Learning with TBOE

Richard Woodward at The Business of Events

Create value for long-term partners, says industry expert

Posted on June 7th, 2019 in Event News, Event Sponsorship

Sponsorship and partnerships are vital for any event, and not just for the money they generate. Creating meaningful relationships with sponsors is the first step to success, but once you have someone on board it’s vital to keep that relationship active for ongoing benefits.

Richard Woodward, director of Richard Woodward & Associates, spoke at TBOE 2019 conference about how to attract and retain sponsors and partners.

Start by selling events

When approaching potential partners, too many people in the events space jump straight to their own event without selling the positives of the industry.

Richard suggests that you start off by finding out about the company’s history with events as this can lead to questions and information that can help you build your relationship.

In terms of the benefits of event sponsorship – compared with alternatives like flyer distribution, TV ads and internet ads – Richard highlighted two key draws for events.

He said, “Number one: time. This is not a 30-second advertisement where you’re turning the volume down, it’s a chance to engage with a brand. If it’s at a festival for a day, it might be at a concert for an evening, a conference for three days. Events provide time for sponsors to communicate and for people to understand their brand messages.”

“It’s also about mindset. When people come to a conference, they’re in a mindset of looking for the right ideas, for new ideas, looking for brands that can connect with you around the same values and areas of interest.”

Ask for more than just money

While the main driver for getting sponsors on board may be to get funding to improve your event and give more to your guests, there are other ways of achieving these same goals with your partners.

The first is to see what you can get through contra. By working through a list of expenses and needs for an event, you may be able to save on costs by working with someone who can provide something you need.

The other is to look at what a partner can offer you. It may be that they can help market your event, they may be able to provide volunteers to help run it or they may have another pull that they can share with you. By getting help this way, you not only have a more smoothly run event, you also have more committed partners.

Richard said, “Before you get to the point of asking for money, think through what else that person in front of you could do for you. I’ll tell you one truth, if someone is only giving you money, they can turn it off instantly. But if they’ve just gone and told all their shareholders, staff and customers how proud they are to be a partner with you, it’s very difficult to come back the next year and say ‘now we’re out of that partnership and all that help we were giving to that event has stopped’.”

Truly understand their objectives

For an effective partnership, both sides of the agreement have to benefit. While you already know what you want from the sponsorship, to get people on board time and time again you need to make sure you are meeting their goals.

There are a few common goals – such as building awareness, engaging audiences and driving sales – but you have to dig to find out what these terms actually mean to a person and a business.

Once you know what someone is looking for, you can share with them the benefits (not just the features) of what you can offer.

Richard said, “If someone had naming rights, the question is what does naming rights do for them? Well, it could do one of three things. Naming rights could help you to drive awareness of your brand, it could help you to drive an association with a cause or an event that demonstrates your values or it could drive a leadership position for you in an industry sector or market and differentiate you from your competitors.”

“The important point is that different companies have a different appetite for each of those benefits.”

Keep in touch with sponsors

It’s important to keep sponsors engaged throughout the year, especially if you run an annual event. This helps to strengthen personal relationships between you and your contact there, which goes a long way to ensuring ongoing support.

By making these touch points meaningful, you can add benefit to your relationship that not only improves your working life but also makes them more likely to be a spokesperson on your behalf. You can then invite these clients to an event with prospects, getting them to do the selling for you and making your job of getting new sponsors on board even easier in the future.

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