1. Craft a Unique Selling Proposition
You should think of selling event sponsorships like selling a product or service, because the concept is the same. In the business world, the fastest way to demonstrate the value of what you can offer potential sponsors is through a Unique Selling Proposition (USP), which is a concise statement that outlines:
- Your event’s mission or cause
- What you offer that is of value to sponsors
- What differentiates your event from others
- What defines your event’s audience (size and key characteristics)
- How the sponsor will benefit from the relationship
Ideally, this Unique Selling Proposition should be no longer than a few sentences, and it should be written so you can include it in your initial communications to potential sponsors. Here’s an example of an event sponsorship USP:
“The Cross-Mountain Road Race is the only regional cyclocross race with men’s and women’s classes [differentiator] and benefits local Special Olympics participants and programs [cause/mission]. Our annual event draws ~600 attendees with an average yearly household income of $120K [audience], and we offer a variety of custom sponsorship options [value] that will give you 10-month continued exposure to these high-earning individuals [benefit].”
2. Build a professional brand image for your event
Think about how you evaluate a company or brand you want to hire or do business with. Often the first thing you do is go to their website or request/download their brochure to learn more about them and see if they are legitimate. The same goes for how sponsors first evaluate you. They are going to look you up online, visit your site and browse the Web for mentions to see if you are legit.
So if you have an old Website with broken links, what kind of impression does that make? And what if your logo and design look dated or your marketing materials aren’t up-to-date? Remember, by sponsoring you, they are aligning their brand image with yours, and if your brand doesn’t reflect a professional, clean image, they will probably take their sponsorship dollars to an event that has the polish and cache they seek.
This is why it’s worth it to either spend some funds on having a professional designer create your brand and marketing materials or, better yet, find a designer who will do this for an in-kind sponsorship (more on this later on).
3. Identify audiences and offerings that interest potential sponsors
At this point, you can start to define the specific things you can offer sponsors, like:
- Speaking opportunities and/or special audience access
- On-stage announcements
- Logo placements (on signage, mailings, programs, etc.)
- Website marketing
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing/mentions
- In-kind sponsorship opportunities (this could be a long list but can include food, beverage, printing, a/v, entertainment, transportation, decor/floral, PR, etc.)
- Complimentary or VIP passes
Many event organizers at this stage decide to divvy these offerings into sponsorship levels or sponsorship packages, and although it’s a sound idea to anchor your sponsorship program around top-level featured packages (Title, Headlining, Keynote, Platinum/Gold/Silver, etc.), you should really customize each sponsorship to each sponsor’s needs (more later on why this is important) and be flexible with these sponsorship categories from the outset.
Marketing is my Specialty!
I am a mindful marketing consultant who cares deeply about helping your business succeed. My specialty (and soft spot) is helping small business owners to grow and thrive in their marketing initiatives through careful planning and execution of strategies that focus on collaboration and engagement.
My career has led me to successfully work with professional women and business owners, along with major brands such as GM Canada, Microsoft Canada, TELUS, Johnson & Johnson, Maple Leaf Foods, TD Canada Trust, Staples Canada and Penguin Random House Canada. I have been featured on CBC Radio, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Canadian Living Magazine, Wall Street Journal and in other local media. I have been a featured speaker at numerous industry events.
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