Signing on event sponsors is a great way to offset the costs associated with organizing an event. In fact, for many events, sponsorships are the difference between an event resulting in a loss or bringing in revenue. A critical component of events, a study conducted by Convene Magazine found that 23% of event revenue comes from exhibitors and 19% from sponsors or donors. To that, sponsors and exhibitors contribute a sizable portion of revenue to events.
But if you have struggled to attract new sponsors or are taking your first go at signing event sponsors, you may have questions about the best way to connect and sign sponsors. This guide provides an overview of sponsorships and the elements your proposal should include to attract event sponsors.
What is an event sponsorship proposal?
A sponsorship proposal is a formal offer to do business. And an event sponsorship proposal specifically offers businesses opportunities to do business with your event. Sponsorship opportunities can come in many forms, including:
- Exhibition space
- Speaking opportunities
- Brand promotion
- Giveaways and more
In presenting those opportunities, an event sponsorship proposal should contain enough information for a company to gain a thorough understanding of what it is being offered and the benefits their business will receive in return.
Will companies sponsor my event?
Companies sponsor a wide variety of events – from Little League sporting events through massive conferences, so keep in mind that every event has the opportunity to bring in sponsors!
Looking specifically at business events, the most popular types of sponsored events are industry trade shows/conventions, one-day conference or seminars, business or channel partner events, and multiple-day conferences, according to a study by Splash and The Harvard Business Review.
While every event has the opportunity to bring in sponsors, attracting the right sponsors can be tricky.
It doesn’t have to be, though. By identifying businesses that share common audiences, have complementary services, or fit into your ecosystem, you have the opportunity to build a strong case. You want to be sure to present your event so that sponsorship is irresistible! To do that, create a case that is too compelling to ignore. This is where your sponsorship proposal comes in.
Elements of a strong sponsorship proposal
A strong event sponsorship proposal or sponsorship prospectus presents your event and opportunities for sponsorship in an organized and well-thought-out manner. It can be a visual presentation or a written document, however, any way you format your proposal, it should cover these key elements:
1. The Event
When asking for money, it’s important to set the stage before jumping right in. If the event itself doesn’t appear compelling, it will be a challenge to win over and sign sponsors. So, in describing your event, spend time finding your event’s differentiator.
- Provide details on the event you’re inviting sponsors to participate in. This includes logistical details like the dates, location, as well as the size and scope of the event.
- Highlight the event theme, programming, and content topics for additional context.
- Include background and history on the event, if any. Is this the 25th annual? Or the first-ever?
- Explain the mission and/or goals for the event – the ‘why’ of the event.
- Give an overview of the audience demographics and past successes.
2. Your Audience
Sponsorship is all about the audience! While the event surely matters, sponsors choose to participate in an event because they want to connect with the individuals attending that event. Before you ask your sponsors for money, tell them about your audience. Here, you should provide an in-depth look at who will be attending your event.
Sponsors want to know:
- How many attendees attended previous events and how many are predicted for the upcoming event?
- What are the titles and responsibilities of your attendees?
- What are the demographics of existing customers?
- How does this event target new customers?
- How engaged were your attendees last year?
In detailing your audience, you’re providing potential sponsors a look into who they can expect to engage with, so give as much information as possible.
3. Why Sponsor?
Explain to your client exactly why this event is a great match to their company, why sponsorship is a unique chance not to be missed, and crucially: what incredible outcomes will come about through sponsorship of this event. You should connect the dots from the first two sections and clearly explain the benefits.
Here you should be direct and clearly lay out the benefits. Take this example, four strong value propositions that were created to drive sponsorships for a niche conference.
Your customers and prospects will be here. This is a premier business-development opportunity packaged in a high-profile event, featuring rich content targeted specifically at technology users, influencers and decision-makers.
Reinforce your position as an industry leader collaborating with Our Business on the technologies that continue to shape the landscape.
Connect in-person to create new business relationships and strengthen existing ones with customers, partners, and Our Business.
A key message for customers attending the event is the power of a comprehensive approach to security and risk management. Highlight your partnership with Our Company, demonstrating how your technologies are helping protect the digital enterprise.
4. Sponsorship Opportunities
Present your sponsorship options clearly so prospective sponsors can easily understand sponsorship structure and format. In other words, what exactly are you looking for from your client and what will they receive in return?
A common way to present sponsorship options is in a tiered chart. This gives you the opportunity to give a range of opportunities and sponsorship investment levels and highlight the benefits each sponsorship package offers.
Picking sponsorship opportunities
But what will you include in your chart? You want your sponsorship opportunities to appeal to sponsors and also be helpful for attendees. Here are some of the common opportunities offered at conferences.
Booth space. Offer businesses the opportunity to create an exhibition space or booth. With this, you’ll want to be sure to incorporate exhibition into your overall program to give attendees the chance to interact with exhibitors.
Demos or presentations. For large events, you may want to enable sponsors to host mini sessions or demos right from their booth. Offer this as a sponsorship opportunity and time each mini session so there’s only one going on at any given time.
Speaking sessions. Give your sponsors the opportunity to present to attendees. With this, you should vet the content to ensure it aligns with your overall event theme.
Guest blog and social posts. Enable your sponsors to begin engaging your audience before the event even begins. Offer sponsors the opportunity to create content that will be blasted across your social platforms.
Inclusion in marketing and materials. Typically when a sponsor signs on to an event, organizers add their logo to a sponsor logo reel on the event site, app, and on-site branding.
Mobile app sponsorship. This coveted opportunity travels with each attendee who uses the event app! They’re checking the app for session information, to connect with other attendees, and to navigate the event, so offering app sponsorship gives a direct, digital way to interact with attendees.
Interactive walls. Thinking about adding interactive technology, like a social media wall, to your event? Offset your costs by offering it as a sponsored activation.
Charging lounge. When attendees are low on battery and want to kick up their feet for a few minutes, a sponsored charging station will be a welcoming and appreciated destination for attendees.
Have a little fun
Happy hours. After-hours events present a great sponsorship opportunity. Sign-on a happy hour, dinner, or celebration sponsors to cover the cost of ancillary events.
Coffee breaks. Branded coffee or snack stations can bring your sponsors and attendees closer throughout the day. Enable your sponsors to spark conversation and energize attendees.
Morning yoga. Invite attendees to start the day off with a clear mind with the help of your yoga class sponsor. Yoga, a morning walk, or other wellness activities can encourage a healthy, happy atmosphere.
Sample sponsorship prospectus
|Available package opportunities||3||6||8||25|
|Full event passes||15||10||5||3|
|Lead retrieval units||2||1||1||1|
|Dedicated meeting room||1|
|Breakout session (45 minutes)||2||1|
|Exhibit hall session (30 minutes)||1||1||1||1|
|Sponsor an Event!||WeclomeHappy Hour|
|Breakfast or Break|
|Keynote recognition on-screen||Logo||Logo||Logo||Logo|
|Logo on event signage||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Inclusion in-booth engagement activity||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Inclusion in event guide||Logo||Logo||Logo||Logo|
|Announcement in pre-event email||50 words|
|Logo in all pre-event emails||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Access to press attendee list||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Social channel shout outs||3||2||1|
|Logo in post-event email||Yes|
|Website / mobile app marketing|
|Logo / link to website / social media links||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Company description to be included online||150 words||100 words||75 words||50 words|
|Logo on mobile app||Yes|
|Session presentation materials available on-demand||Yes||Yes|
Qualitative returns for sponsoring
In addition to the contracted items, there are bonus benefits for sponsoring an event. When building a proposal, you may also want to make note of the qualitative benefits your sponsors will see.
What additional benefits do sponsors see? Examples include:
- Media coverage – If media or press are slated to attend, sponsors may see online or offline coverage
- Social media coverage – attendees often document their experience at events
- Positive association with your business or organization
- Networking opportunities beyond exhibiting
While you may not have a quantifiable number for these, make note of them! It’s important to highlight all of the reasons to sponsor and the opportunities available.
5 Testimonials / Social Proof
In building your case, showcasing past year’s sponsors provides credibility. An important aspect of this proposal is to illustrate how businesses will benefit from involvement – and what better way than to provide concrete evidence? A section highlighting past partnerships and sponsors speaks to your event’s credibility and value.
Last year’s logos
Include a collage of past sponsors! Logos go a long way in providing social proof and credibility.
First event? As you sign on sponsors, begin building out your list of logos to show off.
Example of previous sponsorship successes
You should get in the habit of conducting sponsor surveys following each event. The information in your surveys can work to improve your next event and can be powerful in attracting sponsors.
Let’s say sponsors from last year’s event saw a 70% uptick in business in the days following your event – that’s a big deal! Share those figures with prospective sponsors to demonstrate value.
Compile feedback and results
Utilize your survey data in your proposal. While you don’t need to include all the feedback you have received, highlighting a few strong points goes a long way. Point out strong numbers that support your goals. For example, you can turn sponsor survey data into compelling statistics:
- Our sponsors got 20% more leads!
- Sponsors indicated that they saw quality booth traffic (92%)
- The event provides positive ROI (99%)
- Sponsors said they plan to sponsor again in 2019 (95%)
Feedback and quotes
Did your survey ask for additional feedback? If not, you may want to circle back and talk with a couple of your past sponsors to gather usable quotes. Featuring sponsors who speak to their experience, in their own words, tells an authentic story. In addition to the facts and figures, a qualitative look at past sponsors’ experiences tells a well-rounded story.
For example, while this quote tells a story from your perspective:
“Our sponsors love to attend, they say this is the most exciting marketing event in the region. We treat our sponsors well.” – Acme Company
It is stronger to include direct testimonials.
“SF Marketing Week provides a level of excitement and enthusiasm around marketing that other events in the same space don’t have. It’s clear they care just as much about their sponsors’ success as they do the attendees, which is important to us. Overall, SF Marketing Week is a joy to attend as a sponsor!”
– Jessica Brown, VP of Marketing at A+ Email
You can see that the second quote, which came directly from a sponsor, has a stronger message than the first. Adding voices other than your business’ voice to the proposal creates added credibility.
First event? Try this instead
If you don’t have past event sponsors who can speak to participating in your events, you can still provide social proof that illustrates the value in partnering. Let your track record of working with other businesses or demonstrated client work shine through.
6. Next Steps
Woohoo, you created a killer sponsorship proposal using these elements and signed sponsors! What next?
A strong proposal needs a clear call to action or actionable next steps. Without it, your sponsors won’t know what to do next. The last thing you want to do is to build excitement just for a prospective sponsor to lose interest.
Clearly lay out the next steps. Should they call you, email you, or fill out a form? Or will your team be in touch to follow up? Don’t let them wonder. Additionally, make the next steps as simple as possible to reduce any possible friction.
Be explicit about what they should do — and mention it often throughout your proposal. You may want to include an email or phone number at the footer of each page of the proposal to ensure prospects have contact information at their fingertips.
By demonstrating tangible benefits and measurable results, you’ll differentiate your event from all of the rest. Take time to tell a story and build a case with a thoughtful sponsorship proposal. Once you have a strong proposal, begin reaching out to your list of potential sponsors with tailored messages.