Keeping Event Sponsors Happy Throughout Your Meeting

Keep these tips in mind to ensure sponsors get and stay involved year after year.

Once you've secured event sponsorships, you know that the hard work isn't over. A sustainable partnership relies on keeping your backers satisfied before, during and after the meeting, demonstrating the value they're receiving in return for their investment in your event.

To build long-lasting relationships that yield sponsors who want to return year after year, you'll need to continuously nurture partnerships and help to successfully execute each activation. Following, we share some top tips for keeping your sponsors happy.

Before the Event

1. Get to Know Your Backers

Research any company offering to support your meeting. Understand what products and services they offer and how they might best provide for your attendees. Would it make sense for them to host a speaking session, provide event swag or include their logo on event materials?

Head into potential sponsor conversations with a clearly defined idea of how the company will participate and benefit from doing so. Set clear expectations from the get-go about what you can and can't provide for them, to avoid discrepancies. Event production company Reinventing Events suggests putting together an exhibitor kit and an online sponsor portal to facilitate continuous communication and information-sharing. Both should outline any and all details that pertain to each sponsorship level.

2. Offer Unique Opportunities

Sponsors appreciate being given opportunities that will set them apart from others. A few examples of unique sponsorship opportunities, according to event management and diagramming-tool provider Social Tables, would be sponsoring a candy bar, a wine tasting, a scavenger hunt, a wellness activity, a craft station, an entertainment event, a CSR initiative, a giveaway raffle, swag or a photo/Instagram station.

Each should provide unique opportunities that naturally drive attendee traffic and further the sponsor's message.

3. Add Involvement Levels

When building sponsorship packages, create multiple tiers of involvement to choose from, each equipped with different benefits and price points. For example, event software company Bizzabo suggests offering at least three levels of sponsorship, and suggests the following as an example:

  • The Bronze Package ($1,000): Company logo on all event materials, a guaranteed booth in the event expo center, a sponsorship grab bag.
  • The Silver Package ($2,500): Bronze Package plus a branded breakout room named after the sponsor.
  • The Gold Package ($5,000): Everything in Bronze and Silver Packages plus guaranteed speaking/demonstration opportunity. 

Remain open, though, to building sponsorship packages a la carte; swapping things in and out based on the prospect's needs, interests and budget.

4. Provide Demographic Data

Providing all sponsors with attendee demographics can help them get a better feel for how to get involved with your meeting. The more overlap a potential sponsor can document between the event audience and their target clientele, the more they'll be willing to invest.

During the Event

1. Publicize Attendee-Sponsor Interaction

While you should provide an official report on whether you failed to meet, met, or exceeded sponsors' goals after your event, providing updates throughout the meeting can help partners better understand how their activations are faring -- and what you're doing to help them succeed.

To entice attendees to patronize sponsored experiences, event management tools provider Eventbrite suggests hosting giveaways that require attendees to visit a certain amount of sponsor booths in order to participate. Reinventing Events also suggests stationing photographers near sponsor booths to capture moments when attendees are interacting with the brands. You can post these images on social media, tagging sponsors in real time, inspiring them to likewise share.

2. Make Introductions

Do you know a supplier who might be a good customer or partner for one of your sponsors? Event registration software provider Reg Fox says to facilitate personal introductions. Making a point of doing so will show sponsors you're looking out for their best interests.

It's also a good idea to personally introduce sponsors to other partners, speakers and VIP attendees. You never know what cross promotions will come out of those conversations, which ultimately could benefit your event.

3. Prove ROI

Proving you've delivered on your promises is a must, so knowing each sponsor's primary goal and how they want to track effectiveness is key. Following is a summary of helpful technologies for rounding up data, courtesy of Eventbrite.

  • Radio-frequency identification (RFID) can provide data on which attendees interacted with which sponsored sessions, displays, performances or activities.
  • Event apps can return data about which sessions, speakers and sponsors were most interesting to attendees.
  • Social media delivers data on social engagement, such as how many users interacted with sponsor messaging.
  • Surveys help measure brand recognition, engagement and purchase/use intent.

After the Event

1. Send Reports

A sponsor recap report is a great way to remind partners how great the event was, and how they contributed to its success. A thorough recap should include event demographics and should allow you to showcase event accomplishments, putting you one step closer to renewing the sponsor for your next meeting.

2. Say Thank You

Reinventing Events suggests writing handwritten thank you cards for each sponsor following the event to show true gratitude. If feasible, you might also want to present sponsors with thank-you gifts. 

Handling Unhappy Sponsors

Despite your best efforts, some sponsors might walk away from an event dissatisfied. If and when that does happen, Eply, an event registration software provider, suggests doing the following:

1. Communicate Issues

Gather key stakeholders from both your own team and the sponsor's. Discuss what was expected and where the event fell short. Keep in mind that the issue might look totally different through the sponsor's eyes, so effective communication is key for mending the relationship. A thorough conversation is needed to uncover the true problem and move forward.

2. Find a Solution

Depending on the circumstances, you might or might not be able to give the sponsor exactly what they felt was missing. If not, you should aim to rectify the situation by providing something else of similar value. For example, if a sponsor logo was misplaced on event materials, Eply recommends advertising for them on your website for an agreed-upon amount of time.

3. Move On

Moving on should hopefully mean starting on your next event with that sponsor committed to returning. If that is the case, Eply suggests paying extra attention to the particular sponsor's needs. You might also want to consider adding a few assets to their next sponsorship at no cost.