When soliciting sponsors for a conference, always make sure you ask the four Ws.
Who are your attendees? The demographics of your audience are a key aspect to acquiring sponsors. Make sure to highlight what makes your audience appealing. Are they the decision makers in their organization? If so, share the makeup of their job titles. Do they come from large organizations with large buying power? Share their budget ranges. This information is easily accessible if you ask the right questions when surveying your members or attendees. A sponsoring organization wants to know that by sponsoring your event, they are seen by the right people.
Who are the prospective sponsors? Finding the right sponsors for your event is half the work of sponsorship sales. Making sure the exhibitors align with the attendees (and the purpose of your event) is crucial for a successful sponsorship event. One secret to finding the right kind of sponsors is to look at similar events and see who sponsors those events.
What are you selling? Are your sponsorship items desirable? Are they priced appropriately? Are you capitalizing on all areas of the event? Remember with sponsorships, the price of the sponsorship does not have to be dependent on the actual cost of what they are getting. There is an intrinsic value to exposure that is worth more than the cost of the event itself.
Why are you soliciting sponsors? The most important questions you should ask yourself before starting a sponsorship program for an event are:
- Does this event need sponsors?
- Will sponsors bring value to the event?
Make sure all facets of the program gain something from the sponsorship occurring, this includes your attendees, your sponsors, and of course your organization. If the answers to the above questions are no, then think very carefully before moving forward with a program.
When should you start solicitations? Start soliciting as soon as you know the date for your event. It is never too soon to start having conversations and building relationships with potential sponsors.