Extraordinary Events Podcast

Ep 56: Approaching Sponsors

March 02, 2021 Extraordinary Events
Extraordinary Events Podcast
Ep 56: Approaching Sponsors
Chapters
Extraordinary Events Podcast
Ep 56: Approaching Sponsors
Mar 02, 2021
Extraordinary Events

Do you want to know to best way to approach a potential sponsor for your event? In this podcast episode, I detail the important event layers to consider when looking for sponsors, different effective sponsorship solicitation tactics, as well as how my students are constantly teaching me to not take for granted the information that I know as an industry professional!

Interested in attending or sponsoring our Level Up Your Event Game Conference?  Visit our website at https://www.LevelUpYourEventGame.com

To connect with us at the Extraordinary Events Initiative and see all the things we have going on, visit our website here: https://www.extraordinaryeventsinitiative.com

Show Notes Transcript

Do you want to know to best way to approach a potential sponsor for your event? In this podcast episode, I detail the important event layers to consider when looking for sponsors, different effective sponsorship solicitation tactics, as well as how my students are constantly teaching me to not take for granted the information that I know as an industry professional!

Interested in attending or sponsoring our Level Up Your Event Game Conference?  Visit our website at https://www.LevelUpYourEventGame.com

To connect with us at the Extraordinary Events Initiative and see all the things we have going on, visit our website here: https://www.extraordinaryeventsinitiative.com

Dr. K: Hello, Hello, everybody. I hope that everybody listening in is having a fantastic day so far today! If you are new to the podcast, we have a bit of a unique structure. On Tuesdays, we do lessons and life coaching as it relates to the event management industry. And then on Thursdays, we alternate between student created podcasts and industry spotlights. So we do post twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but they are very, very different content. So if you are new listening in today, make sure that you check out some of our past Tuesday episodes. And then of course, our Thursday episodes. 

One of the things that I absolutely love about being a teacher is that I am constantly in a beginner's mindset. The way that I teach my courses is very much a hands on lab style, where I ask a lot of open ended questions. And I really let the students plan the events that's what they're here for. They're here for a little bit of structured failure, some life lessons, a coach to guide them along the way. And sometimes I think it's easy for someone who's been in the industry for a long time to just take for granted some of the information they know. And this happened to me in a big way. Last week, when we were talking in class about soliciting sponsorships, how do you approach a sponsor? 

First in class when we're talking about sponsorships, of course, the students create their sponsorship document or their exhibitor perspective, depending on the type of event we're doing.Then the students kind of ease into sponsorship by filling out those standard forms for the corporate stores, the ones that you find online, and the head office determines whether you get a sponsorship or not. This helps the students really be able to define the event, the event objectives, the target market, and really get kind of used to those questions. And then the next level is to, of course, solicit their friends or personal connections, and then we do a little bit of cold calling. And this is really nice, in order to give the students this experience, because that's what they'll be doing in one semester or six months or a year when they're in the industry planning events. 

Now, being a teacher, I recognized last week that sometimes when you're experienced in the industry, you just have to explain things a little bit more clearly. And I was explaining this concept I'm about to talk about to the students and I recognized a lot of industry professionals may not actually recognize this themselves. I think I'm in a unique position where I plan events in and for the community with students and I realized that this could actually be a great lesson, not just for students, or aspiring students or aspiring professionals, but also for the industry at large. When you're planning an event, you really have four parties on the back end. And sometimes there's overlap, but sometimes there's not. 

The first party that you have is really the event owner or the organization that's hosting it. Typically, this is the one that would get the profit or pay the expenses, it's that organizing party. The second party that is really relevant is those that are planning the event. So in many cases, this is actually a third party planner, maybe an organization hires out their event planning to an independent consultant and this is the person that is planning that event. In my case, the person planning the event is students. So this is definitely a different segment than the event owner, though sometimes if the event planner works for that organization hosting the event, then this would be one and the same, but in many times it is different. The third relevant party for events is the actual attendees, that target market for the attendees. If you're hosting an in-person or hybrid event, who are those people that are sitting in the room? If you're hosting a virtual event, who are those people that are logging in online? And this is typically where sponsorships or targeted sponsorships are targeted to this particular level. The fourth party that's often overlooked is the end user. And this is who those people in the room influence. Now, of course, depending on your type of event, the attendees and the end user could be the same. 

For an example in my field. If I'm planning an event for event planners, then event planners are at my event. They are the attendees. I'm targeting them for content and sponsorship. But the end user would actually be the people they're planning events for, the people that are sitting in their rooms in their events. If my attendees were teachers, then the end user would be students. If my attendees were dentists then the end user would be their patients. Now, this is a very important distinction between those two. And so I think a lot of times when we're soliciting sponsorships, we're only targeting one of those areas. And the one area that we're typically targeting is that attendee. Now, of course, you could be sitting there and saying, like, “Well, Kristin, there's a lot of overlap!” And depending on your industry and your organization, there could be, but a lot of times, there's not, and they're not differentiated in terms of targeting sponsorships. 

So I had a student last week, who was looking at an individual item that they were looking to get sponsored. And they wrote out a list of potential sponsors that they wanted to target. And we're running through some roleplay and we're going through everything and the cold call type process or the email. And this student just looked at me and said, “Dr. K, why would they want to sponsor?” And it was so obvious to me as an industry professional, but it was very obvious that it was not obvious to them. And this is one of the unique aspects of planning events for students is that we have the organization that we're partnering with. And that organization has strategic partners, they have people that support their organization and their mission and their vision and their goal. And that is one layer of sponsorships. But then we also have that second layer, which is who is planning it themselves? So if I am an independent planner, I have my own network. I have my preferred vendors. I have people that if I cast my event out to bid, they are going to give me a discount or a deal, because they are people that I work with so often. 

In the case of students, there's a lot of people who are willing to donate and sponsor something, because they're students. They are adding to the educational experience. They don't even care what the event is.They just want to support the students in their academic progress and in their learning. And this is something that we really talk about a lot because it's kind of like a golden ticket in a lot of ways depending on the event and what you're doing to say, “Hey, I'm a student in a class, and I need this in order to be successful in the class. And I would love to be able to have this opportunity and experience!” It's really a good foot in the door in terms of the learning. 

I had taught previously at another university, I taught a sales class. And we talked a lot about the target market for who we're looking for sponsors, and what they're interested in and tying that ask to their objectives and their vision and mission and goals. And it's great experience coming in the door as a student because it's a very low stress, kind of entry with a lower barrier. Everybody loves students and wants to support students and therefore the students do tend to get a lot of in-kind sponsors. Now that's a little bit different when it comes to monetary, a lot of people will give things to students, but they're not going to necessarily write a check to students in terms of hosting an event. So we tend to get a lot of things that are in-kind because of this event aspect.

When I was in the industry, and I was planning events as a third party planner, I would also get a lot of things in-kind because they knew that even though this client didn't have the money for their services, that my next client who had more than enough money for their services that I was going to come to them because we had such a great relationship. And there is give and take and I don't necessarily think that a lot of people capitalize on this layer. They're just always using the attendees or using the organization as a springboard. 

That third layer is the attendees. And I think that a lot of organizations, they target the career and not the person and their interests. And I think that this is a distinct clarification that needs to be made. I hope that if you walk away from this podcast, you know that you want to incorporate students in your event and that you want to really identify who the attendees are at your event in a 360 degree way. So for example, about, oh, gosh, I guess it's been a decade now. There was an event that I was involved in and that event was for dentists. So a lot of the traditional sponsors were dental companies, suppliers that are affiliated with that industry, all of the tangential industries and they were looking to bring in some more money. And you sit there and you're like, Okay, not to make any generalizations, but you kind of do need to in this point, if I have 90% of my industry is 50 plus high income level white males, then what is an industry that is interested in targeting that user? It doesn't have to be related to dentistry, it just has to be someone who wants to get their product in front of your attendee. And in that case, it was high end cars. So Mercedes and all of the high end car companies were like, “Wow, here's exactly my target market, we are aligning target markets. And even though you are dental, that doesn't matter to us, because we're still getting our product in front of our ideal target market, even though it's through your event.” 

So I hope that that kind of stirs a lot of juices in your mind, as you're thinking about your sponsorships and your ask, is that you're not just targeting someone based on their career, you're targeting a sponsor based on your attendees whole person, their whole 360 life, if you're identifying and empathizing with your attendee, and you've identified that 95% of them have kids, even though your event has nothing to do with kids, maybe you want to put some kids services in front of them. So just some ideas to think about in terms of expanding your sponsorship, and really thinking about your ask. So when the students asked me, “Dr K. why would they be interested in sponsoring our event?” They're thinking very much about their career. They're thinking very much like, this is my target market and what they do for a job. And they're not thinking about themselves or their experience, and they're not thinking about the attendee as a 360 person. 

The last category here that is important to point out is the end user. Now, of course, the attendee and the end user could be the same depending on your target market. But the end user could also be very, very different. Now, if your attendee is somebody who would have varied end users, so for example, five years ago, we partnered with the PCMA Heartland Chapter, we planned an event for event planners. Now those event planners have very, very different end users, they have very different people that they're planning their events for. Some people could be event planners for dairy farmers, and some could be event planners for medical and some could be event planners for teachers, you just never know. And that's a little bit harder to target. Another example that I would have, in terms of the fact that that end user could be of a similar nature, is when, say you're planning an event for high school teachers, you're planning an event where the attendees are high school teachers in our particular region. Well, you know then that the end user is high school students. And even though you don't know all of the specifics in terms of this person's classroom, or that person's subject, you know, that the end user is students that are in this particular region that are within these particular ages. And you can do some target market analysis and you can do some generalizations. And you can really sell a lot of things to the teachers that are targeted at the students. 

And what that would look like in a sales aspect is say, I had an app, a phone app, I could target the teachers in one of two ways. I could target the teachers in terms of this will make your life easier, which a lot of products do that save you time and money, blah, blah, blah. And then you can also target the teacher in terms of the student experience. I am going to market my product to the teacher, “The students will be more engaged, the students will have fun, the students will learn more!” And of course, you want to have some kind of mixed marketing so that way the teachers feel like it's easy and the students get a lot of benefit. But that's the exact same thing that you're doing with sponsors, you would go to a sponsor and say, “Well, you can get your product in front of this teacher that is then over 30 different students and you would then have product exposure to all of those.” 

When I plan events for my event planning students. And I'm talking to companies in terms of applications or software. I say, Well, yes, you are sponsoring but you're also getting your product in front of 30, 40, 60 of the future industry leaders in our industry. And even if only 10 of them actually went into the industry in a high level event design job, they have exposure to your project and they're more likely to use your product. 

So I hope that kind of helps when we're talking about approaching sponsorship, and looking at different ways to approach sponsorship and really thinking about how you're approaching it. And recognizing that the sponsor is going to partner with a wide variety of organizations, and it might not always make sense, it didn't make sense that that car company would sponsor that dental organization from the outside. But internally, it does make sense. And there is enough sponsorship for everybody we just have to always be looking at how we're advertising and pitching our services and our products and their overall experience. 

Well, that is enough rambling for today. I hope that this was beneficial for some of you. As always, like, subscribe five stars on Apple. If you take a screenshot of that and send it to our email address [email protected] then I will send you a customized video thanking you for listening to the podcast. And share this with your friends because there's so many people out there that I know that could really use this that could help them get additional money, funding and sponsorships for their event. Thank you all so much for taking the time to make the time. I will talk with you soon.