15 Ways to Add Value to Your Corporate Sponsorship Program
The competition for sponsorship programs is fierce. There are thousands of causes and events out there fighting for dollars from companies of all sizes. The only way to get an edge over the competition is to look for bigger and better opportunities for sponsors that allow them to get the most meaningful, effective contact with your attendees.
That means the old bronze, silver and gold package offering minimum interaction with basic logo placements isn’t going to cut it. Instead, your goal is to bring more value to your corporate sponsorship practices so what you offer helps sponsors meet their marketing objectives. Here are 15 ways you can add value to your corporate sponsorship program to attract the right sponsors.
1. Provide direct sales opportunities
Sponsors love programs that provide new ways to sell directly to their audience. This overt form of sales opportunity can prove to be not only far-reaching, but also get directly to the job at hand. Whether you offer them the chance to do presentations, digital offers, promotional pricing, etc. you can help sponsors meet their sales goals by presenting them with more direct routes to their audience instead of simply saying, “Hey, we’ll put your logo on all of our signs before, during and after the event.” They need connections that put them in front of their audience to convert new customers into paying customers. Show them that and your program’s value increases.
2. Measure success and outcomes
How can you possibly prove your value if you don’t take the time to measure your success and outcomes? This is marketing 101. You need to test and measure your assets so you can offer proof of how well sponsorship has helped other sponsors meet their goals. If this is your first rodeo, then you need to look for other ways to do this such as information on how your type of event has worked to reach your audience. The more details you can provide, the more value you bring to your sponsorship program.
3. Use media partnerships to promote sponsors
Media sponsor partnerships are the link to increase the appeal and therefore the value of your programs. They are one of the most attractive properties you can offer especially if you have the chance to hit major targets. If you can align yourself with one of the major media outlets in your area/industry, sponsors will be fighting for the chance to get in front of that audience. If you can show them you offer their ideal audience, you can prove the value your media partnership brings to the table.
You can not only expand your own reach, but allow major sponsors to hook their marketing plan to your little red wagon. It’s also one of the best ways to prove ROI to sponsors — past, present, and future. Unlike organic media, it is guaranteed to get you exposure, which is why sponsors tend to be very excited about the prospect. And if you’re worried your event is too niche, don’t be. You will find a magazine, website, journal, association, etc. that shares your interest and will have the potential for a partnership that will attract the right prospects.
4. Hold a sponsor summit
Sponsor summits often scare event planners off as they appear to be a high-ticket tactic that will reap little rewards. However, it is possible for you to plan a summit that suits your budget and still gathers a group of important prospects. Summits increase your chances of enticing the right prospects because suddenly you’ll know who they are and what they need. Not all summits are created equal and should be based on your budget and the scope of your event. You can try one of three approaches:
The Full-On Summit: This is a high-end, exclusive event you hold by invite only. You go all out and even take the time to find a few major keynote speakers. It’s at a fancy-schmancy venue and in some cases can last a few days. It takes skill to plan one of these babies successfully and they are really only suited for major, high budget events where money is less of an issue. We’re talking national level or even international level events, sports teams, charities, facilities, etc.
The Mid-Sized Summit: This is still pretty formal, but also simpler. If you have a widely recognized brand or already have some big sponsors on board, this is the level you should aspire to reach. This is no more than a half-day event with one impressive industry keynote speaker, and includes a “treat” for attendees in the way of good food and networking opportunities in hand with some useful group work and thought leadership opportunities. If you are selling your sponsorships programs in the five and six figures, your event attracts major sponsors and maybe this is your first stab at a summit this will work for your needs.
The Summit Over Easy: As the name implies this is a breakfast event on a smaller scale, smaller budget, and smaller scope. You can take the summit to your sponsors, or have them come to you if it is a local event. You max out at 30 people for these meetings and they work well if you are a low-level event or conference.
5. Build a custom offering for your sponsor’s needs
It might seem odd to throw in customization when discussing how to add value to your sponsorship program. However, nothing smacks of poorly planned programs more than simply offering the old standard bronze, silver, and gold packages. Value is found in the effort you take to learn more about your prospect’s needs. Only then can you ensure that what you offer will be successful.
That is why the basic programs and packages don’t work. You need to get to know your prospects at a discovery meeting, find out their goals and determine if you will make a good fit. If the answer is yes, you can come up with customized solutions that help them meet their goals. We’re not saying you shouldn’t have packages. You need packages to create a base offering. However, what we are saying is that you need to create those packages with flexibility in mind so you can add customizable assets that suit the needs of your sponsors.
6. Provide audience data
Your audience is your golden goose. If you fail to present data on your audience, sponsors won’t see the value in why your event or cause is so important to them. When you can outline in clear numbers who your audience is, how large they are, what they want and how they have reacted to past events you can demonstrate you have a direct line to the most important people to your sponsors. The more detail you can provide, the better off you will be. Surveys designed to get the nitty-gritty your sponsors want are the best place to start. Focus on the info your sponsors want and chances are you’ll also find information your prospects want. Ask them first, then go to your audience with deep diving surveys to collect information such as:
- Geographic and Demographic
- Motivations, Opinion, Interests and Usage
- Interests and Usage
- Brand Preference and Loyalty
And of course, add any specifics your sponsors indicate are important to them.
7. Build audience personas and niches
Once you collect your data, be sure to value the audience segments. Your niches are where the real value lies as it allows sponsors to see exactly who they can reach. It also makes your packages even more enticing as you can provide information that shows sponsors your assets provide the best tools to reach each segment.
8. Build activations based on audience needs
Activation is where audience and sponsor goals align. Since you are putting together all that info on your audience segments, you can ensure the activations you plan are meeting the needs of those segments. You can use that info to brainstorm ideas with your team and at discovery meetings with sponsors to create the ideal list of assets that will be the most likely to see activation success. This way you can achieve attendee satisfaction, which means sponsors, will be more than satisfied too.
9. Use Social Media
Never underestimate the power of social media. That is probably enough said. However, to be clear, both your own and your sponsors’ social media pages offer a plethora of opportunities when promoting your event, during your event and then post-event. Show them how your audience responds to social channels and use social channels for proof of activation at past events. Demonstrate success of your audience engagement on social and you will also demonstrate the value of your programs.
10. Run contests to promote sponsor products
This is a no brainer, yet many programs fail to incorporate contests.
11. Give sponsors stage time (or screen time if digital)
Thought leadership is a marketing opportunity most sponsors can’t ignore. Whether they can get in front of their audience to inform, entertain, or converse, they want that intimate spotlight to engage their ideal customer. Keynote speakers, demonstrations, Q&As and more provide both live and digital interactions that can be hard to come by and therefore create value.
12. Collect case studies
This lines up with your measurement efforts, but goes deeper. You can ask sponsors for their stories of success and then present them as case studies. Not everyone will want to read them, but for those who need more than just numbers, case studies can often be the one thing that moves them to the end of that sales funnel. Case studies can also be used to help sponsors find you.
13. Create a marketing plan for each sponsor
Yes, you’re right in hoping your sponsors will already have a marketing plan. However, by creating a marketing plan of your own for each sponsor, you will demonstrate you are trying to help them meet their goals. You can be better positioned to target the right sponsors because you’ll have an outline of what your brand needs, who your audience and attendees are and what you will do to reach those targets and promote your brand.
Because sponsors pay for the privilege to hit their target and potentially align themselves with an event such as yours to improve their corporate image, a marketing plan with clearly defined goals will provide meaning to their sponsorship. Your plan will provide each sponsor with a list of segments and how the plan will help them reach those segments more effectively and why. In other words, you’ll look like you know what you’re doing and that builds confidence and trust.
14. Provide a fulfillment report
A fulfillment report provides proof you did everything you said you would. This is important as it is one of the most effective tools in sponsorship renewal. You simply list the benefits you promised each sponsor, and then show them how you performed. Did you meet the promise? Show them how. Did you miss the mark? Tell them why. Your goal is to provide proof of ROI, and hopefully that you were able to exceed or at least meet their expectations. Maybe more importantly, you exceeded the expectations of your audience.
15. Know your market value
Determining the value of your sponsorship inventory is easier if you know your own market value. There are a few things that help you understand your value including:
- The value of your properties/assets
- Your audience
- How you can reach that audience
- Media partnerships
If you have held events in the past, it becomes easier to understand your market value, therefore measurement is particularly important. If this is your first event or first event of its kind then you will have to do some research to apply value to each of these areas.
Whether you are in the heart of promoting a national event or are planning a small-town marathon, sponsorships provide the money you need to create valuable, worthwhile experiences for your attendees/target audience. With these tips, you can ensure you make that value clear to sponsors and prospects.
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.