Special Events

GUEST ROOM: SECRETS OF SPONSORSHIPS FROM GREGORY PYNES

Gregory Pynes outlines the payoffs and pitfalls of these important event tools

Sponsorships - companies' financial support of an event in exchange for public identification with it - are playing a greater role in special events. According to Chicago-based sponsorship consultant IEG, sponsorship is the world's fastest-growing form of marketing. This year, corporations around the globe will spend more than $22 billion sponsoring sports, arts, entertainment, causes and events, the IEG Annual Survey reports.

Gregory Pynes, vice president of Dallas-based Events Unlimited, has nine years' experience in consumer and trade show management, public festival development and production, and sponsorship solicitation.

Special Events Magazine: What are the payoffs of setting up sponsorships for special events?

Gregory Pynes: Corporations associate with events based on demographics. Sponsorships create a cause-and-effect relationship in the mind of consumers, especially among younger consumers. They have an affinity for companies that sponsor causes they support. It's all about frequency of impression, and events are a good medium to reach a target demographic.

For the special event producer, sponsorships - if properly developed - offer increased financial opportunities. For example, it can be the difference between being able to spend $10,000 for decor and $20,000. It's also an increased marketing opportunity for the event. What is the sponsoring company doing to market itself with our particular company or cause?

Q: What are pitfalls to avoid?

A: Guard against focusing on the short term. When you finally get your foot in the door of a potential sponsor, look to create multiyear agreements.

Never let your sponsor run your event. This is dangerous with in-kind contributions. Try to maintain control by securing the service and passing along the invoice.

Once you sell the sponsorship and get the money, make sure you deliver. Put together a recap report of everything you did.

Q: How does the event producer target appropriate corporate sponsors?

A: You need to understand what the target audience is for your event. It's not just age, gender and income. Savvy sponsors want to know the audience's psychosocial purchasing habits. An example is AIDS LifeWalk, a 10-year-old event for which we have good information on purchasing habits. If I want to try to get a bottled water company sponsor, I can tell the company that X percent of my audience drinks bottled water two to three times a week.

Research what companies may have a marketing interest in the event, develop a hot list of potential sponsors, create the benefit you will offer to the sponsor and what you will ask of the sponsor, and then sell it. If you're averse to cold calling, you won't like this part at all! Persistence is essential.

Q: How do you put a value on sponsorship options?

A: The rule of thumb with sponsorship values is two for one. If you give me $5 cash, I will give you $10 [of exposure].

One of the first steps is to determine what benefits I have to offer my sponsors. My title sponsor is typically my highest-value sponsor. Again, it's the concept of creating impressions for the sponsor. So I assign a dollar value to each benefit. If as part of my event budget I'm doing print advertising and the sponsor's logo is included in the ad, the value of the inclusion of the logo in the ads is based on the rate card figure for the publication or the cost of each ad. There are also on-site sponsorship opportunities at the event. Placement of a defined number of banners with the corporation's logo, valued typically at $1,500, or $2,500 for a 10-by-10-foot booth; [these] are standard values based on a consumer event with an average attendance of 5,000 people. Within the context of my event, what are other naming opportunities? A corporation's name on the stage? The key is finding that hot button, what will get the sponsor excited.

I hope special event professionals will see this as a trend that they can wrap themselves around. It can be a whole new creative outlet.

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