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Harlem Holiday Lights Festival

Harlem Holiday Lights Festival

TSG is now the agency of record for Harlem Holiday Lights Festival. The Harlem Holiday Lights Festival offers an unforgettable experience for people of all ages. Every November, a wide variety of community groups and merchants will host in-store activities and promotions, as well as outdoor activities, to celebrate Harlem culture and the start of the holiday season. The event takes place along 125th Street, and it stretches from Fifth Avenue to Marginal Street on the East River. From karaoke and trivia to the Parade of Lights and an ugly sweater contest, this event offers something for everybody. The celebration also includes a children’s village, so the little ones can enjoy Harlem Holiday Lights, too. Your kids can participate in games, face painting, and much more.

Harlem truly has a unique, arts-focused culture, and it’s filled with indescribable energy when it’s lit up. We’re thrilled to share the excitement with you.

Learn more at:

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Miracle at Big Rock

Miracle at Big Rock

TSG is now the agency of record for Miracle at Big Rock. Big Rock Creek is a historic venue in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, about 45 minutes from the Twin Cities. This year, visitors can enjoy a walk-through or drive-through tour of over 15 million Christmas lights expanded over a mile-long trail, shop local artisans and vendors in the heated barn, take a ride down the sledding hill, or enjoy a private family or corporate party in our yurts, domes, or clubhouse spaces. The event schedule will leave visitors inspired to come back for more.

Learn more at

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“Media Champions” Interview on Media Planning & Buying Tips

"Media Champions" Interview on Media Planning & Buying Tips

On this segment of “Media Champions” with Larry Weil from The Sponsorship Guy™, Daily Ad Brief host MaryTherese Griffin discusses the latest media planning and buying tips and tools used by advertising professionals to plan, buy, traffic, analyze and report on media. Stay ahead of the curve by listening to what these digital insiders have to say. 

MaryTherese Griffin:
Hello, everyone! Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of the champions. I’m your host, MaryTherese Griffin in Atlanta. Today, we’re going to go out to Texas – that’s where we find Larry Weil, the Sponsorship Guy. Yes, that “The Sponsorship Guy”. Larry, it’s so nice to finally have you on Media Champions.

Larry Weil:
Well, it’s my pleasure to be here. It’s great to see you too.

MaryTherese Griffin:
Thank you very much that now it’s no secret, you do sponsorships. That’s what you do. You do everything from the Super Bowl to a big tech and arena events. Let’s talk about that as a source of advertising, because it’s huge. I mean, sponsorship strengths is a media channel. Lay it out for us, because it’s hot.

Larry Weil:
Yeah. I mean, most people are really familiar with sponsorship when it comes to sports events. Everything from the Super Bowl, to the Tractor bowl, to your local baseball team is going to have sponsors. Sponsorship has become a huge portion of the overall marketing and advertising spend it’s probably only eclipsed these days by digital overall. It is really a blend of a bunch of different channels, which is part of why it’s so big, but it has a lot of specific advantages to it.

MaryTherese Griffin:
Question: What is it that the sponsorships actually want? Because I can imagine there are organizations and companies out there that see this and they think, “How do I do that?” and “Would that benefit me?” What do they want as far as sponsorships?

Larry Weil:
Well, it’s just a little bit different than what they want generally out of advertising and marketing. They want to grow their business, right? So, what’s the strategy to grow your business?

Is it best served through creating brand recognition? Today, that’s not as big of a deal and it’s cheap to get brand recognition. Now engagement – that’s a lot harder to do.

And affinity, where they feel close to your brand is something that’s really well achieved through sponsorship with the sponsorship of a specific brand. It’s been shown in NASCAR many times – why is there a box of cornflakes on a car? Because, NASCAR fans that see that box of corn flakes will support them because they support their favorites or their favorite team. And, and so you sort of, I call it, “borrow the halo”.

And so, if you’re not really well known or you want to change your perception, you can line up a sponsorship with a group. It could be anything from quarter-horse-racing to nonprofit, sponsorships to college teams. It really just depends on your objective. They’re looking to grow their business and creative, take a little bit of a shortcut to creating a relationship with prospective customers

MaryTherese Griffin:
Question: Let’s talk about if it’s a first time event, if you will, and you don’t exactly have the background or the data to show, how do you get around that? How do you present that?

Larry Weil:
Such a great question – I get that a lot. I have hundreds of people reach out to me every month about their idea or their new concept or any event they’d like to do. Maybe they want to do a concert or event and they ask me how do I get sponsors?

And I have to kind of slow down a little bit and say, “Well, what do you have? Digital is so important. Do you have a social following? What have your audiences been in the past? What kind of earned media have you received?” So, it’s really almost like creating a media kit.

So, if they don’t have any of that and they go, “Well, we’re new. We don’t really have the followers, none of that.” You can’t show that to a sponsor.

What you can do though, is build a great plan.

If a sponsor can see that:

  1. You know what you’re doing, that you have a media plan
  2. You’re going to attract an audience that aligns with their values and their core audience.
  3. You’ve thought this plan out, you’re tracking the data and you’re prepared to make some guarantees about what you’re going to deliver from an audience standpoint

That goes a long way. They [sponsors] really respect people who know what they’re doing and have a strong plan. It’s the folks that come in and say, “Oh, we’ve got this great idea! Come give us some sponsorship money.” They don’t like that. They don’t like risk.

MaryTherese Griffin:
Well, I also think people don’t like the good idea fairy and the good idea fairies seems to live in a lot of brains. I know you know this, you’ve been doing this a long time.

I hope you will come back because I would love to further this discussion with you. I’ve got like eight more questions. I want to ask you that when you come back on the show and let’s continue this soon!

We can connect you to The Sponsorship Guy. You’re going to want to pick his brain and we can help you do that. You can find Larry by finding us right here at daily average, I’m MaryTherese Griffin in Atlanta. We’ll see you next time for more Media Champions.

Larry Weil, The Sponsorship Guy

About Larry:

Larry Weil is a nationally recognized sponsorship expert and thought leader with over $200 million in deals to his credit. is the leading sponsorship marketing agency for Virtual and Destination Events. Media outlets, large corporations, and entrepreneurs all seek out his insights and opinions, which have been published in print, digital and broadcast.

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What is Sponsorship? A Post-Pandemic Update

What is Sponsorship? A Post Pandemic Update.

80% of corporate sponsors are interested in investing in virtual events.*

Since I originally wrote my blog “What is Sponsorship and How does it Work?” in 2017 the world in general and the world of event sponsorship has changed dramatically. The premise is still the same, but the growth of digital platforms and virtual events exploded and won’t ever go back to pre-pandemic levels. To fully answer the question “What is a sponsorship”, let’s do a brief recap.

Virtual events went from being mostly webinars to a full blown platform to replace huge in-person events. Google’s first virtual event was in June of 2020. “Naturally, Google’s first virtual event was about, well — virtual events.” ~ Mike La Follette, Webex Events. It included over 1000 employees.  “Google canceled I/O 2020, due to Covid, but Apple and Microsoft forged on with virtual events” ~ Jonathan LaMont, MobileSyrup.

Faced with an 80% plus cancellation rate of in person events, adoption was swift. We saw virtual platforms go from a couple dozen on the market to a couple hundred in less than a year.


The data about the growth of Zoom is astounding.  Suddenly, we were all learning to use new tools. The communication with customers and each other had to be maintained. 

When people want to know “What are sponsorships?”, I usually start by talking about the boom of virtual conferences at the beginning of the pandemic. Some of those first webinars and conferences were pretty rough. But as time went on, users developed skills and platforms were continuously updating and adapting features and capabilities. Before long, new job titles were appearing. Event Producers became Virtual Event Producers. Live event companies became Virtual Event Companies. Just because an event is virtual – doesn’t mean a sponsor won’t want to be part of the event. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Virtual events can help sponsors reach a much wider audience than if their marketing was reserved to in-person programming.

As everyone learned to master the new technologies, the advantages of virtual events over in-person events began to emerge. A blog from Captioning Star from March of this year entitled “Rise and Popularity of Virtual Events: Exponential Increase Post-Pandemic” identified two key elements: benefits and features.


  • 1:1 breakout sessions
  • Augmented reality
  • Gamification
  • Polls, private chats, surveys and Q&A sessions
  • Group sessions
  • Platform integrations to registration, ticketing, payments and social media


  • Data and Analytics including engagement, marketing analysis, attribution and lead generation
  • Global Reach
  • Accessibility and inclusivity
  • Monetization (Sponsorship)
  • Cost Reduction. Massive reductions in travel, food.
  • Virtual events are cheaper, quick and highly automated

If you have responsibility for your event or property’s sponsorship revenue, you have made major adjustments. Your live event features like coffee break and happy-hour sponsor placements are as dead as door clings and banners. The good news is there are a whole host of new, and in many cases, improved options for sponsors. 

Hybrid Events

While live and hybrid events are making a comeback, virtual is here to stay. In 2022, 55% of advertising is digital.

Source: Winterberry Group via WordStream.

Key takeaway:

Everyone is committed to Digital marketing and advertising in a huge way. Companies big and small, from necessity or foresight have become adept and comfortable with digital and value you the benefits. Digital is one of the few places that can get hard facts about your marketing and advertising performance. If you have not integrated digital into your events and properties you will continue to fall behind and become less and less relevant.

Become an expert at “digital sponsorship” – it’s the future of sponsorship post-pandemic.

*Travel Daily News (via Captionstar) reports that 80% of corporate sponsors are interested in investing in virtual events.

Free EBook - Generate Event Sponsorship

If you find yourself asking “how does sponsorship work?” be sure to check out my free eBook, Digital Benefits to Generate Event Sponsorship

It will help you:

  1. Improve Sponsorship Campaigns
    51% of sponsors say that they are unhappy with the results of their sponsorship campaigns. Let’s change that. Learn 3 ways you can use data to deliver value and set expectations with your sponsors.
  1. Attract High-Value Sponsors
    This eBook will teach you how to make the most out of digital tools to attract sponsors within your niche for your next event.
  1. Get Advice From the Industry’s Leading Expert
    Author Larry Weil pulls on his years of experience as an expert seller, negotiator, presenter, and strategist to deliver you the most relevant and actionable tips for your sponsorship journey.

Need a sponsorship consultant? 

Feeling overwhelmed by the pitching and sales process of acquiring a sponsor? We all face challenges, whether we’re a novice or an event professional. No matter the level of assistance you’re looking for, we can help.

A consultation may be for you if:

  • You feel like you’re one step away from reaching your sponsorship goals
  • You are unsure how to find your first sponsor or want help attracting/signing/working with a specific sponsor.
  • You need direction from an expert to get you unstuck
  • You are feeling overwhelmed by the pitching and sales process of acquiring a sponsor
  • You don’t know why your outreach isn’t working and don’t have time to waste
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Stephen Perrine, NYT Best Selling Author

Clients In The News - Stephen Perrine, NYT Best Selling Author

New York Times bestselling author, speaker, and brand consultant

Stephen Perrine is the author of The New York Times bestseller, The Whole Body Reset, the first and only weight-management program designed specifically for people at midlife and beyond. The Whole Body Reset explains how to use the power of Protein Timing to stop, and reverse, age-related weight gain and muscle loss.

Perrine has appeared as a nutrition expert on Today, Good Morning America, The 700 Club, The View, and numerous other media outlets, and has been a featured speaker at the 92nd St Y and the JCC Manhattan.

Stephen is available as a:

  • Featured corporate presenter and public speaker
  • Brand ambassador for well aligned products
  • Content provider for internal and public articles
The Whole Body Reset, Stephen Perrine

Schedule a call to learn more and inquire about availability.

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Why You Need a Digital Event Bag for Your In-Person Event

Why You Need a Digital Event Bag for Your In-Person Event

Isn’t a virtual event bag for virtual events?

Virtual event bags (otherwise known as digital event bags) were around long before the pandemic and while the explosion of virtual events created a lot of new users, they will continue to be very popular for in-person events.

Here are some of the top reasons to use a virtual event bag for your in-person event:


  • Digital advertising is now 50% of the global spend on all advertising. Sponsors live and breathe in the web, social media, and email space. They know how to use digital, and they want the tracking, attribution, and measurement that comes with it. They don’t get any of that with a physical bag.
  • The digital bag can start working for the sponsor weeks before the conference, for up to 90 days. A physical bag gets carried around for a day or two, may or may not make it back to the office, and is unlikely to be seen again. No one will ever know if it worked (as in did it acquire new customers). Has anyone ever told you they did a big deal with a sponsor because of the branded bag they gave away? Not Likely.
  • You can include it in the sponsorship package or price separately. If you sell it separately, they may not buy your other package. I’d include it.
  • Overcome common objections. “We have a conflict and can’t make those dates”. Sponsors don’t have to be at the conference in-person to get leads with the digital event bag.
  • More people will see it. Because your digital event bag website opens well before the conference, prospective attendees can visit it and start engaging. Your virtual bag audience can be 10x your attendee numbers and sponsors will love that. Just include the link in all of your promotional emails and social media.
  • Proof. The sponsor can log in and see the data anytime. Name, email address, job title, how many times they visited etc. The attendees log in one time and accept the terms and conditions and then their information is forwarded to sponsors.


  • The virtual bag can be implemented in less than 30 minutes, assuming that the sponsor has a logo, some artwork or video content and knows what offering they would like to promote.
  • A virtual event bag can create seven kinds of offers to accommodate the sponsor’s favorite strategy to get the attendee to act. These include:
    • Voucher. Visitors engage with the print action or show vouchers on their mobile device to redeem. This placement type is usually used by companies who operate in a physical location or exhibitors encouraging redemption at their event booth.
    • Discount. The online discount creates a link to your e-commerce website store in which visitors can take advantage of a discount using a special promotional code. This category is usually used by e-commerce stores or other businesses that sell via an online store.
    • Advertisement.The advertisement creates a link to a business or company website. This category enables companies to achieve the goal of driving traffic to a website for the purpose of generating awareness, brand building, or education about a company, product, or service.
    • Document Share.The document share placement enables you to share a digital document with a visitor. When the visitor engages, they choose to send the document to their email inbox. Use this placement to share a PDF coupon with a special barcode or a general information PDF.
    • Giveaway.The giveaway contest allows visitors to enter to win a prize or special offering. Each visitor to the page is allowed a single entry and all entries are collected into a list from which a company uses to select a winner.
    • Event RSVP.The event RSVP placement enables you to invite visitors to an event hosted by your company (ie: Cocktail Hour, Private Party, etc.). When the visitor engages with your placement they enter contact information to RSVP.
    • Appointment Request.The appointment request placement enables visitors to send an appointment request message to you with their contact information. When you receive the appointment requests, you have the ability to contact the visitor and schedule the appointment.


Physical Swag Bags
  • Physical bags will likely need to be ordered as much as six months or more in advance to maximize your cost savings, especially if you are ordering hundreds or thousands.
  • Physical bags force you to pay for storage, and printing costs.
  • With physical bags, you might order too many or you might not have enough.
  • You will also have to manage and store flyers/promo items to put in the physical bags.
  • With the virtual bag, you just need to pay when you are ready to open the bag.


  • Have you ever had to stuff event bags? Need I say more?
  • Sponsor communication. With a physical bag, you have to coordinate all of the logos, copy, edits, revisions, and approvals. With the Digital Event Bag, the sponsor designs their bag online and you approve it.


Almost all physical bags for events are sourced from overseas. They have a supply chain footprint and often end up in the trash along with most of the flyers and promotional goods that were inside.

Digital Event Bag Sample Analytics Dashboard for Sponsors

The Digital Event Bag will end up being very popular with your sponsors. Sponsors are motivated by ROI and analytics and by providing them with the information they desire. At the end of the day, you will have the data to prove your performance and sign them up again next year. So yes, you need a Digital Event Bag for your in person event!

Interested in building a Digital Event Bag for your upcoming in-person event? Book a demo here.

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What is a Digital Event Bag?

What is a Digital Event Bag?

A digital event bag is a cost-effective, digitally measurable, and sustainable way to assist event organizers and their sponsors in delivering information to attendees. You may have heard them called a digital event bag, an online goodie bag, or an e-gift bag. No matter what name it goes by, it has the same purpose: a replacement for the physical gift bag you receive at conferences and other events. The pandemic further accelerated the growth of the virtual event bag, but even before COVID-19, digital event bags were around.

How does a Digital Event Bag work?

A digital event bag is a web-based landing page where event sponsors are featured. It has interactive and reporting capabilities that go far beyond what a simple website can do without a huge programming investment. The event producer can link to the digital event bag anywhere they’d like to promote it.

Digital Event Bags Provide Data

One of the biggest perks of the digital event bag is the data that event producers can get and pass onto their sponsors. Some digital event bag software allows for the use of multiple links to help identify the source of the click through. For example, one link may be used with outbound email promotion, another used with social media, another on the event website. All of the links go to the same place. By using multiple links, the software can provide data to the event producer that indicates whether the traffic is coming from the website, email, or social media.

Digital Event Bags Have a Wider Reach

A digital event bag is both more efficient and more sustainable than a traditional event bag. The digital version can be set up and distributed to attendees far ahead of the event, and they can access it after the event is over. With a physical gift bag, the exposure of the bag is limited to the time of the event itself.

Ways to Use a Digital Event Bag

Types of properties and events that may use digital event bags:

  • Conferences and Trade Shows
  • Virtual, Hybrid and Traditional live events
  • Festivals, Fairs, Food and Gourmet events
  • Membership Organizations for events and their website
  • Sports and Entertainment Venues
  • Convention and Visitor Bureaus, Visitor Centers
  • Museums, Exhibitions, Concerts

Physical Event Bags May Not Be Worth Your Time and Energy

Assembling physical event bags takes time, energy, and resources – and on top of that it’s difficult to track whether or not attendees even looked at the items included.

If an event chooses to implement a physical gift bag, organizers need to start planning well in advance.

  • Benefits typically include a logo on the bag and the right to place marketing materials or promotional items in the bag. There are rarely any digital offerings.
  • The bag needs to be designed and then ordered. This means you need to have an idea of the number of attendees months ahead of time.
  • Some orders may take as long as six months to arrive, especially with supply chain issues.
  • Once the physical items and promotional materials arrive, you’ll need to find a place to store them.
  • The bags must be stuffed by hand and distributed. After the conference, sponsors may get a report confirming that their materials were distributed.
  • The exposure of the bag is limited to the run of the conference, typically one to four days.
  • All of the shipping, storage and handling add to the total cost of the event bag in dollars and environmental impact.
Physical Swag Bags

Get Your Digital Event Bag Up and Running in Under an Hour

A digital event bag can be assembled in under an hour, with sponsors receiving key metrics on how their offering is performing with attendees in real time!

The process for a digital event bag is smoother and has a much lower environmental impact.

  1. The event organizer secures the digital event bag online. They login and create a landing page using the provided template.
  2. They distribute a link to sponsors who create their offers using the provided templates. Individual sponsor offers include the ability to enter a drawing, set an appointment, download material, view a video, enter a silent auction, redeem an offer and much more.
  3. The event organizer approves the sponsor offers and launches the digital event bag.
  4. The event bag stays open weeks in advance and after the event. That provides 60-90 days of exposure via the promotion of the bag and access to the bag link to prospective attendees, clients, and more.
  5. Sponsors and the event producer receive performance reports about the bag and the individual offers. Sponsors may also receive the name, job title, email address and other information about visitors who clicked on their offer. This provides a list of warm leads ready for follow up contact.
Get Your Digital Event Bag Up and Running in Under an Hour

Ready to create your digital event bag? Click here to schedule a call.

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Unlock Sponsorship ROI with Events

Unlock Sponsorship ROI with Events

Listen to this conversation, as Hopin were joined by an expert lineup of event professionals who have extensive experience with event sponsorships — from creating in-person event activations with some of the world’s top brands to designing virtual event sponsorships that generate quantifiable results.

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The One Change You Can Make to Triple Virtual Event Sponsorships

3X Event Sponsorship

We have been through many ups and downs with sponsorship these past two years. Virtual events have provided a way to deliver many of our event objectives to your audience regardless of physical location. The technology continues to improve, and we are all learning more about how to put on successful digital events in 2022.

Virtual event producers are still struggling with finding sponsorship opportunities. Luckily, there are plenty of new features in the virtual event platforms. However, the key is not always new features, the key is rethinking how you deliver sponsors’ value. The shift to virtual events opens up new opportunities for title sponsorship, brand sponsorship, corporate sponsorship, and more.

Here’s what NOT to do:

On behalf of your sponsors, please stop jamming all of their benefits into the conference date(s). It just isn’t a good plan to spend months developing the kind of content that will attract viewers of your virtual events (formerly known as attendees), only to jam the sponsor benefits into the same timeframe. There is too much going on at the same time, especially if you have multiple tracks.

How is a sponsor supposed to compete with a keynote? The value of simple branding continues to diminish as the CPM for digital branding gets lower. The vast majority of sponsors need measurable lead generation, a way to prove the value of the investment. So, we throw a virtual trade show floor into the mix, give them some space for a profile or content, a way to try to contact attendees, and maybe even a spot on a panel discussion.

But it is simply too much for one day, especially now that your viewer doesn’t have to walk through the trade show floor on the way back to their hotel room.

Here’s what you can do instead:

Utilize the months of your marketing campaign promoting your event to promote your sponsors. Then continue to promote them after the conference. As a sponsor, would you be more interested in benefits that allow you the opportunity to engage potential new business for one or two days, or two to three months? You have put together a campaign to market your event to your target audience, why not let the sponsors come along for the ride? Not only do they get 20 to 30 times more days of benefits, but they also get to reach your entire audience of attendee prospects, not just the folks who actually view the conference.

Sponsors are growing reluctant to commit to investing way out front of your event. Attendees are waiting longer to sign up because they don’t have to plan travel and accommodations. When you are 2 weeks out and are sitting at 1/3 of your projected attendees, you could already be six weeks into the promo campaign from which the sponsors have been already harvesting new business.

Then when the day of the event comes around, there is a good chance they are already happy, and you have less pressure to perform for sponsors and can instead focus on your event operations.

So, what’s the catch? The only catch is you have to start earlier. You have to have your marketing campaign planned out to share with the sponsor as part of their sponsorship package. You have no way of guaranteeing the attendance at your event, but you can guarantee the marketing outreach. In a time where there are so many unknowns you can give your sponsors a campaign they can count on. Think of your entire event from marketing to follow up as a media property; use all of it.

P.S. This works equally well for in-person or hybrid events.

Have questions about securing sponsors for your upcoming virtual event? Feel free to contact me to schedule a consultation.

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An Expert’s Guide to Event Sponsorship

An Expert’s Guide to Event Sponsorship

Originally published by: Hopin

Event sponsorship is, for all intents and purposes, the exchange of funds for access to an event audience. For example, let’s say your company wants to announce a new and exciting product during the keynote at an industry conference. To do this, you’d pay its organizers for the chance to score some early customers at their event.

Sounds simple, right? Well, according to sponsorship veterans Larry Weil and Chris Baylis, there’s more to this billion-dollar industry than sponsored keynotes.

Larry is the Sponsorship Guy and Chris is the president and chief executive officer of The Sponsorship Collective. Collectively, they have multiple decades of experience. And while they may disagree on some things, they strongly agree on one thing — achieving event sponsorship success these days is not quite as simple as it used to be.

In this guide, they’ll show you how to win event sponsors today and retain them beyond 2022. Let’s go!

In this guide, you’ll learn how to:

1. First, avoid these common event sponsorship pitfalls

Event sponsorship is a competitive field. For example, almost half of event organizers in the United States report event sponsorships as a top source of revenue. And according to Larry, other events are just the tip of the competitive iceberg.

“Today’s event professionals are also competing against anything sponsors could spend their money on to achieve their goals — from online and social media advertising to affiliate marketing,” he says.

That’s right. The brands you want to sponsor your events aren’t just deciding between you and your event’s direct competitors. They’re also comparing your sponsorship opportunities to those offered by YouTubers and TikTokers.

With this in mind, your path to event sponsorship success begins with understanding some common pitfalls, such as:

  • Altruistic or one-way agreements: While goodwill may be the cherry on top, event sponsorship is always a two-way street if both parties want to extract mutual value. Sponsors only invest in events — or anything else for that matter — that promise to produce meaningful results.
  • A one-off logo placement or banner: Companies have many cost-effective options to build awareness, especially compared with the price of event sponsorship. To justify their spend, event sponsors need something of comparable value in return. And Chris explains, “it is not the act of putting logos on crap.”
  • An event planning afterthought: No sponsor with skin in the game wants to be tacked on at the end of the planning process. To increase your odds of success, get started on event sponsorship early. “Give yourself enough time to find sponsors and to weave them into your event’s overall engagement strategy,” Larry suggests.

It’s easy to see the advantages of staying ahead of potential mistakes. But understanding them won’t help you avoid them, which begs the question…

So, what do sponsors really want?

In today’s digital-first era, brands that sponsor events want access to their target audience and the opportunity to meaningfully engage them. As Chris puts it, “Audience is to event sponsorship as cold is to snow. You can’t have one without the other.”

Why are sponsors interested in engaging with today’s event communities? According to Larry, it’s simple. “Sponsors seek to tap into the audience’s affinity with your event,” he says. “They seek to borrow your halo.”

The positive associations and feelings your attendees have for your event unlock a sponsor’s desired outcomes, like:

  • Corporate social responsibility: Brands looking to bolster their public image, as a means of increasing profits, might seek to sponsor events hosted by nonprofits or other philanthropic organizations.
  • Early traction for product launches: Companies seeking potential buyers for new products or services might look to sponsor events to generate interest and support the launch of their latest offerings.
  • Brand awareness and credibility: Event sponsorships can help brands gain the exposure they need to achieve their sales objectives. This may be especially relevant for companies entering a new market, preparing to go public, or looking to land large corporate accounts.

These outcomes, however, are almost always tied to one outcome that rules them all. “At the end of the day, one event sponsorship outcome that rules all others is driving sales – directly or indirectly,” Chris says. “So take return on investment (ROI) seriously.”

2. Take a more strategic approach to finding and securing event sponsors

If 2020 taught us anything (the understatement of our time), we learned that virtual events can be inexpensive, inclusive, and interactive. But with online events and marketing channels now on every corner, it takes a thoughtful and data-driven strategy to stand out in the crowd.

Wondering how you can rise above the competition? Consider taking a more methodical approach to finding and securing event sponsorships. And learn how to convey why your event is a win-win scenario for attendees and prospective sponsors alike.

Do your research

Finding event sponsors begins with doing some homework. Where to start? You guessed it: Your event audience.

Our experts say the best way to pique sponsor interest is by highlighting the value of your event community. They suggest expanding what you know about your event audience by taking a data-first approach. And creating two to three attendee personas to help bring your audience to life for prospective sponsors.

“You’ll want to have 25 to 30 data points on your audience,” Chris says. “Be sure to have insights on who attendees are, what they want, what they’re interested in buying, their interests, and their values.”

Beyond their event platform’s insights, event professionals can also tap into the following sources to weave data into their approach:

  • Google AnalyticsUnderstand website visitor trends and shared behaviors to get a pulse on an audience’s online habits.
  • Email marketing platforms: Learn about popular topics and shared interests by analyzing email campaign data.
  • Google AlertsDiscover top media outlets and new stories relevant to your event audience –– all delivered to your inbox.
  • Survey tools: Create survey questionnaires to send your audience to understand their needs, desires, values, and the like.
  • Social media accounts: Find out what drives engagement with your audience by looking at your social media account analytics.

Equipped with an in-depth audience understanding, you’re ready to start searching for potential sponsors. Since access to audiences is top of the list for potential sponsors, be on the lookout for companies whose potential buyers, amplifiers, or influencers mirror your attendee audience.

Here are some ways to help you identify potential sponsors to target:

  • Search event sponsor marketplaces and websites, like SponsorMyEvent and SponsorPitch, to find prospective sponsors to engage based on their audience and needs.
  • Look at past events different brands sponsored to determine if your event might be a good fit for their audience.
  • Scour articles and corporate websites to get a feel for prospective sponsors’ target audience and marketing initiatives your event can support.

Want a success shortcut? If your event budget allows, you can engage with experts like The Sponsorship Guy or The Sponsorship Collective to guide your sponsorship efforts.

Once you’ve found a set of initial companies to target, do some research by job title on LinkedIn to determine the best people to approach. Then, get ready to spend some time reaching out to these folks to gauge their interest in sponsoring your event.

Personalize your outreach

Do you open every email that hits your inbox? Probably not. With that in mind, aim to be thoughtful in your approach so potential sponsors will actually click on your message.

Avoid taking a blanket approach to your outreach or you’ll wind up lost in the noise. Instead, Larry suggests tailoring your pitches to prospective sponsors.

“Incorporate what you’ve gleaned about your target sponsors into your personalized outreach,” he advises. “Get at that thing that indicates [metaphorically speaking] their desk is on fire and you’re selling fire extinguishers. Show them that you understand their challenges and have just the solution for them.”

Here’s how to ensure your outreach emails don’t get lost in an inbox abyss:

  • Keep your emails short and sweet
  • Use catchy, must-click subject lines
  • Highlight audience data and key value points
  • Include a prompt to connect in every email
  • And, of course, avoid getting your communications caught in spam filters

“It typically takes eight to 10 [outreach] touches before someone will respond,” Larry says.

He suggests planning for additional follow-ups and encourages event professionals to give folks a ring. Sometimes a phone call can add a personal touch that’s difficult to ignore. And don’t forget to leave a voicemail as an extra reminder to connect.

Once potential sponsors see you as an ally who will help them solve their problems, they’ll be eager to hear what you have to say. But first, you have to get their attention.

Start with a one-page proposal

The most recent research from 2006 suggests consumers were exposed to 5,000 marketing messages a day. Today, many digital experts agree this number may be closer to 10,000.

One way to cut through all the clutter and grab your recipients’ attention? Less is more according to our experts.

“People often put everything they can think of in the initial outreach and proposal because they’re concerned that whatever they leave out would have closed the deal,” Larry says. “When in fact, the opposite is true.”

So instead of throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks, consider creating a one-sheeter to send along to prospective sponsors. This is a document that brings your audience data to life in the form of infographics or other graphical designs.

“Keep it simple,” Chris suggests. “Outline your audience, include a mini case study showing how you helped brands achieve their goals, and always have a very strong call to action.”

Outbound outreach is a numbers game. But focusing on your in-depth event audience understanding can help you get potential event sponsors on the line.

Elevate your event sponsorship proposal

Once you’ve captured the interest of a potential sponsor and scheduled a discovery call to discuss their objectives, customize your event sponsorship proposal around their needs to help you seal the deal.

Both Larry and Chris suggest using your event sponsorship proposal as a way to bridge the gap between where your potential sponsor’s brand is now and where they want it to be.

“Don’t send sponsors a 50-page deck including everything under the sun because they’re just not going to go through it,” Larry says “And, you don’t want to lose them. Instead, create a library of slides you can customize for each individual sponsor.”

Knowing what your event audience and your sponsors want — along with how your event will help them achieve it — is the first step to earning a reputation that sends potential sponsors flocking to be part of your event.

Drive inbound sponsorship interest

If you are finding sponsors for the first time, you’ll likely need to go through an outbound-heavy sales process. But, what if you could turn the tables?

“It’s hard to argue that doing cold outreach and sales doesn’t kind of suck,” Chris says. “Instead of cold calling sponsors, aim to find ways to attract them and to make your phone ring.”

According to Chris, you can make life easier by learning how to get sponsors to come to you. Here are a few ways to help you get sponsors to initiate contact with you –– all because they want in on the action:

  • Share the success of your event’s sponsorship activations
  • Seek to proactively publicize your event’s success
  • Assert yourself as an event industry thought leader

As you start to turn heads, think about turning the sponsorship packages on your event website into an inbound conversion tool.

By proactively promoting your event you can start to rely less on outbound selling and instead, let event sponsors come to you. Not to mention, it’s a lot easier to sell people on something they’re already interested in purchasing.

3. Unlock meaningful engagement to increase ROI for event sponsors

Landed your first event sponsor? Cue the victory dance. But don’t forget that getting folks to sign on the dotted line is only the first step on the path to success.

To truly win sponsors, get into the relationship-building game. And, don’t wait to get started. Align on value and understand sponsors’ needs at the outset by:

  • Deep diving on their goals at the very beginning
  • Co-designing the sponsor experience around your event’s attendee engagement strategy
  • Co-creating value-centric activations that benefit both your attendees and your sponsors
  • Showcasing how they’ll benefit from ongoing engagement with your event community

Offer valuable attendee engagement opportunities

Ever been to a conference where the exhibitor hall is empty? It’s hard to imagine sponsors will want to return the following year.

A similar concept applies to event sponsorship ROI and attendee engagement. If attendees aren’t inclined to engage with sponsors, the chances of driving any real value plummet for both parties.

Help your sponsors get started with these expert tips for pumping up the value for all:

Provide thought leadership opportunities: Sponsors often want a prime speaking slot, but their session has to be tailored to the attendee audience to be effective. Thought leadership is meant to impart practical value and inspiration. So don’t let your sponsors fall victim to losing their audience by focusing too much on their product or service.

“For example, if event sponsors want to speak at the main stage, coach them on what type of session will engage your event’s attendees,” Chris says. “And help them avoid the temptation of turning their presentation into a commercial because success always comes down to creating attendee value.”

Avoid salesy or overly product-forward activations: “People don’t mind buying but they don’t like being sold to,” Larry says. And who can’t relate to this scenario? Being strong armed into making a purchase isn’t the way to go.

Here’s a great example: Chris once helped an emerging coffee brand design an activation at a conference. Their aim? Not to force it, but rather to naturally engage attendees. Opting to transform the simple concept of a “sponsored” coffee bar, they created a lounge where participants could hang out and network together. Oh, and sip on some upscale coffee to keep the conversations flowing.

Help sponsors create an IKEA effect: Encourage sponsors to host workshops geared at creating new things and teaching new skills that attendees can put into practiceThe reason? Creating something of value can help forge a genuine connection between sponsors and attendees. And if event sponsors’ end game is driving sales, the emotional bond they create can help them win over new buyers.

Go beyond your event to unlock more opportunities: Your event might be a moment in time, but your event brand extends before it begins and after it ends. “By far, this is the biggest unrealized opportunity in event sponsorship,” says Larry. “I strongly recommend thinking about ways to drive engagement beyond the show itself.”

To make it happen, here are a few ideas to inspire you:

  • Offer sponsors an email bundle where you email featured content to attendees
  • Go beyond simply calling out your sponsors in your social posts. Include links to their website, or insert their content
  • Repackage and share event content featuring sponsors long after it concludes

“Not only does this open the door to engaging your event community, it also provides you with the opportunity to continue adding value for your sponsors” Larry adds.

4. Give your event sponsors a reason to renew (again and again)

A simple thank you goes a long way. But in the hyper-competitive world of event sponsorship, you’ll need to go beyond expressing your gratitude (although swag does add a special touch) to keep the relationship momentum rolling with your sponsors. Doing so opens the door for a renewal conversation and ongoing partnership.

To justify a lasting relationship, sponsors are looking to see if their investment was worthwhile. That’s where it’s on you to help them understand the ROI of their sponsorship. So, prepare and deliver a fulfillment report explaining –– and showing –– how your event helped them reach their goals.

Gather examples of all the data-backed ROI insights and performance metrics into an event report that demonstrates the results of your sponsors’ activations.

In addition, Chris points to the value in asking attendees for their feedback after the event to present to sponsors.

“Here’s the survey we hit our people with,” he suggests communicating to sponsors. “Here’s what they think about you and your activation, and what they thought about our conference.”

He also explains that if you come up short on sponsors’ expected results, you can use digital advertising to make up the gap –– a nod to the fact that, while it’s competitive, today’s digital-first world does come with some clear advantages.

Initiate an authentic renewal conversation

By now, you’ve thanked your sponsors and prepped your fulfillment reports. So, it’s time to get on some debrief calls. A debrief call is the perfect time to present a sponsor with how your event helped them achieve success. And it’s also an opportunity to solicit sponsor feedback and invite them to be involved in upcoming events –– also known as a renewal.

As Chris explains, it’s a “short window after an event where you deliver a fulfillment report and…where you talk about everything that sucked, everything that went right, and everything they wish had happened.”

True partnerships are transparent. So while it may sound counterintuitive to ask event sponsors what didn’t go well from their perspective, it can help strengthen your relationship. This action also sets you up to deliver your renewal proposal by posing the question: What can we partner on — together — to make the next event solve all these challenges?

“The most powerful window for asking sponsors to renew is giving them a hand in planning your next experience,” Chris says.

Don’t sleep on asking for referrals either. You already share an audience, and chances are more people in their network would benefit from connecting with your attendees. Along with new revenue, it can save you the time and stress of cold calling another round of potential partners.

Look to build a true collaboration

According to our experts, you win over sponsors by getting them involved in your next event before the creation process kicks off. This helps set the guardrails for what comes next: inviting sponsors to collaborate with you to bring that experience to life.

“Ask your sponsors: How can we co-design our next experience to create value for our shared audience and achieve our respective goals?” Chris says. “And then, the conversation becomes simple: This is how we’re going to build that event.”

The result? Sponsors benefit from a true partnership while having a hand in shaping their future success. And, event professionals get the best of both worlds: an experience their event community will love and sponsors who are already convinced of the event’s value.

Ask up front for multi-year event sponsorship agreements for future events. Chris notes this is a simple way to turn one-time sponsorships into longer-term partnerships centered on value.

“The pitch is that we can start to advertise and market our conference the day after the conference wraps,” Chris says. “And then they’re going to have access to all of that throughout the year.”

5. Offer your event sponsors stability during uncertainty

Sponsors value partnerships that can weather the storm. By building lasting relationships with sponsors, you can become committed to each other’s long-term success. So a bump in the road is just that –– and nothing can derail you and your key partners from achieving the desired results.

Satisfy today’s hunger for data-driven, co-designed sponsorship opportunities by leaning on event technology. A robust tech platform will help forge lasting organizer-sponsor relationships that help everyone succeed.

Ready to achieve event sponsorship success? Get in touch with the sponsorship expert, Larry Weil, The Sponsorship Guy.