You already know that gaining sponsors for your event has benefits from additional exposure to funds to hire that better catering company or reserve the higher end venue. However, once you gain those hard-earned sponsorships, what are you doing to keep those sponsors coming back year after year and make your sponsors feel like royalty? After all, it is a lot of work to talk a company into sponsoring you. It is much easier to keep the sponsors you have than to try to replace them from scratch.
In 2015, there was approximately 21.4 billion dollars spent in North America alone on sponsorships. However, there is one catch. Corporations expect a return on their investment and if they don’t get it, they won’t be likely to offer you a sponsorship next time around.
How to Make Your Sponsors Feel Like Royalty
The best way to make your sponsors feel like royalty is to take them into consideration during all the phases of your planning. If you know a restaurant chain wishes to offer you a sponsorship, start thinking early in the planning about how you can best represent them.
If you’re offering trade show booths, how can you offer them a front and center display area that they’ll be pleased with? How can you showcase them at registration? What other ways can you get their name in front of your attendees?
Invite the executives at the company to attend a special keynote luncheon or dinner event. If possible, try to get the key decision makers on sponsorships at your event. Make sure you reserve a special seat for these guests. They should sit with the planners, keynote speaker, or other high profile people. You’ll also want to make sure they are having a good time, whether you are at the same table as them or not. Take the time to check in on them and make them feel important.
A sincere “thank you” often goes a long way. Take the time to send a handwritten note after your conference and thank your sponsors for their support of your event. Do not ask for them to sponsor you next year or anything in return. Simply say thank you.
Turn Attendees into Their Customers
Brainstorm with your sponsors about how you can offer value to your attendees while bringing them new customers. For example, will they offer a special discount on their product to your attendees? Would they like to put a coupon in your event brochure? The sponsoring company may have additional ideas that have worked well for them in the past at other events. Be open to trying out new ideas they bring to you as long as it allows you to keep your integrity.
Be sure to give them a shout out via social media and thank them in front of the millions of people on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. Be sure to tag them, so they know you mentioned them. Most companies today track social media and will likely favorite or retweet your post. This gives them some added value for their sponsorships.
After the event is over, everyone has been thanked and before you start planning next year’s event, take the time to survey your sponsors. Ask them what you could do better. Is there anything you aren’t doing that they’d like to see at the next event? How could you better meet their needs as a sponsor?
Not only do you have to ask them what you could do better, but you then need to figure out how to implement those changes. Once you’ve figured that out, you’ll be ready to approach them with a plan for next year’s sponsorship. Addressing any concerns they have will show them you value them as sponsors and make them much more likely to sponsor you again in the future.
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