Event Sponsorship: How to Make It Work for Your Business
Event sponsorship isn’t just about paying someone to give you a mention at their event. A business needs to get creative and strategic to make event sponsorship valuable.
Event sponsorship can be an invaluable tool for businesses looking to raise their profile. It helps to builds brand awareness among your target market.
But simply handing over your money for an organisation to pop your logo on a banner is one expensive print job.
It’s up to you to decide whether an event is going to help you gain the right type of brand awareness. The process of selecting an event to sponsor should involve defining your business goals, event research, and creating a marketing plan to promote the event.
The process of event sponsorship
1. Define Your Goals
Before you start reaching out to event organisers, take some time to sit down and define your goals for sponsoring an event. What does your business hope to achieve by sponsoring an event? Are you looking to increase brand awareness? Generate leads? Boost sales? Ensure you and your team are completely clear on the company’s goals, mission statement and vision. This will help later down the line when you’ve chosen an event to sponsor and getting the rest of the company on board as to why it’s important. Any sponsorship is about marketing. Marketing is about opening the doors to opportunity and it’s sales that needs to walk through them. Do not expect to do a marketing activity to generates the return by itself. Someone has to be responsible for following up on the opportunities created. Who will that be and they have the right tools to do that? Analyse whether a particular event is going to engage with the right audience for you. This doesn’t just mean the organisers and guests, but the other sponsors too. Your target audience must be defined from the get go.
2. Do Your Research
Not all events are created equal. Some will be better suited to achieving your goals than others. That’s why it’s important to do your research before committing to any event sponsorship. Find out as much as you can about the event, including its history, expected attendance, demographics of attendees, and what type of coverage it’s likely to receive. The more you know about an event, the better equipped you’ll be to make it work for your business. The trick is to know your audience and theirs. There’s no point paying to get yourself in front of an audience that won’t care about what you do.
3. Promote, Promote, Promote
Just because you’re sponsoring an event doesn’t mean people will automatically know about it – you need to promote your involvement! Make use of all the channels at your disposal, including social media, email marketing, and paid advertising. And don’t forget about more traditional methods like print ads and PR campaigns. These elements will come together to form a marketing plan. The more people you can get talking about your event sponsorship, the better chance you have of achieving success.
Marketing to promote your event sponsorship
Creating a marketing plan to promote your event sponsorship is how you’ll really turn it into a valuable marketing asset for your business.
Once you’ve chosen an event to sponsor, it’s time to get working on that marketing plan. Several months before the date of the event, there are a few steps you should take.
By taking the time to create an effective post-event, pre-event and during event strategy, you can ensure that event sponsorship works for your business.
Pre-event sponsorship prep
You’ve chosen an event to sponsor, now it’s time to start putting the work in. The run up to the event is probably the period of time that will require most effort as you don’t want to miss a single opportunity.
Get in touch with the organisers to discuss how they’re planning to promote the event and any opportunities where you can get involved. Don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm. Any event organiser should be thrilled at your willingness to help promote their event and will help you to do so.
Create an offer
What can you provide that will add value for attendees and help you achieve your goals? If you’re unsure what type of offer would be most effective, consider surveying your target market or conducting focus groups. Ultimately, the goal is to create an offer that’s too good for attendees to pass up. It could be a free consultation, a discount code, a goodie bag, or a competition. This is a great way to help track and traction from the event and see if people engage.
Send over a high-res version of your logo well in advance so the event organisers can get splash your logo around with their branding right from the start. If you’ve paid for a display, design your banner or advert to the correct sizes required by the organiser. Remember to include your offer and minimal contact details so as not to overwhelm the attendees with too much text. Make it eye-catching through the use of colours, patterns, fonts, imagery, graphics, and wording.
Go beyond sponsorship as usual
Try to secure exclusive rights to certain areas of the event. Ask the organisers if you can set up a booth, stand or photo opportunity display. See if they’ll allow you to display your branding outside the venue, throughout entrance walkways, and inside the event space itself. Visiting the venue will give you ideas of where might be best to do this. The organisers might be grateful for the ideas. If they’ve experienced your desire to help promote the event, they might even let you have exclusive rights to those aspects of the event at no extra cost.
Sponsoring events helps the local economy, maintains your corporate social responsibility standards, and shows that your business is current, modern, and cares. So, tell everyone!
Event sponsorship – especially headline sponsorship – is a great angle for a press release. Send out a press release with the key details of the event, why you chose to sponsor it, and a great photo of you with the event organisers. Spread the news on LinkedIn and other social platforms you use for business. Use it as a conversation starter at networking events.
During the event
Your time is now! You’ve most likely waited a long time for this moment. Make sure your staff are onboard too. Brief the whole team as to why the company has sponsored this event and the benefits that can come from it when they all understand the goals of the company.
Represent your company
It’s essential that at least one member of staff attends the event to represent the company. Make sure your staff are properly trained so they can make the most of any interactions with customers. They can also make themselves known to the organisers and build a positive relationship while there. They can networking, take pictures for social media, and ensure your company is being promoted in the ways agreed.
Engage with attendees
While at the event, engage with attendees by offering something extra such as product samples or giveaways. Run competitions, raffles, or Q&A sessions to keep people talking about your brand. Of course, this will depend on the format of the event.
Get contact details
Capture contact information from attendees for follow-up activities post-event. This can help you track event performance and reach out with post-event offers or surveys to gather feedback from participants.
Your work isn’t done yet! Now’s the most vital time to stay at the front of everyone’s minds. The event organisers, attendees, and fellow sponsors will be glad to hear from you. These simple touchpoints following the event will go a long way and cement the foundations of the relationships you’ve already formed.
Review your results
Once the event is over, don’t forget to review your results. How successful was your event sponsorship? Did you meet your goals? What worked and what didn’t? Taking post-event feedback into account can help refine your approach for future events. You can also use post-event surveys or interviews to gather further insights from attendees that’ll improve your chances of success in the future. Set up a system to track activity; a spreadsheet, a board on your CRM system or a note in your phone even. You should be keeping track of other sponsors to connect with as well as the organisers and guests. Have you followed up and did it go anywhere? This way you can see a clear return on investment but someone has to be accountable for tracking the information. Divide roles internally to deal with the post-event clean up.
Continue engaging with attendees
If it was the type of event where you could gather attendee’s information, or if it was more of a space to network with fellow businesses, follow up with further contact. Send a personalised message on LinkedIn to say it was great to meet them. Post pictures and videos on social media showcasing how great the event was to create fear of missing out for next time. Share an offer exclusively for those who attended. Send a thank you email – this small gesture helps your brand to remain in the mind of attendees. And, send a ‘sorry we missed you’ email to let them know what they missed out on.
Meet up with the organisers
Continue that relationship with the organisers of the event by setting up a meeting. Use this to give them feedback on your personal experience and to explore future sponsorship opportunities with them.
Event sponsorship is an effective way to build brand awareness and connect with your target market – but only if it’s done right. By taking the time to define your goals, do your research, create a compelling offer, and promote your involvement properly, you can ensure that event sponsorship works for your business.
An event marketing strategy will structure the promotion of your involvement. Post-event, pre-event, and during event strategies can ensure that event sponsorship gains you a Return on Investment (ROI).
With the proper planning and execution, you can make sure that every event you sponsor is a success.