Over the past three years, I’ve sponsored several events, some national, some local, some charitable. Sponsoring an event can be a great way to get more exposure to your prospective audience and reinforce to your existing customers that you are actively supporting them.

However, before committing to the expense of event sponsorship, there is a lot to consider. Use this checklist to get started.

Step 1: Analyze Attendees

  • How Many – This can usually be determined from past events. If this is the first time a particular event has been organized, look at similar events, but always expect attendance to be lower than the organizers are estimating.
  • Who – Again, ask for a list of previous attendees or at least companies so you can gauge what percentage of the attendees are likely to be prospects or existing customers.
  • Contact – Will you be provided with any way to follow up with the attendees? This is especially important when you know that there are prospects attending. Some event organizers will allow you to contribute a blog post, newsletter article, etc. to keep your name fresh in the minds of the attendees.

Step 2: Measure Exposure

  • Prior to the Event – How much publicity is the organizer planning, and what form will it take? How will your sponsorship be included in that publicity?
  • During the Event – Will you be allowed to put up displays or banners, and give out materials? Will your materials be included in an attendee bag?
  • After the Event – What follow up will the attendees receive? How will mention of your sponsorship be included in that follow up?

Step 3: Look at Organizational Alignment

  • Reputation – What is the event organization’s reputation? Has the event improved, or is it starting to be passé?
  • Appeal– Is your product or service going to appeal to the awareness level of the attendees? Is it too advanced or not advanced enough?
  • Demographic – Will the attendees be end users or observers, resellers or competitors?

Step 4: Consider Sponsorship Packages

  • Tiered Options – Are the sponsorships tiered? If so, how many sponsors will be at each tier, and what will be the difference in exposure each tier is given?
  • Price – What is the cost difference between the sponsorship packages? Is it worth you paying a little extra to receive an increased amount of exposure?
  • Attendance – Is attendance to the event included in the price of the sponsorship? If so, how many team members can you bring?

Step 5: Set Expectations

  • New Business – Have you set goals about how much new business you expect your sponsorship to bring in? Be realistic.
  • Competition – Who else is sponsoring the event? Is there a way you can team up with them to further boost your results?
  • ROI – What do you expect the return on investment (ROI) to be? Can you afford to write off the expenditure if you achieve little or no return?

If you find the right fit for your organization, an event can be an extremely cost effective way to get brand awareness and meet your prospects. What has your experience with sponsorship?

Image credit: timmytws