It’s very rare to produce an event without the support, encouragement and financial commitment of sponsors, partners or supporters (for the purpose of this article I’m going to refer to them as event sponsors). Yet we still hear complaints about sponsors feeling as though they (and their money) are taken for granted. We spoke to some sponsors we’ve worked with and asked them what makes for successful engagement, and have added in the benefit of some of the things we’ve learnt over the years.
- Get to know them
We can’t overemphasise this enough. Clearly, not so well that you know intimate details (!), but having a personal connection counts for a lot. Be authentic and share some insights into your life that help them understand how you tick. Sharing will engender trust and help oil the wheels of the event cycle/process.
- Understand the strategic objectives of the sponsor organisation
Ideally, this should be an integral part of the negotiation process. How does the sponsor’s involvement in event/programme of events link to their organisation’s strategic, or tactical objectives? If it doesn’t, then may be question why they are supporting this event? That’s a risk in terms of income, but again, will engender trust and help them find the right vehicle with you to meet their objectives.
- Find out exactly what they want (in addition to what they say/the contract says they want)
A natural progression and extension of getting to know the people. It may well also be that different people involved in the process have different objectives (e.g. the marketing team may want different things to the sales team). Understanding these differences, no matter how subtle, will help you deliver what they want (remembering that you may not be able to please all the people all the time).
- Measure ROI (return on investment) or ROO (return on objectives)
Once you know what the sponsor/s want, make sure you can measure and deliver it. Qualitative and quantitive measurement tools are available in many forms. Again, this should ideally be part of the negotiation process.
- Know the decision making process in the sponsor organisation
Find out who has sign off and how long it takes for sign off to happen – before you need something signed off. Try and get a plan of when they set their budgets, so you know when to approach them…..and when it’s too late!
- Flex – be intuitive
Change, change change… To the local, global or geo-political environment; personnel; alterations to the event design… All of these things (albeit in the sponsor or client organisation) can change the course of the path. Be flexible and intuitive and try and sense how these will affect the sponsor and the event.
- Over communicate – consistently
Find out how the sponsor wants to receive information and what information is important to them. Then deliver it. Consistently. Regular updates are super important.
- Follow up during and after the event
It’s over, we did it! Oh, the post event relief (hopefully!) Resist the tendency to relax into the post event lull and follow up quickly with the sponsors . In addition, talk to the sponsor during the event. You’ll find out how happy they are, and can head off/temper any dissatisfaction…
- Know what you will do, and who will do it if you fail to deliver
It happens. For all sorts of different reasons, the sponsor is not satisfied. Deal with this quickly and know what do in this scenario. Don’t dither. Know what can you offer to turn around the situation.
- This is no 10, we just like lists of ten things….
So… What can you add?