Event producers have one job. Sell everything they can think of to make as much money as possible. Some of these things will be valuable to your company and brand, and some will not.
Your job is also to make money, but spend as little money along the way as possible to accomplish your business objectives. This sometimes leads to a misalignment of the value chain to demand.
It’s easy to grab platinum, gold, silver, bronze or a la carte sponsorships off the shelf. However, it’s always better to negotiate for those opportunities that provide the greatest value to your audiences and your brand. Before you go gunning for gold or break out that purchase order, here are some things you should consider to ensure sponsorship success.
Involve the Right People: This is true when selecting and planning other elements of your event as well. Remember to include sales, PR, marketing and digital teams in the discussion when selecting which sponsorship elements to take advantage of.
Base Sponsorship Decision on Objectives: When evaluating sponsorship packages, or a la carte products offered by show producers, its important to think about which items would be most effective in accomplishing your objectives first. What are those things that offer the highest value? For example, if your objective is thought leadership, speaking opportunities are best, if you are looking to nurture relationships and close sales, private hospitality and one-on-one audience engagement is strongest. Anything else is largely unnecessary and should be left on the table.
Review the Audience: This is the single most important part of any sponsorship. Will the sponsorship draw the critical mass of targeted attendees required for you to earn the right level of return on investment or objective? Make sure the demographics and psychographics of the audience are right for your brand. Its also a good idea to insist on third-party audits to validate audiences.
Ensure Content Relevance: Examine the focus of program content to audience priorities and objectives. Ensure your content aligns well to sponsorship content, otherwise your brand will appear disconnected. Will audiences find this relevant and participate? If not, you’re in the wrong place, doing the wrong things.
Negotiate Sponsorship and Custom Opportunities: Look at the strength of sponsorship offerings and the Share of Voice offered. Gauge the producer’s willingness to negotiate, provide value-added services and entertain special requests, such as speaking opportunities. If the right opportunities don’t exist, create your own! Remember producers need you more than you need them.
Leverage Business Partners: Partners provide a powerful leverage point that few take full advantage of. How many of your partners are participating? What’s their scope? How have they used the sponsorship effectively in the past? Including your partners in the planning process can create a potent sponsorship opportunity and increase return on investment. If done well, you can spend far less and get far more than going it alone.
Check Out the Competition: While competitive presence is not a critical factor, it is still something that should be examined in your decision making process. How many of your competitors are involved? What is their scope of participation? Understanding how you compare to your competitors in the audiences eyes, especially in the early stages of a sales cycle can help ensure success. Use this information to plan your sponsorship strategy and tactics.
Understand Who You Are Dealing With: Look at the stability and past performance of the producer. Do they have a track record for delivering advertised event performance? Are there official, third-party audits available? Knowing the background and longevity of the sponsorship opportunity and the producer can give you solid ground to stand on in your decision making process and in negotiations.
As Carrie Urban Kapraun from IEG states in her post, Elusive Intangibles: They Are All Around Us “..intangibles are an important part of any decision-making process and are often not given the credit, thought and time they deserve. I think it is beneficial for everyone to develop metrics and criteria to quantify and compare intangible benefits, especially in a sponsorship context…” At the end of the day sponsorship is about real value, both tangible and intangible. Understanding what will bring true value to your audiences and your brand starts with your objectives. From there its about taking a strategic approach, examining the opportunity with diligence and negotiating from a position of power to ensure success.