Last week, I received a request for information on how to maximize the sponsorship of a business networking event. Last month, I worked with a company to answer this same question. If we consider the number of events that happen and, subsequently, the number of sponsors required to cover those events, there are many people who should be asking this same question.
The amount of money invested by local companies in sponsoring events, be they charity, sporting, business or otherwise, is astounding. It shows the generosity of companies. Surely organizers are thankful because sponsors generally cover expenses and allow for profit from ticket sales or vice-versa depending on how results are tallied.
Yes, there is a generous spirit behind the donations, but let’s be realistic. Every company has to answer to its bottom line. Therefore, to justify a sponsorship, the money donated has to directly – or indirectly – support company growth.
So how does a company get the most bang for their sponsorship buck? Let’s start by assuming a company has done its pre-work and strategically chosen to sponsor an event that provides a target-market-rich environment.
That’s the first step, however, with certainty; I can tell you it is not the last. Simply having logo recognition is not enough to garner the expected results that come with shelling out hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars for an event.
True, the logo recognition and placement are important, but amidst the overwhelming noise of today’s logo-overloaded world, unless attendees at an event have a reason to take notice, they won’t. The key is to have attendees connect with the people behind the logo.
As soon as you sponsor an event, your role shifts. You and everyone who works for your company are no longer just attendees, but rather you are “hosts.” Imagine your behaviour when you host a social gathering in your home. You act differently when you attend someone else’s home party, don’t you? Adjust those same principles and apply them to a business situation and voila, you’re well on your way to maximizing the sponsorship.
For example, if you hosted a party you wouldn’t spend the night talking with your spouse in the hallway while your guests were in the living room mingling. You’d be in the middle of the party making sure your guests are having a good time and facilitating a cordial environment where others are connecting. Also, there would be no confusion as to who was hosting the party. Your guests would know and if they didn’t, you’d happily introduce yourself and make them feel welcomed.
So, apply that to a business function. Effective sponsor-hosts wouldn’t sit or talk with co-workers. They’d be in the middle of the event energy, facilitating networking and connecting. There would be something to indicate you are a sponsor – perhaps a corporate pin or a special-coloured name tag – and you would have an excuse to introduce yourself to others at the event and thank them from attending.
It is as much the event organizers’ role to ensure a positive sponsor experience. In fact the event organizer or staff representative are essentially the “hosts” to the sponsors and committee volunteers, who act as the “hosts” to the attendees.