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Six Ways to Guarantee Your Event Sponsorship Program Fails

Compass measuring success and failure
In the last few months I have received solicitation emails and calls from various organizations wanting our company sponsor their conference. In each case their approach was such a turn off that it prompted me to write this post.

Here are six surefire ways that will ensure your sponsorship solicitation gets you nowhere:

1.  Know nothing about my business:

In two of the sponsoring offerings I received, it was very clear that the person soliciting my dollars had never even looked into what Greenfield Services does, and what kinds of audiences we might want exposure with.

[For the record, our focus includes the supply side of the meetings industry -- hotels, CVB's, and convention centers, and professional or trade associations].

Why would I want to fork over $10,000 to sponsor an opening reception for group of business people that doesn't even have a need for our services?  The proposal was so preposterous that a diminished my view of the Association, and of the executive initiating the communication. But you could improve your chances of attracting my attention if you build a case for your events, and your audience, and how it relates to my business and my goals.

2.  Send an email into the ether and don't follow up:

Assuming I even read your email (and that in itself is a gamble), if you don't follow up with me there is a near-zero chance I will pick up the phone or email you saying, "I'm in!"  Make that a 100% chance that I will not respond if I've never heard of your organization before, never attended one of your events or seen any connection between your audience and mine.
The remedy is simple: follow-up to make sure I received the information, and engage me in a conversation about what my business goals are, so we can see if there is a fit.

3.  Send a generic email or letter:

With all the tools available today that allow you to personalize communication, it is inexcusable to send a "dear marketer" email or letter. If it isn't accurately personalized I'll press “delete”.
Incidentally, if you are going to personalize, make sure your software addresses me properly.  A “Dear Doreen Ashton Wagner” opening won’t do.  You must know whether you should say “Dear Doreen” or a “Dear Ms. Ashton Wagner”.

4.  Contact me just once or give up easily:

Let's say your event draws my target audience and I'm somewhat interested, unless you court business I'm not likely to buy. It's not because I have a big ego, it’s that I get busy. Too many things/people are vying for my attention, and yes, I get sidetracked.

Most executives do. It's a documented trends that new business-to-business sales relationships require the seller (in this case the event sponsorship marketer) to reach out anywhere from 7 to 11 times for the prospect respond. Yet most sales reps give up by the third attempt.

5.  Don't build your case:

If you are just asking me to sponsor, and you don't articulate your event attendees’ purchasing power, or show me who else is sponsoring, I will not be interested.

Show me you are worth my hard earned cash. That means you need to know your attendees inside and out, including age, gender, position, purchasing power, decision-making process, etc. and show me testimonials of other sponsors and what they got out of your event.

6.  Contact me just a few months or weeks before the event:

This shows me your sponsorship program is just a cash grab. My budget is set a year in advance and while I try to plan for bit of extra money for unexpected opportunities, I rarely can divert big bucks unless I know it's coming. This means letting me know well in advance about your opportunity so I can make an educated decision.

For many organizations, event sponsorship revenues can make the difference between an "oh-hum" conference and a GREAT conference.

Selling sponsorship for your event requires advanced planning in a well thought out process. Ignore the basics and your efforts will be in vain.  Conversely, follow these best practices to attract and secure the highest quality relationships possible.