The best way to get a sponsor is to be an intrapreneur instead of an entrepreneur and have your company sponsor your event. The second best way is to have contacts who have the dough. If neither options are available, you have to go out there and make something happen. Sports events are contingent upon sponsors. Having ample support from sponsors, be it in the form of cash or be it in kind, it enables the event organizers to spruce up their event and hopefully turn a profit. The Hockey India League has sponsors who are not expecting to make a immediate profit, their angle is that it’s a marketing investment for them. Sports are emerging as the preferred choice for brands to market themselves through in India. Strike while the iron is hot!
Here are 10 ideas on how to net a sponsor for your event:
Know your pitch
Never walk into a prospective sponsor’s office beating your own drum. Imagine having coffee and someone comes up to join you and goes “Hey, how you doin? Let me tell you all about myself. I was born in the hills and I spent my formative years farming.” Would you offer to buy that person coffee or would you throw yours in their face and sprint away? Exactly. No sponsor wants to see the first slide of your presentation having fat details about you. Prepare your pitch by putting yourself in their shoes and proceed accordingly.
Know your sponsor
Research your prospective sponsor. Look up the events they have sponsored in the past. Study their target audience profile. Figure out what brand identity they are looking for. You don’t want ITC tobacco sponsoring a school event. ITC’s Classmate notebook series is a far more likely target and it has a better fit with the sponsor too.
Know your offering
Know the USP of your event. Figure out what about your event will be appealing to a sponsor. If you are looking for a sponsor for a school level basketball tournament, express the fact that your event will have high visibility among the top schools in the city. Look up India’s forays in basketball and impress upon them the fact that basketball is an emerging sport in India. Make a list of sponsors who you know have sponsored basketball events in India or in your city and show it to the sponsor you are approaching.
Your event’s offering should be consistent with the brand of the sponsor. Complan makes kids grow tall, so go get them to sponsor your basketball event. Boost is the secret of our energy, emphasize to them how energetic you plan your event to be. After you’ve figured out your sponsor and your own offering, find the parallels between them and emphasize it in your proposal. Parallels in target audience, vibe of the event, and any other similarity will work in your favour.
Know your competition
There are others who have done events similar to the one you are planning. Look them up and see what worked for them and what worked against them. Look at the sponsors they had for their event and approach the same or their competitors.
Know the sponsor’s competition
Know the competition of the sponsor you are approaching. Stress that them sponsoring your event will differentiate them from the pack and give them a head up over the competition.
Ensure that your event is not run of the mill. Do something to stand out. Be sure to have something to pull in the audience. The Mahindra NBA Challenge Finals played host to a largely empty gym last year. Where’s the NBA 3X which was held in a mall and was open to all below 23 to participate in, drew humongous crowds. Make sure you have something planned in your event which will make it stand out from the crowd. Everyday sponsors are besieged with bundles of unsolicited proposals. Yours needs something eye catching about it.
Get the local stars
If there’s a sportsperson from your area who is big, invite him/her as a chief guest. You will be bringing a touch of prestige to your event and paving the way for the improvement of the sport. But don’t stop the game at half-time to facilitate them or during anytime which would break with the momentum of the event. It also helps to bring celebrities to pull crowd to your event. Ensure that you highlight this added attraction in your sponsorship proposal.
Promise post event follow up summary
Give tangible, measurable parameters through which you plan to measure the sponsor’s contribution. If you buy a phone you want to know how long the batteries will last, whether it has wifi or not, etc. When a sponsor sponsors our event they want to know what’s in it for them. “Oh we’ll give you banners on the ground.” doesn’t quite cut it. You have to be more specific. Tell them about the audience profile, not just the number of audience expected. Tell them the expected demographic which your event will attract. Tell them about the spending power of your audience, their age, economic status, and any information which you think will be relevant. And promise that after the event is over you will do a follow up which lets them know about their contribution. Get pictures of their banners, get good shots of the crowd, count the audience at the event, get press clippings, etc.
Please ditch Powerpoint
This is more of a personal preference which I couldn’t help but stick in. Powerpoint presentations are soporific They are great if you are actually making a presentation, but if you are going to email the proposal then just make it in MS Word and save as PDF and send it across. It looks so much more polished and professional. Better yet, learn Adobe InDesign and make rocking proposals. There are agencies whose entire job revolves around making flashy proposals. Appearances do matter, make sure your proposal is above all neat, concise and not overly wordy. Noone wants to read a tome.
Give them options
Give your sponsor different options. They shouldn’t just be faced with a Yes or No decision. Make it a Yes/No to three or four options. Present various categories of sponsorships at different costs and with different benefits. Even if the sponsor doesn’t want to become the title sponsor, they may foot the bill for a lower category and become an associate sponsor or a partner in kind who gives you refreshments/rent free grounds/clothing, etc.
I get that all this is just theory, if someone wants to sponsor they will, if they don’t, the flashiest proposal won’t sway them. This is all about improving the odds of you netting a sponsor. Happy Hunting!