed by the sponsor’s brand name. Look through the results — if they’ve sponsored events in the past, compare those events to your own, and look for ways your event can offer more value.

2. Identify the decision maker: Understand who can say “yes” to your sponsorship proposal. As you reach out to people, via email or phone call, always ask if the person you’re speaking to has the authority to approve your proposal. Once you’ve connected with the right person, set up a 30-minute meeting in person or on the phone.

3. Ask questions and listen: After you’ve investigated your potential sponsor online, it’s time to initiate a conversation. Your first meeting should be an exploratory one to ensure you understand their objectives. If they’ve sponsored events like yours before, ask what worked and what didn’t, and learn from their responses.

4. Follow up: Once you’ve gathered info and verified it from the source, your next step is to follow up with a formal sponsorship proposal. In the next section we’ll look at the key components of a great proposal.

This pre-proposal homework may seem tedious, but is absolutely necessary to write a winning sponsorship proposal.

Crafting the sponsorship proposal

The goal of your sponsorship proposal is to outline what you’ve discussed in your exploratory conversations and demonstrate the value you can offer to a sponsor.

Here are the essential components to consider when crafting your proposal:

Start with objectives: Begin by outlining the sponsor’s key objectives and marketing initiatives that you’ve already discussed and agreed upon. Confirm the measurements of success, and briefly mention the value your sponsors will gain through this opportunity. This demonstrates that you have the sponsor’s interests at heart and warms them up for the pitch.

Pivot to the pitch: After reiterating what matters most to the sponsor, it’s time to present your offer. Your offer should align with the sponsor’s objectives and provide a detailed description of any charges, and what they’ll be receiving in return — including how they’ll make a return on their investment.

Encourage feedback: The next section of your proposal should prompt feedback from your sponsor. Ask what they like or dislike about your proposal, or if they have any concerns about sponsoring. This persuades the sponsor to continue negotiating the terms of your proposal and refrain from objecting to it.

Ask for a response and give a deadline: Deadlines create the fear of missing out, encouraging sponsors to be proactive about their response. Julie Ritchie of Optimizely says “Consider telling a sponsor about a time-sensitive discount on sponsorship fees, or that you’re discussing opportunities with a competitor to create urgency.”

As you write the proposal, remember to keep it simple. Avoid a long-winded history of your event, or a lengthy market overview. The event sponsorship proposal – in the form of a pitch deck or PDF – should be a concise, sharp, overall sales pitch with only the most important and value-highlighting facts about your event.

Perfecting your sponsorship pitch deck

Ultimately your research and structured proposal approach will mean nothing if your sponsorship pitch deck fails to impress. Here are some top tips for producing a professional sponsorship deck that is most likely to elicit a positive response.

Format matters: Be respectful of the inboxes you’re hitting, and don’t send a huge Powerpoint presentation. Turn that bad boy into a PDF, please, or better yet — send a link to where the deck lives on your website or a link to a Dropbox or other file-sharing service.

Include your logo: Keep your proposal front of mind by including your logo, your website, and all of your contact information (email address, social media profiles, etc.).

Be as specific as possible: Cut out the fluff. What is the point? Where is it happening? What are the dates? Who’s coming (age, income, interests, etc)? Why are people coming? What do you have to offer?

Leverage previous events: If there was an event last year, include photos to help build a visual, include quotes from attendees or sponsors, and include notable numbers (attendees, likes, shares, leads, conversions, etc).

Include a glossary: Make the potential sponsor’s life easier by including a list of terms/facts that will be helpful to have on hand before reviewing the deck.

Think about the big picture: Are there benefits of being a sponsor outside of the event itself? Boost your pitch with extended benefits such as ongoing marketing, hospitality or networking opportunities.

Be precise: Keep things as short as possible — do you really think everyone has time to read a 30-page pitch deck? Nope!

Be humble: Always end with a thank you! People want to work with those who appreciate their time. Be as real and relatable as you can.

Download the free template

When you’re ready to get started on your sponsorship pitch deck, download this free template and discover how to structure a winning sponsorship proposal document.