Seeking the most strategic partnerships and corporate alliances is one of the most important tasks when planning an event. However, finding sponsors that can both help increase the reach of your meeting or conference as well as help to underwrite it, is no easy trick. Following these 10 tips will help you develop your strategy and get you that much closer to success.

We've already said it: finding sponsors is an arduous task. So because of that, the importance of doing your homework cannot be overstated. That means figuring out for which potential partners would your event be meaningful.  For a corporate sponsor, there is no worse feeling than asking  themselves, “What is my brand doing here?”. If they cannot see the benefit, they will undoubtedly not sign on again.  So take note of these ideas for identifying the best potential sponsors for your event.

1 – Identify Possible Partners. Think about who would be interested in your event. Is it an event that would garner a lot of media attention? Take some time to find out who would desire this type of media coverage for their brand. Or maybe it´s more of a  “niche” event, but would attract a lot of people from a given sector. Or maybe your target audience is of a certain age group.  Research which businesses are looking to increase their outreach to specific demographics.

2 – Don´t forget about your competition. Look into what events have been held over the last year in your sector or area of interest. And above all, what corporate sponsors they´ve attracted.  Might they be interested in partnering for your event?  Could their competitors be a possibility? 

3 - Know your event inside and out. In order to sell your product you have to know it from every angle, its history, its competitors, what value added it offers your clients. The more information you have, the better equipped you are to avoid the awkward situation of being unable to answer  questions posed by your potential sponsor!

4 – Show the data. How many times have you mounted your event? How many attendees have there been at each one? How many do you expect this year? Will they attend in person or via streaming? What positions do they hold in their companies? What sort of media impact have past events had both on and offline?

5 – Think about image. Your web page must be modern and up to date.  Include information about your event: all the details plus testimonials from past corporate sponsors. Make sure your social networks are current – that is, they haven´t been accumulating dust since the last time you held your event!  Investing in these means of communication will help you make a positive impact on your potential partners.

6 – Reach out to the right contact. It may seem obvious, but Linkedin is a very useful tool to look for and connect with all types of professionals.

7 – Listen. Listen attentively to what your possible corporate sponsor says and doesn´t say. The better you know their needs, the more easily you can find synergies and submit a propsal that fits their profile.

8 – Design your proposal and be flexible. After hearing from your potential sponsor, create a proposal specifically for them based on the information they have given you. Remember: “the one size fits all “ approach - that is, using the same outline or formula for every proposal - doesn´t work. Personalize your offer, adapting it to the brand that you are targeting. Make sure to keep their corporate culture in mind.  This way you will be able to create a win-win experience.

9 – Evaluate and sell. Offer concrete examples to your possible partners of how their participation will beneift them. For example, if you are going to use a technology that will give your sponsor specific and measurable data for their business, present it to them as a tool that will provide useful and quantifiable results. 

10 – After the event. Don´t forget to maintain contact with your corporate sponsors after your event. Make sure you get their feedback:  if not in person, at least with an online survey that seeks their level of satisfaction with the event and any suggestions for ways to improve it in the future.  Did they get the hoped return on investment from their participation?  Help them interpret the data from your event, using your original proposal for each sponsor as a guideline.

As you can see, it is not an easy task.  It requires being detail-oriented, patient and energetic.  If you follow these steps, you will surely be closer to your goal.  Good luck!

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