In this economy it is tougher than ever to get sponsorships for your event. Every corporation has many more sponsorship opportunities than it can support. Landing a sponsor now demands new levels of planning, diligence, and perseverance. Unfortunately, those selling sponsorships often miss some basic, but critical, steps that are needed to reach their goals. Perhaps the key step lies in the understanding that the process is a “selling” one. Because the sale is for a non-profit, the seller does not like to think of him or herself as a salesperson, but that is precisely what the job is. If you review the key steps in attracting event sponsorships and then compare it to the classic “sales” funnel, you’ll see the jobs are remarkably similar.
Develop a Value Proposition
A basic starting point for business sales is developing a value proposition. If you were selling a product the proposition would be the value that would benefit the purchasing customer. If you are representing a non-profit or association, you too have a value proposition. The value of your organization includes many elements, but the most striking would be your membership or who you represent. If you are a trade association then you represent an industry with, hopefully, deep and wide contacts. You may also represent certain demographics, such as young women. Your organization also has leaders and key relationships (such as your board), detailed information about its target population, media connections, and intangibles like prestige.
Likewise, your event will represent similar elements – target audiences, prestige, leaders, and so forth. Summarize all the relevant values in a few sentences and you have a clear value proposition that you can deliver to prospective sponsors. For example, if your event is a race against breast cancer your value proposition might include “our event brings together thousands of people concerned about breast cancer.”
Talk to the Right People
When you identify a target company, you need to make sure you are talking to the right person. Filling out an online form and submitting it will probably get you nowhere. Work your personal and organization’s contacts to identify who you know in the company. Online tools like LinkedIn can also help you reach the right person. Board members, in particular, should be able to provide some great introductions.
You will also need to talk to someone with approval power for your event sponsorship. It may be an executive or a specific department head. This is all something you should research.
If you are not sure which company might be a good fit, then you should review the elements of your value proposition. By using market research or even Google you should be able to get a good idea of who might be interested in your benefits, such as your target audience. Even if you have a company in mind, you should confirm that their target groups are similar to yours.
Build a Relationship
To have success you need to see your partnership with your prospective sponsor as a long-term relationship. Here are some things you should do.
• As stated before, research the company and make sure your interests that are aligned.
• Try to understand your prospective sponsor’s point of view. That will take some research and thoughtful conversations from your end. Prepare to listen.
• Remember that it is a partnership. Your sponsor is not just “giving you money.” You have unique benefits that you are offering the sponsor. The sponsor, in turn, is not just financially supporting the event but offering other things like the good name of their brand, leadership, and so forth.
• Don’t waste your sponsor’s time. Keep your conversations on target and your presentations efficient. Make your exit as brief as your entrance.
• Keep your word. If you say you are going do something, then do it!
• Keep an open communication line. Encourage sponsors to be part of the planning process. Be transparent and don’t act as if you have something to hide. Value what they have to say.
• Dress for the part. It’s often forgotten, but poor dress conveys that you don’t really respect the people you are trying to sell.
If you build a strong relationship then you can have a sponsor for many events in the future, not just the current one. If you are interested in more event or conference solutions contact us today!
Successful salespeople are adamant about self-improvement. If you want to sell your event better, you should be aware of many of the tools that sellers use. A good beginning is to become familiar with classic sales books like “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, and authors like Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins and Og Mandino.