15 Things Sponsors Can Give You Besides Cash
Who doesn’t like cold, hard cash? Money is what makes the world go ‘round, after all. It’s also what allows you to fund your events and continue to grow your audience. Yet did you know your sponsors don’t have to give you money exclusively? Indeed, plenty of other things are just as good, if not better. What are they?
Sponsors may offer you any of these 15 things besides cash:
- New customers
- Second chances at would-be customers
- Vendor relationships
- Event volunteers
- Other donors/sponsors
- Website traffic
- Social media growth
- Insights into your audience
- More opportunities for revenue
- In-kind services or goods
- Business Breakfast!
In this article, we’ll elaborate more on each of these 15 things that make a sponsorship so valuable. Lots of these may not be tangible, but they’re all extremely necessary in growing your business or organization.
No Cash? No Problem! 15 Other High-Value Offerings a Sponsor Can Give
Why do you want to host your event? Probably to bring awareness to a cause of yours, right? When you’re a small organization or business, it can be hard to generate the kind of clout that gets people as passionate about your cause as you are.
Sponsors, being much bigger names, could easily generate tons of interest towards your cause, bringing people in by the dozens, sometimes even the hundreds to your events. If the next time you reach out to a sponsor and they turn you down for financial assistance, consider the possibilities for exposure.
The sponsor’s backing, even if it’s non-financial, will still put your name on the map. They just have to play any role in your event and people will automatically be more interested. Now you have that large audience you always wanted and the sponsor didn’t have to put forth a dime. It’s a win-win for you both.
You may wear many hats in your organization or business, but there’s always more you can afford to learn. If a sponsor offers you their in-house knowledge as opposed to funding, it’s wise to take them up on it.
You can pull back the curtain and take a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how sponsors conduct their business, be that from a social media standpoint, a technological one, or even a business viewpoint.
Make sure you’re like a sponge during these unique, rare opportunities so you soak up as much useful info as you can. The knowledge you gain could someday be applied to your own organization as you grow.
Your sponsor might even be able to show you resources such as tools, programs, software, and even people who can help you achieve more of your goals.
In some ways, these knowledge exchanges are almost better than cash. A sponsor’s financial help only extends to one event, maybe several more subsequent ones if all goes well. The knowledge and resources a sponsor can give, on the other hand, can transform and grow your organization for years to come.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a small company or a nonprofit: everyone wants leads. Leads are those who have stumbled upon your organization but have not yet decided to become customers. They’ll need more convincing before they convert, and that’s your job.
To keep your organization or business afloat, you need a steady influx of leads. That’s because not every lead will convert, so it helps to have more to fill in the gaps for the ones that don’t stick with you.
If your organization is struggling to bring in consistent leads, you may want to lean on your sponsor if they tell you they can help in this area. Since you’ve already done your due diligence to ensure your sponsor’s audience aligns with yours, any leads they send your way should be interested in what your organization does. Then it’s just a matter of converting them.
Granted, you shouldn’t use a sponsor to generate all your leads permanently. Eventually, you’ll have to figure out how to start bringing in your own, because your sponsorship relationship won’t last forever.
If you’re a new organization or business still finding its footing though, sponsorship lead gen is super helpful for you. Sometimes leads beget more leads, which can keep the lead train going for a while until you learn how to operate it from there.
4 A Second Shot at Would-Be Customers
Speaking of leads and conversions, what do you do about the ones who don’t convert? You probably let them go, right? After all, you can’t keep harassing them to buy from you or support you. That won’t end well, and the lead could always tell others about their poor experience, which hurts you even more.
That said, in for-profit and not-for-profit groups alike, would-be customers sometimes tend to gravitate back around. These warm prospects could have attended your sponsored event, for example.
Perhaps at the time they first came across you, they didn’t have the money or the interest. Now, enough time has passed that their circumstances are different. They’re much more engaged with you this time.
If they come back and convert successfully this second time, then you indirectly have your sponsor to thank for it. So yes, while sponsors can’t necessarily give you second chances like this from the get-go, more leads do tend to be the result of a great partnership between you and your sponsor.
Besides exposure, your business or organization is also chasing credibility. You want your customers or patrons to see you as a reputable group. This way, whether they give you their time, money, or resources, they feel confident they’re making a smart decision.
How do you build credibility, especially if you’re a newer organization? It’s rarely an overnight process, and typically involves lots of sincerity, honesty, expertise in your niche, and yes, maybe even a little luck.
One fast and reliable way to become more credible is to partner with a sponsor. Here’s what your audience will think: if the sponsor is willing to put their name on your event, then surely, you’re worth working with.
Credibility is like the gift that keeps on giving. Once you’re established as a more credible source through your sponsor, you should see more leads, more sales (or donations), and overall, more growth.
Again, credibility is one of those amazing things a sponsor can give that goes so much further than donations for an event or two ever can.
6 Vendor Relationships
You go into your sponsor meeting to discuss what you two can offer each other. The sponsor says that instead of money, they can introduce you to some phenomenal vendors. Should you accept their offer?
Definitely, especially if you plan on hosting events regularly. Each time you have to scramble to find your lighting technician, caterer, venue hall, and even a DJ, that’s time you have to take away from running your organization. You also might spend more money on these vendors because you didn’t have a spare minute to compare prices and do the proper vetting.
The vendors your sponsor recommends will surely be some of the best at what they do. Your sponsor may even be able to negotiate a slightly lower rate for their services, which helps you financially even without sponsor money.
Building solid relationships always benefits your organization or business. Once you have a team of vendors you can rely on, you may feel inclined to host even more events, which increases your exposure and possibly your revenue even further.
Not every last staff member that’s involved with your event necessarily has to be paid. Sometimes, in lieu of vendors, a sponsor can give you a list of willing volunteers instead. This is especially useful if your business or organization is tight on funds, which is probably why you’re seeking sponsor donations in the first place.
Some volunteer arrangements may involve payment, so do keep that in mind. Typically, you’re spending a lot less money on volunteers than you would by paying vendors. Given that your sponsor is providing your volunteer staff, you can trust that you’re getting workers who know what they’re doing.
Being able to pull off your event without a hitch while saving money is huge. You may even retain some volunteers for future events, which would be majorly helpful.
Did you know Apple started in a garage? Yes, the Apple, as in the company that produces Macs and the iPhone. Many of today’s biggest brands have similarly humble beginnings. Through a lot of work, perseverance, and patience, these companies went from small unknowns to household names.
If your organization is working especially hard on branding, then you naturally gravitated towards a sponsor. You figured that with their financial assistance, you would be able to put on a huge event that would push your brand to the forefront.
Even if your sponsor can’t provide the funding you were hoping for, that doesn’t mean the deal is a wash. A sponsor can boost your brand in many ways. They could provide interactive booths at your event that get everyone talking. They might even drum up media coverage that puts your name out there.
Your sponsor may also offer other non-monetary assistance when it comes to hosting your event. This will increase your audience engagement and interest, which is a surefire way to build more brand awareness.
9 Other Donor/Sponsor Opportunities
Like your sponsor might know volunteers and vendors who can help make your event a smashing success, they may also be privy to other sponsor or donor companies. If they themselves cannot help you financially at this time, then they can at least point you in the direction of someone who can.
You should wholeheartedly accept the opportunity to connect with this donor/sponsor, but make sure you do your own research before you go into a meeting. Look into the sponsor’s background and see if their audience or goals aligns with yours. Then create a proposal that crafts a mutually beneficial agreement.
Here are 37 reliable discovery questions you can ask when meeting with this sponsor.
You’ll have a much better chance of this second sponsor saying yes given that you’ve come recommended from the first sponsor.
10 Website Traffic
When you successfully host an event, several benefits will follow. One of these will be a flood of traffic to your organization or business’ website.
Like you have to convert your leads, it’s your responsibility to take this traffic and make the most of it. Perhaps you add opt-in forms on your homepage or elsewhere on the site. Your website visitors can then subscribe to future correspondence from you, such as newsletters and updates about your next events.
Take some time in your event planning to accommodate for more leads post-event and how that will affect your website. If you haven’t upgraded your site in some time, now would be a good time to do so. You want to ensure it runs quickly, as that’s one of the factors that matters to Google algorithms since 2018.
Also, your website should be mobile-optimized, meaning it looks as good and runs as well on a smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch as it does on a desktop computer or laptop. According to BroadbandSearch, in 2019, more than half of website traffic was mobile, 53 percent in all. That’s a huge portion of your audience to potentially lose out on.
11 Social Media Growth
With an uptick in web traffic from your sponsor, you can expect this to bleed over to your social media profiles as well. To get these in shape for more visitors, log into each account and ensure all your profile information is up-to-date. You would hate for a lead to try to email you through your Facebook profile, but the email address there is outdated.
Your profiles should be active as well with regular posts. Memorable content that engages your audience will keep them on your page longer and could even earn you more follows, likes, and comments.
Oh, and going back to your website for a moment, you should have prominent social buttons on your site that link to your organization’s Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. This cross-traffic can boost your visitor numbers!
12 Audience Insights
You know your audience well, but a sponsor with a bigger audience may understand that demographic even better. Through them, you could gain access to a variety of insights that may have otherwise alluded you.
Since your audience and that of your sponsor’s are such a close match, the information you learn from this amazing glimpse into how your audience’s collective mind works should be directly applicable to your organization. You may revise your website, begin marketing yourself differently, or focus on a new part of your business or organization that didn’t receive as much attention.
No matter your tactics, your sponsor’s insights can inform your strategy so you can continue to understand your audience better and grow it more in the process.
13 Potential Revenue
As the 12 points above prove, the earnings potential by working with a sponsor is huge, even if you don’t necessarily get a direct donation from them. You’ll expand your leads, sharpen your approaches, convert more customers, and host more events. These actions all pad your organization’s bottom line!
14 In-Kind Gifts or Services
Your sponsor may also suggest gifts in kind, or even in-kind services. An in-kind service encompasses much of what we’ve talked about throughout this article, such as resources or lead generation. Other examples of in-kind services can include publishing, transportation, website development, and printing.
In-kind people would also count as an in-good service, such as the vendors or volunteers provided to you by your sponsor.
Gifts in kind are not actually presents, although they can be. Mostly, they’re donations outside of a sponsorship. All in-kind donations, be those monetary or not, can be immensely helpful to your business or organization.
15 They Can Hold a Business Breakfast!
Here’s how to run a business breakfast:
- Identify one person, with a conveniently located office and board room that holds up to 20 people
- Ask them to hold a low-key networking breakfast, coffee and muffins only, and to invite three of their colleagues
- Identify three other people in your network and invite them to your networking event if, and only if, they can bring three people from their network
- At the event, network for an hour before the business day starts. Have your host introduce you as a friend and colleague and then tell the crowd you want two things from them. The first, is to buy them a cup of coffee in the next two weeks. The second, is for someone in the crowd to agree to hold an identical event for you next month
Not only will you have your next business breakfast planned but you also have a pool of prospects to come, who can bring three of their contacts. People love to network! What better way to start a new relationship than by offering your prospects value before you even ask them for a penny.
If you’re only going after a sponsorship for the money, you might want to rethink your approach. As this article has proven, you can receive many more useful contributions to your organization through a sponsor. Most of these are non-monetary, too.
From lead generation to audience insights, introductions to important parties, web and social traffic, credibility, and brand building, you can achieve more of your goals by broadening your definition of what a sponsorship can be.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Baylis is the President and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective and a self-confessed sponsorship geek.
After several years as a sponsor (that’s right, the one investing the money!) Chris decided to cross over to the sponsorship sales side where he has personally closed tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship deals. Chris has been on the front lines of multi-million-dollar sponsorship agreements and has built and coached teams to do the same. Chris now spends his time working with clients to value their assets and build strategies that drive sales. An accomplished speaker and international consultant, Chris has helped his clients raise millions in sponsorship dollars.