The date is set. The venue is booked. And tickets are on sale…
Your event is officially a go!
Now all you have to do is find some sponsors to pay for it. Easy enough, right?
Finding event sponsors is one of the most challenging, time consuming tasks associated with any event. But it doesn’t have to be. If you take a smart, measured approach to finding event sponsors, you can greatly increase your chances of sponsorship success.
So, what’s the smart approach for finding sponsors?
Too many people paint sponsorships with a big, broad brush. Their idea of finding sponsor leads is a matter of looking towards the biggest companies in town and sending them a generic sponsor letter. “Company X has a ton of money…” they say, “so of course they’ll want to sponsor our event!”
But here’s the problem: sponsorships aren’t charity. Even if you’re looking for sponsors for a charity event, you still need to show your potential sponsors that you can provide real, tangible value to their organization.
How do you do this? Through Audience Matching.
Audience Matching is the process of matching your event’s audience with a potential sponsor’s audience. It’s about finding businesses that make sense for your event. Specifically, it’s about finding businesses that want to connect with the group of people you’re bringing together.
At the end of the day, an event sponsorship is nothing more than a bridge connecting one side (your guests) with another side (your sponsors). And your job as an event creator is to make sure that this is a bridge both sides want to cross.
Sponsorships are a bridge between your audience and your sponsors
No matter how much money “Company X” may have, if their target customer base is 18-25 year-old females, and you’re hosting an event targeting widowed, retired men 65 years or older, no amount of salesmanship in the world can ever convince them that sponsoring your event is a good idea. There is zero return on investment (ROI) for them, because the audiences do not match.
Instead, you need to utilize Audience Matching to narrow down your list of potential sponsors, and then focus on this targeted group of companies. Ones you know will want to cross that bridge and reach your audience.
Let’s look at a real-world project so that you can better understand how Audience Matching works.
Case Study: Charity Golf Outing
Each year, we run the sponsorship program for a charity golf outing hosted by one of the world’s largest insurance companies. This event is an exclusive outing that takes place at a prestigious club in the Chicagoland suburbs, bringing together some of the insurance agency’s biggest clients for a day of fun, networking, and fundraising.
Prior to our involvement, the company had been struggling to find consistency and growth in sponsorships for the event. When we asked how they approached finding potential sponsors, it quickly became clear as to why they weren’t getting the results they were looking for: they were failing to Audience Match!
Now don’t get us wrong…we completely understand how overworked and under-resourced an event staff can be. And even though this event was run by a major international corporation, its lean events team was no different. As such, they just didn’t have the time to think through how they were targeting potential sponsors.
Instead, their approach was to try and target the largest companies in the Chicagoland region. Companies such as:
Unfortunately, these outreach attempts had failed year after year after year. Thankfully though, it didn’t take long for us to turn things around.
Instead of focusing on a list of the largest Chicagoland companies, we worked through an Audience Matching exercise to identify exactly who we were bringing together, and who would want to reach these individuals.
We had a long conversation with the event organizers about their audience. As it turns out, this was actually an “invite only” event, meaning that they knew exactly who would be showing up. We dug in further, and came to learn a lot of things about the 200 guests at this event:
They were the largest clients of this insurance agency
Most worked in Vice-President, President, or CEO roles at major businesses
Most lived in large suburban homes with their spouses and children
Almost all were college educated
It was an 85-15 male to female ratio
Most were between the ages of 38-55
& so on…
[Need help identifying who’s in your audience? Download our FREE eBook How to Find Event Sponsors and check out the chapter on Audience Profile Building!]
With this information, we had a much clearer picture of who was on our side of the bridge. High-achieving, wealthy, suburban family men. And now, using Audience Matching, we could be much more targeted in our approach to finding sponsors.
Think back to who the event was originally targeting. McDonald’s. KraftHeinz. Do you associate these companies with wealthy, driven corporate executives?
These are companies that push fast, convenient food. While I have no doubt everyone attending our event has eaten at McDonald’s, they are not the core audience the company is trying to reach. And as such, a sponsorship of this event does not make sense. The audiences don’t match!
So, who would want to reach wealthy suburban-dwelling middle-aged men that serve in executive roles? Turns out quite a few businesses, as we were able to land sponsors in a variety of major categories:
Luxury Car Dealerships
Employee Benefits Companies
Financial Services Companies
Business Software Development Services
High-End Home Remodeling
By taking the time to think about our audience, and who would want to cross a bridge to meet them, we were able to focus our efforts, and spend our time targeting small to medium size firms that focus exclusively on our audience.
The end result? Massive year-over-year growth in sponsorship revenue for this event, and a new pool of happy sponsors that are already calling us to come again for this year’s event.
By employing this Audience Matching technique, you will be able to supercharge your sponsorship efforts, and drastically reduce the time you spend chasing leads that don’t make sense (no matter how big their marketing and sponsorship budget may be). Audience Matching allows you to tell your sponsor prospects that a sponsorship of your event is an invitation to have a direct conversation with their potential customers. To be put in a room with 100, 1,000, or even 10,000 of their prospects, and engage with them directly.
And if you’ve done your homework, and correctly matched their audience with yours, they’ll be signing up faster than you can put a sponsorship proposal into their hands.