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How to find corporate sponsorship for an event

Posted on 12 May, 2022

Corporate event sponsorship at London conference venue Congress Centre

Planning an event can be a lengthy process, with a lot of things to consider and ever-mounting costs. Sponsorship has long been an effective way for a brand to expand its reach by gaining access to a relevant and dedicated audience. In return for this exposure, a brand will offer to support the running of an event, helping to cover some of the inevitable costs by providing financial assistance or services.  There are fantastic opportunities for both the brand and event to benefit from the partnership, so finding sponsorship should be high on the list for anyone looking to organise an event.

Finding potential sponsors can be an overwhelming and mind-boggling activity. If you’re looking to obtain a corporate sponsor for your next event but aren’t sure where to start, this blog will explore how to acquire sponsors, the benefits sponsorship brings for both parties and how to make sure you’re attracting and engaging with the right potential sponsors for your event.

At Congress Centre we’re no strangers to hosting corporate events. As a popular London events venue, just a short walk from Tottenham Court Road tube station, we have extensive experience hosting meetings and conferences for 10-500 people. We have seen all sorts of event sponsorship throughout our time, so we’ve picked up a thing or two from event organisers about how to obtain and retain a corporate sponsor.

What is event sponsorship?

Before we start discussing how to find the perfect sponsor, it’s important to establish what corporate sponsorship actually is. Typically, event sponsorship is a transaction between a company and an event, where assistance is provided to support the event taking place in return for some promotional advantages.

The most popular form of support is usually financial or the equivalent in relevant products or services. In return, a brand will receive advertising space to promote themselves and grow their own audience. In order for sponsorship to reap the rewards for both parties, it needs to be mutually beneficial, raising the brand value of a company as well as helping the event run more smoothly. It is a fantastic way for a potential sponsor to create a positive culture and association for their brand and has a whole host of benefits for the event, meaning it’s a must-have if you’re looking to organise an event yourself.

Types of event sponsorship

Brands can offer their support in several different ways, and these have typically been grouped into four categories. To find the perfect sponsor, you need to look at what your event might need. Perhaps it is extra funding or maybe some social media coverage to boost engagement and ticket sales? Once you have worked out how a sponsor can best support your event, you know what to ask for when propositioning a brand.

  • Financial
    • This form of sponsorship is typically the most common, when a company offers monetary support to help cover the inevitable costs of running a large event.
  • In-kind
    • This works similarly to financial sponsorship, however instead of receiving monetary endorsement for your event, you will receive goods or services. Goods and services cover a multitude of things such as venue partnership, prizes, and catering.
  • Digital
    • Events require interactive platforms such as an app or live polling, to connect in-person guests with those tuning in from home which offers up a unique opportunity to find somebody to sponsor the digital elements of your event.
  • Media
    • Media companies will share the same audience as your event so they can be a hugely beneficial partner. They will get the inside scoop on a big industry event taking place, whilst your event is covered in the publication.
  • Promotional partners
    • These are typically individuals who have a large following specific to your industry. Getting them to promote your event is an excellent way to get your event publicised in front of a keen audience  

Who should you choose to sponsor your corporate event?

So, before you dive in and start hunting for a sponsor for your event, it’s important to do your homework first. Selecting the right sponsor is key, otherwise, there might be little gained for either party.

Businesses looking to sponsor an event are striving to generate a solid return on investment (ROI) or return on objectives (ROO) and therefore will want to make sure they are going to get the most out of whichever partnership they decide on. Before you pursue a potential sponsor, you need to make sure your audience correlates with theirs. There is little use in promoting their brand at your event when the audiences are members of two entirely different industries! Before you shortlist your favourite brands, make sure you’re targeting the same audience.

The best way to make sure you’re targeting the right people is to study the demographics. Demographics can be anything from gender, age, industry, or education level for example.

 If you’ve hosted an event before, you can look at who attended that event to establish the demographic. If this is your first event, then look at the general audience for the industry using past events or records. Work out the average age of attendees and their specific industries, plus any other determining factors, and then see which brands correlate to find the perfect match.

Once you have worked out the physical criteria of your audience, next you can start to establish how they differ in their thoughts and personal preferences, also known as psychographics. Understanding how your audience members think, reason, and make decisions as consumers is just as important as working out who they are and what job they do. Adding another layer to your categorisation will make your proposal even more compelling and show a potential sponsor that you’ve certainly done your homework!

Once you’ve narrowed it down to the companies with similar audiences, next think about the size of the company you’re hoping to approach with a sponsorship proposal. If you’re on a time crunch, it is often advisable to pick a smaller company. Smaller companies typically close deals much faster than larger ones, with a much shorter chain of people to review your proposal. It is also much easier to get to know the leaders of the company, what they stand for and how a partnership will be mutually beneficial, so you can make sure your proposal gets it right first time. Bigger companies will often follow a hierarchy and workflow for approval to see the partnership signed off. Whilst there is the potential for a larger investment from a big company, there is also a lot more competition fighting for their attention so there is unfortunately a higher chance of rejection.

How to approach businesses for sponsorship to ensure a successful outcome

Approaching a brand to ask for sponsorship can seem like a daunting prospect. However, there are several steps you can take to make sure you are doing everything you can to convince a brand to work with you.

Once you’ve identified a list of businesses based on the convergence of audience demographics and values, you’re ready to start propositioning them with your ideas.

  • Think of a proposal as a pitch, you are providing the business with tailor-made information that is personal to that company. Whatever you do, don’t copy and paste information from one proposal to another, make sure each one is unique and built on the values of the specific brand.
  • Ensure that your proposal is detailed and informative. You want businesses to see you as reliable and professional business partners who have thought of everything. Remember to be convincing! You are selling a brand a fantastic opportunity, so imagine you’re a salesperson for the day. To make your proposal more professional, calculate the potential ROI for the event, and then justify it- show them your thought pattern and logic in reaching that figure.
  • As an event planner, it will be natural for you to look at the audience from their perspective as attendees. When pitching your ideas to a brand, try to step away from viewing the audience in this way, however hard it is, and try to view the audience from your potential sponsor’s shoes. Make sure to enclose how much visibility they will receive and the expected value add by sponsoring the event.
  • Draw them in with some great ideas! Simple right? Don’t just come up with the classic ideas of putting a logo on the flyer, think outside the box and be creative. Find any new and interactive way to get the brand out there and in front of the audiences’ eyes. To understand what to offer your sponsors, you need to understand how your audience and sponsor are comfortable communicating. If your event is largely tech-related, then you can be pretty sure that the audience members will be tech-savvy and likely to engage with online apps, polls, or games. However, if your audience is likely to be a little less technologically inclined then something tangible might be a better bet.
  • Everyone likes to feel important, so at the end of your proposal set aside 15 minutes to ask for their expert opinion!

How should you market event sponsorship opportunities?

There are a number of ways you can advertise sponsorship for your event. As an event planner or organiser, you will undoubtedly have an extensive network, so utilise it! Make the most of existing contacts or records from previous events to market the opportunity. Social media will be your best friend, specifically LinkedIn. Advertise the opportunity in front of targeted audiences via social media, using hashtags or page posts. You can even join specific groups and advertise there. Whatever you post, make sure it’s engaging and stands out, so tell a story. Highlight how your event will be different, the myriad of opportunities for sponsors, and all the ways it will benefit potential partners in terms of value add, ROI, and future partnerships.

Create an advisory board with previous sponsors, if applicable, to help attract future sponsors. This is also a fantastic way of obtaining feedback and reviews. The power of word-of-mouth marketing (WOM) is extensive, so get chatting to anyone you can and see who they might suggest. They will be able to recommend people for you to get in touch with, based on their experiences, and suggest your event to potential sponsors who they think will relish the opportunity.

The goal of an event is to appeal to a target audience and work towards achieving a specific cause, so the trick is to find out who is also looking to align with the same cause and work together as one unit to bring it to fruition.

Congress Centre has years of experience planning and hosting large-scale corporate events. With 16 flexible events spaces combined with state-of-the-art AV facilities, we are well-equipped with plenty of options to host meetings and conferences for between 10-500 guests. Centrally located in London, just a short walk from Tottenham Court Road tube station, it couldn’t be easier for guests to get to.

Get in touch with the team today to start the ball rolling and speak to one of our in-house experts via email at congress.centre@tuc.org.uk or call 020 7467 1318