When you’re just getting started, the hustle for customers and publicity is real. You need to get your product in everyone’s face in the cheapest way possible.

Events seem to be a favourite for their ability to generate brand exposure and activate your fans. But events cost money and most companies just starting out, don’t really have any so the hunt for sponsors and discounts is on.

Everyone wants sponsors, and discounted products and brands get requests from everyone all the time. If you want to stand out and get brands on board for your event, follow these steps for your next event.

1. Start early

Give yourself at least 3 months before the event to start looking for sponsors.

This can be a long and tedious process and you don’t want to rush at the last minute.

2. Pull together your facts

Create a budget as if you were going to pay for everything. This way you are clear about what everything you want costs.

Then decide what things are the most important and what things you can afford to lose, if you had to.

3. Decide what you are able to pay for

Most of the time it is advisable to pay for the items that the event can not run without. This way no matter what happens, you’ll still be able to run your event and be in control even if a sponsor falls through. 

However having the money and being prepared to pay for them does not mean you cant ask for sponsorship. You can also use this during negotiations to let them know that you aren’t just looking for handouts.

Brands want to know that you’re investing your own resources to make the event a success as well. 

4. Determine if you want a discount, product or cash

So many start-ups request cash for their events but that is always the hardest thing to get from a sponsor.

Think about what kind of support a brand can provide via in kind services or through exchanges. By being creative in this area, you can strike deals.

5. Decide which sponsors you want to approach and why

Beyond just the financial value, think about which brands you want to be associated with your business. Even though you’re just starting out, you want to make sure you’re working with brands that connect to your values and identity.

You also want to target brands where whatever you’re offering in return actually matters to them. Most companies that provide sponsorship are looking for the advertising opportunities or to connect to your community.

Some may just be happy to support but these companies are few and far between. Generally, everybody wants something in return and you need to figure out what that is.

6. Do your research

Call people you know and find out as much as you can about other events this company may have sponsored. Look online for their values and if they have a sponsorship request form.

Use LinkedIn to find the right contacts in marketing or communications departments. 

7. Prepare a sponsorship package that is targeted at the sponsor

Do not ever send a generic proposal. That is the fastest way to get your proposal ignored. Looking for another way to get your proposal in the trash? Have another company’s information in the proposal.

That’s a big no no. Spend the time demonstrating that you’ve done your research and know exactly why you want to work with this brand. 

8. Send your e-mail

Be clear, polite and straight to the point. Ask for a meeting, whether online or face to face so you can explain further and build a relationship.

If you have chosen your sponsors carefully you should at least peak their interest in you.

9. Keep track of who you have approached and when

If you havent heard within 5 days try and follow up with a phone call.

10. Ensure you are able to fulfil the offers you provide sponsors

Sponsors can become long term partners if they like your work ethic, product and customer service. Treat sponsors the same as customers.

Ensure you have clear agreements so that everyone is on the same page and you keep in touch after the event.

Be creative, keep going and good luck with getting them coins!

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