Being an Organised Sponsor is the third instalment of the Sponsoring Community Events series aimed at helping companies get to grips with sponsoring community events, and getting the most out of them. This post covers how to organise yourself and the common activities needed to get the most out of your sponsorship of a community event.

Project management

Rarely is sponsorship a simple transaction, there’s often deliverables from both parties at different times over a period of anything up to a year.

Having been on the other side of the fence A LOT, I think it’s important you have a dedicated person who manages things, with a deputy who can step up in the event of illness, job moves etc.

An important part of the project management is understanding when you need to deliver your end of things, and when the event will deliver theirs. Compile a timeline of activities to help stay on track and identify when you need you need to start working.

I recommend regular calls or review emails to make sure that everything is on track, particularly as this allows for things to be tweaked and improved. Exactly how frequent these calls occur depends on the complexity and volume of sponsorship benefits.

Digital presence

Once you’ve agreed to sponsor an event this is your first priority — being known and visible as a sponsor of the event.

Being promoted by the event

You need to make sure you provide your liaison with:

  • Copies of your logo in the formats they require them. This is likely to be PNG and in a variety of resolutions
  • A destination URL for visitors to the event website to navigate to. Ideally, this should be a page tailored to the typical audience of the event and should include a tracking component to make assessment easier on your end. Making the page relevant improves your ability to convert traffic from the event.
  • You may need to provide content about the company in a variety of lengths for inclusion on the website and physical collateral. Make this tailored to give it the highest relevance and chance to make an impact.

Social media

Social media has increasing importance for companies and for events, so it’s important to plan this area. The sorts of things that will need to be discussed and agreed between yourself and your liaison:

  • The key social media accounts and important hashtags for both parties
  • Your social media about sponsoring the event
  • The event’s social media about you sponsoring the event
  • The re-tweeting/re-syndication of your content — guidelines and preferences from both parties
  • Reporting performance of social media

There are a number of useful tools that you can use to help automate social media, like Tweetdeck (free) and Hootsuite (low cost). If you’re not already doing social media scheduling, now is the time to invest in that activity.

Physical collateral

Complementing the digital presence for all online interactions with potential and actual event attendees is branding present at the events.

Popup displays

If you are present on event specific displays then you will need to provide a vector copy of your logo to ensure it prints effectively. A very high-resolution PNG will do in a pinch.

You may also be entitled to have a number of banners or stands provided by yourself at the events. Make sure you receive any guidelines and the delivery address details in plenty of time to get these produced and sent to the relevant party in time for the event. Missing the deadline could see an important piece of branding not be present at the event.

The lead time on popup banners is fairly low (a few days to a week) but you need to allow for screwed up deliveries, defects, etc.

Booth materials

We’ll go into more depth on building an effective presence in the next post, but a booth typically requires popups or more extravagant stands, table cloths, and signage at minimum. Getting all this together requires some planning up front to design the look and feel that matches budget and the company goals. Exhibition stands also typically take longer to produce than popup banners so you don’t want to leave these til the last minute. You should also think about how you get the booth materials to the venue – if the way it’s getting to the venue is a stereotypical sales guy with a BMW that barely fits a suitcase then you need to rethink that giant booth!

Stuff We All Get (SWAG)

The swag bag is a bag of goodies that attendees get on the day and is usually filled with promotional items provided by sponsors. Swag is a great way to get your brand out there and seen on a regular basis.

If this is a one-off or trial sponsorship then we recommend sticking to items like good quality pens, pads of paper, and decent USBs. If you’re considering a lot of sponsorship then doing something iconic can really work in your favour, for instance, Idera do rubber ducks and have various limited edition ones which generates a collectors attitude amongst attendees.

Idera ducks
Idera ducks

These items can have significant lead times so making sure you have secured or ordered with plenty of time to spare. I recommend ordering an extra 5-10% to allow for problems like quality issues or delivery damages — any excess the event organiser has left over typically gets recycled into other community events.

Flyers

Data sheets, company leaflets etc. also go in the swag bags, and it’s really tough getting ones that don’t go from bag to bin. To make sure these have any impact, you want something that is worth hanging onto or delivers a link that they can immediately access on their phone.

Like with the swag, order extra to allow for issues. These have a turnaround time similar to popup banners.

Prizes

A great giveaway does wonders for reputations and data capture so getting this right is important. Firstly, make it relevant to the attendees of the event you’re sponsoring, secondly, keep within any rules the event organisers have, and thirdly, try to make it special. I often recommend that if you provide products or services then you should consider giving them away as prizes — a happy prize winner who became a super happy customer is an excellent success story that can provide powerful marketing content as it integrates your community engagement with a positive case study.

Data capture

Whether through the giving of prizes, scanning at booths, or through a general benefit, you can often end up in receipt of attendee’s personal data. You need to make sure the data capture method and stated permissions is compliant with any company policies. Additionally, you need to be prepared for the receipt of the data and processing it once you receive it.

Most event organisers will place limitations on how the data can be utilised or stored so if you sign an agreement, you should make sure these details are noted and you act in accordance with them.

You should plan time to incorporate this data into your company’s CRM system or equivalent. You should also do something with the data instead of just acquiring it. Have something like an email planned for after the event.

Being an Organised Sponsor (SCE p3)

What do you think?