As is the case with any other marketing venture, finding the right sponsor for an event requires research, a personalised approach and a synergy between the brand sponsor and event that will ensure a healthy return on investment and a strong connection with the right target audience. Most brands looking to sponsor events do so for particular reasons, says 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 drives sales.
There are also other opportunities for sampling products or services, encouraging trial and providing a platform for consumers to experience the brand.”
To successfully secure sponsorship, an understanding of the needs of the potential sponsor is important. Research into possible sponsors is key – investigating each brand’s marketing activities and prior involvement in sponsorships, as well as its target audience and brand proposition.
Research allows event organisers to take a targeted approach in 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,” says Hoyland.
When it comes to approaching potential sponsors, event organisers should know the exact value of what is on offer and have identified opportunities through which the sponsor can leverage its investment – opportunities beyond just naming rights.
A short proposal, tailored to align with the needs of the particular brand, should highlight all benefits, from logo placement to product sampling and social media opportunities, as this is where the value lies for potential sponsors. Sponsorship value is compared with that of traditional media expenditure, such as print adverts or television commercials. As such, event organisers need to be able to guarantee certain details, Hoyland says.
These include how many delegates they expect to attend the event; a detailed proposal on how the event will be promoted to consumers, including media plans and other advertising communication; additional partners that will be involved in the sponsorship; and information on how sponsors can benefit mutually from their involvement.
Moreover, it is crucial to be transparent about any limitations – activities the sponsor may not be permitted to perform, and elements of the event that are not included in the sponsorship package. Data is key for potential sponsors, so providing research, statistics and insights from previous events can serve as evidence of the return they can expect to receive, says Hoyland.
When it comes to selling sponsorship, knowing the value of the asset is vital. So, too, is understanding the value it can bring to the potential sponsor in terms of audience reach and building relationships with a targeted group. “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 says.
Event sponsorship elicits both tangible and intangible benefits. Tangible assets including media placement and advertising value; opportunities for one-on-one engagement with a target audience that has already bought into the event by choosing to be there; lead generation; and the data and insights gathered after the event, which can be used by the sponsor to better understand its consumer base.
The host of intangible benefits includes the perks of being associated with the event itself, which builds brand recognition and credibility among consumers; 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 material; reaching new customers by providing them with valuable content; and opportunities to network with other attendees or businesses in the same sector.
Hoyland believes a flexible, personalised approach is often the key to securing sponsorship. “Ask the sponsor what it would like to get out of the sponsorship or how it sees its involvement, and work that into planning the event,” she advises.