Sponsorship is a $62.7 billion industry. Its annual growth has surpassed advertising and other forms of marketing. So why aren’t major brands and companies lining up at your door, begging for a chance to sponsor your event?
According to sponsorship experts, your strategy could be outdated. To win and retain sponsors today, you must adapt your strategy to create long-term relationships with sponsors — or risk being left behind.
Keep reading for three industry experts’ perspective on the secrets you and your team need to succeed in the new world of event sponsorship.
Event Sponsorship Secret #1: Persistence
It can take hours of frustration to find the right person within a company. You may get stuck searching LinkedIn company profiles or diffing through page 100 of Google search results. But there are no shortcuts in sponsorship.
“A lot of people lose patience trying to find the decision maker,” says co-founder and managing director of Infinity Sponsorship Abby Clemence. “In reality, it’s the most valuable part of the process.”
She encourages sponsorship seekers to embrace this phase because it provides valuable insight that could help you once you reach the decision maker.
“While working your way to the decision maker, take time to ask each person about the business goals and objectives. By the time you finally sit with someone who’ll have the final say-so in your proposal, you’ll be armed with opportunities that perfectly align with their business objectives.”
Sponsorship decisions aren’t made in isolation. Decision makers will want to get buy-in from other areas of the business. And if you’ve done your due diligence and asked every connection the right questions, you’ll have qualified the opportunity for them.
Event Sponsorship Secret #2: Commitment
Sponsorship isn’t an item you check off and forget about. It’s a process. And once you’ve secured sponsors for your event, it’s vital to fully commit to activating their sponsorship.
What is activation? The president and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective Chris Baylis has an answer. “I like to think of activation as “switching on” your sponsorship,” he says, adding “it’s not just doing what you said you’d do, but achieving the outcomes you promised the sponsor. So when your sponsor says they want to ‘raise awareness,’ you’ll need to demonstrate that increase.”
The best way to make sure you fully activate your sponsors is by using an activation strategy. It’s a checklist that outlines key dates, deadlines, and who from your team is accountable for each piece.
Make sure every single team member knows what tasks they must complete for a successful activation, whether they’re on your event staff or the sponsor’s team.
Event Sponsorship Secret #3: Attention to detail
The final secret is about paying close attention to the finer details.
“Brands are ultra-sensitive about loyalty and utilisation of their products or services,” says Weil. “This is non-negotiable. If you accidentally use a competitor’s product or service, they’ll cancel your contract and sign with a competitor in a heartbeat.”
Weil stresses that your entire sponsorship team pays close attention to the finer details. Every pitch deck, call, or engagement is an opportunity to get it right and or do it wrong. The stakes can be enormous.
“One minor oversight once cost me and my client $4,000,000 in sponsorship revenue,” he says. “The sponsor was a major shipping and package company and a staff member accidentally returned the renewal contract using a competitor’s service.”
Call a meeting with your team to make sure everyone knows what’s at stake and how to avoid costly mistakes that could have otherwise been prevented.
Say goodbye to transaction-based sponsorship
These three tips are just the tip of the iceberg. Find out what else these experts have to say about relationship-based event sponsorship in The DNA of Relationship-Based Event Sponsorship.