How to make the most of your event sponsorship

Building strong relationships within your community is essential to business success. One of the simplest ways to forge and hone those relationships is through event sponsorships. Whether you’re contributing tens of thousands of dollars to be a presenting sponsor at a major local festival or are paying a nominal fee to have a booth at the local school’s art fair, each sponsorship is an opportunity to strengthen brand recognition, cement your place in the community and demonstrate your commitment to essential community issues.

You’ll likely get a list of sponsorship benefits from the hosting organization. While great, there is only so far logo placement on a banner can take you. With strategic foresight and a desire to leverage every sponsorship as a branding opportunity, you can find so much more value in your corporate outreach programming.

Create parameters for choosing sponsorships.
You can’t be everything to everyone, just like you can’t be in several places at once. Resources are limited, and so is your sponsorship budget. To help your allocation make the most impact, purposefully consider what sponsorships will hold the most value for your organization. Alignment is key – if you are a health care organization, health-focused nonprofits are an easy choice for support. If your organization’s mission isn’t as clearly connected to a charitable cause, work with your team to determine where and how you want to make your impact. You can hone in very specifically – say you want to partner with organizations that combat illiteracy – or keep it more broad – we like to support animal-focused causes.

With the causes that matter in mind, you can then start to think about your audience. What events do they attend? What events would meaningfully align with your work? Start contacting those organizations early to see what their sponsorship opportunities look like and how you can get involved. The earlier you reach out, the more likely you are to have a full docket of opportunities available to you, as some organizations limit the number of high-dollar, high-impact opportunities available per event.

Ensure your brand materials are in order.
Most sponsorships will require you to submit logos and other branded materials as part of your commitment package. To ensure you’re prepared, put together a sponsorship brand guide. This can help event organizers know which logo files to use in specific instances – like using your white logo on a black shirt as opposed to your blue one. Adding one sheets, rack cards, brochures and other branded messaging materials to the packet can also help ensure they’re using approved language in social posts, press releases or online content. It’s also wise to gather social media handles, URLs and other references so the event organizers can easily reference you appropriately.

Take full advantage of sponsor benefits.
While we give event organizers the benefit of the doubt, there are times when sponsor benefits slip through the cracks. As a sponsor, keep track of your promised benefits and help the planning organization see them through the finish line. If you’re promised three posts on social media, keep track of posts as they go out. If you’re supposed to be included on the T-shirt, see if you can get a preview of the design to make sure it’s listed appropriately. And, if you send over the brand kit we recommended you create, there should be much less room for error. While you don’t want to be a pest, it is fair to ensure you’re being properly recognized for your contributions.

Create meaningful opportunities for booth or speaking engagements.
If your investment includes a booth, speaking opportunity or other physical presence, make sure you prepare accordingly. Businesses get few opportunities to claim time in front of new audiences, so this might be one of your only chances to speak directly to a captive audience beyond your own. Put together a sharp, branded display for your tables and ensure your representatives are prepared to have meaningful conversations with people who approach. Create incentives – games, prizes or other draws – to ensure you get good traffic. And if there is a theme (say it’s a fall festival), decorate! No one wants to visit the corporate-looking table at a Halloween party. If a member of your leadership team can speak, create specific talking points for the event. Ensure their message connects with the people who are attending and isn’t just a fluff piece for your business. You want the audience to walk away understanding who you are, why you are there and how you can ultimately serve them while supporting the cause du jour.

Leverage your channels to tell the sponsorship story.
You don’t have to rely on the event promotion team to drive traffic to the event. Use your social media, blog, email newsletter and website channels to promote your upcoming attendance. You can get really creative – maybe you sponsor a marathon and spotlight the runners in your office leading up to race day. Or, maybe you’ve sponsored an event for 25 years and have historical photos to share on social media. Take some of the promotion in-house and maximize your output.

We know it’s tempting to cut a check and take the recognition that comes along with signing on the dotted line. But with a little forethought and extra effort, you can greatly enhance your sponsorship value. Need help getting started? We can lead the cause. Connect today.