On-Demand Webinar: 7 Tips for Getting and Keeping Event Sponsors

To land great sponsors, you have to make your event stand out — and come up with unique and valuable sponsorship opportunities. In this webinar, you'll learn how to find potential sponsors, craft a winning pitch, and keep them coming back for future events.

Getting and keeping event sponsors can be a real challenge. Not only do you need to make your event stand out, you also have to come up with unique, valuable sponsorship opportunities to win over potential sponsors — and keep them coming back for future events.

Watch the on-demand webinar to learn:

  • Insider tips on finding potential sponsors
  • The secrets to crafting a great sponsorship pitch
  • Creative ideas to enhance the event experience with sponsors
  • Easy ways to help sponsors measure the value of their sponsorship

About the presenters:

Andrew Reid, CTO & Co-Founder, SponsorHub
Andrew is responsible for overseeing SponsorHub’s platform, marketplace and other product offerings, including the SponsorHub ScoreTM, which is the first-ever algorithmic ratings system for the $50 billion dollar Sponsorship industry. Previously, Andrew was VP, Products at Kaleidoscope, a division of Interpublic Group (IPG), where he spearheaded the creation of IPG’s SponsorScience product, a platform for evaluating and managing major sponsorships for Fortune 500 companies.

Keiko Tokuda, Director of Marketing, Eventbrite
Keiko is currently overseeing the marketing team responsible for driving awareness and adoption of Eventbrite’s platform among big and small event organizers, testing a mix of marketing tactics to grow the business, including online advertising, event sponsorships, technology and content partnerships. Keiko began her career in marketing at a Japanese CPG company and activated sponsorships with the U.S. Olympic team, NY Yankees, Seattle Mariners, NY Road Runners Club, USA Triathlon, and several Olympic athletes.



Laura Huddle:         

Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining us today. Thank you for participating in our first poll, we will be showing those results towards the end of the presentation. But thank you for joining us for Seven Tips for Getting and Keeping Event Sponsors, with SponsorHub and Eventbrite. I’m Laura Huddle, Senior Marketing Manager at Eventbrite, and I will be your moderator for today, really glad you all can join us. A couple of housekeeping things. Number 1, we will be recording the presentation, so you will receive a copy of the recording and the presentation a day or two after the webinar. Number 2, if you have any questions, we will be taking questions at the end of the presentation. You can enter those questions into the Q&A box in the bottom right hand portion of your screen. Without further ado, I’d love to introduce our first speaker, Keiko Tokuda, Director of Marketing at Eventbrite.

Keiko Tokuda:

Eventbrite’s an online event registration and platform for events that event organizers can use to set up online event pages, promote their event, and access tools to help manage their event. As a marketer, I’ve been on the receiving end of hundreds of sponsorship emails and proposals, and also, actually activated sponsorships on a number of occasions for my company, so I am excited to share my learnings and tips with you today.

I also want to introduce my co-presenter, Andrew.

Andrew Reed:

Hey, thank you, Keiko, thank you Laura. My name’s Andrew Reed and I come from SponsorHub, of course, but prior to that I was at Interpublic Group where I ran digital for Octagon and product and analytics for really, the group that was looking at sponsorships across a number of our agencies in a very technical and quantitative way. So, like Keiko, I saw hundreds, perhaps thousands, of sponsorship proposals, often for very large sponsorships, all the way down to the smallest conferences, and tried to put some sort of number on whether or not to sponsor those things. At SponsorHub we do very similar kinds of deep, numerical analysis for opportunities for major brands, and I hope I can share a little bit on the kind of the insider track on how these things are looked at on the marketing side.

Laura Huddle:

That’s awesome. Thank you so much, Andrew. Welcome, Andrew and welcome, Keiko. Another thing just to keep in mind, we do have a hashtag for this webinar. It’s called #sponsorshiptips, and you can tweet any questions that you have directly at SponsorHub or at Eventbrite, but we would love for you to follow along, share what you learn, ask any questions, through our hashtag sponsorship tips.

So, to get started, when I think about sponsorships, I think about NASCAR, the king of sponsorships. Every year $3 billion are generated in NASCAR sponsorships, and you might thing that you don’t have anything in common with them, but there’s actually a lot we can learn from their approach to sponsorship. So, first off, you can bet that their conversations are not starting with, “Hey, we’d like $30 million, because we’re famous and awesome. We’re NASCAR, we’d love for you to sponsor us.” Or end with, “We’ll put your logo on our car.” We all know that finding and keeping sponsors is a real challenge these days, but we’re going to share out some best practices to help you be more successful with sponsors for all kinds of events.

We’ve broken out our webinar today into seven tips that you can use right away to find sponsors, cross your next pitch, and also measure your sponsorship value to keep them coming back for more. I want to jump in here with another poll. What percentage of your revenue is driven from sponsorships? We’ll open that poll right now. As we’re waiting for the responses to roll in, Andrew, maybe you can talk about some of the differences between event organizers, who are bringing in less than 10% versus those who are bringing in 50% or more of their revenue from sponsorships. Maybe things that they need to really focus on more.

Andrew Reed:

Yes, absolutely. I think to set the stage a little bit, at the highest end of the industry, so major properties like the NFL or the Olympics, and major sports teams, leagues, the Academy Awards, folks like that, very significant portion of their revenue, if you include television fees paid, which are essentially a sponsorship as well, it’s well above 50%. So, if you think about smaller events, where only, say, 10% is coming from sponsorships or perhaps no sponsorships are being done at all, I do think there’s a significant opportunity to increase that number. What we see for conferences and I’d say middle market events like triathlons and other participation sports is that that number typically falls between 25 and 50%, so I think if you’re above that, that’s great. That probably means that you’ve developed a pretty serious brand that engenders some competition among sponsors. If you’re below that, then probably an opportunity to grow that piece of the business just a little bit.

Laura Huddle:

Thanks, Andrew, that’s interesting. I have the results here from our poll, and we can see here that 29% of you said less than 10%; 19% of you reported 10-25%; 13% of you said 26-50%, and then, for those that fall in the more than 50% bucket, we actually see about 9%. Finally, about 6% of you aren’t quite sure. I’m really excited to have you all here to join us for this seminar as we dive into details about how you can think differently about your sponsorships.

Andrew Reed:

If you think about marketing as a full discipline, so the people that you’re talking to, trying to sell sponsorships to, these are really marketers, and they’re responsible for broader goals than just to carry on great events, although that’s something that they often are responsible for, as well. But for a moment, I think it’s important to look at where events fall in the larger marketing scheme. This slide really speaks to the fact that today, the advertising environment in general, is extremely cluttered. Marketers really have a difficult time cutting through that clutter and making people remember things deeply. We know that if you can engage people’s senses and emotions in a very deep way, with incredible experiences, which are often provided by events, then you can make people remember things for a longer period of time. What that means is, we actually have a very large industry.

Globally, sponsorships are a $53 billion industry, which is larger than search marketing. Google’s entire industry is actually slightly smaller than this. And it’s growing very rapidly, so compared to other traditional forms of marketing, sponsorships are one of the most rapidly growing forms of traditional marketing, particularly because they’re so effective at engendering responses on social media and other new media. The reason for that is, of course, that you’re providing these incredible experiences. And then, just for a moment, we can take a look at the breakdown of how these dollars are distributed, and we can see that sports is, obviously, a dominant portion of this, although we’ve seen a lot of growth in cause marketing and entertainment, as well, and in fact across the board, because this is, again, a rapidly growing form of traditional marketing.

I think the news is pretty good for everyone, and if we think about where this is going in the future, well, there are a lot of potential growth areas, but what we don’t want to do, as those who are selling sponsorships, is kind of think about why should a sponsor give me money–because I’ve got this incredible organization, I try to help all these people. Those are very valid reasons to do what you’re doing, however, at the same time, if we want to capture sponsorship dollars, the critical thing is to think about what I can do for my sponsors. So, you see, we are jokingly saying, you should ask not what sponsors can do for you, but rather ask what you can do for sponsors.

There are some specific marketing goals that, again, every marketer, who are the people that you’re going to be talking to, are responsible for. They’re responsible for this across all the different channels that they utilize, whether that’s digital marketing, print, television, or events. What you want to do, and I think what differentiates events in a kind of bad way, from the rest of the marketing spectrum, is that we are creating so many diverse opportunities to market and to achieve goals that are relatively structured that we often have a different time putting together a single number that boils down the effectiveness of what we are doing. We can’t, unlike in television, just say the ratings on this event were incredible, or the click-through on this email is wonderful. In fact, in aggregate, we can do some of that. We can really think about the specific, quantifiable objectives that we can help our sponsors to achieve. This will be a theme that we’ll come back to in a moment.

Keiko Tokuda:

So, to kick us off, our first tip is about understanding your audience and quantifying the value that you can bring to sponsors. This is an example from a sponsorship report that I pulled off of [inaudible 0:10:44]. You should all actually go into [inaudible 0:10:45] and check out all the different kind of sponsor pitches that are available there. What you can see is the details of the event audience of this particular food and music festival, and your report really doesn’t have to be this pretty, either. But this is great, because as a marketer, I can clearly see if you can reach my target audience, and the more detail you can provide about your audience, the better.

Here’s another great example that includes more behavioral information. On the right-hand side, it shows a variety of information about the folks that are participating in Cross-Fit events, you know, are they health conscious, do they visit certain websites to get information, they’re willing to spend more money on fitness equipment. So, again, as a marketer, I can understand if you can help me reach my goal through access to these types of people. More practically speaking, how do you go about gathering this information? You’d be surprised to learn that it’s actually quite easy, and that there’s so many different options. One is to collect it when people are registering. You can add in fields, like this, or create your own questions, and it will show up like this on your Eventbrite registration form to your attendees. The one thing to keep in mind is that we don’t put a limit on the number of questions you can ask, so make sure you don’t ask too many, because it can actually bog down the registration process, and you want to make sure to get that registration, first and foremost.

Whether or not you ask questions during registration, once attendees have registered, you can actually automatically see a map of the locations where attendees are from, like what you see here. And you could use this as another data point to report your reach to sponsors.

Now, if you want to dive into more detail, you can create a survey and send it after your event. Eventbrite has an integration with SurveyMonkey, where you can pull in the email addresses of all your attendees into the survey very easily. Here, you can ask a lot of questions about the attendees’ experiences with sponsors, motivations for attending your event, or anything else you really want, and since it’s after the event, you can ask as many questions as you would like.

Another option for finding demographic information is through your Facebook page. You all probably have a Facebook page, and what you can do is click into the reports to see the people reached and those who are engaging with your page, like you see a screen shot here. Or, if you have a lot of Facebook and Twitter followers, it’s worth looking at a third-party source to help you dive deeper into that data, like SponsorHub, and Andrew’s going to talk about that later. So, try out some of these tactics to really just get to know your audience better, and that will help you as we talk about more of these tips, when we get down to your pitch process.

Laura Huddle:

Thank you, Keiko. And now it is time for our third poll. What do you offer as part of your sponsorship opportunities?

Keiko Tokuda:

You know, the interesting thing, as the sponsor of many events in the past, I will often see that onsite signage, logos on websites, are pretty popular. But I also kind of feel like sometimes it’s a little bit basic. I certainly love it, actually, when events get really creative, and even brainstorming with them have been some of my favorite moments as a marketer, as a potential sponsor. Andrew, what has been your experience?

Andrew Reed:

I think that’s right. It’s the points where you can really offer something unique that I think are what get sponsors the most excited. Now, of course, the bigger your event, and the more popular your event, the easier it is to think of these things. If you’re branding the area where a player sits in a football field or something, that’s obviously relatively easy, but even smaller events have this incredible opportunity to take something that is unique to what they’re doing, and brand it. One example that really liked over at SponsorHub was the Tough Mudder shaving the head ritual before the race, and Bic branded that. It just seemed like a really nice tie-in with the product. You want to think about endemic opportunities, so brands that really match up well with a specific aspect of your sponsorship. And we’ll talk in a moment about a rigorous process to help us to kind of get there.

Laura Huddle:

And now we’ll work on sharing out the poll results here. So, what we saw was that 62% of you offered onsite signage, 59% logo on website, 61% mentions on event advertising, 25% are thinking about dedicated PR and publicity, 16% access to influencers and celebrities, a whopping 46% of you are offering tickets and hospitality to sponsors. And moving on down the list here, 15% are thinking about email data base or mailing list, 30% of you, cobranding opportunities. We have about 7% saying all of the above. Really fascinating to see what each of you are thinking about, when you’re thinking about offering custom packages to your sponsors.

Andrew Reed:

And so, if we think about how to actually create sponsorship packages, which is one of the first steps that you want to take to capture the sponsorship dollar, what I like to do is start with a structured brainstorm. I think this has been the most effective way that I’ve seen potential sponsees go about creating a proposal. What you want to start with, and we’ve just referenced this, is what’s unique. Are you offering access to unique people, celebrities, and if you are, then definitely, you may want to create a package for a given brand around that. Are you offering unique content? Is there something where you’re backstage at something interesting, where you’re offering the inside scoop for an industry? I see this a lot at industry conferences where they’ve aggregated this incredible group, including speakers and participants and attendees, and in some industries a lot of major players in the industry will be in the same place at the same time. Can you create a webinar, perhaps from that place, or can you create a video that can extend this incredible insider experience to a broader group of people, which then speaks to unique media opportunities, as well. You have something, a large mailing list, a large following on some social network, that you could put to work for your sponsors?

Here, what you want to do is do a brainstorm without a lot of limitations and caps, try and just come up with quantity over quality, in classic brainstorming fashion, but only for the first round. Once you have that big list, then you want to progressively eliminate things from that list in a way that makes sense. You’re not want to give this sort of scattershot, Chinese menu of options to your potential sponsors. If they see that, they often will cringe and say, “Oh my god, I can’t deal with this.” They want something really structured for them. They don’t have a lot of time to think through all these details for every event that they do, because often, sponsors that I’ve worked with in the past, including General Motors and Sprint, a variety of brands and various companies, have dealt with thousands of sponsorships each year when you include their regional, smaller sponsorships.

So, for every unique benefit that you’ve listed in your initial brainstorm, you want to now say, “Who cares? Can I name a brand that’s actually going to benefit in a quantifiable way? Here’s a brand that might care, but here’s a brand that cares, because I can actually give them access to 40,000 senior executives at a certain set of companies that will be incredibly valuable to them,” for example. “And I can not only give them access, but allow them to have engagement.” So, what’s the actual quantifiable benefit? If I say they’re going to get access to 40,000 people, let’s try and go a step further and think about how they’re going to, in the end, measure that. If it’s 40,000 people, if they’re looking at the number of conversations they had, the numbers of leads that eventually went into their sales force-type system. And then, ultimately, at the end, how many sales took place. But I think a lot of events tend to fixate on the concept of proving sales, and that can be very difficult to prove without internal knowledge from the brand, so there’s this sort of polarization where people either do nothing and say it’s too hard, because at the end of the day people only care about sales, or they try and get the sales information and aren’t really able to accomplish that in a meaningful way.

So, here we have a set of poll responses from the IHE survey that’s done each year to CMO’s and heads of sponsorship to see what they care about and what they’re thinking about. What benefits are valuable to you? Category Exclusivity, which I think is number 1, which is almost a given with sponsorship, you’re going to give some sort of exclusivity to the brand that you’re working with. But you move further down the list, I think there are some more interesting pieces and of course you’ll have access to this presentation, so I won’t read through these responses, but what I would say, just a caveat to this, is that a lot of these folks are thinking about their very large sponsorships like the NFL and the NBA, etc., which do comprise 80 to 90% of the dollars that they spend.

So, when you’re thinking about what you can offer as a smaller property, a couple of things that just stand out to me as recurring themes of sponsors, first of all is conference speaking opportunities, and not just generic, run of the mill speaking opportunities, but—and we’ll get into a little more detail in a moment, but getting executives from companies in front of an audience, I think is something people do value, and then, second of all, for more consumer events and particularly, ones that do not have television broadcast as part of it, I would say social media. So, the potential to engage with a large audience via social and also via email is something that can be very attractive to major brands.

Here you can see, we’ve got a picture of things I mentioned earlier, where prior to this Tough Mudder race, there is this head-shaving ritual, and Bic sponsored it. I think this is a wonderful example of a tie-in. Endemic tie-ins are always great, so when you’re brainstorming ideas, definitely do be thinking about, not only which brand might care, but also which brand can actually create something awesome for your attendees. That’s a litmus test that I’ve heard from a lot of great events over the years, as part of how they choose their sponsors. It really comes down to who can create the best experience for their people.

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