Before you dive in, if you are interested in festival sponsorship, check out these titles in our “sponsorship for festivals” series:
- Resource Page for Festival and Event Sponsorship
- Sponsorship for Festivals: What You Need to Know For Your Event to Be a Hit
- 5 More Critical Festival Sponsorship Mistakes to Avoid
- Local Sponsorship: The Benefits of Working with Local Businesses for Your Festival
- How to Secure a Multiyear Sponsor for Your Festival
- What Sponsors Want – Data and Analytics to Grow Your Festival Sponsorship
- How to Measure the Success of Your Festival Sponsorships
- The Do’s and Don’ts of Negotiating Festival Sponsorship Deals
- Building Long Term Relationships with Festival Sponsors
- The Benefits of Festival Sponsorship: Why Brands Should Invest
- 5 Strategies to Attract Sponsorship to Your Music Festival
Writing a sponsorship proposal is hard for a lot of sponsorship seekers.
If you ask me, I think it’s because they put too much weight on the proposal, assuming that it’s the be-all, end-all of sponsorship (it definitely isn’t!).
While knowing when to send the proposal is a huge part of its success, so too is including the right content.
That’s precisely what I want to help you with today. In what I’ve coined as the ultimate festival sponsorship proposal, I’ll tell you what to include, what to leave out, and how to gauge your value.
What Is the Purpose of the Festival Sponsorship Proposal?
If the proposal was the savior of sponsorship that so many sponsorship seekers deem it to be, then who knows if I’d even be sitting here right now sharing these words with you.
You wouldn’t really need me because you would have the proposal.
Fortunately, that’s not how it goes, or unfortunately, if you’ve hinged your sponsorship hopes and prayers to the proposal.
So what in the world is your festival sponsorship proposal designed to do? Let’s start by going over that, because you can’t effectively write a festival sponsorship proposal unless you know what you’re trying to achieve with one.
To Share Rich Audience Data
I’ll begin with what is by far the most important reason to create a sponsorship proposal, and that’s to highlight your audience data.
During the discovery session (what, you didn’t think the proposal came before the discovery session, did you?), you’re going to talk about your audience, as you’re looking for intersections with your audience and the sponsor’s target audience.
As much as you can chat about your audience during the meeting, the prospect will be foggy about the details after the meeting. The proposal reminds them of all you discussed and elaborates on your audience segments with deep data.
And you do need deep data. If you haven’t recently surveyed your audience and segmented them, that’s the first thing you need to do, even before writing the sponsorship proposal.
You might have nailed this meeting with a prospect, but audience data is the key to more meetings with future interested prospects. That’ll keep your positive momentum going.
You should have at least 25 data points on your audience groups to break them down into ultra-specific niches. Then you want to spotlight all this data in the pages of your proposal, but I’ll talk more about that in just a bit here.
To Present Tailored Assets and Activation Samples
The point of a discovery session is to discuss a prospect’s challenges and needs. After listening to them explain what they’ve tried, what isn’t working, and what they’d like to try in the future, you can present some solutions to them via your activations and assets.
Again, these solutions were spitballed during the discovery session. Now you can cement them in the proposal.
That doesn’t mean that those assets and activations will be the ones the sponsor purchases, per se, but the list you present gives them a clear idea of what kinds of solutions you offer.
To Briefly Go Over Your Opportunity
Note how I said “briefly,” as you don’t want to waste too many precious words and paragraphs discussing your opportunity.
That’s not what sponsorship is about. I know your festival is important to you, but it’s not important to a sponsor, at least not at this point. What’s more important is achieving their goals.
Once you can help them do that, the sponsor will turn around and help you achieve your goals, be that funding or promotions for your festival.
The Steps for Writing the Ultimate Festival Sponsorship Proposal
Now that you know what should be included in a festival sponsorship proposal, it’s time to sit down and write yours.
Let me save you some time here since I know your time is precious as you plan a festival. You’re wasting your time if you write the proposal before you have a prospect. The same is true if you put it together before the discovery session.
You want to wait until your prospect is interested in seeing it. Then you can write your ultimate festival sponsorship proposal following these steps.
Isn’t it so easy to overthink the intro of any paper because you’re staring at a blank page? I know I’ve been there, and you probably have been as well.
Fortunately, the start of your festival proposal needn’t be overly long or complicated. Your title page should include the name of your festival, its logo, and any tagline or slogan you have.
If you wish, you can add the dates of your upcoming festival, the location, and a link to your website, but that’s it.
See, I told you it wouldn’t be so bad!
Next, it’s time to delve into your festival, but only very briefly.
I would use two paragraphs on this max. Here’s how you should structure both paragraphs.
In the first paragraph, discuss your organization or company. A paragraph is about three or four sentences, so keep this section short.
Then you can delve a little bit into your festival in the second paragraph.
More information about your festival will come out during subsequent meetings, so don’t feel like you have to cram every last iota of information in this section of your sponsorship proposal.
If it doesn’t come up now, then if you play your cards right from here on out in your sponsorship program, you will have a chance to discuss your festival at length later.
I want you to add one more paragraph to this section, which will be your lead-in to what comes next. This paragraph is all about your audience, aka your festival attendees.
You’re only writing about your audience in one paragraph for now because you’ll have another page to expand on this all-important group.
You should have a lot of audience data to share if you segmented your audience into niches as I talked about above.
It’s too much data to break down into paragraph form, or you’d end up writing a novella about your audience.
Prospects want as much audience data as you can give them, and the more segmented and specific it is, the better. However, they don’t want to see paragraph after paragraph of numbers and data. That would make anyone’s eyes gloss over.
Instead, make the data visually appealing in every single way.
Create charts and tables segmenting your audiences into niches. Use appealing colors and a good design for the data so the information is easily understood.
If your festival is in its second or third or more year and you have photos of the crowd from the year(s) prior, then include those!
Photos are visceral, hard proof that your event has succeeded in the past and can be even bigger this time around.
What if you don’t have any past festival photos? That’s okay, don’t sweat it. They’re helpful but not mandatory by any means. Strong audience numbers are what is most important.
Of all the parts of your festival sponsorship proposal, the one that you’re going to spend the most time on is presenting audience data. Make sure you get this section right, as this is what prospects will be looking for above all else.
Going back to what I mentioned earlier, you probably loosely talked about activations during your initial meeting(s) with your prospect, so I hope you remembered those ideas.
In addition to the ideas you mentioned, hopefully, you wrote down the ones from the prospect too.
Many sponsorship seekers agonize over creating the perfect activations when all along, the solution has been right in front of them. That solution? Ask your sponsor!
Seriously, they know their problems better than everyone, even you. They should be able to come up with some activation ideas they think will be impactful.
Of course, your sponsor is only half of the activation equation. The other half is your audience, so don’t blindly go with everything the sponsor says just because they say it. If you know that your audience would abjectly hate something the sponsor is proposing, mention that now.
Besides the activation ideas that you came up with when discussing matters with your prospect, now is a good time to think of some new ideas as well.
You’ve had some time to mull over the information you received from the prospect during the discovery session, so it shouldn’t be as hard to come up with activations.
Even if you’re seeking a promotional sponsor and not a cash sponsor, you’ve still probably received some degree of media exposure, especially if your festival has happened a time or two before.
I recommend clipping all the relevant media exposure on your festival and presenting that as part of your sponsorship proposal as well.
What kind of buzz have you generated? What’s all the hype about?
If by chance your festival has gotten any negative press coverage (which certainly can happen), you don’t want to include any mention of that in the media exposure section of your proposal.
I would even caution you against sharing too much positive press. After a while, it becomes overkill, and your prospect can no longer appreciate the glowing reviews quite as much.
If your festival has yet to happen, you should still have a few media snippets you can share with your prospects, so include those.
Case Studies and Testimonials
More unique media elements that I’d suggest incorporating into your festival sponsorship proposal are case studies and testimonials.
You can’t possibly include these kinds of social proof without having had a successful festival or event on your resume, so those who are hosting a festival for the first time will have to go without this time around.
Case studies for a festival aren’t like the traditional business case study. You instead want to focus on attendance, how harmoniously working with past sponsors was, and the audience experience.
To add depth and richness, you can incorporate testimonials from past attendees and sponsors in your case study. Be sure to include lots of raw numbers as well, especially in areas like overall festival attendance and visits to sponsor booths.
The Contact Page and Call to Action
You’re just about finished with your proposal, which I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear. The end of the festival sponsorship proposal is the contact page.
You will primarily use your contact page as a call to action. You want to hear from your prospect after putting the proposal together, and this page is a great place to remind them of that much.
You and the prospect have interacted before now, but it’s wise to include contact information here just so they have it in front of them. You only need a phone number, an email address, and some social media handles.
What You Don’t See – No Grids, No Pricing
You’ve gone over the section above a half dozen times, and you don’t see any mention of assets and grids. There are no gold, silver, and bronze packages, and not a single mention of asset and activation pricing. What gives?
The sponsorship seekers who focus on the assets and pricing components of their proposals use the sponsorship proposal as a sales tool more than anything else. They’re utilizing it incorrectly, which can explain their lack of results.
A sponsorship proposal does not have to include everything but the kitchen sink. I have closed many sponsorship deals without a single proposal.
You might wonder how that’s possible. How did the sponsor know how much I was charging for assets without a proposal? Well, we negotiated the cost of assets when the time came.
How did they know about my audience? I put together audience data separate from the proposal.
Grids and pricing suggest that you’re after one thing: money.
I understand that festivals are expensive to put on, especially if yours is an established event that you want to keep growing to match consumer demand.
However, if you’re looking for straight, hard cash, your time would be better spent taking out a loan at the bank, seeking investors, or asking for donations.
I’m not trying to be facetious. Sponsorship isn’t philanthropy. It’s marketing. Whether you want $5 or $5,000 from a sponsor, you’re missing the point by focusing on the money.
By writing your proposal with the elements I discussed in the last section, you’re putting forth marketing elements that sponsors care about.
That’s how you get your money in a sponsorship arrangement, by prioritizing what sponsors value.
The Importance of Knowing Your Value When Compiling the Festival Sponsorship Proposal
Speaking of value, now seems like a perfect time to talk about your own value.
How much is your festival valued at? What about your company or organization as a whole?
Many sponsorship seekers rely on their sponsors to tell them. Or if not that, they’ll find information on their competitors online and copy those numbers.
There’s a huge problem with that. Not knowing your value or guessing your value leaves money on the table, and often vast sums of money at that.
If you don’t mind missing out on thousands, potentially even tens of thousands of dollars, then that’s fine.
However, I’m sure most of you reading this will mind, and so I want you to continue with this section.
At the end of the day, you have to know your value. And yes, that does require you to do some extra work.
You’ll have to value your assets, which means researching the market value for each activation and asset you’re offering (including your audience!) and gauging the value from there.
You’re comparing your assets against the cost of professional services. That doesn’t mean you should write down the numbers you see and use those. You have to adjust them according to how valuable you perceive your assets and activations.
If you think that you’ll pull one over on your sponsor by valuing all your assets and activations really high, good luck with that. They’ll see right through what you’re doing, and that will be the end of that.
Your sponsor will also never say anything if your assets are very low in cost because they have no reason to. It makes financial sense to get quality services out of you for less, even if it’s not the right thing to do, per se.
When you know your value, you can ensure that what you’re asking for is fair. You’ll also have confidence in the negotiation process, which can go a long way.
You’ve Got Your Festival Sponsorship Proposal – Now What?
You put together your festival sponsorship proposal per the request of your prospect. Great work!
Next, you want to schedule a follow-up meeting to review the contents of the proposal. Keep in mind that this isn’t a sales meeting but a frank discussion of everything in the document and how viable a future sponsorship deal is.
Hopefully, the prospect will like what they see, and you two can continue negotiating.
Whether for festivals or another type of event entirely, the sponsorship proposal is an augmentative tool that provides information to the prospect and helps them break down your audience data in greater detail.
The proposal is not a sales tool and should never be sent out before you have the discovery session.
I hope the pointers in this guide help you write an A+ festival sponsorship proposal!
- About the Author
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Chris Baylis is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Sponsorship Collective.
After spending several years in the field as a sponsorship professional and consultant, Chris now spends his time working with clients to help them understand their audiences, build activations that sponsors want, apply market values to their assets and build strategies that drive sales.
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