Over the past 18 months, I’ve had the opportunity to host 5 networking events and by the second one, I was able to secure support from various sponsors. Yes, the events were still relatively new but the numbers don’t matter as much as value. Without value, it doesn’t matter how many attendees or social media impressions you have. You may think that your event is “too small” but it may be exactly the type of event a company is looking to support.
But, let’s be honest – reaching out to sponsors is nerve-wracking! Between finding the right people to contact, drafting the emails, waiting patiently for responses (you’ll probably refresh your emails every few minutes) and dealing with rejection, landing sponsors is not easy. However, if there’s anything I’ve learned since organizing my own events – nothing worth having comes easy and you don’t get what you don’t ask for. Yes, it’s nerve-wracking to reach out to potential sponsors but if you successfully land sponsorship support, it can truly help to elevate your brand.
Here are 5 tips to help you get event sponsors:
Create a strong sponsorship package
It’s imperative that you have a short yet concise document that you can share with your sponsors that highlights exactly why they should get involved with your event. Here are the key things to include:
- Who you are and your expertise (what’s your background, why are you passionate about this and what makes you qualified)
- Details on past events (attendee numbers, photos, positive feedback – highlight your growth!)
- Attendee demographics (describe your attendees by age, interests, location, professional background, etc.)
- Benefits of sponsoring your event (a.k.a. What value can you provide them?)
- Sponsorship options (will you provide pre-set packaged opportunities or customized options?)
- Contact information
Research and create an outreach list
When it comes to sponsorship, don’t just throw spaghetti at the wall and hope it sticks – in other words, don’t reach out to anyone and everyone and take whoever responds. You need to be specific in terms of who your ideal sponsors would be so that it makes sense for your event. Take time to research and ask yourself the following questions:
- What brands can best integrate into your event and provide value?
- Who has sponsored events similar to yours?
- What brands do our attendees like?
Create customized emails
Once you have a targeted list, it’s time for you to start your outreach. I highly recommend trying to find emails for a specific person – emails sent to a general mailbox rarely ever receive responses. If you can’t easily find the best contact from the company’s website – don’t get discouraged! Here’s what I do:
- Look up the best contact on LinkedIn
- Once I have the first and last name, I research to find out how the company structures their email addresses (for example – is it firstnamelastname@company, firstname.lastname@company, etc.)
- The quickest way to find out how the company structures their emails? Search for a recent press release and check the contact details at the bottom!
Before you start reaching out, it’s important to know exactly what type of support you would like from them. Take some time to brainstorm some ideas so that if they ask you what you have in mind, you can respond right away. Be direct yet reasonable in your requests.
Your emails need to be short but valuable and from the first few sentences, you need to make clear what’s in it for them. Start by addressing them by name and then briefly introducing yourself, what you do and the value you provide. Let them know your package is attached for them to review and be sure to end the email with a call-to-action so that they’re more likely to respond – you could ask to set up a call or a meeting to provide them with more details.
I also suggest creating a tracker so that you can keep a record of all the emails you sent out, what date and the responses you receive. This way, you’ll be able to effectively follow up.
Keep the communication lines open
Once a sponsor has agreed to partner with you, it’s important to openly communicate with them both before and after the event. Provide them with all of the event details and update them on any changes that may occur. Also be sure to respond to all emails within 24 hours.
Your follow-up after the event is extremely important. If you’re able to maintain the relationship, you could potentially have a permanent sponsor! Within 48 hours, send each sponsor a thank you email with pictures and stats from the event. I also suggest sending a handwritten thank you card within 7 days to really show your appreciation for their support.
Now, let’s be honest – you could follow all of these steps and still receive a No. If you do (and it’s very likely that you will receive a few of them – that’s just life), do not let it discourage you. Move forward and continue reaching out because you’re sure to find the right company that completely believes in your vision and will help to take your event to the next level.
Would you be interested in an e-Book on all things event sponsorship, including more proposal tips, screenshots from successful sponsorship packages, email templates and more? Leave me a comment below!