There’s nothing I love more than transforming a three-ring circus into an event machine that engages guests, runs like clockwork, and delivers ROI. I’ve been creating, planning, and running corporate conferences and events for more than 20 years, as part of consulting firms in the U.K. and U.S. and as founder of my event management firm, C.KAY International. In the middle of all that, I served as COO for a U.S.-based leadership development consulting firm.
C.Kay International marketed to previous years’ delegates, as well as new prospective attendees, primarily through email blasts and social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Take advice from these successful meeting and event planners. See how their daily routines and behaviors make them successful in their jobs.
In my last blog, I talked about attracting attendees to your events. Another audience that’s critical to the bottom line for many events, both fundraisers and business conferences, is corporate sponsors.
There’s a lot of competition for event sponsors. Getting the attention of prospective sponsors and persuading them to come onboard takes creativity, marketing research, and proactive sales work. You’ll need to offer enticing sponsorship opportunities that are beneficial for all parties.
To attract sponsors, I encourage my event clients to revisit the basic questions about their event:
What are you trying to achieve with your event?
What does success look like for you and your guests?
Then extend those questions to the perspective of the sponsor: what will success look like for sponsors if they invest in the event? What will sponsors achieve, and what benefits will they receive, by supporting the event?
After sitting down over a cuppa with the Sponsorship Guru, Michael Kay, AKA Dad, I encourage clients to develop a sponsorship marketing plan that considers the following.
Marketing alignment: Be sure the target audience of your event matches the sponsor’s market demographic so you can present sponsorship opportunities that are relevant and beneficial for the sponsors’ marketing efforts.
Marketing benefits: Be clear and specific about the marketing benefits your event will offer to the prospective sponsor. Provide realistic data about forecasted attendance and how many people will see advance promotion. Be concrete. Don’t just promise social media coverage. Describe what kind of coverage with a realistic forecast of the eyeballs that will see it.
A killer sponsorship package: Present an organized, professional, thorough and great-looking proposal (again, with solid details). In many cases, a sponsorship package emailed to prospect will have to do a big part of the upfront sales job. It can get you in the door to close the deal.
A colleague of mine in the liquor business gets at least three solicitations a week to sponsor fundraisers and business events. She’s constantly amazed at how weak most offers are. They’re:
Vague: an email with no proposal saying, “Hey, we’re looking for sponsors. Interested?”
Misaligned: approaching a small local business with sponsorship opportunities costing tens of thousands of dollars, promising national exposure, doesn’t make sense.Downright silly: a college student organization on a beer budget asking a premium spirits business to stock their no-host bar. (And the sponsor benefit is…?)
Companies choose to sponsor an event for a variety of reasons, so be sure to appeal to at least one of these when making your pitch:
It’s a smart, cost-effective addition to their marketing efforts.
It’s good for their bottom line.One of their stakeholders (employee, board member, etc.) is involved with your business or non-profit organization.
Your event and sponsorship opportunities are competitive (but better!)
If you’re interested in discussing how you can attract corporate sponsors for your next event, I’d love to chat with you about it.
It’s hard to believe. It was just one year ago that I ventured into the world of entrepreneurism and launched C.KAY International to produce private and corporate events all over the globe. What a wonderful, gratifying, topsy-turvy year it’s been!
It’s been a fabulous year of working with new clients, reconnecting with colleagues across many countries, running miles across many meeting venues, and ensuring event guests had amazing experiences.
A very big thank-you to the many clients, colleagues, friends, and family members who have provided such tremendous support during my wacky start-up year!
There have been a lot of laughs, lessons, and no lack of stress. I relearned some lessons I knew in theory, such as the importance of pacing myself, of taking a break and a breath before I run out of steam. I tend to work hard, so I need to play harder. But I know hard work pays off. I don’t believe in luck. I believe in hard work and determination, embellished with creativity and a sense of humor.
There have certainly been some mistakes along the way (character-building experiences, of course…), but I remind myself that regret is toxic. You have to keep looking forward.
One big lesson learned: it’s crucial to maintain confidence in your own voice and your own choices; to push through the doubt that creeps in when you’re in new territory. I’m a risk-taker by nature and I’m always happiest and most successful when I trust my internal risk-taker voice. But I listen, as needed, to my prudent, practical voice as well.
It’s been an amazing year. So many great clients and exhilarating events! I look forward to many, many more…