Sponsorship Renewal Made Easy: How to Get Your Sponsors Back Every Year
Nothing provides a better source of sponsorship than the ones you already have. When you look to the future to plan the same, or new events, past sponsors provide an existing relationship hungry for nourishment. While consideration must be given to content and audiences, sponsorship renewal makes things a lot easier.
Or does it? The trick is you’ve got to prove your worth and manage front end sales properly or you could still stand to lose these valuable partners. It’s all about creating a productive cycle that always starts with a discovery meeting, allows you to develop custom proposals and ensures the activations are loved by both sponsors and your audience. Here are some solid tips to spin that wheel and get your sponsors back every year.
Start the Relationship Off Right
So right off the bat, you want to create a relationship that will prove to be successful. You can’t expect sponsors to renew if you didn’t first make sure you understand their needs. Your discovery meeting is where you do this. Your discovery meetings should be as beneficial and insightful as possible for both parties. Questions should be thoughtful and designed to get the information you need to get to the next stage of the process: the custom proposal. What do you ask? There are three areas you need to cover:
Get as many details about their audience and customers as possible. Go way beyond demographics and share your segments so they can get an idea of what you offer. Ask how that fits. See how they engage with their customers; find out what their marketing goals are and what their customers like.
Find out what they want to accomplish and get details about their sales funnel. Ask if sponsorships have been used to get people into the funnel and the types of properties they’ve invested in the past. Do they struggle with the first step of the sales process? What would they view as a success if they do become sponsors? Look at past sponsorships and ask how they went. What are their sales challenges?
Success Measures and ROI:
Really, this is just finding out how they measure success. This includes their current methods of marketing, the channels they use and how they are working. What sponsorship properties have they used in the past? You also want to find out more about their goals: Brand awareness? Leads? Raising their social conscious profile?
You get the picture. If not click here for more ideas.
Create Custom Proposals
If you create custom proposals, you can meet the needs of your sponsors bang on. You can show them you understand their needs and can provide the properties they desire. Custom proposals should be viewed as a work in progress that you collaborate on with your sponsors. Ask what is missing and see what you can do to make it happen. If you can’t meet their exact needs (sometimes things are just out of reach like) think of an alternative or something even better.
Activations People Love
Let me backtrack just slightly about custom proposals. I might have exaggerated a bit when I said, “If you create custom proposals you can meet the needs of your sponsors bang on.” That is only on paper. Because without proper activation you will fail when it comes to meeting needs. Activations in their most basic form include the entire sponsorship experience put into action. So whatever assets you sell your sponsors, have to be set in motion and done so in a very effective manner. It’s where the rubber hits the pavement. It’s where the boys are separated from men (or girls from women). Your activations determine success in the eyes of your attendees. If they are happy, your sponsors are happy. It’s very symbiotic.
When activation isn’t executed properly, the entire purpose of the sponsorship is lost. It is an epic fail. Your job is to make sure it is executed to perfection so your attendees rave about it and you have social proof it worked. The trick to sponsor renewals is not just meeting expectations but exceeding them. That is often the difference between a one-time sponsor and a lifetime sponsor.
Deliver and Report
Once you can deliver everything promised, you are now halfway there. What? Yeah, now it is all about providing proof you succeeded on every aspect of your sponsorship activations. You need to create a fulfillment report specific to every sponsor so they see the measurable results and can consider their ROI. And deadlines are tight here my friend. We’re talking two weeks to collect that data and put it into a nice, easy to read format for sponsors packed with the following info:
- Intro and summary: Highlight the value proposition and provide a brief summary of your most successful results in a short summary.
- Attendee stats: Provide attendee stats to confirm sponsors reached their audience using as much info as you can with a handy chart to make it easier to review. Have survey results to help them see how well they did and how well the event did overall.
- Activation proof: Take plenty of images at each sponsor site and in hand with happy attendee images share brand impression numbers as well as a checklist of all the things you delivered to meet your promises.
- Marketing stats: Be sure to have someone tracking things like social media mentions, (which is always easier if you create event hashtags) and your marketing efforts and how they fared, with impressions and engagement.
- The last page: Thank you, thank you, thank you with commentary on how much of an impact they made on your event and attendees.
- This is your chance to shine and provide as much valuable information as possible. The keyword here is valuable. Avoid fluff to build things up and focus instead on cold, hard facts.
Think in kind sponsorship doesn’t require a fulfillment report? Think again!
Get Feedback (And Value It!)
Ideally, you want to meet with each sponsor to provide the fulfillment report and discuss the results. That’s because you can then get feedback. Some questions you want to ask:
- What did they love and hate?
- What would they change?
- What would they add?
- What assets would they increase?
- Which ones would they decrease?
- If there were highly customized assets discuss if they met their expectations or not.
- What did they hear from their customers?
As the feedback winds down, mention your plans for next year and ask how this would fit in with their goals and objectives. This is pretty much repeating the discovery process, but perhaps a little more pared-down since you already know a lot about them. Just remember plans change so you want to see how you can fit into their plans next year. If it doesn’t seem the fit is there, ask how you could make it work for them. In situations where you feel everything was very positive, you can invite them back next year on the spot. If not, it might take a bit more work…
Ask for Renewal
If you have doubts, they are overly thrilled, or even just basically happy, you will have to get them to agree to review a proposal. Let them know how valuable their feedback has been and that it is perfect to help you further customize their next sponsorship proposal. Clarify areas where you see opportunities and then suggest you will send them the proposal in the next few days so you can lock them in right away. Sometimes sponsors are happy but well, cheap, so an idea is to ask if they signed up for a few years and you offered a discount would that work better for them. As long as you proved their ROI, there’s no shame in trying this tactic.
Ask for Referrals
Why not? Happy sponsors are often more than open to referring your event to other potential sponsors. This is a good networking approach that can lead to highly suitable sponsors interested in your audience.
Nurture Sponsor Relationships
Strong sponsor relationships are more likely to reap renewals. Even if a sponsor agrees to renew on the spot, you still need to work on keeping the relationship active. Share information with them on a regular basis. Share news like nailing a high-profile speaker or that you found a stellar new venue. Share industry news or press attention the event might receive. Follow them on social channels and be sure to comment and share their posts to show you are supportive and interested in their brand.
For those who don’t renew right away nurturing reminds them why they sponsored your event, and for those who do renew, you keep the event top of mind so they are prepared when it comes time to provide payments, information, and help plan their activations. And let’s not forget the more sponsors see what your event is all about, the better chance there is they might refer you to others in their network.
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.