FestForums Wrap-up: The Lifecycle of a Sponsorship

November 29, 2018

A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to head out to Santa Barbara, CA, for the FestForums conference. For the uninitiated, FestForums is a conference for festival industry leaders, event producers, and artists that brings together events of all sizes. It’s a great chance to learn more about industry trends from leaders in these fields.

FestForums is also an exciting opportunity for the Winmo team to share our expertise in the world of sponsorship sales. While the conference overall was great, I wanted to share some specific takeaways from the panel I spoke on, Lifecycle of a Sponsorship.

The big question we attempted to answer is: How do festival sponsorship directors engage brands, ink deals, and activate and provide ROI in this landscape?

To answer this question, I shared three main tips to help companies go after new partnerships and sponsorships more efficiently.

Three FestForums Takeaways to Increase Sponsorship Sales

1. Take Prospecting to the Next Level  

When selecting a prospecting resource, be sure to choose one that allows you to fully understand your target brand’s initiatives and focus. These insights will allow you to be more targeted in your approach and will ensure that you reach out to the right brands at the right time — with something relevant to say.

Follow these guidelines to  show a brand why there’s synergy between their organization and your event:

  • Know the Brand’s Target Demographic
    • Understand the brand’s target demographic and figure out how you can help them reach that audience.
  • Know the Brand’s Planning Period
    • Timing is everything in the sponsorship world. You’ve got to approach brands when they have a budget to spend. Finding a balance between delivering opportunities and not overwhelming the client comes from understanding their buying cycle.
  • Knowledge of the Brand’s Most Recent Initiative

Tools like Winmo give you the insight and contact information to pinpoint the right brands at the right time. Winmo specifically offers verified direct contacts for thousands of national brands and their agencies, insight into spending, recent initiatives and potential opportunities to make sure a chance to capitalize is never missed.

2. Make Activation Memorable

To ensure your brand’s on-site activation makes a statement, build programs that excite and engage your audience. Do something more than just basic banners; think of a creative way to bring together what the audience and your client are trying to achieve.

For example, the Bud Light Activation with the Browns proves that a simple idea can make a huge impression. When the Browns beat the Jets, ending a 635-day streak without a win, free beer was offered to the people of Cleveland to emphasize that when the Browns win, their fans do too.

Sometimes it’s necessary to coach your brand and push them in the right direction. It’s imperative to learn about their goals and understand how sponsorship will ultimately help them achieve these.

For the brand understand how to use your partnership to its full potential, make sure to add clarity to what you can offer and what the ROI is. Often times, these brands are looking for you to be the creative one and sell them on your idea of how the partnership is going to work.

3. Focus on the Future

While festival and event culture continues to evolve into a digital-first world through streaming or VR/AR technology, the live human experience is still deeply relevant. Luckily, technology is making an unforgettable human experience that much easier to achieve.

Attendees want their voice to be heard, so don’t be afraid to get them excited about the event by giving them options to share their experience through digital and social media platforms. If the brand experience at your event is ‘share-worthy’, people will not hesitate to post. Back to the Browns example: following the team’s win, fans seemed more interested in documenting the free beer than drinking it (or so it seemed, based on Browns’ fans social media posts).

That said, the sense of community and engagement created through social media is useless without solid metrics and performance tracking. To estimate the success of the event, the panel suggested tracking social media post activity and an uptick in brand followers. Or, connect social media impact to conversions by monitoring local sales.

Attendee behavior may be the most crucial of all, so get feedback on what they love about your event or program. These data points can then be used to show your current and future sponsors how the ROI behind sponsoring your event is a no-brainer. Brands love the data that surrounds a memorable experience.

Finally, when in doubt in sponsorship sales, be creative, be strategic and collect data to have the most positive influence possible.

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