Sponsorships are so much more than an annoying person on the other end of the phone asking for money... or more than just getting someone to give you money so you can throw a kick ass party.
"Thanks for the cash... later!"
I have worked on either side of sponsorships for over 15 years as the sponsor of large events, as the event director who is asking for dough, and as the facilitator between two organizations. It's the latter that I believe allowed me to see the true value in sponsorship.
I did a little research when I started thinking about writing this article and here's the first definition I found on sponsorship:
"Sponsorship is a cash and/or in-kind fee paid to a property (typically in sports, arts, entertainment or causes) in return for access to the exploitable commercial potential associated with that property," according to IEG. Ok... that sounds super "businessey" doesn't it. Aren't sponsorships about people? ... and just for the record, I am just generally not a fan of the word "exploit." Yikes.
Nothing against IEG, I have worked with them before, they're cool, I've done their trainings, but I decided to come up with a new definition for my own team that better outlines the hidden beauty in event sponsorships.
"An event sponsorship is an opportunity to reinforce your company's purpose and create meaningful connections between people who share a common mission/cause and their respective communities."
This is POWERFUL STUFF when you think about how much time, (hopefully) care and love we take to create our "brand communities." You should take as much time in deciding who to partner or align with. If you choose wisely, with the same care and love you took to build your own community, there are many benefits to follow: An instantly larger community, more people behind a collective cause, new relationships... the list goes on and on, and it's all good.
Think about it this way; say there are two parties going on at the same time (a.k.a. two experiences). Both party hosts would like their guests to walk away with the same feeling (i.e. happiness, giving, connection, action towards a common cause... you fill in the blanks) when they leave. Wouldn't it be better if you combined both parties? More people, more people to connect to, more people to get behind a cause, more giving, and most importantly, more fun... and usually tons of collaborations to follow between guests. Always good.
This is also an opportunity to support another organization's mission (a little gift to them), create a long-term collaborative relationship (a gift to both partners) and a sponsorship is a vehicle to directly achieve your marketing objectives (a little gift to your shareholders). Nice, they'll like that.
Sound good so far? Great. If you are a potential sponsor, here are a few things you should do before you pull out your checkbook.
Sit down with your marketing team and ask yourselves the following questions (we'll elaborate on these in my next article):
If you are able to answer all of those questions and feel good about your answers, then, congratulations, you're going to the party! Talk to your new event partner and communicate these things to them. I guarantee, this discussion will lead to more collaboration and new activation ideas for your brand.
O.k. you're clear to write the check now. Well, actually hang on; let's just summarize this for you first.
Here are your 4 must do's when choosing the right event/"party" to sponsor (a.k.a. align with, partner with) to ensure it's kick ass.
Congratulations. You may now write your check! Party on!
IEG: Sponsorship Glossary