Event sponsors are a fantastic source of revenue. But finding, pitching, achieving and keeping sponsors can be a difficult and time-consuming process, especially if you’re unsure of how the process works.
Find the right sponsor
Finding the right sponsor for your expo is about defining the vision of your expo, then discovering a sponsor that shares the same vision. A sponsor will be enticed to invest in your expo if they can relate to the purpose of both your event and your business.
You can do a quick Google search for brands, products or publications that have similar attributes to your event, then continue searching to find who their sponsors are. For example, if you are hosting a food and wine expo then a company that sponsors a food magazine will be more inclined to sponsor your event.
Aside from searching online, you can also find potential sponsors by attending networking events, interacting on social media or connecting on LinkedIn. Build up a strong list of potential sponsors and narrow down your options to companies that reflect your business’s own values.
Connect with sponsors
Pitching to and connecting with potential sponsors involves careful planning and effort. The best way to contact prospects is through email. In your researching stage you will need to find the contact details of primary decision makers in the company, such as people working in public relations or marketing. If you are unable to find their contact details, use the company’s generic email address and direct it towards the correct person.
Your email will include a brief overview about the type of event and what value the sponsor receives. Your goal is to organise a meeting with prospects to discuss potential sponsorship further. Don’t send the same, standard email to multiple companies. Make each email personal to that prospect. Add personality and knowledge of their business to your email so the recipient is reassured you’ve taken time and effort to contact them. However, there can be a fine line between being personal and informal so make sure your email maintains professional.
In your email it’s important that you are clear about your goals and values for the expo, and how they correlate to their own goals and values. Share interesting data about your expo so they know what they could achieve. This includes ticket sales or registrations, demographics of attendees, and social media reports. Leverage this information to showcase the opportunity available to them through your event.
While email is a great starting point, it’s crucial to move towards more effective methods of communication including phone calls or face-to-face meetings. Don’t continue emailing back and forth. Take the step to call them to discuss matters further over the phone.
Present a promotional plan
Sponsors will want to be promoted so develop a promotion plan that explains how you will promote them before, during and after the event. Ask for feedback on this plan as the sponsor will likely wish to make changes.
Attract your sponsor by presenting a unique idea for sponsorship. This can be from VIP Areas or lounges to a photobooth or phone charging stations. Make sure you also offer low budget plans for sponsors that may not want to spend any money.
Pleasing a sponsor
“Keeping a sponsor happy begins long before the event. It starts the day of your first discussion about engaging them in the event. Success is based on understanding the sponsors purpose, goals and brand.”
Go to the meeting well prepared and with enough information to inform them of your business and goals, but not too much that you overwhelm them. Be timely and straight to the point with what you want and how you and the sponsor can work together to achieve mutual goals.
Treat your sponsors like celebrity VIP’s at an event. Assign someone to be responsible for liaising with them and ensuring they are kept happy. At the end of the day, the sponsor wants the best outcome out of the expo possible for their business and once you welcome a sponsor into your team it’s your job to make sure they receive what they are aiming for.
Keeping a sponsor
Along this process, make sure you are building positive, long-term relationships. You can do this by keeping your sponsors informed of the planning process, be flexible with your sponsors and share interesting data about your expo. Always follow up after any meetings or phone calls, your potential sponsor will appreciate your enthusiasm and efficiency. You and your sponsor are a team – remember to include them in your plans.
I hope that by now you are feeling more confident your sponsorship searching. This process will never be easy and will always be time-consuming, but it’s a process that, if done correctly, can have amazing benefits for your trade or consumer show.
Below is an example of an email sent to a potential sponsor that will be sure to get you headed in the right direction.
If you require any assistance in your efforts to attract and maintain a sponsor, you can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help.
Example of a pitch to a sponsor
You can follow this template to structure your email to a prospective sponsor, but ensure you adapt it to suit each recipient. Please note that all names in this example are fictional and not based on real individuals or companies.
Dear Richard Smith, (Conduct research to obtain the full name of the best contactable person.)
(In the first few sentences, introduce your company and the expo you are hosting. Provide the name, date and location. Describe what the focus of your expo is, what it aims to achieve and who will be exhibiting.)
Farm Scapes will be hosting our annual trade show, Iconic Farm, at Kings Park Seymour in Victoria. Our focus this year is to showcase the latest technology, practices and products in Australian agricultural farming. We have received exhibitor interest from Farm Square, APE and Healthy Grow. We would love Red Apple’s participation in our trade show to ensure our events success.
This year our goal is raise funds for farmers across Australia to assist them with equipment, food and emotional support throughout the difficult drought periods. We believe this is a fantastic cause and an issue very close to our hearts.
(Include statistics and data that display your shows previous success or predictions to reassure your prospect that their sponsorship will be worthwhile.)
In 2017 and 2018 we received an outstanding 15, 320 visitors and 450 exhibitors. We would be very honoured work with Red Apple towards reaching another successful event in 2019.
(Briefly describe what their sponsorship will be. Don’t include too much detail as this is something that can be discussed in a meeting.)
Your sponsorship will feature on trade show advertisements, including both print and digital marketing tool. We’d also like to include features on our staff uniforms and biodegradable cups to serve refreshments, with a percentage of each purchase donated.
(Invite them to discuss the proposal further. Your goal is to get a phone call or arrange a face-to-face meeting with them.)
A contribution form has been attached along with this email. We would love the opportunity to discuss this proposal further. If you require further information you can contact us on 05 555 555.