It’s not unheard of for big companies to support small, local events—10K runs, award dinners, book signings, health forums, neighborhood festivals—through sponsorships. Companies are spending more money on sponsorships each year, according to marketing experts, to the tune of over $18 billion in 2014. The reason being is that corporations are finding that sponsorships are giving them better returns than traditional advertising. Not to mention it helps boost community giving profile.
BlackEnterprise.com wanted to find out how best can small business owners secure a corporate sponsor. So, we reached out to members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Here’s what the members had to say about getting companies to sponsor your next event:
1. Share Attendee Lists
If you’re looking to have corporations sponsor your company event, be honest with yourself and understand what benefit a corporation could clearly see when sponsoring the event. For most corporations, it’s about the audience you’re targeting and who’s attending. Be willing to share the number of people and who you’ve already got waiting in the wings to attend your event.
2. Make Their Executive an Event Speaker
If your audience is relevant to the sponsor and they want to get a message to that audience, the best way to do that is to allow them to send a company spokesperson to speak. Nothing is more powerful than getting in front of a group of people and allowing their voice to be heard. It beats a simple mention on a brochure, a table or banner.
3. Prove Value
Every corporate sponsor needs to be sold on what you can do for them. Prove to them that you deserve the sponsorship and that you have what they need, and they need to pay for it. Show them what it will do for them. Give them all the information possible: attendees, interactions, people, titles, etc.
4. Get High-Profile Backing
If your event happens to be a seminar, for example, securing a high-profile speaker for that seminar will encourage corporations to want to attend/sponsor the event. You will now have a two-way selling point when securing additional speakers because they will see that your event has backing and corporate will see that your event cannot be missed.
5. Make Sure You Share a Similar Purpose
We have successfully received sponsorships from businesses on many levels, big and small. What I find to be attractive for sponsors is to share the same purpose. It should be one that runs parallel with their company mission, brand and image or current message. For example, we hosted a spring fashion show and Target sponsored us with their upcoming fashion line for that particular season.
6. Publicize Your Mission
Make sure to stress why you are holding the event. If you can explain the mission and provide evidence to support it, corporations can better assess whether the event aligns well with their goals and values.
7. Give Them Ownership
Invite corporate partners into the conversation by making it easy for them to deliver on their mission through your relationship.
8. Cultivate Long-Term Relationships
Behind every successful corporate sponsorship there’s a huge amount of relationship building that begins well before the event and continues after the event. Always establish initial contacts by phone, follow up religiously, and visibly thank your sponsors in addition to expressing gratitude behind the scenes. They’ll be inclined to sponsor you again in the future if you’re both responsible and respectful.
9. Be Different
We get solicited all the time for corporate sponsorships. Every pitch looks the same; kind of like this: “At the platinum level, you’ll get a logo on our site and a half-page ad in the event program.” This is such a dated approach, it drives me insane. As a potential sponsor, show me ways I can engage my brand with your audience. Or offer a creative way to activate my product without me there.