Creative Strategies for Event Sponsorship in the Modern Events Era
Event sponsorship can take events to the next level when the right mix of vendors is involved — benefiting event organizers and sponsors themselves.
As we prepare for the next wave of in-person events and events go increasingly hybrid, however, attracting the right sponsors can be a tall order.
Keep reading to learn more about why event sponsorship matters, how sponsor expectations have changed in recent years and some creative strategies you can use to land the ideal sponsors for future events.
Why Event Sponsorships Matter
From increasing brand exposure and demonstrating thought leadership to connecting with new leads and getting data about the ideal customer, there are many reasons organizations sponsor events.
There’s a lot in sponsorship for event organizers, too. Not only can sponsors help you with funding, but they can also bring more legitimacy to your events, particularly when you land marquee brands as sponsors.
Additionally, sponsors can help you ensure that the content your event produces adds value and engages your audience, which increases the likelihood they’ll attend your events in the future.
How To Get Sponsorship for An Event
As the events industry continues to grow — and the rise of hybrid and virtual events makes it easier for brands to sponsor events worldwide — attracting and locking down the right mix of sponsors can be challenging. However, with the right approach, you can increase the chances your search for sponsors is fruitful.
As you begin looking for sponsors, follow these nine steps to accelerate your efforts and identify potential sponsors that can take your next event to new heights:
- Define the fundamentals of your event and the differentiators that make yours stand out from other events.
- Understand why companies choose to sponsor events and appeal to those reasons.
- Define sponsorship criteria and be sure to articulate them clearly to potential sponsors.
- Research companies that have sponsored similar events to get an idea of brands that might be interested in sponsoring yours.
- Find potential sponsors on an online marketplace, such as SponsorMyEvent, SponsorPitch, or Sponseasy.
- Choose companies with the resources for sponsorship, so you don’t waste effort on organizations that lack the means.
- Focus on relationships with decision-makers rather than those who don’t have final say on sponsorships.
- Have your event data readily available to give potential sponsors the supporting information to make intelligent decisions.
- Tap into your event organizer network and find out if any of your colleagues can recommend potential sponsors that might be a good fit.
How Sponsor Expectations Have Changed
Over the last several years, sponsor expectations have changed considerably. Although event sponsors used to be perfectly fine with increasing brand awareness, they’re now more interested in connecting with audiences on deeper levels.
“There’s an increased need for engagement, to be connected with content, and to have lead generation,” said Meg Fasy, founder at eventsGIG and principal at FazeFWD. “I’ve been working with organizations to create opportunities that almost exclusively speak to those three areas.”
Expectations have continued to evolve alongside the rise of virtual and hybrid events.
“My sponsor expectations in 2022 have changed to prioritize hybrid — but with a strong in-person presence,” said Ashley Jenkins, events manager at Miro. “I expect sponsorship offerings to have more customizable marketing opportunities, as I expect an untapped audience that has yet to interact with our brand in real life.”
Today, sponsors expect to be part of unique and innovative experiences, and they also expect to collect reams of data they can analyze and put to work long after the event has wrapped up.
- Want to learn more about event sponsorship? Read “The Complete Guide to Event Sponsorship in 2022”
Creative Strategies For Nurturing Sponsor Relationships
In an era where events are a key sales and marketing driver — and sponsors have seemingly endless options to choose from — it’s critical to develop and maintain strong relationships with every organization that funds your events.
Failure to do so could leave you scrambling for sponsors when you can least afford it.
“During the height of the pandemic, organizations that had cultivated a relationship with their sponsors were able to keep them while those that treated them like exhibit space renters lost many,” Fasy said. “If times are tough and you have to choose which event you’re going to sponsor, and all business aspects are equal, you’ll pick the one where you have a relationship.”
How exactly can you develop such relationships? It’s all about making life as easy as possible for your sponsors. Here are some suggestions:
- If you’re hosting an event in Las Vegas in July, offer sponsors ice cream, iced coffee, or other cold drinks while they’re setting up, Fasy suggests. These small gestures can go a long way toward setting your event apart from the rest.
- Manage sponsor focus groups and create touchpoints throughout the year to learn more about the sponsor experience, keep them engaged, and devise ways to improve their experience with each event.
- Make it as easy as possible for sponsors to make an impact. For example, you can offer turnkey booths to sponsors that might not have enough people to support their presence at an event.
- Choose event management software that makes lead qualification and retrieval easy for your sponsors. Also, your tech solution should automate and personalize communications while also easily demonstrating ROI.
Additionally, you need to ensure that you don’t overload your event with sponsors. If there are dozens of event sponsors, it’s a lot to compete with, which might turn some organizations off. You can also consider offering discounts to virtual sponsors and several sponsorship tiers so potential sponsors can find a package that works with their budget.
If you’re looking for even more ideas on how you can add value for event sponsors, consider enrolling in the Event Leadership Institute’s Delivering Value for Event Sponsors course.
The Future of Event Sponsorship
As we move forward, it’s clear that sponsors will play an even more critical role in event success, but you can’t pick any old sponsor and expect great results — even if that sponsor has the deepest pockets in the world. Instead, you need to offer opportunities to sponsors who resonate with your audience.
“The north star is always the attendee experience,” Fasy said. “If you’re not adding to their experience, you shouldn’t be offering that sponsorship.”
For Jenkins and the team at Miro, the sentiment is the same.
“Our north star for sponsorship strategy is the ability to showcase the value of our products to attendees through live demos and thought leadership sessions,” Jenkins said.
For more information on what you can do to attract premium sponsors to your next event, watch Sponsorship Hacks: Creative Strategies for the Modern Events Era on-demand.