By Kyle Michaud, a best-selling author & founder of Experience Expositions

As the founder of a large-scale events company, securing sponsors for the events I produce has been a crucial part of my business success. Sponsorships are a strong marketing tool that gives brands an innovative way to communicate with their target audiences. In 2017, according to Sponsorship.com, sponsorship spending exceeded $23 billion in North America alone.

What many don’t realize is that sponsorships have benefits on both ends of the spectrum. By finding brands to sponsor your business events, you’re able to grow your own audience and following.

I annually produce North America’s largest yoga festival, which attracts an audience of over 11,000 attendees and 150+ brand exhibitors. Every year, we’ve been able to expand our sponsorship roster list, which in return has helped skyrocket the attendance at The Yoga Expo.

So, what’s my secret for locking in event sponsorships?

Do the research.

There’s a critical need for research to show potential sponsors how this partnership will tie into their strategic goals. A good place to start is to analyze your event attendance numbers and the demographics of your audience and make a direct connection with the sponsor.

For example, our most prominent and long-running sponsor is an energy bar brand because event attendees are exactly its target demographic. Seek out sponsors that are going to be able to benefit from a presence at your event. For me, this means focusing on brands that focus on wellness, fitness and sustainable solutions.

Part of your research is identifying how this will be a mutually beneficial relationship for the event promoter and sponsor. Each potential sponsor is going to have different needs and goals that they are seeking out of your sponsorship relationship. It’s crucial to identify what these are and to develop a proposal that’s customized to the brand’s aspirations.

Push the ROI.

Sponsorships are an integral way to push your company’s key messages and offerings without being overly promotional (let’s face it: people hate ads!). Make potential sponsors understand that being associated with your event, which specifically caters to their target audience, will put them in front of relevant customers. 

In my opinion, two of the biggest ROIs from event sponsorships are driving sales and raising brand awareness. Leveraging these two benefits can help potential sponsors understand the ROI that comes with sponsoring your event. 

Explain to sponsors that by choosing your event, they are getting their products or services in front of the right audience. Having a presence at a relevant industry event is less of a gamble than purchasing advertisements that can be viewed by anyone. Sponsorships are a direct link to future customers, which helps you generate leads and drive sales.

Building your brand awareness goes hand in hand with driving sales and generating leads. Sponsorship opportunities allow you to introduce your product or service in a way that encourages attendees to make a purchase. There’s a very personal and customized approach to interacting with event attendees that you can’t get from traditional advertising methods. 

Tout the exposure.

So, your sponsors are hooked on the ROI? It’s now time to reel them in and sell the visibility your event will provide. It’s no secret that people are glued to their phones. Event attendees will be connected on social while they’re at your event -- this means being tagged on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter.

Consumer interactions with brands hold tremendous value for word-of-mouth marketing and brand awareness. Aside from event attendees posting about sponsors, you can also offer to hype brands up on your event’s channels before, during and after the event.  The social media exposure that accompanies an event sponsorship is an effective way for brands to increase their overall reach and awareness.

Does your event gain attention from key media outlets? Whether local or national, you can throw publicity into the offerings of sponsoring your event as well. Sponsors can capitalize on the media presence at the event, whether by speaking with a reporter or having their logo featured in pictures or videos.

If you have a media plan in place for your event, you can also share that with potential sponsors to highlight the media exposure you’re anticipating.

Sponsorship has to be viewed as a strategic partnership between your business event and sponsors. Goals need to align and provide both parties with benefits that increase the bottom line. Take all of the sponsor’s objectives into consideration, and figure out how your event can cater to those needs. Before you know it, you’ll have 150+ brands on your sponsorship roster, too!

Kyle Michaud is a best-selling author & founder of Experience Expositions.