Event sponsors are looking for partners — not just a way to display their logo.

To keep your sponsors coming back each year, you need to build a shared connection. Nurture that relationship to make sure sponsors don’t pass you by when another event has a cheaper offer.

Here are five strategies to keep your event sponsors engaged.

1. Connect to a cause

Instead of plastering your sponsors’ logos on the walls, help sponsors connect with a philanthropic mission important to them. By aligning their brand with a cause, they can connect with consumers more authentically.

Take a cue from That Lady Thing, a five-day pop-up installation that tells stories of women empowerment. That Lady Thing donates all its profits to the National Women’s Law Center. Instead of just pocketing the money from sponsors, it brings sponsors into its mission to build gender equality. That Lady Thing chooses sponsors that support their goal of gender equality — and built on those sponsors’ missions to do the same.

2. Use your social media to grow awareness

Engaging your sponsors doesn’t start onsite. Use social media to tag and mention your event sponsors before, during, and after the event.

  • Before your event. Sneak peeks at the little details of an activation are opportunities to elevate your event sponsors and fold them into the conversation online. Another way to get sponsors involved is by offering co-branded giveaways in the months leading up to your event.
  • During your event. Social media during your event is about giving event sponsors the opportunity to interact with your attendees. Use a social aggregator such as Everwall to share posts on a giant viewing screen. Take it one step further and surprise the crowd by offering gifts from sponsors to every 50th tweet.
  • After the event. Curated photos and videos, like behind-the-scenes content showing how an event sponsor constructed a display, lets you tie powerful moments from your event back to sponsors.

3. Use RFID to encourage interactions with attendees

If your event is equipped with radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, it’s easier than ever for sponsors to connect with attendees.

Instead of having attendees manually enter their information on an iPad, sponsors can collect that data and more with the swipe of a wristband or badge. That means sponsors can engage with attendees without worrying about wasting time collecting contact information. Plus, you can see how many people interacted at each sponsor’s station, so that you know which brands attendees resonated with most.

4. Promote your sponsors through your event app

Event apps help attendees feel confident, connected, and informed at your event. They’re also a great way to engage your event sponsors, as you can incorporate brands in your app’s schedule, push notifications, and more. There are a number of ways you can incorporate your sponsors into your event app.

For example, boost the visibility of your sponsors by giving them ad space on your event app. Or, instead of offering ads to many sponsors, offer the whole cost of your app as an activation for exclusive branding in a sponsor’s name.

5. Focus on experiential activations

Experiential marketing engages attendees in unexpected ways and can be part of an event, a standalone popup, or a whole event (like the Museum of Ice Cream). Getting sponsors involved in an experiential activation helps them connect with attendees in a way they’ll remember for years — and share with friends online.

Here are two examples for inspiration:

  • Get your vendors and attendees up on their feet and interacting together. Take a cue from Sound on Sound Fest, held at a Renaissance Faire Park, where a cider company took over the ax- and knife-throwing area. Make your event an interactive experience that gets your sponsors and attendees talking.
  • Gamify your vendor experience. The New York Comic Con uses a mobile app to generate hype with exclusive contests to win NYCC swag. Whether or not you use an app, gamify the experience by having sponsors offer rewards for scavenger hunt or contest winners.

Engage event sponsors with more moments of connection

Each interaction at your event, no matter how short, is an opportunity to build memories for attendees that involve your sponsors. Discover how to best your competition by creating experiences that make sponsors and attendees fall in love with you in How to Create Moments of Connection at Your Event.

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