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How to Get Happy-to-Pay Virtual Summit Sponsors in 30 days

I love sponsors. And most of all, sponsors love me.


Yes you read that right (;


And the art of getting sponsors flocking to you is to care about them first. Not how much money they can give to you. Ooops.

When it comes to asking for sponsorship - the first reaction I get from a summit host is the icky feeling of asking for money. Followed by the “how” and “why”.


The “how” being how to ask for $10K cash sponsorship and “why” as in why the heck would someone (or a company) throw money at your event?


So let me answer that!


You might think that sponsors want logos everywhere, a speaking slot, and putting their company name on every single poster.


But WHY?


It’s because your sponsors are actually looking for SOLUTIONS.

Sales, visibility and authority-building solutions.


And your event is helping them to solve ONE or multiple of those problems.

Plus direct access to your targeted audience. (targeted is the key word!)


Sponsorship in events works just like:

  • An ad in the newspaper and magazine

  • An ad in the television and radio

  • A sponsored video or posts by an influencer

  • An ad in Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn

Which means that your sponsors are already paying to have their problems solved. And your event is in the same list as above.


So let’s get to “HOW” to get sponsors.


#1. Knowing where to look for a “happy to pay” sponsor


There’s sponsors that you need to have 10 conversations with before they begrudgingly pay a 3 figure sum to you. And there’s sponsors who are more than happy to fork out a 4 to 5 figure cash to you. The difference is how big their problem is and how much they are willing to pay for it.


If you are approaching an international company that exist in 20 countries, when your event *only* have 2,000 international attendees - can you see how you are NOT helping them in any way? Versus approaching companies who are only present in your city and are looking to scale internationally?


The big mistake I see event hosts make at this phase is approaching sponsors that have the money. And not sponsors who have the problem. This one change will help you secure sponsors in half the time.


Your Action Step:

Prepare a list of 50 to 100 sponsors, including their CEO or marketing manager name, their email address and what they do. Look at how big their company is, and at which stage of business they are at. And then add a column to categorise these sponsors. Are they looking to get more sales? Are they scaling? Are they ready to build authority in the industry?

#2. Create a Juicy Sponsorship Proposal

Proposals can be in the format of presentation slides, an A4 document or just a list of benefits in an email. I secured cash sponsorship through just one email (without any proposals). And in-kind sponsors with just one DM. The form of delivery doesn’t matter. The sponsorship benefits do.


The mistake event hosts make at this phase is thinking that the better the event, the more your sponsors will pay.


When in reality, the better your sponsorship benefits are, the more your sponsors will pay.


I like to use the restaurant analogy to explain this to my clients. When you are planning to go out for a nice, romantic dinner - you are looking for great food. Yes, the ambience, vibe, and decor play a role. In fact, the more romantic the better. But ultimately, you are there for the food. That’s where you are happy to drop $100 bucks on a meal.


Same with your sponsors!


Your Action Step:

Create a list of 3 to 7 benefits for your sponsors to tackle their problems through your event. The deeper they get access to your audience the better. The more you can help them make sales, the better. The more help your sponsor builds trust and authority with your audience, the better.


#3. Approach your sponsors RIGHT way


This final step is so crucial that messing this up will derail your entire sponsorship success. Simply because if they don’t even get to read your email, they won’t get to say yes to you.


Mistakes that people make at this phase is:

  • Being “lazy” at customizing the first email (hello, you are asking for money. The audacity to ask for sponsorship and not even making an effort to call them by their name is URGH. Bye.)

  • ONLY approach your sponsors by email (I like to call receptionists and admin staff the “Gatekeepers”. Because they might throw your email to the bin before it sees the light of day)

  • Not building the know, like, and trust factor in the email (yups, the first email to cold sponsors need to be ultra, hyper, super, extremely strategic)


And the biggest mistake of all?


Asking for an immediate decision.


No discussion.

No asking your sponsors what they actually need.

No building rapport and friendly conversation.


Straight-up-in-your-face-sale. (Again, bye.)


What you need to know is that it’s quite risky for your sponsors to invest in your event, especially if it’s their first time hearing of you. And you can relate, right?


Stranger on the street: Hi, I got this awesome product that is going to change your life.It’s a vitamin that will prevent all types of illnesses forever. It’s only $10. Do you want it? Yes or No?
You: Erm, no.

A no.


No matter how great the product is.


No matter how cheap it is.


It’s a hard no.


Replace the example with a

- a car

- a t-shirt

- an educational course

- or even food


Chances are, if you need to make a decision right there and there. You are more likely saying No.


Because there’s no discussion. No opportunity to ask important questions. No connection and no trust.


Now imagine, there's already all of that. The trust, the connection, the conversation and they actually know you. And they ask you for $10 in exchange for:


- a bag that you want

- a t-shirt you been eye-ing

- an expensive educational course you kept in your order cart

- or even your favourite food


What's the chances of you saying yes?


So here's the right way to approach them:

  • Find out who is your sponsor’s CEO or marketing manager and address it to them

  • Customize the first paragraph, unique to your sponsors

  • Build the know, like and trust factor through sharing about you, your company and name-drop any big partnership or high profile speakers

  • Share your event’s impact and details and how you're going to help them

  • Ask them for an opportunity to discuss

  • Include a deadline

And that’s how you get happy-to-pay sponsors!


Till next time,

Rashidah