Like any other marketing venture, seeking the right sponsor for an event requires research, a personalised approach and a synergy between brand sponsor and event that will ensure a healthy ROI and a strong connection with the right target audience.
Most brands wishing to become involved with event sponsorship do so for particular reasons, maintains Cortney Hoyland, media and brand manager at Tiso Blackstar Events. “Sponsorship of a relevant event increases brand loyalty, creates brand awareness and visibility in the right contexts, can entrench a certain image that the brand wants to establish within its target audience and drive sales. There are also other opportunities for sampling products or services, encouraging trial and providing a platform for consumers to experience the brand.”
As such, finding sponsorship has as much to do with understanding the requirements of the potential sponsors as it does to fulfilling the need to find a sponsor for the event, she says. Research into possible sponsors is key in this regard; investigating the brand’s marketing activities, prior involvement in sponsorships, target audience and brand proposition.
This enables those involved with the event to take a targeted approach to finding sponsors, ensuring that the opportunity will be relevant to the brand’s objectives, and that there is a match between these objectives and the event itself. “As much as the event is planned with the needs of the participants in mind, it’s important to consider the needs of the sponsors in the initial stages too, ensuring that event planning will align with their objectives.”
When it comes to approaching potential sponsors, event organisers should know the exact value of the assets on offer and have identified the opportunities that exist for the sponsor to leverage the investment – beyond naming rights. A short proposal, personalised to align with the needs of that particular brand should also highlight all benefits, from logo placement to product sampling and social media opportunities; as this is where the value lies for potential sponsors.
Often sponsorship value is compared to that of traditional media buys, such as print ads or television commercials. As such, event organisers need to be able to guarantee certain details, Hoyland comments. These include how many delegates they expect will be attending the event; a detailed proposal on how the event will be promoted to consumers, including media plans and other advertising communication; additional partners who will be involved in the sponsorship and how sponsors can benefit mutually from their involvement. Moreover, it is crucial to be transparent about any limitations around the sponsorship – activities that the sponsor may not be permitted to perform, and elements of the event that would not be included in the sponsorship package.
Data is key for potential sponsors, so providing research, statistics and insights from previous events can serve as concrete evidence of the ROI they can expect to receive, says Hoyland.
When it comes to selling sponsorship, knowing the value of the assets is vital. So too is understanding what value they can bring to the potential sponsor in terms of audience reach and building relationships with a targeted group, she says. “Thinking like a marketer makes it easier to show what the investment will bring to the brand and how sponsoring the event will help the brand to achieve its objectives,” she continues.
When it comes to assets, event sponsorship elicits both tangible and intangible benefits. Tangible assets including media placement and advertising value; opportunities for one on one engagement with a targeted audience who have already bought into the event by choosing to be there; lead generation; as well as the data and insights gathered post the event that can be used by the sponsor to better understand its consumer base.
In addition, there are a host of intangible assets that provide additional value to the sponsors involved. These include the perks of being associated with the event itself, which build brand recognition and credibility amongst consumers; added value in the form of opportunities to form partnerships and tie-ins with other sponsors; hospitality discounts; association with industry and thought leaders; promotion and mentions of the brand in media releases and other marketing collateral; reaching new customers by providing them with valuable content as well as opportunities to network with other attendees or businesses in the same sector.
A flexible, personalised approach is often the key to securing sponsorship, Hoyland believes. “Ask the sponsor what they would like to get out of the sponsorship or how they see their involvement and work that into planning the event,” she advises.