Sponsorships can be a boon to the bottom line for events, but the process of finding and reining them in can be difficult and time-consuming. Sylvia Allen, founder of Holmdel, N.J.-based Allen Consulting and author of How to Be Successful in Sponsorship Sales, says planners should focus on ways sponsors can profit from the relationship.
"Sponsorships are an efficient way for companies to reach a very specific and targeted demographic," Allen notes. "Planners need to analyze their event, attendance and exposure and find companies interested in reaching that audience."
Here are some of Allen's tips for securing sponsors and keeping them happy.
Be prepared. Before picking up the phone, be well versed on exactly what elements of the event can be sold, whether it's space on flyers and brochures or products and services such as goody bags or catering.
Tap competitors. Go after the second or third ranking company in an industry, e.g., Reebok or Adidas instead of Nike. Companies that aren't tops in their field are always looking for ways to gain market share.
Start early. Pitch a sponsorship opportunity a minimum of six months in advance to make it into your target's fiscal plans.
Invite them to look. Bring potential sponsors to one of your events so they can witness how their product, logo and/or paraphernalia would be showcased.
Open doors. For sponsors to get the most for their money, they need to work the floor and meet people. "They may not always know how to navigate an event," says Allen. "Part of the planner's responsibility is to educate them on how
to do so."
Assign a handler. Designate a trusted staff member to tend to the sponsor during the event and address any questions or concerns that might arise. "Personal attention makes all the difference," says Allen.