Advice from the Guru
In my role as Sales Director for Nectar, I know that finding sponsors for your event can be challenging, and the pressure is on to ensure sponsorships deliver. Always on the hunt for new and better ways to attract and retain sponsors, I was excited to attend a workshop run by the formidable Kim Skildum-Reid, author of The Sponsor Seekers Toolkit, who is, I think, the closest thing we have in Australia to a sponsorship guru. It was an intense two days of insights and highly valuable content that I am going to try and distill down and share across a series of blog posts, with my personal take on the changing face of sponsorship throw in!
In the first 5 minutes of my workshop I learnt:
- The majority of my assumptions around the art of sponsorship were potentially outdated
- Thankfully there was a modern definition that actually made a lot more sense AND was a lot more fun to implement.
The Evolution of Sponsorship
Like most everything in our world of events, sponsorship has evolved and now has to be more integrated, more measurable and more relevant for audiences to engage with than ever before. During her workshop, Kim referred to three sponsorship ages that we’ve gone through to date.
- 1st generation sponsorship was sold based on the benefits gained from being exposed or associated with an event. Trouble was research showed there was in fact a zero measurable return on this!
- 2nd generation then progressed to becoming an opportunity to anchor or activate a sales promotion. However this only resulted in producing short term gains.
- 3rd generation of sponsorship developed into offering sponsors the chance to drive their marketing objectives through an event. While this was great for the sponsors it ran the risk of detracting from the audience’s (or fan) experience. Picture a sponsor pursuing their goals to the detriment of the event = no winners
In my experience, there are many events still approaching sponsors on the basis of exposure and therefore working in the past!
So what is sponsorship today? It has to be aligned with the way we think about our event design – it’s all about:
- Focusing on your delegates and on how you show respect and add value to their experience. This means drilling down to exactly who they are, what they care about and why they come to your event.
- And once you’ve done this then your job is to find a sponsor that shares their attributes. Then illustrate for this sponsor how they might benefit by making a genuine connection through adding to the delegate’’s experience.
For me, the key shift to this 4th generation of sponsorship is realising that it is not about you, it’s not about your event but rather its delegates/audience. Your job is then to act as a chaperone to find the best match between your audience and a prospective sponsor that will benefit all three parties being you, your audience and the sponsor.
Next time I will focus on how you go about deciding just who to approach as your next potential sponsor which I think is the next key to ensuring your search has the best chance of producing a result.
Stay tuned for more!
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