Event sponsorship can be an easy and interactive way to help gain some positive promotion for your business. It can be an excellent source of content for your business’ EDMs and social media channels, result in speaking engagements, networking opportunities and leads you may not have otherwise had access to, but it can also be a costly exercise if you do not do your due diligence.

No matter what your budget for sponsorship of events is, there will usually be a package to suit your business’ size and ethos.

So, what are the two most important factors to consider when sponsoring an event? The first is whether or not it actually aligns with your brand and the second is whether or not you can afford to be a sponsor (and how to afford it if your budget won’t stretch).

Read on for tips on how to get the most out of event sponsorship.

Collect the data

Paying to be an event sponsor can quickly become a rather large waste of the marketing budget if the event is not all it cracked up to be.

If you are approached by an event organiser, they should already come armed with a prospectus for the event, which should generally be inclusive of statistics and interesting points about the previous years’ events. What you really want is data – as granular as possible – that pinpoints the exact type of audience your brand will be made visible to at the event and how your business can capitalise on their ownership of this data.

Some events may not have access to these kinds of records, so at the very least, the kind of information that should be made available to you should include visitor numbers, the positions of the guests at their organisations as well as their geographical locations, as this will help you to ensure that the reach of the event matches your target market. Other things to look out for are confirmed media partners or high-profile speakers and guests and an outline of exactly how this event can benefit your brand’s image publicly.

If the event is running for the first time, the organiser should be able to pitch to you their projected outcomes and the return on investment for your business based on similar events.

Scale your proposition

If you are a small business that is just starting out, but you would like to sponsor an event whose packages are beyond your budget – enquire anyway!

With some negotiation, there may be an alternative way to sponsor the event so that even without being locked into a large package you can still land on something that is scaled to suit your business and budget.

A practice that used to be non-existent in the event industry but is now becoming a regular occurrence is commonly known as “pay for play”. This is where sponsors are allowed some creative input into how their branding will be used. What does this tell you? Money talks. If you flip the script and make a reasonable offer to the event organiser for some exposure for your brand, you may have the goods to become a minor sponsor. Minor sponsorship might include having naming rights for an award at the event dinner, sponsoring a meal break or panel session or even providing the product as speaker’s gifts or in gift bags. Hey, there’s no harm in asking.

So, now that you’ve found the event that aligns perfectly with your client base and strategy and you’ve picked your sponsorship package. What should you expect in return?

As an event sponsor, you are entitled to receive a certain level of customer care. Six things that are reasonable to expect include:

Having one point of contact

You (or the events manager at your organisation) should be given the name of just one person who will be responsible for all things to do with the event from emailing through dietary requirements to chasing up a pull-up banner used on stage during a panel session. It can be frustrating not knowing who is looking after what project, so if you are not given one name ask to be connected to the best person.

Numerous mentions on social media

Unless it makes up part of a sponsorship package that you didn’t elect, your business name should be mentioned on social media posts where appropriate. This includes in the lead-up and post event. It seems like a small win, but being mentioned alongside other leading organisations can do wonders for your following, building your client base and increasing your SEO.

Promises kept

Sponsorship packages come with a list of fulfilments from the event organiser and usually include anything from a table close to a stage, signage on display or complimentary tickets to the event. The least you should expect as an event sponsor is that the promises made to you have been kept. If for some reason, they cannot be, the event organiser should try to supplement them with something of equal value to your business.

Follow-up data

This is as much a showreel for the organiser as it is a way to keep in contact with sponsors. Post-event, a professional event organiser will provide you with a dashboard that delivers an overview of the seminar/conference/trade show/whatever it may be. This doesn’t have to be pages and pages of data, but it should outline visitor numbers and key stats, some photos from the event, a round-up of social media mentions and any traditional media coverage as well as any other crucial takeaways about the event that will help you justify the cost of the sponsoring the event (and putting it on next year’s budget).

A thank you!

It seems obvious, but you would be amazed at how many event organisers do not follow up with a thank you to the event sponsors. A simple, personal email is all it takes to show that your partnership was appreciated and that it would be welcomed back again next year.

Relationship building

Even though relationships go both ways, you should expect the event organiser to ‘schmooze’ you try to develop a solid working relationship with you and keep you warm until next year’s event. The success of the event from a commercial perspective is only as valuable as the contributions its sponsors make, so an ongoing relationship between event organisers and brands that support their agendas perfectly makes a lot of sense.

Sponsoring an event can be a big learning curve for some businesses, but if you feel yours is ready to be associated with a certain event – take the plunge! You never know what opportunities and growth it could bring.

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