Event Sponsorships: Making the Most of Your Spend

Sponsorships. They’re one of the many ways to get your name in front of a special interest group and they are often ripe with possibilities and over-flowing with potential. Some of you, though, merely send off your cheque along with your logo and forget to investigate, request and reap additional opportunities for your firm.

Every part of your marketing spend should punch above its weight and with sponsorships — unlike many other marketing expenses — it often only requires a bit of thought, planning and perhaps a healthy dose of chutzpah to get more for your buck.

With some large and well-established organizations that offer sponsorships for their special events, there’s little margin available to wiggle in extras for sponsors. The goodies at the gold, silver and bronze sponsorship levels might be etched in stone, but I would still enquire about additional opportunities.

Here are my top 10 tips:

1. Personally connect with the organization you are sponsoring. Speak to the person in charge and connect your voice/face/name to your firm and have some ongoing dialogue on mutually beneficial initiatives.

2. Ask questions, show curiosity, look under the hood and seize opportunities to benefit your firm, but don’t require out-of-pocket expenses to the organization. Things such as placing your firm name on additional promotional materials, or asking the organization’s President to write a note of thanks that you can post on your firm’s website and distribute via social media.

3. Study up! Take a close look at who else is involved. These could be sponsors, speakers, board members, conference committees, exhibitors and other VIPs. Consider how you might connect with them and how you can help each other. Build strategic relationships.

4. Increase your exposure for next year. Enquire about speaking opportunities, submitting an article for the event publication, offering an auction item, or even joining the event planning committee.

5. Only commit to those sponsorships where you can get a least two social and engaged lawyers to attend the event. Insist they circulate with a “must meet” list of people (see #3).

6. Invite a client or two to attend with you. Consider the fit of the client to the event, who they might meet, and any educational value that might exist for your client.

7. Ask for seating at a premium table location. This could be centre stage, beside a client’s table, near a prospective client’s table, near the VIP table, etc.

8. Ramp up to the event and down from the event. Announce your involvement whenever possible and relevant without getting carried away. Discuss the value you see in supporting or attending this event. Post photos (with consent from your subjects) of the event and your positive commentary via social media or your website.

9. Offer to host a pre-event VIP reception either onsite, or in your offices. This will place your firm amongst key people of the event and will create a bit of a buzz about your firm. You can invite clients and contacts of your own to this event, plus all of your lawyers and senior management staff should also attend.

10. Follow-up with people you met (this is where business development starts to happen), thank the organizers (because it’s polite, and you’ll be memorable for doing so), and ask how you can help with next year’s event (position you firm as engaged and on the starting line-up for next year).

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