Strategic corporate event sponsorships can completely revolutionize your event.
Think about it – very few of us has ever said, “That’s too much!” when we learn what kind of money we have to work with for an event. Shopping around certain aspects of your event can give you significantly more flexibility.
And that’s OK – rarely having the budget you want or need is how our industry works, and those who are good at all of this quickly learn that a big part of pulling off a quality conference is learning to stretch resources as much as possible. This includes constantly looking for the best deals on supplies, re-purposing items from past events, or re-negotiating with vendors or venues to see what kind of deals they can make.
Perhaps you can also look for things to go without or trim costs that won’t be noticeable, such as a cheaper menu, cutting a session or going with a lower quality of décor.
It also never hurts to go back to the client or organization to request more funds for something specific, especially if you put a good case together for it. You can also consider charging guests more, but since more and more people consider themselves cost-conscious, you run the risk of losing attendees as the price climbs.
But if you’ve considered all of these things and still would like a bigger budget to put on your dream general session or whatever organizers are envisioning (minus the slim budget), it’s time to get creative.
Corporate Event Sponsorship Strategies
Define your sponsor persona
Getting a clear picture of your ideal corporate sponsorship is priority numero uno. You may want to keep in mind the type of contacts you can most easily come by during this stage. This could save you a ton of work down the road.
For example, one source of funds could be available from people your organization already likes to do business with.
If they’ve benefited from your prospective members/conference guests enjoying their products or services, great! It’s totally fair to ask them to return the favor and be part of your event.
The amount of involvement is up for negotiation, though. You can go anywhere from a small mention or their logo in your event guide or web site to more of a major role.
In return, they can provide either an amount of money, in-kind support or both. Either way, this can help stretch your budget, allow your event the opportunity to be become bigger and hopefully more memorable, and give some visibility to an already supportive business. It’s the ultimate win-win.
You could also expand your networking and try for some new businesses or vendors. Perhaps a new company just moved into your local market and would like to introduce themselves to those who will be attending your event, especially if conference guests could be their key audience.
Above all, make sure your sponsorships stay relevant. If you host an auto-show, it wouldn’t make much sense to reach out to a sunscreen company to sponsor it. Sponsorships that stretch beyond relevance risk ruining the most important part of the event – the attendee experience.
Utilize less-obvious event sponsorship opportunities
Once you have possible sponsors eager to help add more zing and zip and dollars to your event, what else can you offer them to make it even more of an ideal partnership?
Every time you discuss the name of the event you put the name of the presenting businesses in. This is the ultimate premium position and should have the highest price tag. The only area of possible confusion is if attendees wonder whether the business is putting the event on.
Look for opportunities to say the sponsor’s name, such as at the beginning of every keynote, welcoming remarks or announcement. The name can also be prominent in any programs, guides, promotional material or event branding.
A sponsor might like the opportunity to supply a speaker or a panel member for your event. This can show guests the talents of people in their organization and help establish them as a useful part of the business community.
If it’s a trade show, find a way to make sure a certain sponsor is more noticeable, such as the first booth people see when they walk in, multiple booths or in a different, premium location.
Not everyone likes going to meetings, but event planners never turn down another creative mind and extra body. So perhaps a sponsor can offer the talents of one of their promotional people to join the event planning committee. They don’t have to represent the company, but more can be available to help bring the whole event together.
Overall, seeking a way to bring in sponsors and extend your planning budget can be a way that both parties can find satisfactory.