Sponsors bring more than cash
value to a firm; they support your company and/or event’s
goals and objectives, provide a service or product pertinent to
attendees, and bring credibility and cachet to the table.
Additionally, good sponsors are
trustworthy, pay at least half their fees up front, are willing to
sign your contract and are easy to work with. They do not pose a
conflict of interest or elicit controversy -- unless for some
reason this supports your goals and objectives.
Ideally, they will not deter other
sponsors from participating. For example, if you are hoping to
secure several tire sponsors for an auto event, signing the market
leader could frighten off or even prevent participation from others
if the sponsor insists on a noncompete clause in the contract. On
the other hand, signing a big name can encourage smaller firms to
join in order to be associated with their stronger colleagues.
CASH AND BEYOND
There are two basic types of
sponsorship: cash and in-kind. Cash sponsorships can be applied
directly to anticipated revenue. They are preferable when your
budget’s bottom line is dependent on such income to break even.
In-kind sponsorship refers to the
provision of equipment or services. In-kind support can be
extremely valuable. At a medical event, for example, a high-end
company might lend very expensive equipment for demonstrations or
exhibition. When calculating the net worth in your budget, in-kind
value would be equal to the cost of purchasing or leasing this
equipment. In-kind sponsorship also can refer to silent-auction
donations or any other revenue-generating or revenue-saving items
It’s helpful for planners to understand
the hierarchy and categories of sponsors.
* Title sponsors are
single, top sponsors whose names are prominent in the title, i.e.,
“TechCo’s Wireless Expo.”
* Presenting sponsors
have secondary event-title rights but not all the exclusive rights
that a title sponsor would have. Their names also can be in the
title: “TechCo’s Wireless Expo, presented by Bionic Mouse.”
* Supporting sponsors
have no title rights and are entitled only to exposure rights -- on
signage, for example. Trade shows often divide such sponsors into
platinum (highest cost, most benefits), gold (midlevel) and silver
CUTTING THE DEAL
Negotiation strategy for sponsorships
is complex. Discounting a high-level platinum sponsor can cause
significant damage to the relationship with gold sponsors and, for
future events, can cause loyal sponsors to jump ship or wait until
the last minute to secure a sponsor spot, hoping for a discount.
Late-signed sponsorships lose their value, as they tend to generate
fewer advertisements and direct mail pieces, come in too late to
print on signage and generally end up discounted.
KEEPING THEM HAPPY
Sponsors expect return on investment
when they buy into your event. But each sponsor might have a
different way of measuring ROI. To make sure you are in step with
their needs, ask them up front what their goals and objectives are;
they should feel confident these can be met or exceeded. Never
inflate your expected attendance or media coverage.
At the close of the event, sponsors
also should feel they received good customer service (their
pre-stated expectations should be met or exceeded). As the planner,
you might not directly be managing the sponsor relationship;
however, you do have a responsibility to integrate the sponsors’
interests into your programs.
Louise M. Felsher, CMP,
CMM,is senior event operations manager with
George P. Johnson Experience Marketing in San Carlos,