Published on August 8, 2023
Learn how to get sponsors for an event to drive revenue, promote your event, and get more attendees. Find the right sponsors and know what to offer them.
Hosting an event isn’t cheap. Even if it’s a small, intimate conference or seminar, you still need to hire a venue, pay for speakers, and make sure you have food and drink for your attendees.
This can all add up, which can put extra pressure on your plate if you don’t have a huge budget. Luckily, there’s a way you can cover those costs and generate a bit of extra advertising while you’re at it.
Event sponsors essentially pay for coverage at your event. You promote their company for a fee and, in return, they get an introduction to potential customers. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
But how do you get sponsors on board? Or, more importantly, how do you get the right sponsors?
Before you start… What makes a good sponsor?
There are plenty of brands out there that will throw money at an event. But this doesn’t mean it’ll be beneficial for them or you.
The best sponsorships are from brands that are relevant, have mutual interests, and are likely to get something out of sponsoring your event.
Here are some things to look out for.
Brands that align with your values
If your event attendees are predominantly small, sustainable businesses, they’re not going to be interested in seeing ads for oil companies or gas-guzzling vehicles. This is a stark example, but you get the gist. Your sponsors should share the same values as your attendees, whether that’s supporting communities, high-brow culture, or sustainable initiatives.
Brands that are relevant
When choosing your sponsors, make sure they’re brands your attendees will be interested in. The most successful sponsorships come from brands that are highly relevant to your attendees. Like a stationery brand at a conference full of writers or a payment solution at an expo for local businesses.
Mobile World Congress’ list of sponsors are highly relevant to the event’s speaker topics about AI, 5G, and FinTech.
Brands that match your event goals
If your goal is to put on a luxury event that attendees talk about for months afterward, make sure your sponsors reflect that. It’s common for sponsors to gift swag, prizes, and even free holidays or accommodation to attendees, so it’s important that your sponsors tie into the big-picture vision you have for your event.
How to know if your event needs sponsors
Event planners bring onboard sponsors for a number of reasons. Usually, it’s to top up the budget, but it can also help increase reach and tap into new audiences. Having a big-name sponsor is also a great way to add credibility to your event which, in turn, will help sell tickets.
If you relate to any of the below statements, your event might benefit from sponsors.
- Your event has a handful of high-profile speakers that would pique the interest of media sponsors
- Your budget isn’t quite big enough to host the kind of event you want or you want to include additional items that aren’t already included in the budget
- You want your event to boost your image and credibility in your industry
- You want to reach more potential attendees
- You’re running a brand new event that could do with some help getting coverage
How to find sponsors for your event
If you decide that sponsors will be a great addition to your event, it’s time to start getting them on board—the earlier the better.
Here’s how to find potential good-fit sponsors.
1. Make use of digital tools
While you might be struggling to find sponsors, there are sponsors out there struggling to find events. As a result, there are a number of useful tools that bring together both sides on a kind of matchmaking platform.
These tools are particularly useful because they vet sponsors beforehand so you can make sure they’re legit and a good fit for your event.
You can run a quick Google to find the right tool for your event, but here are some to get you started:
2. Find sponsors from other events
If a company has sponsored an event in the past, there’s a good chance they’ll do it again in the future. Look for brands that have sponsored similar events in your industry by checking out the event’s website and clicking through to their “sponsors” page.
The best part is you don’t have to convince these brands of the benefits of sponsorships because they already know. All you have to do is convince them that sponsoring your event is a good deal for them (which we’ll talk more about later on).
3. Do your own research
There are probably a handful of brands that come to mind when you think about your industry. Maybe they’re pie-in-the-sky companies that you’d love to sponsor your events, or maybe they’re super niche, super relevant smaller brands that would be the perfect fit.
Either way, add these to your list. There’s no better feeling than securing a sponsor you really wanted to secure.
But, if you can’t think of any brands off the top of your head, run a Google search or ask around on social media for recommendations.
How to get sponsors to sign the deal
Now you’ve found your ideal sponsors, how do you get them to say “yes”?
1. Provide all the details in your proposal
Your sponsorship proposal is the asset that will ultimately seal the deal. It needs to stand out and clearly state what you’re proposing so that the sponsor can feel comfortable saying yes.
Think about answering these questions:
- What is your event?
- Why should the sponsor want to work with you?
- How will the sponsorship work?
The aim of your proposal is to pitch to the sponsor why they should sponsor your event over another. This mostly boils down to your audience, the perks, and the price.
You can paint a picture by sharing the following information:
- Your story: Why are you running the event and what’s your goal? Share some information about your event too, including your origin story, your mission, and what your vision is for the future.
- Your audience: Describe who your attendees are. Cover basic demographic information like location, age, and job role, but also think about what challenges they face, their interests, and why they’re going to an event like yours. This will help sponsors determine if there’s a good audience fit.
It’s important that you’re as clear as possible in your proposal. As well as stating what sponsors will get from you, clarify what you expect from them. Lay out pricing models, tell them what information you need from them, and highlight any hard deadlines.
Bear in mind that 52% of event sponsors prefer to choose a la carte options over packages that bundle together multiple features at a fixed price.
South By South West’s sponsorship options.
2. Share data if you can
If you’ve run past events, share some of the sponsorship data from those. This will help potential sponsors visualize what they can get from partnering with you. For example, if a previous sponsor managed to secure 10 new enterprise customers from your event, be sure to mention that in your initial talks.
The data doesn’t have to be huge and impressive—just think about what might matter to the sponsors you want to engage. For example, they might want more website visits, an increased market share, or an audience to try their new product feature.
It can be difficult to prove what kind of return on investment (ROI) sponsors will get from working with you, but data is a very clear way of doing so. If you don’t have any data, you can mention the number of attendees and share other sponsors you’ve already secured to increase credibility and confidence.
Here are some data points you can add to your pitch deck:
- Gross revenue from previous sponsorships
- Number of event check-ins
- The top industries represented by attendees
- Visit-to-purchase conversion rates
- Social media engagement levels
- Potential audience reach (online and offline)
Research shows that the most common data sponsors track is sales leads (48%), booth traffic (46%), and attendance/participation (38%).
ODSC conference shares key stats about its previous event to help sponsors get a better picture of what they might get out of the event.
3. Make it worthwhile
Sponsorships are a two-way relationship: You get additional budget and extra coverage, while your sponsors should get more customers, sales, and exposure. It’s important to make the relationship worthwhile and address that upfront.
Think about what perks or incentives you can offer sponsors to sweeten the deal:
Give sponsors a free booth
If it costs money to secure a booth at your trade show or exhibition, give sponsors a free booth. This will help them maximize their reach at your event and makes it feel like they’re getting something extra.
Promote sponsors throughout the event
As well as promoting sponsors in the lead-up to your event, make sure you promote them at other key event touchpoints too. This could be via signage around your venue, on the screensaver before and after presentations, or on your event swag.
You can also incentivize attendees which, in return, benefits your sponsors. For example, you can give an event-related freebie or discount code to attendees that buy a sponsor’s product or sign up for their service during the event.
Share sponsors on social media
Adding a social wall to your event and selling sponsorships is a great way to boost revenue and give sponsors something extra. You can show one or more static logos amongst event-related social content, scrolling text stickers at the bottom of the screen, or do a full-screen overlay or a video loop.
With Everwall’s self-service offering, you can easily add a static logo or a scrolling ticker to the bottom of your screens. Or, upgrade to our full-service offering, which lets you do just about anything, whether it’s sponsorship overlays or looped videos.
Forbes’ Women’s Summit shared its sponsors’ logos at the side of its social media wall.
Find the right sponsors for your event
Finding and signing the right sponsors can give your event a big boost. Not only can it drive more revenue, but it can increase awareness of your event and attract more attendees. But it’s important that the sponsors you choose are relevant to your event, align with your values, and are a good fit for your attendees.
Then, it’s all about creating a great experience for your sponsors. Use Everwall’s social media wall to showcase their logos, promote their products and services, and give them more visibility at your event. Create your event social wall today.
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