Making Sponsorship Work

Warwick MerryMany events struggle with sponsorship. It is not that they struggle to get sponsors, it is more that with the ever-evolving events industry, sponsorship does not work like it used to and we need to get better at making it work, writes Warwick Merry.

Here are some key elements to keep in mind when dealing with sponsors.

It’s not about you
While it is your event, it has your name on it;the sponsorship is not about you. Sponsorship is all about the sponsor. What value can they get, what leverage does the event give them and how can they use the event to increase their market share, their position in the market or their brand awareness?

Be crystal clear, when you are approaching sponsors, you are doing them no favours.Positioning your event is all about how you can create a great opportunity for your sponsor. This in return will be advantageous for you and your delegates. You may be trying for a “win – win” but you must understand it from the sponsor perspective first.

There has to be a return
Sponsors don’t have bottomless pits of money. High level promises of “it’ll be really great branding” used to work but not anymore. Smart brands want to calculate their return on investment, return on objective and return on energy.

If they are investing $50k with you, they want a multiple of value. For example, if they only get $50k of value, their return is 100 per cent which is barely worth it. Sponsors will want an increased payback.

For example, if a premium car brand sponsors your event for $20k and they make $10k profit on each car sale, they will want at least two car sales to cover the cost of the event and then give some return. How can you help make that happen?

Help sponsors be successful
Many sponsors struggle with sponsorship.They spend a lot of money for the brand awareness but then do very little to take advantage of the event. They send the wrong people to the event and then do very little follow-up.

We are successful when our sponsors are successful. As part of your sponsor’s package, it is important to educate the sponsor on how to take advantage of their sponsorship. Too often sponsors invest their money, don’t get the outcome they were after and then don’t partner with you again. Some of this is due to unrealistic expectations but mostly it is because they have not decided before they started on how they will measure if this is a successful event.

It is so important to be focused on a longterm relationship with your sponsors. It is far easier to have them sign up for a multi-year deal or to eagerly re-sign the sponsorship deal year after year.

What that means for us is that we have to make sure that they know how to measure their success. We need to work with them to decide what they want from the event.If we can help our sponsors get concrete measures of success, then we can have them sign up with us time and time again.

Warwick Merry will be the conference MC at  the 10th Annual PCOA Conference and Exhibition, to be held at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, 26 – 28 November 2017

CIM magazine – PCO Association business partner