Event Sponsorship in 2021: What It Looks Like and How to Capitalize On It

September 23, 2021
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Event planning is no easy feat. It requires skill, preparation, a strategic team of experts, not to mention ample amounts of funding. The best events bring together thought leaders who can provide unique value to guests. Event sponsorship is a well-used tactic to help with both funding and value delivery for large and small events. 

But how do event planners find sponsors, and is it worth it to host a sponsored event?

Let’s start at the beginning.

What Are Event Sponsorships?

Event sponsorship is when an organization agrees to cover part of the cost of an event in exchange for promotional benefits. A sponsor is often a company, brand, nonprofit, or individual that is notably involved in and knowledgeable of one of the themes relevant to the event. 

The sponsor(s) provides funding or resources required at the event, and in return, they receive advantages in marketing, brand awareness, and business reputation. 

The most common (and helpful) types of sponsors include:

  • Financial
  • Promotional
  • Media
  • Food and beverage
  • In-kind sponsorship
  • Quirky or unique 
  • Entertainment and games
  • Influential figures or thought leaders
  • Celebrities
  • Politicians 
  • Merchandise
  • Interactive 
  • And more

There are plenty of situations where sponsorship may be a little unrelated, but most of the time, event sponsors align with the subject matter of the event to encourage greater attendance from a wider audience.

how to get sponsors for your event

Why Do Sponsorships Matter?

Many event planners may wonder if obtaining a sponsor is worth it. But sponsors are not something reserved only for global, influential events. Even smaller events can benefit from becoming sponsored and, trust us — it matters. 

These days, events are changing rapidly with digital platforms. Funding is tricky because online events may mean cheaper tickets or even free admission. With this upfront revenue hit, event facilitators may have even more drive to find a sponsor for virtual or hybrid events

Whether in-person or online, event sponsors matter because:

  • They help cover the costs of the event.
  • They add value and credibility to your event. 
  • They raise audience interest and attract more attendees.
  • They help bridge connections between groups of people that may not have otherwise met.
  • They encourage audience engagement in digital spaces. 

While sponsors are a key component of event engagement. Your audience needs more. Here’s 20 Interactive Conference Ideas To Increase Engagement With a Virtual or Hybrid Audience.

How Do You Choose the Right Sponsor For Your Event?

When trying to choose a sponsor, you need to keep two key questions in mind:

  1. What are the main goals and ideal outcomes of this event?
  2. What types of organizations will this event benefit most?

If you can answer these questions with confidence, you’re on the right track to making a list of potential sponsors. One important thing to remember about sponsorships is that no one wants to agree to sponsor something just because it sounds like a neat event. The company or brand that sponsors you will only do so if they know they stand to gain.

With that in mind, here are five things to consider during your sponsor outreach and selection process.

1. Know Your Audience and Your Event

Who will your event primarily attract? Whichever sponsor you choose, it must be relevant, meaningful, and interesting to your guests. The goal is to get sponsored by a company or influential person that makes people more excited to attend your event.

Similarly, what will your event achieve? Understand the specific qualities you’ll need to look for in a sponsor by getting crystal clear on what you’re producing. 

2. Consider Sponsors Who Align With Your Goals

Sponsorship can make or break an event. For example, say you’re throwing a large hybrid convention for entrepreneurs all about productivity in the digital world. A no-brainer, win-win sponsor would be something like Zapier or Airtable. However, an unknown or irrelevant sponsor (say, the dating app, Bumble) would likely not appeal to that specific audience. 

Choose a sponsor that aligns with the overall goals, purpose, and niche of the event. The more specific you can get, the better chances you’ll have of obtaining a great match.

3. Keep Shared Values in Mind

Just as being on the same page with shared goals is helpful for choosing a sponsor, so is taking into consideration the values of the companies you reach out to. Consumers place high value these days on what a specific company claims to stand for. The values, mission, and ethics of any particular brand can add to or detract from people’s interest. 

The same can apply to the reputation of your sponsor. Consider the types of values your business or organization runs on. What types of sponsors will be on the same level? Or, more importantly, who would be a sponsor that acts as an influencer or role model for these shared values?

4. Utilize Online Tools to Find Sponsorships 

Thanks to technology, you no longer have to draft a list of potential sponsors and then sit there and cold email them one by one. Now, there are tools you can utilize to boost your outreach. 

Sponsorship Management Software — like Optimy and Proposify — allows you to find, reach out to, and track pitches to streamline your sponsorship search. They include swift access to contacts, email management, and scheduled replies.

5. Research Sponsors From Similar Events 

Look into past events similar to yours. Which sponsors did they have? Chances are, if somebody sponsored a successful event by a similar industry, they’re likely to agree to do it again. Depending on the size and scope of your event, it doesn’t hurt to observe your competition. 

How to Ask for Sponsorship for an Event

Now that you know how to choose the type of sponsor you want for your event, how exactly can you ask a person or company to do it? Follow these steps to increase your chances of landing the perfect sponsorship.

1. Write a Winning Pitch

The first step to landing a great sponsor is to write an event sponsorship proposal. This is the initial email or “pitch” contact that should impress your sponsor and interest them in partnering with you for your event. 

  • Explain your company and upcoming event in enough detail, but keep it to a few short sentences. 
  • Provide examples of who will be speaking at the event, what products you’ll be showcasing, and explain how it will benefit the sponsor.
  • Use friendly, professional language.
  • Include all the contact info necessary for this sponsor to keep in touch with you.

1. Offer Special Incentives

Whether in your pitch or in follow-up conversations, offer special incentives for your sponsor. This can include providing them with a free booth at the event, adding their logo or name on all marketing materials for the event, or offering them a spot to give a keynote to promote their upcoming product line. 

Creating and writing an event sponsorship proposal that works can be a vital to your event preperation, but are you using the same consideration for your attendees? Check out these 16 Event Email Templates to Drive Attendance & Increase Engagement in 2021.

2. Get Creative 

Sometimes, you have to get creative. Think about what is important to the sponsor you’re considering. What is the latest news or release they are focusing on? What are they trying to obtain in their current marketing campaign? What aspect of their organization are they trying to build? Consider how your event might help them and target those specific points when reaching out to them. 

3. Provide Case Studies

Have you hosted a successful event in the past? What data do you have to show for it, if any? Be open to revealing the positive outcomes of former events you’ve held, or even offer case studies and testimonials from previous sponsors. 

4. Develop Sponsorship Packages 

You can develop low, mid, and high-tier sponsorship packages to encourage agreement. For example, the lowest tier involves abundant marketing throughout the event website, social media, and handout materials, plus a free booth (whether digitally or in-person) at the event. The next tier includes all of the above plus a featured keynote speaking slot and a 1-minute promo video online. The highest level includes the latter, plus a branded page on the website and branded transition slides in between event sessions.

event sponsorship proposal

6 Examples of Event Sponsorship Packages Done Right in a Virtual and Hybrid World

If you’re going to create sponsorship packages, you might be wondering where to begin. Here are some event sponsorship examples of large, winning conventions taking place digitally and via hybrid technology. In fact, these examples are so good that generally, these events don’t need to make direct cold outreach to specific brands— sponsors come to them.

1. INBOUND 2021

INBOUND is a digital marketing event hosted online. Their sponsor page is simple, yet enticing with the promise of visibility, conversion, and impact for over 70,000 attendees. That’s true value to many companies, large and small. Their tactic works because since they’re already a well-known event, they can afford to be a bit elusive with their sponsor inquiries. 

2. GitHub Universe

GitHub’s sponsorship page is another good example of thoughtful sponsorship packages. On their web page, they included data of the demographics that attend GitHub, and they pepper in logos from larger companies they ideally wish to have as sponsors. This is a great way to target the intent of those who are looking to sponsor.

3. FinCon 2021

FinCon is a hybrid event for money nerds of all walks of life. On their sponsor and partners page, they invite not by displaying packages but by reviewing the various areas of expertise sponsors can take on. Complete with a short explanation video, the application page is full of helpful information, excitement for this niche, and collaborative benefits for all sponsors interested.

4. Gartner Marketing Symposium

The Gartner Marketing Symposium in 2021 will be hosted virtually. Their sponsor and exhibitor pages include in-depth statistics about their company, mentions past successful events, and lists the benefits that sponsors will experience.

5. MOMENTUM 2021

Reuters’ MOMENTUM technology event is bringing together leaders in tech to discuss how digital tools can improve the future of humanity. Their sponsorship package landing page is well-developed and reputable, with plenty of notable sponsors from past and present events. Another win for this example is they deliver their main event objectives right away, implementing some of the key points mentioned in the advice above.

6. SXSW

South by Southwest, one of the largest events in the nation, has a top-notch sponsorship package example on their site. Here they include the overview of superior benefits offered by each level of sponsorship, as well as examples of world-known brands who are taking the top prized positions. 

To learn more about how to set up a successful, memorable hybrid event, check out the latest episodes of The Event Marketing Show.

event marketing show

Take Event Sponsorship Opportunities to the Next Level With a Robust Virtual Event Platform

While scoping the options for event sponsorship, wouldn’t it be easier if there was an all-inclusive platform that tracked, managed, and optimized the details of your upcoming event— including potential sponsors? Fortunately, there are digital tools to help event organizers whether forming location-based, hybrid, or fully digital events. 

SpotMe helps you formulate the best possible solutions with its virtual event management system. Integrate the data, tools, and communication settings you need specifically for your event. Learn the ways in which you can enhance your overall audience experience. Set up relationship management systems when gathering prospective event sponsors. To capitalize on every opportunity of your next event, book a free demo and get started with SpotMe today.

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