5 Winning Strategies for Event Sponsorships

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5 Winning Strategies for Event Sponsorships

We were fortunate to participate in this year’s USA Science and Engineering Festival as part of Chevron’s sponsorship of the event.

The event was a resounding success, well attended, surpassing the goals set by the Festival organizers and sponsors.

Sponsors are a key ingredient in the success of events of this magnitude and during our event debrief, we spent some time analyzing why this event sponsorship was so successful. One of the key factors was the great partnership we had with Marc Schulman, the Festival’s Executive Director. From our initial conversation to the final day of the event, Marc remained invested in our mutual success and was intent on learning what would yield the best experience for our client, while remaining committed and true to the Festival’s mission and attendee experience.

In the spirit of sharing best practices and learnings, I interviewed Marc to get his take on what contributes to the making of successful sponsor relationships and here are a few takeaways:

#1 Ask the Right Questions and ask a lot of them

The most important thing to get you started is to ask a million questions – this goes for both the event organizers and the sponsors. Start with an open mind and the answers to these questions will help steer your thought process and build your sponsorship goals and activities. This process often helps identify new opportunities and Marc cited this example:

We made initial contact with Mike Rowe (you know him, the Dirty Jobs guy!) as we thought he would be a great speaker at the Festival. We discovered he had a foundation built around skilled trades and we put together the idea of skilled trades and STEM! (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Through this discussion we jointly identified a new opportunity and broadened our definition of STEM to include skilled trades. There was a second benefit; Mike brought in his Foundation and they decided to use the Festival as a public facing event. They called in their biggest supporters including Walmart, and Caterpillar and invited them to participate. Mike and his team became an extension of our outreach and a new Festival category was born in the process of asking all those questions!

#2 Keep it Simple

Don’t try to be all things to all people. Determine what is most relevant to your business and the mission of the event. Focus on what matters the most. Marc elaborates:

Ask this question: what are we going to be at this event? Look at the mission of the Festival (it’s not a trade show) and how it aligns with your business or organization. It doesn’t mean that you need to represent all divisions of your company. Again, keep it simple.

#3 Pay attention to the Mission of the Event

Think about the audience and build your sponsorship activity in a way that contributes to the attendee experience while supporting the mission of the event.

#4 Make sure you have Representation from your Events Team as part of the Sponsorship Planning

Bigger organizations tend to have a destructurized process when it comes to events. They often hand the sponsorship negotiations to the Communications/Marketing group and fail to include the events team. We have found that when it comes to developing effective sponsorship activations it helps to have the Events team on board from the start.

#5 Create a True Partnership

Be honest and open with communication and share challenges. Embrace the idea that as a sponsor you are a part of the event. As Marc says, “My role is to hand hold our sponsors to make the best experience for the kids which will in turn make the best experience for the sponsor.”

All of these tips help to promote the overall goal of a triple bottom line: a win for the event, the attendees and the sponsors.

We encourage you to check out the 2016 USA Science & Engineering Festival website for sponsorship opportunities. Better yet – check in with Marc as I know he’ll ask you a lot of great questions and steer you in the right direction!

Thank you Marc Schulman!

Cindy Wilson

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