Assessing Sponsorship Opportunities (SCE p2)

Assessing Sponsorship Opportunities is the second 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 some of the things that you should be thinking about when you are considering sponsoring an event.

What’s the point?

Before entering into a sponsorship agreement you need to have a firm idea of what you’re hoping to achieve. Understanding your driving reason for marketing via sponsorship helps you determine whether a sponsorship opportunity is right for you.

The three most common reasons are:

  • Reach Getting in front of people with the aim of converting them to customers
  • Brand recognition Building strong brand recall
  • Keeping up Competitors are sponsoring events

I do not recommend that the third reason should be your primary reason. “Me too” propositions are not winning propositions. Take the time to think about what you can actually get out of sponsoring events. Your competitor may be saturating the community events but is probably leaving other channels open in order to do so.

Is the audience your audience?

An event with little or no overlap between the audience you’re interested in talking to and who actually attends is an event has little benefit for you. Make sure you understand the mix of attendees before entering into an agreement. Factor it into your cost assessments and the marketing strategies you employ.

Is the cost appropriate?

The general rule of thumb is more money –> more engagement –> more money

So the more you spend, the more face time you get, the more you earn. Like any marketing activity, it’s never a guarantee but in this area, you have to spend money to make money. although you can be savvy about it!

You probably have a good idea about how much it costs you to acquire a new customer and what your average conversion rate is across your marketing channels. Use these figures, in combination with your core reason for sponsorship, to ascertain your best, likely, and worst case outcomes for ROI and assess the costs on that basis.

  • If your goal is direct conversion to customers, then make sure the lead cost is similar to what you achieve elsewhere and focus on higher tiers of sponsorship
  • If brand awareness is the primary goal then the relationship is less linear as the quality of your materials can gain you substantial recognition, with less spend

You shouldn’t just account for the direct cost of sponsorship in your calculations either. There can be a lot of costs involved in getting the most out of your sponsorship, like investing in a booth and staffing it for the duration of the event.

Can you negotiate on the cost?

Yes, generally you can. Here are some ways you can usually get movement on sponsorship costs:

  • If you don’t like some of the benefits or can’t utilise them, then you can negotiate package contents
  • Offer something better than money – take on or provide something that costs you a lot less to do than it takes the organisers
  • Trim benefits
  • Go for the long term, sign up for a number of years
  • Come in last minute (a risky strategy!)

How much business can you handle?

Depending on your capacity for new business it may not actually be in your best interests to go for top tier packages all the time. When people want to give you their money and you can’t take it fast enough, they usually get annoyed with you! If you’re a small consultancy business or your onboarding processes still need some work, then going for smaller packages for the first few events can stop you burning bridges.

Can you utilise all the benefits?

Sponsorship is not a simple transaction – there’s often requirements for design work, content creation, physical collateral, on-site staff, and qualified speakers at the different levels. If there are benefits you can’t utilise because you don’t have the resources, then try to either get them substituted for benefits you can utilise, or select a cheaper level.

Is the timing right for you?

Sponsorship might be something you are considering doing all year round to build brand awareness or it could be tied to a specific time-sensitive message. If it’s a time-sensitive message then make sure the event coincides. Line up sponsorship for events that coincide as early as possible. Last minute sign-up will give you less prime spots, less time for your brand to be seen, and less time for you to pull together the resources needed to maximise your benefits.

How will it be measured?

Tracking the impact of sponsorship is critical to the beginning of the endeavour as well as the end. Your measurements should align with your goal. For instance, if you’re aiming for increased reach metrics like new visitors from the event’s website, new leads added to the database, or new customers are important. Getting the framework in place for this data capture will likely require work on yours and event’s part so you need to think these through early. Once you have this information it allows you to make assessments throughout and after the sponsorship process.

Will the organiser deliver?

Community events are run by people who have day jobs, and those day jobs aren’t marketing and events management. Most community events run smoothly with well-organised and experienced people at the helm but make sure you understand the answers to questions about their experience, backup plans, and liability. This is, of course, the standard stuff you do anyway but it’s worth getting a feel for things before you enter into a legally binding agreement.

What is the event organiser looking for?

Each event has its own brand, its own way of communicating to attendees, and it’s own preferences so you’ll get the most value out of sponsoring an event2 where your marketing is compatible with that of the event. If the event is known for “big and slick” and that’s how you like to do things then you’ll have a much easier relationship and you’ll fit in better to the event, whereas if the event runs differently and your large exhibition stand won’t be allowed to be put up you might find yourself getting frustrated.

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