Couple of weeks ago Julius Solaris, editor of Event Manager Blog, hosted a webinar together with Eventbrite, titled “Sponsorship is broken – how to fix it”. Only this year I started working with sponsors so this topic was of great interest for me to hopefully get some insights into sponsorship and how I can improve my value proposition.
Julius had a similar post on his blog already, Event Sponsorship is Broken. Can We Fix it?, discussing the topic and where he gave a more detailed overview on why “the party is over” for the traditional sponsorship model such as offering sponsor a table and a banner for their spend or selling gold, silver or bronze packages. Not only these models don’t work for sponsors anymore, but sponsors also spend less money than before. Now it’s time to rethink how we attract sponsors to our events!
I know the events industry very well by now and I saw sponsors pulling out and not doing one or other marketing activity because they don’t have the ROI anymore for being present at an event with too many other sponsors. On the positive side I see that sponsors are ready to try new things and I see the trend towards spreading the marketing budget across multiple marketing activities to test and see what works best. They start with small budget and if they are happy with the results they will renew.
But, as Julius mentioned, planners can’t renew sponsor’s interest if they still propose a model which is 120 years old and sell the lie of exposure, mentions and logo placement.
Julius suggested that online marketing and social media brought new awareness to brands investing in marketing and sponsorship. With the advent of social media brands are able to measure and see consumer journey online, which is incomparable to the insights from the promise of exposure.
Indeed, I see a massive opportunity to engage with sponsors in the digital space and the positive thing about doing digital marketing activities with sponsors is that they can see immediate results and metrics online, such as likes, shares and engagement in the comment sections and this is also very transparent!
No sponsors means no events – so how do we get sponsors? Here are few suggestions from Julius’s webinar. I highly recommend also listing to the full recording.
Content content content! Julius said that the strongest weapon planners have is content. Brands can do events themselves, but it will be always regarded as biased. So content shouldn’t be compromised and can be delivered by the right speakers.
I’ve experienced this shift myself as I partnered with tourism organisations and venues to host #EventPlannersTalk LIVE events. Together we developed the topic, speakers and selected most suitable venue. Connecting attendees around the topic is a win-win for everyone: the organiser, the sponsor and attendees!
Ditch your collateral: “the best proposal is no proposal”
It’s easy to create a one-fit-all proposal and send to everyone and expect magic, BUT, the new attitude is to meet and discuss with the sponsor how to create a win-win solution. It’s important to work in a personalised and customised way and act as an account managers to help and achieve sponsor’s’ objectives.
Starting out I had a fix price but as my events grow and each sponsor has their specific requirements, I realised that I can’t have “one price fits all anymore” so it’s good to have an open discussion first instead. I must have a starting price to deliver the event, but if sponsors want premium food or venue I can’t offer the same price as I offered to others. I believe that customisation and personalisation is what will help make the events win-win for both organiser and sponsor but will also make the event stand out!
Like hosted buyer programmes, for example, meetings and connections don’t happen by themselves, organisers should facilitate connections. Guaranteed meetings demonstrate tangible KPIs to sponsors and technology can help and facilitate these meetings.
I strongly believe that you need to get people in the room with similar interests who want to do business. As we discussed at the latest #EventPlannersTalk LIVE event about the changing landscape of corporate networking, connections don’t happen naturally, and you will have both extroverts and introverts in the audience. So how do you unlock opportunities for everyone attending? By offering different formats, like speed dating, pre-scheduled appointment and informal socialising you’ll have something for everyone in the room. In addition, it’s always important to have the right balance between those who are looking and those offering. We must deliver ROI for sponsors and get people with buying power in the room.
Make your own – “do it yourself packages” & À la carte menu
Allow sponsors to pick what they like instead of packages by offering them an à la carte menu as flexible as possible.
I think this one is a very interesting idea! Instead of offering the whole package, I’ll give my sponsors options and prices for each activity so they can pick and choose, and add anything anytime in the future. This keeps great flexibility for both sides!
To conclude, yes there is a massive shift in the way we organisers should work with sponsors. Instead of offering exposure, mentions and logo placement, we must offer engagement and tangible results, which technology can help measure. So, in Julius’s words “put your event first, put attendees first, put value first”.
What are your challenges? Frustrations? Tips? Best practices? Finding and working with sponsors?