How to Be Successful at Sponsorship Sales: 7 Methods for More Sponsorship Dollars
We may have surprised you with our five stages of sponsorship post, especially if your prior method was budgeting and then throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. Having a thought-out plan will always beat just winging it. While you know that now, you may still be looking for help with your sponsorship sales. Namely, how do you increase yours?
To boost your sponsorship sales, try these seven things:
- Choose sponsors that align with your target audience
- Have comprehensive, customizable sponsorship packages to choose from
- Don’t be afraid to dip into the well twice (repeat the same sponsor for a second year/event)
- Use fulfillment reports to increase your value to a sponsor
- Track other important metrics pre and post-event
- Focus on creating value-driven events, often with the assistance of your sponsor
- Offer exclusive conferences to the sponsor using your well-built network
If one of your goals this year is to improve sales from your sponsorships, then we encourage you to keep reading. In this post, we’ll elaborate on the seven tips above so you can start planning and screening your sponsors in a more benefits-driven and revenue-centric way for you both.
Keep Your Sponsor Aligned with Your Target Audience
Besides the unpredictability of results, one reason to avoid throwing things at a wall with sponsorship sales is the possibility of goal misalignment. While your target audience and that of your sponsor may never perfectly overlap, there should be enough similarities between the audiences that make the sponsor worth working with.
To determine which sponsor would be the most viable partner, you need to know your own target audience inside and out. This audience would be comprised of past event attendees. Hopefully, you’ve kept the line of communication open with these attendees, as that will make it easier to reconnect.
We recommend using analytics on your social media accounts and your website to gauge who’s visiting, where they’re from, what their age is, their gender, and even their occupation. Alternately, focus groups or online-based surveys are other good options for learning more about your attendees, their pain points, and what else makes them tick.
Offer Customizable Sponsorship Packages
No two sponsors are exactly alike, and in keeping that in mind, you could see a spike in sponsorship sales. During your sponsorship proposal, should you choose to present one, you might discuss your sponsorship package as well.
A customizable, flexible sponsorship package makes you more attractive to sponsors. You may include such things in this package as promotions and marketing ahead of and after the event or customizable add-on-options in addition to your base package. You could even give your sponsor first dibs at certain parts of your event, such as a prized location or exhibit.
By keeping the perks and pricing flexible, you and the sponsor can come to an agreement that adds max value to the event.
Use a Sponsor Again If It Makes Sense
Never be afraid to dip into the well twice. If, for an event last year, you worked with a sponsor and it went fabulously, there’s no rule that precludes you from reaching out a second time. The past history with that sponsor plus your reputation as being a great partner to work with increases the chances of your sponsor saying yes to a repeat outing.
By working with the same sponsor again, you also get the added benefit of having a lot of the kinks already worked out. Unless the sponsor drastically changed from the last time you worked together, then you two know each other pretty well. You can skip some of the growing pains and getting to know each other’s styles and get right to planning a fantastic, profitable event.
Never Go Without Fulfillment Reports
This is something we discussed in our five stages of sponsorship post as linked to above. A fulfillment report is useful for any sponsor, but if you’re chasing after a repeat one, the report is especially necessary.
What is a fulfillment report? It’s an overview of all the promised assets that you said you’d deliver to the sponsor. The report also doubles as an accountability check, for it’s a good opportunity for you to gauge how many of those assets you fulfilled. If there are ones you didn’t get to, ask yourself why. Was it lack of time or funds? Did disorganization cause something to slip through the cracks?
The fulfillment report should be augmented with photos of all deliveries, including web traffic reports, samples, product placements, event logos, and more. When your sponsor from the year prior is reminded through the fulfillment report of all that went well with your last event, doing another one with you becomes a no-brainer.
Fulfillment reports have a role even outside of continuing work with the same sponsor. They serve as a wonderful visual and written means of proving your track record to a new sponsor. That should enhance the interest of any worthwhile partner.
Track Important Metrics During and After Your Event
Of course, having a fulfillment report isn’t all you need. As your event gets underway, don’t get so busy that you forget to track metrics. By tracking metrics like attendance, exhibit engagement, length of time stayed, and more during and after the event, you get the most accurate gauge of event success. Not only is this a solid opportunity to increase sponsorship revenue, but having measurable data proving event accomplishments makes it easier to find future sponsors to work with.
Make an Event Valuable on Your Own, Then Double or Triple That Value with Your Sponsor
If you’re chasing after a major sponsor, then you have to assume you’re not the only one doing so. You don’t know how many other organizations like yours that you could be competing with, but you have to expect it’s at least several.
Thus, in sponsorship sales, you can’t concern yourself exclusively with how much value your sponsor will bring to your event. You also have to take some serious time to think of how you can present value to the sponsor.
Maybe it’s a more flexible sponsorship package than the traditional gold, silver, and bronze ones. Perhaps it’s a record of excellence that only needs funding to take it to the next level. You could even have a virtual Rolodex of exclusive contacts (more on this momentarily).
Whatever it is that makes your organization valuable, it’s important you position that front and center. When a sponsor realizes your value, it has a twofold benefit. For one, with your combined efforts, you can put on a money-making, highly engaging event that will draw a large crowd.
Also, should the sponsor’s budget get a little tight before the event and they have to make some last-minute changes, they’re less likely to cut a partnership with an organization of higher value such as yours.
Rely on Your Network to Offer Sponsorship Exclusives
Okay, so let’s say as we did in the paragraphs above that you have a killer network of contacts of all sorts. These may include business partners, executives, and other sponsors you’ve worked with.
To a sponsor, connecting with these parties is highly desirable, but how do they get an in? You could host a reception that’s exclusive only to your sponsor. Even still, you wouldn’t invite every staff member at your sponsor company, but perhaps only five or 10 percent of the highest-ranked employees.
These events are about introductions, networking, and communications, so leave the sales tactics at home for the evening. If the reception goes well enough, then the sponsor should come ready to take advantage of your offer.
You could even take things a step further by introducing your sponsor to coveted thought leaders and senior leaders within your organization or your network. This would be a fantastic chance to spitball ideas. Further, it could seal the deal for even those tough-to-secure sponsors.
If you’re striving to increase your sponsorship sales for the next quarter, the seven tips and methods in this article all make a fantastic place to start. Even if you don’t get the sponsor you had your eye on, by growing your organization’s value, you’ll see more sponsorship opportunities open up and more revenue along with that. Best of luck!
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.