Most events need to at least break even to keep going, and this usually can’t be done just by ticket sales alone, getting sponsors on board can massively increase the revenue for events and actually improve exposure, but it isn’t always easy to sign up sponsors and importantly keep them coming back year on year.
Conferences are always a tricky event for sponsors, they want to use the event as a platform to promote themselves, however conference organiser are keen not to involve a sales pitch in the main programme. There are a couple of solutions to this, giving them an area outside the main conference programme to be able to get their pitch across, whether this be a small exhibition space or small stage in the delegate break areas, or alternatively you can offer them some pre event exposure by using blog or article space on the event website for sponsors, promoting this alongside the event marketing campaign. Working with sponsors from the date they sign the contract to the event and post event is key to keeping them on board. In most cases sponsors want to be able to do more to help promote the event and themselves, which can also benefit the event by using their own networks as an additional resource in helping the event get to a wider audience. It doesn’t have to be just a sponsor logo on the event website or on a bit of signage.
Overpriced sponsor packages in comparison to what you are actually offering is also another problem, if you’re asking a company/organisation to spend thousands of pounds for a small one day event, where the only coverage they seem to be getting is limited with a couple of free tickets thrown in, it isn’t going to be worth their while to sponsor, the obvious answer is to look at similar events sponsorship packages for the event and industry, working out how their prices compare, and also looking at what else you can offer them. Another thing to look at is how long before the event are the sponsors signed up, the earlier they are confirmed the easier it is going to be able to offer them more in the pre event campaign. If you manage to get the right price for your sponsorship packages then stick to it, and if the sales aren’t going as well as hoped try not to give large discounts or freebees packages even if there seems to be a panic to get more people on board, offering discounts and free packages isn’t necessarily the solution as you will find it very difficult to get the same people to pay full price for it the next year.
Sponsor communication and customer service, is another area that sometimes can be lacking on events, after the initial sponsors sign up there can then be a lull in communications until closer to the event. This can be made worse if you have dedicated sales person, who has then passed this to the event manager and there is no clear understanding of who the main contact should be until the event. Personally I think once the sponsors has signed, the event manager/organisers should be taking the lead on communications, this allows them to make sure they have all the assets they need and importantly when they need it, and it also allows them to work with the sponsor and rest of the event team on how to get the best out of the agreement for both the organisers and sponsors keeping the communications with the sponsors open so they have more of an interest in the event.
Getting the right sponsors, and not just anyone! Sometimes if the event sales aren’t living up to expectations it can seem like a mad scramble to sign up any sponsors to get some additional revenue but is this really going to help? Alright so it saves the event a little bit for this year but does it help in the long term? These types of sponsors are not going to sign up again next year as they didn’t get anything out of the event to help them promote themselves. So when initially planning the event it’s really important to look at who you are targeting for sponsors of the event and what will they actually get out of it pre and post event? Sometimes event organiser can forget that it’s not always about what they get out of the event, it has to work both ways.