By Christy Lamagna, CMP, CMM, CTSM
Delivering what your sponsors want.
Using a strategic, not scattershot approach to sponsorships.
Bringing energy and enthusiasm to the sponsorship process.
Sponsor dollars are often the backbone upon which shows are produced, so much so that without them some events have to be canceled. Many meeting and event planners tasked with landing sponsorships face increased competition every year while the coffers are simultaneously shrinking. For some, the additional stress of increased demand spells trouble for their programs’ success.
For the strategic planner, the competition is hardly noticeable. Funds continue to flow and the fundraising process is energizing rather than soul killing. The difference? A strategic, not scattershot approach.
Let’s examine the traditional solicitation approach. Tiers of pre-established packages are created and sold for a specific sum. The premise is dollars are given in return for recognition which will (ideally) translate into sales for the sponsor. Offerings include the sponsor’s logo on print and social media marketing, mentions from a podium, an ad in a show guide, copious amounts of signage, and perhaps a drink named after the sponsor during the welcome reception. Packages are sold at varying prices with a smaller offering of benefits for lower denomination price tags.
Some planners have broken away from the traditional package names, calling a top tier a ‘valued partner’ rather than the hackneyed ‘platinum sponsor’ title that permeated call for sponsor letters in the early to mid-2000’s. Others have gone a step further and given monikers to their packages that reflect the host corporation or the event theme. While I acknowledge that bit of creative flourish, it still doesn’t register on my strategic meter and likely won’t garner any additional consideration for the folks disbursing sponsor dollars.
Try this approach the next time you are soliciting sponsorships.
Create your packages WITH your target audience. ASK the company you are targeting what they value and find a way to deliver it. For instance, some companies would jump at the opportunity to place a sample of their products into potential clients’ hands. Putting an item into a show bag may have tremendous value. Other organizations may covet face-to-face contact with key members of your attendee base. In that instance, a high-level cocktail party they can attend and control may be the deal closer. Perhaps a potential sponsor is positioning themselves as a thought leader. As long as the content is not a commercial for their organization, why not offer them a preshow podcast, a seminar slot, 15 minutes on the main stage, a full page interview in the show guide, an on-air appearance on the event’s YouTube channel or website? Whatever exposure you can offer, that is tailored to them with a message they control, may inspire them to sign on the dotted line.
These ideas should garner the decision makers’ attention and ideally, inspire them to write you a check. That’s a win not just for this year but for future events. The ROI of a strategic sponsorship package should be easier to quantify and their participation that much more meaningful. All this upside will cost you little to no money while garnering dollars that were perhaps previously going to competing shows.
By opening a conversation with the question, ‘How can we tailor a sponsorship to best help you achieve your sales and marketing goals?’ you will find yourself brainstorming and exploring, which brings energy and enthusiasm to the process. What a contrast from the dusty, old recital of standard offerings that garner little more than an I’ll get back to you when you’re done. Or even better, instead of emailing the offer and either never hearing back or having to make repeated follow up calls, how refreshing would it be to have your potential sponsor call you?
Don’t forget to check out Strategic Planners.
Want more strategic approaches to a planner’s typical tasks? Discover the first steps to becoming a Strategic Planner here. Have a topic you want covered or a question you want answered? Email me at: Christy.Lamagna@Strategic.Events. Until then, go forth and strategize!
Tags: Strategic Sponsorships, Sponsorships, Sponsorship, Sponsors, Strategic Planners, Strategic Events, Corporate Meetings, Corporate Events, Midwest Meetings