Event sponsorships are an excellent opportunity for both the company hosting a meeting or conference and the potential sponsor -- if the two are properly matched. Sponsorships help meeting organizers defray costs and in return can prove to be a valuable asset for a sponsor.
To get some guidance on how to create such win-win partnerships, Successful Meetings spoke with sponsorship expert Sylvia Allen. President of marketing and public relations firm Allen Consulting for 37 years, she has produced more than 5,000 events during that time and raised millions of dollars in sponsorships for her clients each year. She is also the author of How to Be Successful at Sponsorship Sales and A Woman's Guide to Sales Success. According to Allen, there are 10 do's and don'ts any event organizer should keep in mind to get the most out of their sponsorships.
1. Don't Wait Until the Last Minute
"Plan your sponsorship sales early and understand that 50 percent of sponsorship dollars are allocated in the fourth quarter of the year preceding your event," says Allen. "The next 25 percent are allocated the first quarter of the year of your event and the rest is doled out over remainder of the year."
2. Don't Put a Square Peg in a Round Hole
Don't go after a sponsor just to go after a sponsor; the sponsor should match your meeting. To be successful, you must have satisfied sponsors who stay with you. Servicing is 90 percent of the equation, sales is only 10 percent.
3. Create an Asset Inventory List
Let your sponsors pick what they want. Do not create packages "that consist of gold, silver, or bronze levels," as Allen puts it. "That is so old hat, so passé. It really doesn't say anything." By doing that, planners are essentially "forcing someone to take something." Customizing packages is imperative to success.
4. Know the True Measured Marketing Value of Your Assets
Measured marketing value is simply the value to the buyer of the marketing elements versus the cost, which is the concern of the seller. For example, poster production and distribution is very inexpensive but has tremendous value to the buyer because of the impressions created.
5. Don't Take 'No' for an Answer
If you hear "no," you haven't done a complete job of exploring what sponsors need.
6. Never Pre-Judge a Sponsor's Budget
Their budget is not your decision, it is theirs.
7. Always Work With the Top Person
Start with the president and then work your way down. "It's easier to roll a stone downhill than it is to push it uphill," says Allen.
8. Media Coverage Is Key
Be sure to get your sponsors extensive media exposure whether through social media or traditional outlets like print, radio, and television.
9. Operate With Honesty and Integrity
Don't ever make numbers up. Not only must you be honest with the numbers, but with the media coverage you receive.
10. Sell All of Your Events
If your company holds multiple events, sell them across the board. Tell the sponsor that you can garner them wide exposure, making it more worthwhile for you both.