Sponsorships are so much more than an annoying person on the other end of the phone asking for money... or more than just getting someone to give you money so you can throw a kick ass party.
"Thanks for the cash... later!"
I have worked on either side of sponsorships for over 10 years as the sponsor of large events, as the event director who is asking for dough, and as the facilitator between two organizations. It's the latter that I believe allowed me to see the true value in sponsorship.
I did a little research when I started thinking about writing this article and here's the first definition I found on sponsorship:
"Sponsorship is a cash and/or in-kind fee paid to a property (typically in sports, arts, entertainment or causes) in return for access to the exploitable commercial potential associated with that property," according to IEG. Ok... that sounds super "businessey" doesn't it. Aren't sponsorships about people? ... and just for the record, I am just generally not a fan of the word "exploit." Yikes.
Nothing against IEG, I have worked with them before, they're cool, I've done their trainings, but I decided to come up with a new definition for my own team that better outlines the hidden beauty in event sponsorships.
create meaningful connections between people who share a common mission/cause and their respective communities." - Traci Wallace
This is POWERFUL STUFF when you think about how much time, (hopefully) care and love we take to create our "brand communities." You should take as much time in deciding who to partner or align with. If you choose wisely, with the same care and love you took to build your own community, there are many benefits to follow: An instantly larger community, more people behind a collective cause, new relationships... the list goes on and on, and it's all good.
Think about it this way; say there are two parties going on at the same time (a.k.a. two experiences). Both party hosts would like their guests to walk away with the same feeling (i.e. happiness, giving, connection, action towards a common cause... you fill in the blanks) when they leave. Wouldn't it be better if you combined both parties? More people, more people to connect to, more people to get behind a cause, more giving, and most importantly, more fun... and usually tons of collaborations to follow between guests. Always good.
This is also an opportunity to support another organization's mission (a little gift to them), create a long-term collaborative relationship (a gift to both partners) and a sponsorship is a vehicle to directly achieve your marketing objectives (a little gift to your shareholders). Nice, they'll like that.
Sound good so far? Great. If you are a potential sponsor, here are a few things you should do before you pull out your checkbook.
Sit down with your marketing team and ask yourselves the following questions (we'll elaborate on these in my next article):
- Does our mission align with the overall event's mission?
- What do we want to get out of this partnership? (i.e. More sales? Bigger community?, Brand awareness?)
- How can this partnership support us to achieve our marketing objectives?
- What do we want the guests of the event to take-away with regards to our brand? (i.e. is there an action they should take? is there a feeling they should feel?)
- Who will ensure that our brand message will be communicated with integrity throughout the event (pre-event promotion, during event, post-event).
If you are able to answer all of those questions and feel good about your answers, then, congratulations, you're going to the party! Talk to your new event partner and communicate these things to them. I guarantee, this discussion will lead to more collaboration and new activation ideas for your brand.
O.k. you're clear to write the check now. Well, actually hang on; let's just summarize this for you first.
In summary, here are your 4 must do's when choosing the right event sponsor (a.k.a. align with, partner with) to ensure success.
- Choose the "co-hosts" with care.
- Make sure you're on the same page as to the definition of what a successful event will look like.
- Invite cool people.
- Most importantly, remember, an event/party is an experience. Ensure that you have a clear vision as to how you want your guests to feel when they leave your soirée ...and a solid plan to achieve it.
Congratulations. You may now write your check... you have now doubled your power!
Traci is a New York born Californian and former New Delhi resident who considers herself a 70% businesswoman / 30% gypsy. She is a marketing specialist, surfer, yoga teacher, and published writer, with a passion for supporting professionals to create conscious businesses and share their brand stories with the world. She is currently on a mission to educate people on the immense benefits of creating meaningful partnerships, integrating conscious marketing and mindful growth strategies into business as VP of National Operations, Partnerships & Marketing at Open Sky Event Marketing.
Traci has worked with some of the top companies in the U.S, India and Latin America in the areas of conscious marketing, strategic planning, corporate communications, purpose development, public relations, and international/domestic business development including the successful launch of Callaway Golf into India in 2010. She also has an extensive background in meaningful experience building and has worked with such organizations as American Express, PGA of America, Callaway Golf, Conscious Capitalism, Cultivate PCG, Forward Metrics, The Sean O'Shea Foundation, Mosaic Sports Management, Little Kids Rock, SoFree by Sofía Mulánovich, Audi, BMW, Yoga Aid World Challenge, Yoga Rocks the Park, Friday Night Yoga Club, Yogi Tunes, Yoga Reaches Out, Kingfisher and GE Capital amongst many others. Connect @ firstname.lastname@example.org