We wrote before about the benefits of sponsors and how to find them.
Now, we have advice on how to keep them from Lauren Miller, an expert when it comes to event planning.
Miller, director of client services for Moxley Carmichael, offers three key steps to keeping sponsors happy, and, more importantly, coming back again.
One, don’t make sponsorship packages a “one-size-fits-all” offer.
“Be willing to meet with them at their convenience to identify how the sponsorship will provide value and visibility to their specific organization,” Miller said. “Think of creative ways to showcase their company.”
Two, don’t make promises you can’t keep.
“Don’t say they’ll be mentioned in every single news story on every media outlet, because there is no way to guarantee that,” Miller said.
Three, follow up appropriately to meet any deadlines for marketing or promotion materials.
“Send friendly reminders of sponsorship package deliverables at a couple of key intervals,” Miller said. “You don’t want to inundate their inbox, but if logos or ads need to be submitted in advance for printed materials, such as the event signage or program, provide plenty of advance notice.
“And don’t wait until the day of the deadline to send a reminder.”
Miller added a post-event reminder, too.
“Be sure to thank sponsors very soon after an event and let them know how successful it was because of their support,” she said. “They want to hear how their sponsorship made a difference.”
Once acquired, those sponsors must be appreciated and the relationships maintained.
Miller noted that sponsors don’t want to be “a part of logo soup.” If sponsors are offered exclusivity – and particularly no competing entities – that must be honored. Once sponsors become part of an event, it is the responsibility of the planner to make them want to keep participating.
It sounds simple, but proper representation of the sponsor is critical.
“For example, PSAs, ads and news releases must be accurate,” Miller said. “Make sure everything is spelled correctly and updated. Also, company logos can change, even slightly. Make sure you are using the most up-to-date version.”
Miller, who oversees the Pilot Flying J account for Moxley Carmichael, offered a perfect example. The Knoxville-based company sponsors a substantial number of events in the area. Planners and event organizers need to make sure all materials use the company’s current logo, which reflects the 2010 merger between Pilot and Flying J and also has been updated within the past year.
“It’s imperative to represent every sponsor in the best and most accurate way each and every time,” Miller said. “We are fortunate that so many companies and individuals in East Tennessee are willing to sponsor nonprofits and community events.
“Planners need to take every possible step to take care of sponsors and show return on their investment for both them and the benefiting organization. That will make them want to stick with your event.”
Lindsey Collins, an aspiring event planner, is an intern at Moxley Carmichael. She enjoys traveling, unwanted cuddles with her cat, half-priced wine nights and the occasional large pizza (to herself).