How to Secure a Multiyear Sponsor for Your Festival
Multiyear sponsorship: to a festival owner and sponsorship seeker, those words are like music to your ears. Your festival planning would be so much easier if you didn’t have to pursue fresh sponsors year after year, but you haven’t the foggiest how to obtain a multiyear sponsorship arrangement. How do you do it?
Here’s how to secure a multiyear sponsor for your festival:
- Determine the length of the deal
- Ask your sponsor early
- Discuss the ups and downs of your last festival
- Plan assets and activations
- Negotiate terms
This guide will unpack each of those bullet points in a lot more detail so you can take actionable steps toward procuring long-term sponsors.
Why You Should Want Multiyear Sponsorship for Your Festival
Now, don’t get me wrong. Multiyear sponsorship is great, and as often as I can, I recommend it to clients and other sponsorship seekers like you reading this content right now.
However, multiyear sponsorship isn’t for every partner. If you and they found out that you want different things, your audience didn’t react with as much enthusiasm as you had hoped, or the deal otherwise didn’t pan out as you wanted, don’t feel obligated to pursue a multiyear deal.
This guide is for those festival owners and organizers who really enjoyed working with a sponsor and want to continue with them. Here are some advantages of a longer-term professional relationship.
Streamlines Your Festival Planning
I’ve written a lot on the blog about the many steps required to plan a festival successfully. To say it’s an easy thing to do is the understatement of the year.
So much goes into it, and you must begin planning your festival as soon as this year’s event ends.
Even when you start that early, you’ll still work on elements of your festival up until the big day. You have a stressful year ahead, so whatever you can do to alleviate some of that pressure, you’d be interested in, right?
That brings us to multiyear sponsorship.
When you know you have a sponsor or two who agreed to work with you for the next three or five years or whatever the terms may be, that’s less pressure on you. You can check one more thing off your list, as you have fewer sponsors to search for.
You benefit greatly whenever you can plan parts of your festival with little to no effort. It’s onto the next thing!
Allocates Extra Time You Can Put Toward Furthering Your Event
Multiyear sponsorship does more than smooth the event-planning process for your festival. You’ll also have more time.
I’ve never made it a secret on this blog that securing a sponsorship deal takes a lot of time and hard work. There is no silver bullet.
Trust me, if you could skip the conventional steps of the sponsorship process, I wouldn’t be here writing this to you right now. You wouldn’t need my advice!
As a festival owner who works with sponsors by the dozen, you learn quickly that even if you have a lot of sponsorship experience, obtaining a sponsor doesn’t necessarily happen that much faster.
The reason? A lot of the process is out of your hands. You have to wait for a sponsor to get back to you, for them to clear figures and budgets with whoever’s above them, for lawyers to do their thing (once you get to the negotiation stage), and then for money to change hands.
The closest thing you’ll ever get to a sponsorship shortcut may be multiyear sponsorship. You don’t have to go through nearly as much time and trouble because you already have a sponsor.
You just have to talk about assets, activation, budgeting, and what the sponsor can afford to spend. You kind of land in the middle of the sponsorship planning process.
Now imagine what you can do with that extra time. You could focus more on great assets and activations to please your sponsor and draw record attendance numbers to your festival.
You can also plan other parts of your event that you rarely have much time for. Even if you use that extra time to take a breather, you’ll have used it well.
Allow for Early, Accurate Budget Planning
Festival budgeting isn’t often the same year over year. Sure, it’s in the same ballpark, but you hopefully want to keep growing your festival (if it’s earning enough cash for this to be reasonable), which will mean an ever-expanding budget.
It can take months for that budget to take shape as you confirm precisely which elements your festival will have this year. That can make budgeting difficult as it’s in flux.
Multiyear sponsorship helps you nail down more of your budget accurately and quite early, at that.
Once you enter discussions with your sponsor and determine what they’re willing to pay for a multiyear deal, you know you have that money to allocate toward your event.
That’s a chunk less you need to figure out, which always feels good.
Helps You Promote Your Festival
On top of everything you must do to plan your festival, you need to find the time and funds to advertise and market it too. It just feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day sometimes.
A multiyear sponsorship deal can help you promote your event, and for free too! How so?
When you begin posting about your event on social media, radio and TV commercials, and in the local press, you can mention that you already have a sponsor or two attached to the event since they penned multiyear deals.
These names associated with your event will drum up interest from the onset. In turn, you could see an increase in ticket sales for this year’s festival compared to past years.
Could Increase Your Sponsorship Dollars
The last benefit of multiyear sponsorship for festivals is the potential for more sponsorship dollars.
You can structure a multiyear sponsorship deal in several ways. If you want to go the sure and steady route, you can request a longer-term deal where the sponsor pays the same rate as they did the first year.
You can also up the ante, asking for more money but perhaps for a shorter deal. If you go for the latter, your festival will end up pocketing more cash from the same sponsor.
You can use that cash to increase the scope of the assets and activations you offer to make your festival even more unforgettable this year!
6 Steps for Securing a Multiyear Festival Sponsorship Deal
You had never realized that multiyear sponsorship could be so advantageous. Now that you’re aware, you’d love to secure a multiyear arrangement with a sponsor or two.
The following steps will help you do that.
Step 1 – Determine the Length of the Deal
Before you can involve your sponsor, you must make some internal decisions. The first is the ideal length of your multiyear sponsorship deal.
Does it make more sense for your festival to have a shorter-term, two-year deal with a sponsor or something more drawn out for five or more years?
To answer that question, you need to think about what your festival’s future looks like. I know no one has a crystal ball and can say with certainty what the future holds, but you can make a pretty good guess.
For example, if you’re planning on making major changes to your festival’s format, rebranding, or shifting audiences, a multiyear sponsorship deal for more than two years might not be the best idea.
The deal length you’re interested in might not always come to fruition. You still have to talk to your sponsor, who has their own needs to think about.
That said, since you’re the one broaching the topic, you’re in control. You need to know what you’re asking for. Be flexible, of course, but have a deal length in mind.
Step 2 – Plan to Have the Conversation Early
One of the most fatal errors you can make if you’re interested in multiyear sponsorship is waiting to bring the topic up to your sponsor.
I can’t stress this enough – have the conversation right away!
Like you get busy with other things after your festival ends (like planning your next festival), your sponsor gets busy with their own things.
Before you know it, months have passed, your sponsor has already spent their sponsorship budget for the year, and/or they have no availability.
Just like that, your multiyear sponsorship aspirations go up in smoke.
So when do I recommend bringing up the conversation about negotiating for a longer deal? Do it during the meeting where you two discuss the contents of your wrap-up report.
I hope you’re writing wrap-up reports after your festival ends, as they’re a great way to secure a multiyear deal.
In the post-event report, you detail all the assets and activations you delivered, cover your audience data again, and provide photos of your jam-packed festival. The report is a reminder of how successful your festival was with your sponsor’s involvement.
You’ll whet your sponsor’s appetite, which opens the door to begin negotiating for a longer-term deal. But before you do that, make sure you don’t forget to…
Step 3 – Discuss Your Last Festival Frankly
Although it can be uncomfortable at points, you and the sponsor must have an open, honest discussion about the festival that just transpired. Yes, that means looking at the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Why do you need to rehash what didn’t go so well about the festival? You can’t change something until you acknowledge it!
It’s okay if your sponsor didn’t love every last second of your festival. It’s fine if they want to change things for next year. That’s standard of nearly every sponsorship. There are always good points and bad points.
If the good outweighs the bad, that’s how you hold onto a sponsor for another year or several of your festival.
Step 4 – Brainstorm New Assets and Activations
Once you know what your sponsor wasn’t so thrilled with, you can then begin planning with them how to make your festival better next time around.
Their needs might have changed or could be changing, so they might be interested in different types of assets and activations. Listen to their thoughts and ideas during the meeting.
The post-event meeting isn’t a sales meeting but a chance to discuss your past festival and what your future festival could look like. It’s not the time for a sales spiel, so leave your sales materials at home.
Once you get back to the office after the meeting with the sponsor, it’s time to begin crafting new activations and assets. Spitball them with the sponsor and grow your ideas, sharpening them to meet the sponsor’s needs.
Remember to keep your audience’s needs in mind. If your audience doesn’t care for your assets and activations, as great as they sound on paper to your sponsor, they will underperform. That could harm the status of your long-term sponsorship deal.
Step 5 – Negotiate Terms
If your sponsor likes your new assets, at their insistence, you two can begin talking about what a future deal might look like.
I say “might” because your sponsor has people above them who will have the final say.
You and the sponsor should discuss what the length of your new arrangement will look like and whether you’ll ask for the same amount of money or more money.
How do you decide that? I recommend valuing those new assets and activations you worked on before you begin negotiating with the sponsor. If your assets and activations are worth substantially more, you should ask for more money.
If they’re worth about the same as what you were offering, you can leave your costs the same but ask for a longer deal.
Once you and the sponsor agree on the deal, they’ll talk it over with the people above them. You might have to wait several days to a week to hear back, so have some patience, but don’t be afraid to follow up, either.
When both parties agree, you can put the terms in writing, drawing up an official contract. Like you did when you negotiated with this sponsor the first time, have a lawyer look over your contract before you sign it.
Step 6 – Deliver
There’s only one more thing to do once you have a multiyear deal with a sponsor, and that’s deliver all the assets and activations you promised!
Multiyear sponsorship for festivals will make planning your event easier. You’ll have a better idea of your budget, and when it comes to promoting your event, having a sponsor’s name attached will surely increase your reach.
Now that you know how to obtain multiyear sponsors, your festival can finally achieve some growth milestones!
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.