Edith Yeung is the Executive Producer of BizTechDay, a business strategy and technology conference that attracts over 1200+ business icons, renowned thought leaders and inspired entrepreneurs. Here they will connect, educate and inspire each other with innovative tactics on how to best use internet technologies to start and grow their businesses. Edith describes the event as a TED-like conference for small businesses where they can gather practical strategies for using Web 2.0 tools and technologies.
She is also the Host of CBS 5 Startup Profile and founder of San Francisco Entrepreneur Meetup Group with over 2600 members.
Edith has successfully gathered a band of strong sponsors and partners for the event including Comcast Business Class, Elance, Constant Contact, American Express and Virgin America. As we wrote in a recent post, sponsorship is a key way to ensure a profitable event, so we spoke with Edith to gather her advice for attracting sponsors to your event.
Here are Edith’s best practices for fellow event organizers:
#1 – Identify Your Ideal Sponsors
Your ideal sponsors are the ones who truly care about your audience. They should be someone who not only wants to reach your market, but someone who can add value to your event. This means you should know what segments you are reaching, whether or not they are decision makers, C-Level executives or developers. Just because a company has budget doesn’t mean they should sponsor you. Just because they sponsor another event doesn’t mean they should sponsor yours. Target audience alignment between you and your sponsor is key to a successful partnership.
Case Study – BizTechDay 2009 & Comcast Business Class
Comcast Business Class is our presenting sponsor this year and we are absolutely the perfect partners. All small business owners need high-speed internet access for their businesses and the BizTechDay audience is predominantly small business owners. Mark and Tracey from Comcast Business Class both want to add value and contribute to our community. They are just fabulous to work with.
#2 – Speak Their Language
I know all of us are excited about our own event and think all companies should give us moolah. Unfortunately, in the sponsorship world, it doesn’t work that way! Think from your sponsors’ point of view – Why should they invest in you if you don’t take the time to understand what they are looking for and how they can benefit? Or may be you should even try out your sponsor’s product once in a while?
Case Study – BizTechDay 2009 & Constant Contact
Stu Carty from Constant Contact is an amazing speaker. I saw him speak 3 years ago when I first started my business and have always kept him in mind for future events. I used Constant Contact as a marketing tool and I understand the ins and outs and their benefits for the community. I have to say… it’s just so much easier when you are already using your sponsors’ products. They appreciate you when you appreciate them.
#3 – Data. Data. Data.
Don’t just talk. Provide proof and data. Your potential sponsors will usually ask for previous attendee demographic data. They want to know whom they are spending their marketing dollars on. Be prepared. It’s part of the process. Sufficient demographic data can save you a lot of time.
#4 – Don’t Just Pitch. Build Relationships.
Your sponsors do not just do business with a conference or a company. They do business with someone they can trust and that’s you. Sponsorship is not just a one-time sale. It’s a long-term relationship. Don’t just go out there and pitch. Be genuine. Show that you truly care about helping your sponsors’ businesses to do better. You want them to come back year after year, right? Taking the time to build a good relationship upfront can payoff for years to come.
Case Study – BizTechDay 2009 & Elance
Brad Porteus from Elance is fabulous to work with. Elance discovered BizTechDay because I was a fan of their service and CBS 5 wanted to do a story on both of us. I wasn’t looking for sponsorship initially, but we just dugg what Elance does and eventually we decided to work together. It takes time to build a strong business relationship.
#5 – Follow Up. Again and Again.
The reality is your event is NOT and will never be the most important thing to your sponsor. It is important (of course!) because they want reach their target audience, but they are bombarded with marketing opportunities night and day and yours it’s just one of them. Don’t get offended if they don’t respond right away. They will eventually get back to you if your event is worthwhile, but don’t be afraid to check in to make sure you don’t get lost in the shuffle.
#6 – Take care of them at the event.
It’s your job as an event organizer to make sure your sponsor has a rewarding experience throughout your event. You need to make sure they have what they need and that you deliver on what was promised so they ‘want’ to come back and engage with you again.
#7 – Invite Them to Come Back!
Trust me. I know how hard it is to put together a fabulous event. However, once the event is over, it is not really over…You need to again follow up and do a ‘post-mortem’ review meeting with your sponsors. Learn what went well, or not. Listen to their feedback. Invite them to come back next year right away. Invite them now while the experience is still fresh in their mind.
To learn more about working with Fortune 500 Companies and raising sponsorship, come to BizTechDay and attend ‘How to Partner with Fortune 500 Companies’ and ‘How to Raise Sponsorship for Your Next Event’.
Register by August 14th to get Early Bird discounts and readers of this article may enjoy a 25% discount to BizTechDay by registering here.