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Event Sponsorship: Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck

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Event sponsorship is the ideal way to really interact with loyal supporters and potential customers—even in this current era of digital marketing and online engagement. Pay attention to the continual rise in the cost of TV advertising during the Super Bowl. According to Ad Age, the fee for a 30-second Super Bowl commercial has risen by $1 million every four years since 2009, now landing at the hefty price tag of $5 million per advertisement in 2017.

 Super Bowl LI in 2017, broadcast on Fox, set a record of $385 million spent on ads aired during the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots match-up. This astronomical sum is more money than advertisers spent on all the Super Bowls of the 1960s, the 1970s and the 1980s combined, which comes to a total of $299 million.

 Supreme sponsors like Coca-Cola, Nike, Pepsi and Anheuser-Busch spend over $200 million annually for sponsorship and can attach themselves to epic events like the Super Bowl with ease. But there are also over 100 smaller-tier U.S. companies that spend over $15 million a year in sponsorship dollars.


But don’t get discouraged if you don’t have millions of dollars to spend on sponsorships, because there are still plenty of other lucrative ways to get your company’s logo in front of a buying audience without going bankrupt in the process. Let us show you how to get the most bang for your buck and see a real return on investment for your next event sponsorship. 

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Pick Appropriate Partners

Events require sponsors both in order to make a profit and to add value to their audience. But as corporate budgets tighten, events must also provide more value to their sponsorship partners. Picking the appropriate partner with shared values and similar audiences is an integral piece to completing a successful sponsorship partnership.

UFC-fightWouldn’t it feel odd to see a Disney movie logo at a full-contact UFC fight? Pick partners whose audience you can realistically share. Brainstorm events that immediately make sense to your core audience and events where your company can organically become immersed in the experience.

Brands and event planners are seeking symbiotic, long-term partnerships that offer a return on investment that can carry over from year to year. Logo splashing at an event is still important, with company logos and names on signage still typically one of the most frequent requests that companies have for physical marketing and digital platforms.

Look at the data and allow the event partner to demonstrate how they share your company’s values. How can they directly connect your products and services to their event attendees? You are going to need customization, connection and integration with any event you sponsor to ensure you make a solid impression on attendees.

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Traditional Sponsorships

Event sponsorship very often includes traditional sponsorship approaches that essentially are physical products or activities with their sponsors’ names and logos attached. These tactics allow the event’s audience to interact with the brand, making it an intertwined part of their overall experience and memories.

Traditional sponsorship generally will include the logo or company name on useful marketing products like promotional water bottles, banners, website banners, signage, registration badges and bags. Companies may also sponsor parties or forums within the event with their company name prominently displayed or give an award away in their name during a competition.

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Non-Traditional Sponsorships

Event sponsorship packages also include many non-traditional sponsorship items that put more emphasis on connecting with event attendees digitally. Event managers and experienced marketers utilize technology to provide additional value to event sponsors with non-traditional sponsorships that provide tools that make measuring the return on investment easier. 

Social-mediaInteractive digital signage with touch screen capabilities allows the sponsor the opportunity to receive analytics on how often they were searched for or even who touched their logo and requested further information. Company ads can be placed on wayfinding kiosks that give attendees directions. The ads can be customized and even change languages, and facial recognition technology can capture demographic information.

Social media is non-traditional sponsorship that can quantify how many attendees were attracted because of the social media campaign. Creativity is key in developing content that engages the audience in a fun way to draw them to the face-to-face event.

Scavenger hunts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn can engage attendees. Utilizing on-site photo booths and encouraging attendees to share their pictures on social media with prize incentives also works.

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Events That Attracted Big Brands

TED Talks have carved out a dynamic niche in the information and education arena. The TED conference has increased customer engagement with their long-time sponsor and world-class luxury watch brand, Rolex.

Since 2007, Rolex has underwritten the development of TED media platforms. They have become one of the first to fund branded content specific to the TED platform, which is a three-minute video of Rolex’s history of innovative design.

cut-out-advertising-figuresTED and Rolex established an IOS app called “Surprise Me!” for the 2012 annual TED conference. This serendipity engine included placement of the Rolex logo and used an algorithm to identify TED Talks online that viewers would want to see based on their available time and the experience they desire. Rolex’s sponsorship partnership with TED proved having shared values allowed them to collaborate beyond just an annual event.

The Toronto International Film Festival, (TIFF) based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and international cosmetics company L’Oréal have been event sponsorship partners for numerous years. The projection of glamor has been the unifying factor in their productive relationship. The dramatic red carpet entrance of Hollywood stars and global celebrities at TIFF engages the media and the general public alike—a win-win situation for L’Oréal.

The partnership has included digital efforts such as social media, live streaming of celebrities attending movie premieres and apps that serve as virtual makeup testing kits. Traditional sponsorship has also been integrated into the partnership, along with media placements on billboards and public transportation banners, and special limited edition TIFF nail polish collections. Creating exclusive experiences for TIFF attendees has benefited everyone involved.

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Why Measuring Matters

Measuring the return on investment (ROI) that is derived from event sponsorship may feel like a huge waste of time and resources after the money has already been spent. But obtaining some follow-up data can benefit your marketing and advertising potential in the future.

Like any other expenditure, the sponsorship spending needs to be justified. Identifying the causal links between the investment and financial returns is a critical marketing endeavor.

Protect your sponsorship budget for next year by providing proof of the value that event sponsorship has created this year. Keep a consistent budget, especially for sponsorships that are associated with popular events like athletic matches that tend to have numerous sponsors. These long-term sponsoring arrangements may take years to effectively evaluate your investment’s impact on fan awareness of your products or services. 

When you spread your budget between multiple events, accurate measurement allows you to analyze the benefit of each sponsorship. Are these sponsorships helping you hit corporate goals? These stats can help you make choices about which sponsorships to keep and which to cancel.

Effective sponsorship measurement is also a key factor when it comes to renegotiating your sponsorship contract. Detailed data that identifies what seems to be most helpful to your company provides you with greater bargaining power. You will have the facts needed to negotiate a cost that will have a much higher chance of delivering a better ROI.

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Ways to Measure Event Sponsorship ROI

Event sponsorship works because events drive leads for sales and provide serious networking opportunities for your company to connect with audiences face to face. But every individual at an event has their own personal route towards what makes them actually spend money on a brand. Event organizers should provide ROI measurement data generated before, during and after an event by using social listening, surveys, games and mobile apps. 

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Use Social Listening

Using social media to track event activity is a standard procedure. But keeping track of what audiences are saying during your event could lead to valuable marketing clues to use. A social listening dashboard can track the event’s unique hashtag to track social media engagement in real time.

Man-looking-at-phoneValuable insights can include remarks, the total number of posts, and posted images from the audience. Are they posting inspiring quotes from event speakers or are they complaining about the activities? Are the number of photos posted online indicating that your company’s products or services are gaining popularity with this demographic?

Using social data can identify engaged attendees who enjoyed your brand at the event. You can also share social media content from the event across your company’s social media platforms to show the interest and comradery your company has with the event attendees.

Events have several easy-to-use tools to maximize their social listening dashboard. Hootsuite allows users to set up an alert for your event’s unique hashtag, and it will allow for real-time responses and monitoring. Google Alerts provides access to all the company and event mentions from around the Internet.

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In-Event Surveys for Feedback

Sending out surveys during an event is an ideal way to gauge interest from attendees and collect additional data to perfect event engagement for the next one. Aside from the personal opinions, look at the metrics that come with your survey, such as open rate, bounce rate and the time on the page. These attendees who took the time to give feedback might be qualified sales leads.

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Get in the Gamification Game

Gamification goes along perfectly with live events. Creating games and contests as a part of event sponsorship can get attendees excited about exhibitors, speakers, parties and the valuable sponsors that are helping to make it all possible.

Scavenger hunts for prizes and company swag get the event audience interacting with each other and having fun with your brand’s products and services at the same time. Photo quests encourage attendees to find people, places and things at the event to take pictures of and post on social media with the appropriate event hashtag to win a prize. Networking challenges, like getting people to collect people’s business cards, can have a branded prize associated with them, as well.

The data these types of games collect will help you know which attendees were interacting with your brand at the event. The audience members who played along may qualify as sales leads, or depending on how influential they are, they could become possible brand ambassadors.

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Mobile Apps Offer Insight

The event’s mobile app contains plenty of attendee activity that that can easily be exported and used as valuable ROI data. You can find out the complete number of downloads and a breakdown of who used the app.

Did the attendees use the messaging function and the networking capabilities? These metrics can help improve your engagement process with the attendees of the event.

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How to Increase ROI When Sponsoring Events

Event marketers need to present your company with tangible data about their target audience, and why you would want to build your brand with their event attendees. Is the event willing to involve you in the planning process to add additional value to your partnership? Are they willing to provide your brand with regular updates as the event comes closer to its launch?

ROI-meterHaving a virtual presence before and after the event is import to creating a mutually beneficial partnership between your company and the event. Opportunities for logo placement on event lanyards, “step-and-repeat” backdrop signage for photo opportunities and featuring your company name on event programs is important. Consider sponsorship packages with digital ad space in newsletters and on the web, as well.

Does the event offer their sponsors follow-up opportunities after their event ends? The event could provide you with an opt-in list of attendees that contains profile data.

Can they create an online community of attendees to keep the event conversation going after the event? Could they reach out to attendees to acknowledge their sponsors with a useful and sincere message?

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Leave-brand-logo-stamped-in-customers-memoryEvent sponsorship is a crucial marketing opportunity to meet your clients, your audience and prospective customers in person, gauging how your company fits into their life. By knowing who and how many people were interested in your brand, you can optimize your messaging before, during and after future events that you may sponsor. Don’t just imprint your company’s mark on a promotional item, like a custom water bottle. Also leave your brand’s logo stamped in a precious place – the happy memories of a satisfied event audience.

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