If you’re in charge of event sponsorship, let’s face it: you’re in the relationship business. Forging connections is key to landing the best sponsors you can. And landing higher caliber sponsors is the path to higher sponsorship revenue.
Even if you have somewhere to start, it can be tough to know how to approach the deal. Here’s the secret: it all starts with nailing the sponsorship proposal email.
3 types of emails you’ll use to win event sponsors
When you reach out to potential sponsors, you’re likely to send one of these three different kinds of emails:
- The follow up (or “warm” email)
- The introduction (or “cold” email)
- The meeting request
Each takes on its own tone and structure — here’s how to do every sponsorship email right:
How to nail the follow up sponsorship email
Perhaps your outreach efforts begin at a business event, where you share a promising chat with a representative of your target company. What comes next?
The person you met at Company X is your in. They don’t have to be a decision maker; they just have to point you in the right direction. Before too much time passes, a friendly, concise email is in order. You want to:
- Give sponsors a reason to open: It all starts with your subject line. Keep it short, snappy, and to the point. “Met you at [event]. Let’s connect!” sets the context for your message and extends an invitation to continue the relationship. The same strategy goes for emailing a referral, “[Referrer name] recommended I get in touch.”
- Mention how you’re connected: While it’s important to give context to your relationship to the sponsor, don’t write a novel. Briefly mention your mutual connection, then transition into the purpose of your email. Here’s an example: “I recently had lunch with [referrer name], who shared some of your ideas. I was blown away! I think your approach would be perfect for a project I’m working on.”
- Seek their expert opinion: You can demonstrate how much you respect their time by keeping your request concise. “Spare fifteen minutes to give your expert feedback?” is only eight words long and articulates the request perfectly.
Pro tip: Don’t ask for their sponsorship just yet. Get to know them, because if you don’t, they might find it too easy to cast your pitch aside. You want a chance to properly woo this person to find out who the decision maker is, then ask for a face-to-face meeting through your connection.
How to craft an introduction email that can’t be ignored
Of course, you won’t always have a warm connection to potential sponsors. In these cases you’ll need to “go in cold” and write an email to someone you’ve never met before.
Don’t panic. Take the time to gather information and learn who’s who at the company. With a little research on LinkedIn, you can find an employee in a relevant role. (Check out this tipsheet to learn common professional titles to look for at different companies.) When you’re ready to email your potential sponsor, keep this in mind:
- Be clear and concise: Your end goal is to start a conversation that will ultimately lead to a meeting to discuss the sponsorship opportunity. The email should focus on the value of your event, and what objectives and audience you share. Keep in mind you’re seeking a long term partnership rather than a one-off event sponsor. Your message should be brief with just a few sentences.
- Start off hot: Your next challenge is keeping their attention. Come off too pushy and the potential sponsor will quickly wonder why they opened it in the first place. Same for if you aren’t clear about your ask.
- Avoid “hope you’re doing well”: There are better ways to break the ice and get down to business. A little research can go a long way. Include a sentence or two at the opening of your email to show you’re familiar with the recipient’s work.
Pro tip: Working your way from a cold intro to the decision maker can be frustrating. But there’s value in the process. Ask each person you speak with about their business, and by the time you reach the right person, you’ll know what matters most to them.
How to write a successful meeting request email to a sponsor
As you begin to establish connections at your target sponsor company, eventually you’ll get the name of a decision maker. Now, it’s time to win a meeting. Be explicit, and include a clear call to action. “Would you be able to put me in touch with [referrer name]?” or “Does 3:00 work for a phone call?” are questions that ask them to commit.
Whatever you close with, avoid signing off with “thanks in advance.” Closing with an expression of gratitude is shown to increase response rates, so while you should avoid thanking your prospects in advance, a simple “thanks” can go a long way.
Pro tip: Don’t just ask the decision maker if they want to meet. All that does is invite them to say “no.” Instead, give them a specific time or two and offer enough information to spark their interest.
Example of a sponsorship email
Now that you’ve secured your sponsor, show them a little extra love by promoting them with a dedicated email to attendees.Not only will it make your sponsors happy, it will provide value to attendees by making them aware of helpful products or services that will be at your event. This example from Yoga in the Field showcases how to promote a sponsor while keeping the imagery and messaging relevant to the event.
Learn from these common sponsorship fails
These best practices are key to connecting with potential sponsors. But if you want to build and maintain a long term relationship with them, learn how to avoid common sponsorship failures with this handy tipsheet.