Event sponsorship is often one of the most difficult aspects of being an event planner. It’s also one of the most important. With so many responsibilities already on your plate, it pays to have a corporate sponsor in your corner to take the weight off your shoulders.

Here’s the problem: 50% of event organizers agree that securing event sponsorships is their most significant challenge. That’s why we’ve put together this guide—to help you learn everything you need to wow potential event sponsors.

We’ll walk you through the benefits of corporate sponsorship, choosing a prospective sponsor, and what you can do to assemble the perfect sponsorship package for your future events.

What is event sponsorship?

Event sponsorship refers to a mutually beneficial relationship between your brand and another organization. Simply put, event sponsorships are when one organization (the event sponsor) supports another company’s event in exchange for something of value—typically, a monetary return on investment.

For more detailed information, check out our Ultimate Guide to Event Sponsorship in 2023.

Why is event sponsorship important?

According to Markletic, 65% of organizers accept event sponsorships. Considering the vast benefits of corporate sponsorship, that number is surprisingly low. 

In truth, corporate sponsors are an invaluable source of support for any in-person, virtual, or hybrid event. Every event planner knows that over the course of the long, winding lifecycle of an event there’s an almost indescribable amount of work that needs to be done. From event marketing and promotion to logistics and production, there are a lot of moving parts that need managing.

Event sponsors literally invest in the success of your event. They want you to do well, which means each sponsor will be willing to contribute in their own way and help you deliver on your promises.

The benefits of event sponsorship

With a partner on your side throughout the process, you stand to gain plenty of sponsorship benefits:

  • Increased budget: 60% of event planners measure the success of their events based on their ability to stay within budget. With an event sponsor contributing funds to your budget, you can worry less about being able to deliver a high-quality, engaging experience with limited resources.
  • Access to valuable resources: Not all types of event sponsors contribute money. Others may provide access to something of value that might otherwise be difficult for you to attain, whether it be food, technology, or even keynote speakers.
  • Credibility: Recognizable brand names lend credibility to your organization and will likely increase registration numbers—which event planners rank as their fourth most important measurement of success.
  • Brand awareness: Associating your company with big-name sponsors can increase the exposure of your brand/event.
  • Lead generation: Sponsors help attract bigger crowds to your event, which increases your revenue potential while also generating leads throughout the festivities.

What do event sponsors want?

Considering that the event industry is worth billions of dollars, it’s no surprise that corporate sponsors want a piece of the pie. However, there’s more to the story than just that.

Potential event sponsors also seek:

  • Corporate social responsibility: Sponsors want to leverage your audience’s affinity toward your brand for their own gain. By positively associating itself with your company, a potential sponsor can bolster its own public image.
  • Brand awareness: A sponsorship opportunity is a chance for organizations to gain exposure in a new market they’re interested in doing business.
  • Lead nurturing: Brands may sponsor events to generate buzz for their latest offerings, thus nurturing potential buyers down their pipeline.

Do you really need a sponsor?

The short answer is yes—however, it really depends on the type of event you’re hosting. An internal corporate event, for example, rarely needs the support of an event sponsor. Plus, there’s normally no reason an organization would choose to sponsor an internal event, as there’s limited opportunity for them to benefit.

An external special event—such as a trade show, conference, or convention—is a completely different story. Because these types of events are public-facing, they have the potential to reach more attendees and provide more value to you and a prospective sponsor.

However, not all external events require the support of sponsorship. Here’s how to tell if you need a sponsor for your next event:

  • If your event is large in scope and size. The bigger your event, the more complicated (and expensive) it will be.
  • If you need assistance acquiring major components of your event. Venues, hotel accommodations, catering, and technical production can be cost-prohibitive for some event planners.
  • If your event is brand new and lacks industry cred, it can be hard to generate buzz. If you want to increase authority in the space, this is where a sponsor can lend a helping hand.

The 4 types of sponsorship

Event sponsorships come in all shapes and sizes. But broadly speaking, there are four primary types of corporate sponsors:

1. Financial event sponsors

Financial partners are easily the most common type of sponsorship. We saw a decrease in event budgets in 2022 and could see that trend continue into 2023, meaning the support of financial sponsors will continue to be invaluable to event planners.

2. In-kind event sponsorships

Rather than exchanging money directly, in-kind sponsors contribute goods and services for the event. These include important items such as a venue space, food and drink, special prizes, event swag, or even digital experiences and event technology.

3. Media event sponsors

Media sponsors invest in garnering widespread publicity for your event, such as through traditional and digital advertising campaigns. Typically, they offer these benefits in exchange for special placement at your event, such as a major booth or their brand name appearing prominently in marketing materials.

4. Promotional partnerships

Much like media sponsors, promotional partners also bring publicity to your event. However, they do so by leveraging the fanbase of a celebrity or public figure. By attaching their name to your event, that person’s fans and followers may choose to attend.

How to choose the right sponsors

Finding sponsors is easy. But choosing the right ones for your event? That’s a lot harder. 

Fortunately, it’s a lot simpler once you think logically about your event. By considering a few key factors, you should be able to narrow your choices and identify several prime candidates. Here’s what you should take into account when choosing potential event sponsors:

The purpose of the event

How do you expect to convince a sponsor to support your event if you don’t understand it yourself? 

Before deciding on a prospective sponsor, think about your event goals. What do you want to achieve? Are you driving brand awareness, or are you focusing on lead generation?

More importantly, what type of event are you planning? Is it in-person, virtual, or hybrid? Answering these questions can help you understand the particulars of your event and what resources you will need to tap into.

Your strengths and weaknesses

Consider where you could use some help from a prospective sponsor. There’s no use securing an in-kind sponsorship if you already have access to the resources you need. But, if publicity is what you’re lacking, then you should identify a media or promotional partner to help generate buzz around your event.

Target audience

Look for sponsors whose audience lines up with your own. Matching your two audiences in terms of demographics, interests, and behaviors can help you identify a partner who will be welcomed by your attendees.

Here’s a tip: Search for potential event sponsors within your industry. Leverage any existing connections you might have to see which companies are interested in a sponsorship opportunity. If businesses are already aligned with your industry, there’s a solid chance they’ll match up to your audience too.

Past sponsors

If you’ve organized a sponsored event before, it’s a good idea to consider your past sponsors for future opportunities. These organizations have familiarity with your target audience, they’re known by your attendees, and they’ve demonstrated a willingness to work with you. 

Leveraging an existing relationship is a great way to get the ball rolling and take the pain out of event planning. Plus, they can be great references as you recruit other sponsors.

Event values

Pitching to sponsors is a time-consuming process. That’s why you want to waste as little time as possible on the wrong contenders. A good way to cut through the noise is to choose potential event sponsors that represent your brand well. 

Look for event sponsors that share similar values to your company. For instance, it’s a bad look if your eco-conscious brand partners with a corporate sponsor whose own track record is environmentally poor. Not only will this make sure you avoid embarrassing associations, but it will also create a more consistent attendee experience.

How to win sponsors with a great proposal

Now that you’ve narrowed down your list of potential event sponsors, it’s time to start sending out sponsorship requests. 

First, reach out to your candidates and pitch them the basics of your event. This is a way to start the conversation—not to earn their partnership right away. You don’t need to talk all the details up front, just gauge their interest in your event and whether or not their goals line up with your own.

The next step? Putting together an event sponsorship proposal. Let’s examine that one a little further.

Creating an event sponsorship proposal

A sponsorship proposal is your chance to lay it all out on the table and convince your prospective sponsor that your event is worth their time and money. The proposal should be no more than a few pages long—just enough to include:

  • A title page/letter: Keep it simple. Include your event name, company logo, and event tagline.
  • High-level details: Overview your company’s story and describe key details of your event, including the theme, goals, target audience, and ideal type of sponsor.
  • The opportunity: Make it obvious early on in your sponsorship proposal why a potential sponsor would benefit from the relationship. This section is all about what you can do for the organization and how you plan on doing it.
  • Testimonials: Provide reviews and case studies from past sponsors to reassure the organization that your business and event is a smart choice.
  • Sponsorship package: Outline your event sponsorship package or a menu of opportunities that will benefit the corporate sponsor (more on that below).
  • Data: Prove how past events have helped sponsors by providing metrics that demonstrate your success (leads, generated, follow-up engagements, sponsor revenue, etc.).
  • Event technology: Showcase your event management software and its capabilities, particularly if you’re hosting a virtual or hybrid event. Technology is key to any modern event, and it’ll play a big role in how attendees engage with your sponsors.

Personalizing the proposal

The better you understand each prospective sponsor, the better you can tailor your sponsorship proposal to their brand. This demonstrates that you won’t treat a corporate sponsor like just any other partner. 

Instead of a cookie-cutter proposal, personalize your outreach and align your value proposition to the company’s specific goals. 

Pro tip: Check out what’s happening in the company. Did they recently launch a new product? Have they reinvented their brand? Knowing this information can help you wow a potential sponsor.

Assembling a sponsorship package

More revenue. More lead generation. Increased brand awareness. These are just empty promises if you don’t have a means of backing them up.

To prove you’re actually able to walk the walk, you need a compelling sponsorship package. In simple terms, an event sponsorship package is a showcase of all the different strategies and opportunities you have to offer a corporate sponsor. Typically, these are pitched in two ways:

  • Ă€ la carte opportunity menus: The appeal of this approach is that a sponsor can pick and choose each sponsorship opportunity according to their needs or goals. This is a more flexible and customizable way to incentivize a potential sponsor.
  • Tiered sponsorship packages: This approach bundles sponsorship opportunities into different levels based on price. Organizations acquire different benefits at each sponsorship tier. Typically, a lower-priced sponsorship level will offer fewer sponsorship benefits.

Taking a tiered approach to your sponsorship package has its ups and downs. Despite lacking customization, sponsorship tiers make up for it in simplicity and exclusivity. Plus, package pricing is better for budgeting, as it takes the pain out of estimating how much funding you’ll raise through sponsorships.

To demonstrate how sponsorship tiers work, let’s take a look at an example:

Sponsorship tier package

Bronze Sponsorship Tier: $5,000

As the lowest rung on the totem pole, sponsors receive generic benefits, including:

  • Sponsor logo on printed materials.
  • One push notification during the event.
  • One social media callout prior to the event.
  • Guaranteed digital sponsor page.
  • Virtual sponsorship gift to all attendees.

Silver Sponsorship Tier: $10,000

This tier would include everything listed in Bronze, in addition to:

  • A 30-second video promo before the event.
  • Choice of up to two sponsored game challenges.
  • Up to three push notifications.
  • Up to five social media posts to promote attendance.
  • Choice of keynote speaker each day of the event.

Gold Sponsorship Tier: $15,000

At the highest level, a sponsor would receive everything, including:

  • Main sponsor of breakout rooms and networking events.
  • One-page ad in the event program.
  • Premium placement on the event floor.
  • Up to 10 push notifications.
  • A 60-second video promo before the event.
  • Opportunity to address all event attendees at a speaker session.
  • Brand logo on all printed and virtual materials.

Sponsorship ideas for the ultimate proposal

The best way to delight your sponsors is to offer unique, engaging, and immersive opportunities that are sure to engage attendees before, during, and after the event. Here are a few creative ideas to offer at your future events:

Branded sponsor profiles

With an event management platform like Webex Events, you can offer sponsors their own profiles, which are accessible to attendees from their browsers or in a mobile event app. This is an especially great opportunity if your event has a virtual component, as attendees will be experiencing your event through the event platform. 

These profiles can be expanded to include photos, videos, documents, and more—anything that will help your audience connect with sponsors. Virtual booths and sponsor showcases also offer partners a chance to make a lasting impression on attendees at the event.

Sponsored engagement 

Whether it be in-person or online, sponsored activities are a great way to excite event attendees. Scavenger hunts, for instance, invite people to participate in a friendly competition. With gamification tools, an event management platform can even keep track of winners and reward them with sponsored prizes—further building that coveted connection to your partner’s brand.

Sponsor rooms

One of the top reasons a person goes to an event is to network with fellow attendees. Offer your sponsors a chance to attach their names to sponsored breakout rooms where in-person and virtual attendees can get together and make a connection while learning more about the brand. 

In-app promotion

With a platform like Webex Events, you can offer access to your own branded mobile event app. From here, attendees can engage with sponsor profiles and instantly elevate their interest into a chat room or video conference. Drive engagement to your sponsors using push notifications, banner ads, and splash screens—all from within the app.

Take sponsorship up a notch with Webex Events

Securing sponsors is a difficult and time-consuming process. But with the right event technology on your side, it’s easier to impress your potential sponsors and earn their investment. Webex Events is designed with all the tools you need to create long-lasting partnerships. From gamification and sponsored profiles to virtual booths and more, you can do it all with Webex Events.

Learn more about how Webex Events can help you secure event sponsorships by scheduling a demo today.