Sponsorship Opportunities Can Plug those Budget Holes
Let's say your association is planning an event. Apart from venue, theme, audio-visual, staff (the list could go on for pages), what's the one thing you wish you had more of?
Let's face it: you have limited resources, and are being asked to do more with less. Budgets have been reduced so much in the past few years that it is no longer the fat that's being cut -- it is the muscle. You still want to contribute to your organization's cause and mission, serve your members, raise your profile, get buy-in from stakeholders, and much more. However, you just don't know how to do all that with your limited funds. Sponsorship opportunities can help.
How to get started with an association sponsorship program is a stumbling block for many small to medium associations, not-for-profit or corporate organizations, and charities. You have already identified events and items your organization has that you believe could be sponsored, but you do not know where on earth to begin finding these potential sponsors.
STEP #1: Define Your Target Audience
Let's say you are organizing an event of some sort. Perhaps yours is a professional home building association. Your association members tell you that employee retention in their organizations is a common concern and they would appreciate knowing how to reduce employee turnover. In response, your association decides to host a series of related training sessions.
Your target audience, in this case, would be managers in the construction and homebuilding trades (your members and beyond). Describe them in detail -- their age, gender, education. Do they have families? Are they married? What do they like to do in their spare time? What hobbies do they enjoy? What media do they use? Use existing secondary research about your target audience that you already have to put together a profile. If you do not have this information readily available, ask your target audience for it.
Allow me to divert for a moment to make a critical point here. Don't let budget alone, or lack thereof, be your motivating factor for seeking sponsorship opportunities. Even your currently profitable or "within-budget" events may be perfect venues for sponsorship.
TIP: review even your currently fully funded programs and events to consider ones perfectly positioned for association sponsorship.
Why spend so much time defining your audience? It is all about the marketing.
STEP #2: Define Products and Services Your Target Audience Uses
This is the fun part. Get your team together and brainstorm. Ask your target audience directly. Pull together anecdotal information you have observed. However you get it, build a list of products and services this particular audience either uses or is interested in using.
STEP #3: Approach Products and Services Providers --These are Your Perfect-Fit Sponsorship Opportunities
When you offer a company a chance to get in front of the perfect audience, they will thank you for it. You are providing them a service and a marketing vehicle to reach out in a unique and memorable way. They will be interested. And you will have the perfect fit sponsors that will be of interest to your target audience, and vice-versa.
Launching an association sponsorship program can be fraught with traps. However, using proven strategies will maximize your chance for success, increase your revenues and put you in a position to better serve the needs of your members.
Marion has a new webinar pending, so stay tuned for details! But do you want more sponsorship information from Marion right away? Check out her Sponsorship 101 program.
Are you running an event and have questions about sponsorship and other vital details? Get a copy of Professional Meeting Management: Comprehensive Strategies for Meetings, Conventions and Events by the PCMA.