Emily Taylor, co-founder of SponsorPark.com, a website designed to match up sponsors and sponsor-seekers, acknowledges that the number of corporate sponsor dollars has declined this year, but she also says the majority of sponsors are still looking for new opportunities to reach the right audience.
Here are Taylor's top 10 tips for attracting sponsors.
1. Pare down your proposal. "The initial proposal communicates the most relevant information up front," she says. A proposal has to jump out and grab a sponsor -- and not just with gimmicks but solid numbers and reasons why the event is a good match for the sponsor.
2. Offer tiered packages and benefits. "A quick way to kill interest is not to offer options, or worse, no insight at all as to what your asking price might be," says Taylor. "Your tiers should also be cascading. Make it worth a sponsor's while to offer more support in exchange for a more extensive package of benefits."
3. Sell your vision. Make people feel the excitement you have for your event and get them on board with what you're doing, Taylor says. "But be careful to pair feelings with thinking. Pair qualitative with quantitative reasoning."
4. Think like a sponsor. Sponsors need to get a return on their investment, so make it easy for them to defend supporting you. Have hard data about your demographics, as well as attendees' purchasing power and tendencies.
5. Be targeted. Research potential sponsors, what they support and where they want to go. Make sure you're spending your time and effort on the right companies.
6. Focus on relationships. "If two equally beneficial opportunities are presented to a sponsor, they are going to pick the one they have existing ties with," Taylor says. Take the time to nurture new connections, and be sure to keep current sponsors happy, too.
7. Use an agency or connecting resource. The commission fees might be worth it if agencies can work their networks to drum up business.
8. Don't wait. It can take four to six months to identify a sponsor before a contract is signed. Bigger deals take longer to closer.
9. Don't sell yourself short. "Make sure your pricing aligns with the value you're offering a sponsor," Taylor warns. "When the economy bounces back, you don't want to be stuck in a rut because you undersold your sponsorship previously."
10. Learn from your sponsors. Once a party has expressed interest in supporting you, figure out what kind of partnership they envision and what they want out of the deal. "Who knows, they might come up with even better ideas than you initially considered," Taylor says.