I put on events with a small budget or even no budget. That’s kind of my thing. The more I share about what I do the more I keep encountering the same questions. One of the things I get asked most often is “how do you do get sponsorship?” And I always say “well, it depends.” There are different types of sponsorship – in-kind meaning product, venue, food, or drink; and traditional sponsorship generally meaning cash money.
To be honest in-kind sponsorship is easier to get. When money is exchanged it usually comes with contracts and lawyers but that also depends on the amount of money in question. For the sake of this article I’ll focus on in-kind sponsorship, which also happens to be my specialty. There are a couple key components that brands are looking for when they gift you with product. Here are five things you can do to make yourself more attractive to them:
- Do your research: Are you reaching out to a brand that aligns with your mission and objectives? Do you align with theirs? If the answer is yes to both, proceed. If not, find another brand. They won’t want to give you anything unless you’re helping them reach their target demographic. Ultimately the point of gifting you with product is to get it in the hands of the people who are likely to buy it in the future. TIP: Check what other similar events are going on in your area and see who sponsored them.
- Get your ask right: If you’re reaching out with a cold email make sure you’re formatting it correctly. Use a short, to the point subject line along with a body paragraph that explains what you want and why they should give it to you. It’s important to remember that you should lead with what they are getting out of this. This should be a mutual win-win situation for all parties involved. Make sure you specify how much you need and whether you want an onsite activation (brand reps at your event passing out product) or product drop-off. If it’s a venue be sure to specify what you need ie. chairs, AV, tables, etc.
- Use visuals: Telling someone what they’re getting is one thing, showing them is quite another. People love visuals! If you can put together a deck or an infographic with a breakdown of your mission/demographic and reach that is almost always a sure thing. Include photos from past events and/or testimonials. If you can provide a sponsor with photos or video of people enjoying their product at your event that’s even better. TIP: Google “Sponsorship Deck” or “Sponsorship Proposal” and get some inspo.
- Promote them: Put out a blog, IG, or FB post with some info about their company and a photo, and put it in your ask. Tag them where it’s relevant. Include them in your newsletter and on your event registration page. Visibility is everything and the more you can provide the better your chances that they’ll want to work with you.
- Leverage what you have: Do you have a large following? Is your event or business targeting a niche market? Have you had notable partnerships in the past? What types of people will be at your event? Is the event getting any PR? These are all important things to include in your ask because they tell the sponsor what they can expect on your end. Most sponsors want a large reach but many times they are willing to provide product even if you’re just starting out.
Overall if you have a strong brand it should be easy to get sponsors that can align with your mission and values. If you’re having trouble, it might be a good time to think about why you are missing the mark and reframe.