The competition for sponsor dollars is fiercer than ever. Why? Because there are more events than ever before. The internet has made it incredibly easy to host an event. You can find a venue, negotiate a contract, book talent, sell tickets, launch targeted promotions and more – all without leaving your living room.
Do a search on Eventbrite for your city, and you’ll see dozens upon dozens of events each and every night. Now, for someone like myself who loves attending live events, I think this is great. However, there is an unintended consequence of this flood of events: it’s made the sponsorship game insanely competitive. Businesses that used to receive sponsorship proposals once or twice a week are now receiving dozens. And unfortunately, they all pretty much follow the same formula:
Needless to say, potential sponsors have gotten burned out on proposals, and fast. So, how can you stand out? How do you compete in this marketplace?
Well first and foremost, you should be sure to learn how to write a sponsorship proposal that earns. You should also arm yourself with a killer set of sponsorship proposal templates. But you should also focus on finding unique sponsor benefits to offer sponsors…ones they aren’t going to see in those standard pre-made packages they’re sent every single day. Not only will fresh new ideas get your proposal read, but in the end, you’ll make your event significantly more profitable, as you’ll be able to charge sponsors a premium for all the unique value you’re delivering!
Looking for some ideas to get you started? Here is a list of 10 Out of the Box Benefits to Offer Your Event Sponsors:
1. Unique Sponsor Booth Items
If your sponsor has a booth or a table at your event, you want to be sure you do everything in your power to help drive traffic to their space. Nothing’s worse than seeing a sponsor rep sitting alone at a table, having little to know interaction with guests.
Of course, part of the responsibility falls on the sponsor. How does their space look? Is it engaging and inviting? Do guests have any incentive to come say hello (e.g. a free water bottle in exchange for signing up for their email list)? But as the event producer, you can do your part to drive traffic to sponsor spaces as well.
How so? By partnering with the sponsor to offer special event SWAG in their space. VIP guests get a special event t-shirt? Why not make the pick-up location inside (or right next to, depending on logistics) your largest sponsor’s booth? Hosting a Lobster Festival? Why not put the bibs and shell crackers inside the sponsor’s booth? Event maps, programs, etc. – make your sponsor’s booth a must-stop destination for your event, ensuring they have the chance to connect with a large portion of your guests, and walk away from their sponsorship extremely satisfied!
2. Product/Service Demos
Sponsors love the idea of showing off their products, so why not help them do so at your event? Not only will it allow you to charge more for the sponsorship package, but adding demos (when done correctly) can actually add to the overall attendee experience.
Looking to land a local auto dealer? Set aside space at the entrance of your event for guests to do a “micro test drive”. Want to entice a golf club manufacturer to sponsor your charity gala? Set up a small putting green or golf net, and having the local pro run some lessons throughout the event. Looking to land the local cooking school as a sponsor of your farmer’s market? Instead of having them stand there and hand out coupons and pamphlets, set up a space where they can do cooking demos using ingredients from that very market! The school gets to show off the skills of its instructors, and the attendees get a great demonstration, causing them to have more interest in taking classes, and more interest in buying ingredients they just saw used in the dish!
Add product and service demos to drive increased sponsor spend
People love “show” more than “tell.” Give your sponsors the chance to do just that!
3. Unique Branding
Sponsor signage and branding at the main event entrance or on the stage is all well and good, but sometimes you need to do something a little bit more interesting to get noticed…
Bathrooms are a great example. Printed static cling signage can be posted on any number of surfaces: the walls, the mirrors, the paper towel dispensers…heck, even the inside of stalls and inside the urinals themselves! Granted, some of your sponsors may not like the idea of having their brand…well, you know. But when done correctly, it can actually become quite a talking point.
I once attended an outdoor trade show, and all of the urinals had clings set inside them with a big red target. The brand? A company that made archery targets! It became the talk of the show all week long – even the women were catching wind of promotion, and a few of the more adventurous ones darted into the Men’s room so that they could take a quick peek with their own eyes!
Urinal signage is a great way to drive interesting brand conversations for your sponsors
Needless to say, placing signage and branding in a place you wouldn’t normally expect it can lead to great exposure!
4. Sponsor VIP Lounge
Sponsors need their break too! If you are going to have a lot of sponsors on-site working at your event, why not set up a separate Sponsor VIP Lounge for them to relax? It doesn’t need to be anything fancy – just a quiet space separate from the main area where sponsor reps can sit down for a few minutes and catch up on email and phone calls away from the crazy event floor.
Something like this can go a long way in building long-term relationships with your sponsors. Because not only is it a much-appreciated benefit, but it provides you (the event producer) with a dedicated space in which you can network and further build your relationships with your sponsors, making it that much easier to expand their investment in your future events!
5. Social Media Raffle
For some sponsors, it’s all about the numbers. AKA, how many people see and engage their brand as part of the sponsorship.
Thankfully, digital has made it easier than ever to drive massive impression and engagement numbers for relatively low cost. One of the easiest win-win-win scenarios (where you win, the sponsor wins, and your audience wins) is running a social media giveaway. Tools such as Gleam or Rafflecopter make it super easy to launch an incentivized giveaway right within your own channels.
What’s an incentivized giveaway? It’s where entrants sign up to win a prize from your sponsor, and can get additional bonus entries by completing certain actions. Watch a video from your sponsor – two extra entries. Visit the sponsor’s website – 4 extra entries. Sign up for the email list – 10 extra entries. You get the idea. In the end, you have a promotion that is being engaged like crazy, and a sponsor that is getting new visitors, subscribers, and social media fans by the minute.
Integrated incentivized promotions directly into your own event social media channels
[NOTE: The next 5 ideas are all related to Sponsor Hospitality, which is anything that has to do with your sponsoring brands’ employees and guests attending your events. This may seem like overkill, but it’s important to remember that when sponsorship decision makers are polled each year for the IEG sponsorship survey, “Hospitality” is consistently ranked as one of the most important benefits of sponsoring an event. Think about it. What better way to reward good employees, court star recruits, engage current clients and convert sales prospects than by bringing them as a special guest to a sponsored event?
Add value in the “Hospitality” category, and you’ll be sure to add lots of additional value to your overall sponsorship program.]
6. Sponsor Guest Badges
Have you ever seen someone at a concert with a “VIP” laminate badge saying something along the lines of “I’m with the band…” as they waltz by a security guard? You can tell these folks are basking in a glow of importance and exclusivity.
Sponsor VIP laminates are a cheap and easy way to have your sponsors feel appreciated
Why not give this same feeling to your sponsor reps and guests? If your sponsorship package includes 20 tickets for your sponsor brand, spend a few extra dollars and have branded VIP laminated printed up for them. It doesn’t take much effort or money, but it will leave your sponsors and their special guests feeling like a million bucks. And when they feel like a million bucks, they are going to absolutely be interested in recreating that feeling again and again by sponsoring your future events.
7. Sponsor Guest Gifts
Similar to idea #5, why not go the extra mile for your sponsor reps and guests by providing them with a special surprise gift upon arrival? Maybe it’s giving them each a “free” event shirt (I put “free” in quotation marks because their sponsorship investment will of course more than make up the cost of the shirts or other gifts). Or maybe a tote bag, some extra drink tickets, or anything else that’s unexpected, and lets them know that they are an appreciated, special guest of your event.
8. Talent Access
Is your event featuring some sort of musical or other entertainment? Providing sponsors and their guests with exclusive meet and greets and other opportunities is a great way to bring added value to their sponsorship of your event. The feeling that comes with meeting the “stars” of your event (even if the stars are local cover bands or tv anchors) is one that will last long beyond the duration of your event, ensuring interest in future opportunities remains sky high.
9. Photo Ops
With all the work you’re doing to make sure your sponsors and their guests have a special experience, you want to be sure to document it! Creating special photos ops for your sponsors is a great way to ensure they have a memento of the pride and enjoyment they experienced working with your event. Whether it’s a team photo with the headline act, a photo of the CEO at center court during your charity basketball tournament, or the children of your sponsors waving the checkered flag at your local race event, be sure to have a photographer capture all of these special moments so that they can be shared and cherished by your sponsors long after the event is over.
10. Signed & Framed Merch
In addition to providing sponsors with photo mementos of their sponsorship, lots can be done to send inexpensive keepsakes that have them feeling good about their sponsorship year-round.
Run a music festival? Why not print up a special gold record plaque for your sponsor for them to hang in the lobby of their office? Manage a boxing or MMA promotion? Get your fighters to sign a pair of gloves and put them in an inexpensive shadowbox for your sponsor to proudly display. Any cost associated with these types of items will be more than paid for with future sponsorship contracts from these and other potential sponsors. It’s a small gesture, but it goes a long way in adding value to a sponsor relationship!
Create a lasting memories (and incentive for future sponsorship spend) by providing sponsors with unique mementos from their partiicpation
There you have it, 10 out of the box benefits you can offer to your event sponsors. Incorporate even a few of these into your program, and you can be sure to see the overall investment from your sponsors increase.
Any other ideas we missed here? Let us know what you do to get your programs noticed and provide value to your sponsors by sending us an email at email@example.com.
Happy sponsorship seeking!