Yaneek Page | Here’s how to get your event sponsored
QUESTION: I need your help. I want to launch events to motivate young people like me who are stuck about how to get on the right career path now. I'm targeting youth - who are trained, skilled, degreed and also unskilled, leaving no one behind the ages of 17 and 25 - whose ambition in life is a decent-paying and respectable career. I have the concept well sorted out and know it will be a success. My question is, how do I get companies to sponsor my events?
BUSINESSWISE: Kudos on tackling a mission that's bigger than your own personal desire to be successful. In our relatively small market, raising sponsorship funding is challenging mainly because the sponsorship dollars are very few relative to the opportunities to invest, and budgets are getting smaller. It is, therefore, an extremely competitive and fluid landscape.
To help you identify a competitive edge in this environment, I reached out to a colleague with years of experience in receiving, evaluating, and deciding upon scores of unsolicited sponsorship proposals on behalf of some of Jamaica's largest companies. Marketing specialist Tishan Lee, who is now the CEO of Engine Room Brand House, shared the following road map for getting your event sponsored:
1. Understand how brand and marketing managers think
They expect to be bombarded with proposals from enthusiastic promoters, however, priority will always be given to known promoters with well-established events and track records of success. As someone with no track record, your challenge isn't just standing out, it is convincing them to take the risk with you. Brand managers are typically measuring one, or a combination, of the following:
- Leads: How many sales prospects will I generate from this?
- Brand or product awareness: How many more people will know about my brand or product as a result of this?
- Loyalty/affinity: Will my customers be stickier as a result of this? Will they recommend us to friends and family? Select us over other brands?
2. Do your homework
You must demonstrate that you know about the company you are engaging. Your proposal should speak specifically to the brands and products you expect will benefit most from the partnership and make thoughtful recommendations about how they could activate the sponsorship and realise the most impact.
3. Avoid fluff and use data
Don't use common generalisations such as "the event was well attended", or "the most anticipated event of the summer", or "great exposure for your brand". Those are red flags. Instead, be very pointed about what your event will do for the company or brand you are approaching. Quote actual numbers and demographics. Make commitments that you can keep.
4. Get to the point quickly
Keep the information concise, punchy, and relevant. Have a very clear ask, where you outline exactly what you want. Remember that you are likely one of several proposals under review so don't make it hard to get to the meat of it or you will be overlooked.
5. Tell a compelling story
Paint a picture of what the event will be like and the benefits of partnering with you. Demonstrate very clearly why the partnership would be a strong match. If you grab their interest and snag a meeting, then come prepared to pitch armed with a positive attitude and great energy.
6. Have bold visual appeal
Your proposal needs to stand out and be visually impactful. If you have images and statistics from previous event stagings, include them. Don't make your proposal too copy heavy - say more with fewer words, and be sure to edit for spelling and grammatical errors. If you're not a wordsmith, it would be better to get help than to try yourself.
7. Say what makes you different and great
Include your unique selling proposition early, especially if you or your event or activity is relatively unknown. Ensure that the reader is clear on what makes you uniquely qualified to make the initiative a success and how you intend to make their jobs easier, but don't oversell. This is a huge mistake people make when pitching an event.
Brand managers have a lot of experience with promoters who overpromise and underdeliver. Don't be sensational when touting the benefits of sponsoring your events. That's a big red flag! Be measured with what you commit to, especially if the event is new or you do not have an established track record.
8. Avoid big mistakes
Never blind-copy the recipient. It is the No. 1 mistake that quickly lets sponsors know that they are not special, but one of several persons receiving the proposal. It also makes you look lazy. Take the time to personalise the email to the intended recipient or risk it never being opened at all.
Don't omit the expected return on investment, ROI. It is critical to outline the ROI, particularly in measurable terms. Most commitments come down to bodies or eyeballs, which translates into present or future sales and brand awareness. In order to speak convincingly to your ability to deliver, without an existing track record, you can include your social media and mailing list statistics - such as volume and engagement level - market size and appetite for what you are offering, and promotions budget.
If you have a track record, you can rely heavily on highlights from previous executions to prove your ability to get the job done.
Don't hound your prospective sponsor for a response. Follow up with a phone call no sooner than two business days later. Never call on the weekend or after business hours. If you harass them for an answer, you are likely to get a no.