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Venue or Festival Sponsorship Development: Thoughts from a Pro

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July means summer is here in full force.  It also means the two most critical moments for your sponsorship success are at hand. Building a successful entertainment venue or festival sponsorship program in less than 10 weeks is very difficult.  Yet that time frame is when most events start to get serious about their sponsor sales effort.

Maintaining and growing a sponsorship program is a challenge for every event.  There’s prospecting, finding the right buyer, proposals to write, negotiations to complete, customizations to deliver, and fulfillment to complete.

Then you get to start all over.

Here’s something you are probably going to face in the next few months.  You are going to lose sponsors.

Do you get ghosted or get no response on your proposals? When your sponsors take their money elsewhere, do you know the reason?

Most Sponsors and Brands Care Little About Your Event


event sponsorship


Here’s an undisputed fact.  Most sponsors and brands care little about your event.  They are interested in your audience and their ability to engage and connect with that audience.  Engage does not mean banners and logos everywhere, it means having an opportunity to gain a meaningful interaction with the audience attending your event.  Unless your sponsor is a mega brand where the logo on a sign is instantly recognized, putting up more signage is not going to keep a brand involved in your event.

This is where you should focus your attention now.

  1. Proving you delivered what you promised
  2. Learning more about the audience you have before they forget they came to the event.

sponsorship proposal

Number one is complete fulfillment of all the promises you made in your agreement.  This includes photos, videos, social post captures, analytics of the posts, copies of emails, posters, and any other tangible item you may have included in your sponsor contract.

When the event leaves town, you can’t recreate this content. Taking a moment to plan your needs and have someone to execute them will pay off financially at this time next year.  There’s a significant difference between a photographer who is capturing the event for social media or future marketing efforts and one who is there to capture sponsorship content. One is creative photography, the other is capture or documentation photography.  If you are hiring someone to handle this role, be clear on your needs.

The fulfilled intangibles need to be included too.  Photos of the space showing the sponsors VIP’s enjoying themselves. The early entry the sponsors may have received as part of the deal needs to be captured with photos. Earned media with the sponsors name or logo needs to be included. Any speaking or judging opportunity for your sponsor would also need to be documented in some form.

Fulfillment is one of the major points in proving your event as a first-class, ready-for-sponsoring program.  When you can tell the sponsor or the brand what you have done and how many impressions they received for their cash, you are much further toward renewing their contract for next year.

Be transparent with what you tell your sponsors.  Things go wrong with live events.  If you missed something, tell the truth.  Most sponsorship consultants, including us, recommend a 2 or 3:1 ROI to allow for the occasional event failure.  ROI is not what the sponsor will earn as a result of sales at or after your event.

The sponsorship ROI is a comparison of what it would have cost the sponsor to get the same level of exposure to your audience if they were to purchase it on the open market.

Sponsorship Development Is Ongoing

The other significant moment occurs within the week after your event.

Sponsorship development matches audiences with companies and brands who want to reach those audiences.  In most meetings with brands, most of the time will be spent talking about the audience. Here’s a hint.  Those conversations won’t have a lot to do with audience size, top-line demographic information, or how your event is getting bigger.

Sponsoring Brands Want Audience Data

One of the first questions a sponsor will ask you is about your audience data.

How well do you know your audience? Do you have first-party information on where they buy groceries, where they bank, what they drive, and where they vacation?  Do you know what mobile service they use or what streaming services they use?

If you want to really grow your sponsorship sales, you need answers to these questions.

The real preferences of your audience create a huge opportunity for both sponsorship sales and for the performers you book.

Another Sponsorship Issue

Do you have ideas for what your prospective sponsor could do to engage with the audience that the AUDIENCE will like?

Have you asked your guests for the information needed to grow sponsorship sales?

The amount of information you know about your audience is the determining factor in the amount of money your event derives from sponsorship.

Why Audience Information Matters: An Real Example

In talking with a big event property recently, the organizer told me about a conversation with a big sponsor of his event.  This sponsor had been with the event for a long time and spent an enormous amount of money.  There had been changes at the sponsor’s company and they wanted to know more about where and how their money was being used.

The answers of larger attendance and more people didn’t work.

The sponsor knew that was wrong because he had not sold as much as he anticipated based on his history at this event and others like it. The sponsor knew his numbers and the audience better than the event organizer.

The event organizers had no retorts to the issues raised .  They didn’t know enough about the sponsor’s business or their target customer to counter the objection. If they had more audience information and understood their sponsor’s needs, they could have saved the business. Instead they lost one of their main sponsors.

See how many of these questions you can answer about your event’s audience.

  • What’s the average household size of your guest?
  • What’s their status? Single, married, divorced, in a committed relationship, etc.
  • Children at Home? What are the ages?
  • Do they go to private or public schools?
  • Where do they buy their groceries?
  • How often do they eat in a restaurant?
  • Are those restaurants quick-serve or sit-down?
  • How much alcohol do they buy annually?
  • What brand of car do they drive?
  • How old are those cars?
  • Are they thinking about changing cars in the next 18 months?
  • Do they own a camper? What type? What class? How often is it used?
  • How about bicycles or motorcycles?
  • What are their hobbies (even if people don’t call them that much anymore)?
  • What is their favorite social media platform?
  • What streaming service do they use most often?
  • Who is their mobile phone provider? Are they satisfied? Looking to change in 18 months?

The questions can go on almost forever.

Here’s the terrifying part for event organizers.  Almost every social media platform knows the answers to these questions.

If a brand can reach your audience on socials or streaming, why would they come to events or sponsor anything?

Brands know there is an advantage to be gained in selling their product when they can have a meaningful and personal interaction with their customers.  People hate to be sold, but they absolutely LOVE to buy.

You must fix this lack of audience knowledge now, before your next sponsor selling season begins.

Getting first-party data about your audience is essential if you want to grow or maintain the dollars your event can generate through sponsorships.

It is not enough to simply ask questions; you must understand how to interpret the data and build a meaningful and engaging way of presenting the data.  You must tell the story of your audience in a way that aligns with what sponsors are looking for.

If you aren’t or weren’t satisfied with the amount of money you made in your sponsorship program, now is the time to make a change. Most events will miss out on what it really takes to earn sponsorship dollars.

Sponsors who have spent money to connect with an audience only to find their activation fell flat is incredibly frustrating to all involved. Fixing it before bad things happen is the best remedy.

Utilize a Professionally Developed Survey to Get Audience Data

develop survey

TSE Entertainment’s sponsorship team has created, fielded, and analyzed thousands of audience surveys to get valuable first-party data. The information collected through surveys forms the basis for the information brands invited to participate in your sponsorship program want to see as part of their decision process.

Talk to us about next year’s event today.

Don’t miss the opportunity to get the information you need from your audience at this year’s event for next year’s sponsorship development efforts. TSE can help you get firsthand data from attendees at your event that will increase the probability of growing your sponsorship dollars for next year’s event. To learn more about how TSE’s sponsorship development service can help you download TSE’s Sponsorship Services PDF to lean more.

Related Posts:

Get Event Sponsorship Brands Using Good Data

Event Sponsorship: How to Get a Sponsor

About the author

Picture of Ray Massie

Ray Massie

Ray brings a wide range of backgrounds to TSE’s sponsorship program. From running radio stations in the biggest U.S. markets, creating and selling millions of dollars in sponsorship programs in the fair and festival niche, running the booking operations for a 12,000-seat arena, and producing a weekly TV program, Ray is focused on sponsor delivery and improving venue revenue performance. His thorough understanding of all aspects of sponsorship and events makes him adept at discovering, cultivating, and selling undervalued event assets.
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