Forging Foolproof Sponsor Partnerships

Explanatory Articles 8 MIN READ

So, what’s it like going from client to supplier side? Despite coming from a varied background of working in the B2B events’ industry, securing sponsorship and partnerships on various high-end conferences, award shows, and summits, moving over to supplier side has changed my overall view.

A production company is often overlooked as the lights and sounds of an event. However, day to day the SXS team are helping clients and prospects to create and deliver innovative concepts by obtaining a thorough understanding of the motivation behind why you are hosting the event (aside from financial gain), who your target audience is, and who your sponsors are as the starting point before even considering aesthetics.

The overall success of any event on the day (or night) relies heavily on the production. After all, event support and sponsorship - be it corporate or charitable - usually provides the funding for it to go ahead in the first place. With significant branding involved as a sponsorship benefit, it is important to mitigate risk of hiccups, but also to keep it fresh year on year to yield repeat sponsorship.

There are boundless opportunities when choosing to sponsor an event; brand awareness, shifting perception, reputation, building relationships and opportunity pipeline, sales and recognition. Years ago, putting a sponsor’s logo on an event program or banner was considered adequate acknowledgement for a company’s involvement, but with the digital tide wave into a new age—and a new frontier of customised sponsorship packages—everything has changed. So, when marketing budget reviews and subsequent cuts often come into play year after year it is important to remain fresh, at the forefront of competition and keep them coming back for more.

So here are some tricks of the trade and ideas to avoid stalemate conversations with your supporters and sponsors:

Resource. Dedicate enough resource to ensure sponsors have everything they need on site. A common mistake is to provide outstanding 1 on 1 support in the lead up to an event yet on site the events team are stretched, poorly managed or preoccupied with general logistics. Have at least one person if not a small team to concentrate solely on the needs of your sponsors.

Transparency. Provide visual updates throughout the event as to how your sponsor’s activations are engaging their audience rather than leaving it until after the occasion to provide a detailed report. Opportunities are often missed when most warm through lack of communication.

Tailored Packages. Move away from pre-packed sponsorship packages, and concentrate more on what the customer objective is and how you can realistically benefit that need. Do your research, be flexible, open and honest from the get go to avoid over promising and under delivering. Be consultative and firm in what they can and cannot expect to achieve by managing expectations. Prior to securing, never copy and paste a generic template, it’s painful when it goes wrong!

Integrate Sponsors. Everyone, delegates included, know why a sponsor is there - it is good business sense. However, you should integrate partners of the event organically; move away from the old format of ‘this is a table and this is where the sponsors live’ approach. Involve them in everything, name drinks or food after them, have a sponsor branded phone or laptop charging station. It demonstrates thinking outside of the box and can also provide something everyone needs - nobody likes getting down on hands and knees to find a vaguely convenient 3 pin socket!

Step out of your comfort zone. Be creative with AV and technology. This can open up new revenue streams and most importantly excites your sponsors who are looking for innovative and exciting opportunities to capture attention and engage with the captive audience. Savvy event planners can see the potential of investing into their AV setup, to see bigger returns and satisfaction from stakeholders. This is a win-win for everyone, not just a biased point on this list! Avoid staying in your comfort zone just because you know it works. Whilst of course, there is a risk associated with change, your AV supplier should know what they are doing when it comes to operating their equipment (their business and reputation rely upon it) so don’t be afraid to let them take the creative reins from time to time.

Informal networking. Don’t shy away from facilitating networking opportunities for sponsors and delegates on site. Often as event planners, we might shy away from this for fear of ‘getting in the way’ but keep in mind you have had prior communications with both parties and are therefore best placed to make introductions between like-minded people or companies on site. It’s a missed opportunity if people are sitting in a corner, and you can provide an intro one step better than a name badge can. Find and make a note of any common ground uncovered during initial conversations be it business or personal.

Event Perks. Whilst logistically and for the interest of the event it is important to try and keep delegates in one place, during the venue sourcing and negotiations phase consider venue perks such as use of golf course or spa facilities. Perhaps integrate a pre or post event competition to engage your attendees and add a little extra benefit. After all they do say ‘million dollar deals are made on the course’ (despite differing handicap levels) and it is important to recognise that events - of a corporate nature particularly -  tend to be exhausting. Why not reward or thank attendees for their support? Sponsors will always appreciate your ability to go above and beyond to care for all participants.

Finally, never underestimate the importance of an outreach call to thank both sponsors and delegates for their support and attendance. Collect, collate and act on feedback and start the process of on-boarding for next year’s event early by advising of future dates now. Consider a hand written thank you card or note delivered within one week max. It isn’t old fashioned, but is much less often done these days, so it’s a good way to stand out. Or, where budget allows, go one step further and produce a custom edited highlights and thank-you video from your team to them/theirs.


For more advice on delivering top-notch sponsor engagement at your event, give SXS a call and we will be happy to chat.