winAs a meeting planner, I certainly understand the value of sponsorship dollars. I don't think many of the meetings, conferences or conventions could happen today without this dollar infusion into the industry. Planners could not bring in top-notch speakers, interactive technology tool rentals or expand their marketing efforts. 

But what does the sponsor get out of their investment? Hopefully the opportunity to get in front of new prospects that will turn into new clients. However, in today's somewhat difficult economic climate, sponsors want more than just a logo, 5-minute talk and an ad in your program. They want exposure in creative and useful ways. They want assurance that the conference will meet their needs. 

Here are 5 ways to build a win-win proposal that should help target the right sponsors and get the dollars you need: 

Tip #1: Keep everything in line with your purpose. 

I attended a two-day conference last month on content marketing and while most of the speakers were interesting and relevant, they decided to have William Shatner as the keynote closing speaker. Now Mr. Shatner is a fine actor who apparently has written a couple of books on the subject of content marketing. However, most people really only know him as 1) Captain Kirk on Star Trek or 2) The Price Negotiator for PriceLine. My point is, his presence was not in keeping with the theme of the event. 

Keep everything in line with your purpose. For example, if your event is for start-ups, have successful start-up speakers, sponsors and exhibitors. Get a start-up to cater your event. You get the idea. 

Tip #2: Practice full disclosure. 

Most sponsors want to know who is attending, what other sponsors have signed on or are being approached, speaker bios and exhibitor information. Give it to them. Determine ahead of time if you hare going to have exclusivity regarding classifications. If they are still on the fence, ask why. 

Tip #3: Give them plenty of time. 

One thing that cannot be rushed any longer are sponsorship commitments. It can be very frustrating, but not unusual, for you to call on the contact 5 to 7 times before obtaining a yes — especially if it is a large dollar amount being considered. I would recommend you start one year in advance of your event. 

Tip #4: Be selective. 

As much as the sponsor wants to be aligned to the attendees, make sure the attendees are aligned to the sponsor. The worst thing that could happen is for you to sign a sponsor and no one engages or pays attention to them. Invite the ones that make sense and leave the one off sponsors at their corporate office.  

Tip #5: Ditch the levels and customize your offerings. 

One size does not fit all when it comes to sponsorship opportunities. It is important to sit down with each sponsor and find out what they want and what they are willing to spend or deliver in-kind for that opportunity. It is not unusual for sponsors to ask for the following: 

  • Splash page rights when attendees sign into the conference
  • Direct mail, email and social channel listings for attendees
  • Private one-on-one time with selected meeting participants
  • Hosting of networking events

And the list goes on and on. What is valuable to one sponsor, is worthless to another. Find their sweet spot and show some flexibility in your offerings. 

For more tips on how approach potential sponsors, check out SmartSource Rentals blog post: 3 Surefire Ways to Generate More Event Sponsors. When renting audio visual equipment, remember SmartSource is your total technology solution provider!