The days of just slapping your sponsor’s logo on the banner at your event are long gone, says entrepreneur Warwick Merry.
“The challenge in events today is not only getting sponsors, but keeping them,” he explains to B&T.
“It used to be they’d pay some money, stick their logo on a screen or notebook and everyone was happy. But now money is tighter, businesses are being asked for sponsorship for more and more things so we have to be smart about it. We actually have to partner with these businesses.”
Events are pouring out of every business orifice nowadays and it’s because of this saturation that sponsorship management is becoming more and more critical. Every year the events are getting bigger and better as businesses try to impress their consumers.
“Next year we’ve got to get not just the flashing lights, but the flashing lights that rotate, and laser beams and smoke!” quips Merry, meaning more money is spent on events now, and that extra wad of cash needs to come from somewhere.
Some events are also seeing less delegates going to them, adds Merry, which means the moolah being dished out by sponsors is even more valuable.
“With the global economic crisis a lot of companies cut back on their sponsoring,” he says. “Talking to some of my contacts, it used to be they would get $50,000 sponsorships pretty easily. And now they struggle. They can get the $25,000 sponsorships, but it’s hard to get the 50.”
There are three things sponsors need to be looking at when thinking about sponsoring an event. Merry calls them the three R’s.
Return on investment, where the business nabs some dollars back.
Return on objectives, where the reasons behind actually having the event are met.
Return on energy, meaning the energy you put in for the event was beneficial and meaningful to the event.
Merry says: “At the end of the day, an individual and a business only has so much energy they can put into what they’re doing, so you need to make sure you’re getting an appropriate return on the event.”
Getting the right sponsor for an event is another aspect the event organisers need to consider. However, while being able to choose sponsors would be ideal, not everyone has their pick of the bunch.
“Most events are not bombarded with sponsors that they then turn back the ones they don’t like,” says Merry. But then where do you find the right sponsors for your event, the ones that actually want to come on board?
“The secret is in your target audience,” says Merry. “Because they are who the sponsor wants. However it may not be your industry,” he adds, citing an example of a high end insurance event bringing on a luxury car brand as a sponsor, as the car brand would want access to these high end types who would potentially purchase one of the fancy vehicles.
“It’s about being creative about thinking where there’s good alignment where there’s no competitiveness, but people are getting access to the audience.”
Merry is speaking at the Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo in Melbourne on Wednesday the 25th of February.
Check out Merry’s three common pitfalls brands face with sponsorship management too.