At Scurry Street, one of our key areas of focus is developing and maximizing sponsorship programs 🎀. Perhaps the most daunting challenge faced by our clients is securing funding to make their annual meetings not only successful but also memorable. Hosting a conference requires substantial financial resources for venue bookings, speakers, marketing, and other essential elements. This is where a well-structured sponsorship program can make all the difference. In this article, we will explore the steps to start a sponsorship program for your annual conference and the benefits it can bring.
1. Defining Your Objectives 🎯
Before diving into the sponsorship program, it's crucial to define your objectives clearly. Ask yourself what your goals are for your sponsorship program. Are you looking for financial support, resources, or both? Are you seeking to enhance the conference's visibility, attract more attendees, or both? Understanding your goals will help you focus on tailoring your program for your potential supporters.
2. Identifying Potential Sponsors 👀
Once you've established your objectives, it's time to identify potential sponsors. Look for companies and organizations that align with your organization’s mission, target audience, and values. Consider past sponsors, industry partners, or even local businesses that would benefit from reaching your audience. Make a list of potential sponsors and categorize them based on their level of interest and capacity to contribute.
3. Creating Sponsorship Packages 🎁
To entice sponsors, create attractive sponsorship packages. These should offer varying levels of benefits, such as logo placement on marketing materials, speaking opportunities, exclusive networking events, or product demonstrations. Tailor these packages to match the budget and objectives of each potential sponsor. Think beyond your annual meeting and consider benefits that provide year-round engagement with your organization and its members. Developing a “preset menu” of options will help you get started, but be prepared to negotiate and customize packages based on specific needs and preferences.
4. Outreach and Pitching ☎️
With your sponsorship packages ready, it's time to start outreach and forging partnerships. Craft a compelling proposal that highlights the value of sponsoring your conference. Emphasize the benefits sponsors will gain, including increased brand exposure, access to a relevant audience, and opportunities for collaboration. Scurry Street can help you develop and design a compelling sponsorship prospectus.
5. Building Relationships 🤝
Sponsorship is not just a one-time transaction; it's about building lasting relationships. Let’s say that again for those in the back: Sponsorship is not just a one-time transaction.
Once you secure sponsors, maintain open lines of communication. Keep them updated on conference developments, and involve them in decision-making processes when appropriate. Ensure they feel like valuable partners rather than mere financial contributors. Some of the most successful sponsorship programs involve advisory boards made up of key supporters who help inform strategic decisions. This type of involvement goes well beyond logo placement and fosters true partnership.
6. Delivering on Promises 🏹
To retain sponsors and attract new ones in the future, it's crucial to deliver on your promises. Ensure that all sponsorship benefits, such as logo placements, speaking slots, or booth spaces, are fulfilled as agreed upon. Track and report the ROI of their sponsorship to demonstrate the value they received.
7. Promote Sponsorship Opportunities 📣
To continuously grow your sponsorship program, promote opportunities throughout the year, not just when planning your conference. Create a dedicated section on your website, send newsletters, and use social media to showcase the benefits of sponsoring your event. Encourage sponsors to share their positive experiences with others in their network.
8. Evaluating and Improving ✅
After each conference, evaluate the effectiveness of your sponsorship program. Collect feedback from sponsors and attendees to identify areas for improvement. Adjust your sponsorship packages and strategies based on these insights to provide an even better experience for sponsors and attendees in the future.
In conclusion, starting a sponsorship program for your annual conference is a strategic move that can provide the financial support and resources needed to make your event a success. It also offers sponsors an excellent opportunity to increase their brand visibility, connect with a relevant audience, and engage in meaningful collaborations. While sponsorship can provide a valued source of financial support, it is important to also think of your sponsors as partners and stakeholders who are equally invested in the success of your event. 🥇