How to Sell Event Sponsorship?

If you’re like most digital marketers, then events are essential part of your marketing mix. And why shouldn’t they be? Events are an amazing way to drive opportunities and engage all aspects of your marketing funnel.

But in order to host your event in a beautiful space, offer your attendees a lunch (or a cocktail), and thrill them with great speakers, you need something that’s green and rhymes well with honey. You guessed it right!—you need money.

How to Market an Event?

So, how do you throw an event without blowing your budget for the year? For many marketers, the answer is simple: sponsorship selling. Sponsors help you cover event costs, usually in exchange for some access to your esteemed event attendees.

Sound like a great deal? That’s because it really is – for both you and your sponsors. Here are the five steps you should be taking to get more sponsors for your next event:

1. Identify a Targeted list of Sponsors

Get yourself organized before you dive in by creating a targeted list of sponsors for your event. This list should comprise of all of the companies that you partner with, including consultants and agencies.

Here’s where you should be looking when compiling your list:

  1. Your partner directory on your company website
  2. Sponsors your company has already partnered with in the past.
  3. Your competitor events – who is sponsoring those?

2. Get the numbers

Before agreeing to invest in your events, sponsors are likely to want to see some numbers. Be prepared to give them the below info:

  • How many attendees are you expecting at your event?
  • What exactly is the primary job function of attendees? (e.g., sales managers, marketing practitioners, )
  • What industries are they from? (e.g., Retail, Tech, Healthcare, )

Answers to these questions will help your sponsors assess whether the attendees match their target buyer personas. Ideally, you can answer them based on the historical data, but if not, even a rough projection is fine.

3. Create several different levels of Sponsorship

Not all sponsors can invest at the same level, so it’s essential to create sponsorship packages that include at least three different levels – for instance, you might offer a silver, gold, and platinum. This gives your partners the flexibility they require.

  • The smallest investment option should be offered to new partners or partners who have never sponsored in the past. You can position this particular package as a way of dipping their toes in the water. This way, they can get a sense of the sponsorship experience and decide if future sponsorships are suitable for them.
  • The mid-level investment might be right for partners who have sponsored in recent past and are ready to take their partnership up a notch in terms of their exposure. Emphasize that they’ll see more returns than in prior years.
  • Finally, you can position the highest package as a premier package for partners who want to standout the most. Consider adding further bells and whistles to this package, such as an access to a VIP event or a speaking opportunity.

4. Give yourself lead time

You may be astonished by how much time it actually takes to sell your sponsorship. Therefore, set yourself up for success by giving yourself a longer lead time. The amount of time you’ll actually need will vary, depending on how many people are helping to sell sponsorship, and how aggressive your goals are.

Regardless, you’ll need enough time for outreach to a broad set of partners, schedule phone calls with those who are actually interested in learning more, make a few blunders (yes, that’s inevitable!) and perfect your pitch. As a rule of thumb, give yourself at least 2 months to sell the sponsorships.

Normally, you’ll want your sponsorships squared away a month before the event takes place. Use this time to iron out any fine details, such as instructions, booth placement, and billing. This will also give your team time to know how much budget will be offset by sponsorships.

5. Put it all together

Before you even begin reaching out to sponsors, you’ll need a prospectus. The event prospectus should include:

  • The location, date, and time of the event
  • Audience stats
  • Information on the different levels of sponsorship

A solid prospectus will be aesthetically designed, organized in an easy to consume way, and should incorporate elements of the event’s feel and look. We recommend using the services of a professional designer, whether you’re leveraging an internal team or using an outsourced agency. Don’t underestimate the time required to produce a strong prospectus – plan for at least a few weeks.

Now that you have everything you need to start making it rain (money, that is) for your next business event. Happy selling!