Win-Win-Win – Sponsors, Attendees, You: Finding the Right Sponsors for Your Event


Sponsors, and the activations they bring, are becoming an increasingly important part of events and festivals. Event planners and managers rely on sponsorships as a significant source of income, but attendees also rely on sponsors to provide value and entertainment. The right sponsor could be all it takes to turn a “maybe” into a “yes.”

So, while the sponsors have to be right for the attendees, your event has to be right for the sponsors. When those elements align, it’s a win for everybody.

So, how do you ensure that you are acquiring the right sponsors for your event?

Start by knowing your audience, because that will be the first thing a serious sponsor candidate will ask you about. What is their average age, income, interests, spending behaviors, etc.?

You can find out a lot about your crowd by looking at your ticket sales, specifically your audience registration platform. Ideally, you are requesting a variety of sponsor-friendly demographic information through a questionnaire sent to folks after they register (these could be on your registration form, but too many questions can cause people to lose interest in registering).

Potential sponsors will want to know your attendees’ age, gender, and location, but if you can provide even more information, such as typical job title and average education level and income, you’ll impress right out of the gate.

Photo Credit: The Orleans Hotel & Casino

Google Analytics can also be a great source of information. Not only can it tell you who is visiting your website, it can tell you where they were before they came to you, where they dwelled on your site and for how long, and their real-world location. Similarly, if you utilize any social media advertising, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. all provide very detailed analytics about their users, such as pages your audience “likes” and information about their online purchases.

Now, find companies that align with your audience’s interests. Now that you are in tune with your audience, what are the companies that would most appeal to them? Create groupings of possible sponsors.

For example, if, through using Facebook’s “Audience Insights,” you discover that a majority of your attendees like a high fashion retailer’s page, that would be a good business segment to pursue. Or, maybe you discover that they frequently visit craft beer websites. Then it’s time to research local brewers and specialty beer stores. Likewise, if you discover that the majority of your audience is from a certain area, target businesses in that local area. Perhaps you could narrow your search by aligning financial information, as well.

You can also augment your list by examining past events that are similar to yours and finding out what brands provided their support.

This research will help you ensure that you are not wasting your time, and their time, by courting the wrong sponsors.

Photo Credit: Event Marketer

Now, spend some time learning about the potential sponsors on your lists. This isn’t just a cursory glance at their homepage. Really dig into these brands – because they are going to want to know how your event can help them. Not only do you want to research these brands online (and even in print, if possible), but you also need to follow them on social media and set up Google alerts.

Do they have any big productions coming up: a new product launch, a rebranding, a new location or market expansion, a company merger, etc.? Have they sponsored events in the past? If so, which ones and what was their approach?

Knowing how a company has approached past sponsorships can help you anticipate how to pitch them on your event. You can showcase how their past approach could be incorporated or even expanded in the present.

Next, it’s time to reach out and make contact. Contrary to what you may think, the best method for initial contact is through email or social media. Ah, you think, wouldn’t a phone call be more personal? Couldn’t I sell it better if I could talk to someone?

Here’s the thing: The company you are reaching out to likely receives several sponsor requests. They are not going to be able to give you a definitive answer on anything after one cold call. It’s better to put your information in front of them where they can see it and then have some time to research you and your event. Both email and social media are relaxed, non-intrusive ways to get your message in front of the right person – who is busy and will appreciate not feeling hassled.

Photo Credit: Social Tables

Make sure that the message is personalized. Do not send a generic boilerplate request. Use some of that information that you have gleaned.

That product launch they have coming up? Mention it and how it fits into your event. The new markets they are branching into? Well, a sizeable portion of your audience resides and/or works in those areas.

Be direct and concise. Let them know who you are, what you want, and what you can offer. You don’t need to get too detailed. That will come later. This is fishing; you’re baiting the hook. By showing that you have done your research, you have proven that you – and your event – should be taken seriously.

After the initial contact, it’s time to deliver a detailed proposal. This is the time for those facts.

Tell your company’s story and what you are trying to convey through the event. Play up your mission statement and how you achieve it on a daily basis. Illustrate, with as much detail as possible, the demographics of your attendees and how they dovetail with the prospective sponsor.

Also, before you deliver the proposal, discover exactly what this prospect wants to get out of or hopes to achieve through this sponsorship. Include these goals in your proposal accompanied by concrete data that back up how your event will help them achieve these metrics.

Describe the marketing you are doing to promote the event. How many social media campaigns are you running? Are you working with influencers? Are you running traditional print ads? Do you retarget visitors? Include every aspect. A sponsor is less likely to join an event that seems to lack support and buzz. 

These steps should help you obtain lucrative sponsor partnerships, but you still need to court these businesses to nurture that relationship.

After the event, share the data you’ve gathered to showcase the return on investment (ROI) the event delivered. Because there are several ways to measure ROI for any event, it’s best to just pick a few to highlight the event’s overall ROI and specific sponsorship ROI. Whatever data you choose (social media mentions, press coverage, headcount, satisfaction, etc.), make sure to present it in a way that’s clear and easily understood. You don’t want to seem like you’re being intentionally opaque. 

Photo Credit: Thomas Net News

You can deliver the data in person as a thank you or hold a small appreciation event for the sponsors. This way you can instantly respond to any questions, concerns, or feedback.

This will help to ensure that your relationship continues even after the event is over. As you continue to market your event through social media posts and post-event wrap up blogs, make sure that your sponsors are a part of those activities.

Keeping your event top of mind for your audience year-round is critical. If you can offer that to your sponsors as well, you are on your way toward a successful, sustainable relationship. 

The key to securing sponsorships is similar to securing an audience: know their needs and then help them achieve their goals. For more information about acquiring and maintaining sponsorships for your event, give Event Architecture a call at 972-323-9433.