At Kendall Press, we work with a lot of companies hosting events, and event sponsorship is a topic that frequently comes up in our conversations. Whether the host is a Meetup group that has secured funds for food and drink at an evening session, or a nonprofit needing to impress at its most important fundraising event of the year, any company defraying costs through sponsorship needs to provide the right attention and benefits to their underwriters.
Based on our experience with event hosts and sponsors alike, here are three best practices to keep in mind when it comes to providing a sponsor with sufficient return on investment. While every sponsor has unique needs, these three ideas are a good starting point to ensure that sponsors not only come away happy with the event, but open to repeat participation.
1. Active communication
Securing any level of contribution takes a lot of work, yet getting someone to commit money to your event is only the beginning. Maintaining a high level of communication with sponsors up to, throughout and after an event is key to ensuring mutual satisfaction. Schedule a briefing session ahead of time where you can prepare them for exactly what they should expect at the event. Offer advice on how sponsors can maximize the value they get from sponsorship, especially in any way that is unique to your event. Don’t forget to follow up post event. This gives you the opportunity to get feedback from your sponsor and assess levels of success so you can build on this experience for the future.
2. Acknowledgments as appropriate
Acknowledging your patrons sounds like a no-brainer, but you should set aside some time during your event planning to think about the best way to fit any acknowledgments into the specific format of your event. Recognition can be given in a variety of ways, some with more value than others. While you can announce to the room your appreciation for a contributor, consider offering to incorporate logos or company names on any program material being used throughout the event. Other options include offering prominent space for a sponsor-provided, sponsor-branded pull-up banner, or poster, or inclusion in a continuously running slide deck throughout the night.
3. Access to audience
Giving event sponsors access to your audience doesn’t necessarily mean giving them time to make a big group pitch during an event, or giving them contact information to your entire mailing list. In fact, either of those approaches may serve to alienate attendees while providing little benefit to your sponsors. Instead, focus on creating natural opportunities for your sponsors to meet and mingle with attendees by including an interactive, networking period as part of your event agenda. Find out the type of people your sponsors are interested in meeting during the time leading up to your event. That will allow you to personally arrange and conduct key introductions that would be beneficial both for your sponsors and at least a handful of attendees.
Ultimately, successful sponsorship is built on creating a successful partnership. By taking the time to determine unique sponsor needs, you’ll know what has to happen for each benefactor to consider their sponsorship a good use of their time and money. If you set reasonable expectations early and aim to exceed them in every way possible, you can be confident that your sponsors will be interested in contributing to future events.
Jason, for the team at Kendall Press