Smarter Marketing Blog

Why Event Management Might Not Be as Good as It Used to Be


If you live here in Dublin, Ireland it seems like every day there is a conference / seminar / expo that will cater to your every need. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great for the Irish economy and long may it continue. My experience of some smaller events though is that the event management experience is just not there. At times, it feels like the organisers are creating events purely for commercial return rather than with a focus on the content, the attendee and their return-on-experience.

I attended the extremely well-managed Irish Sponsorship Summit recently at which I enjoyed my experience through being intellectually stimulated and practically inspired. It made me think in general about event management and whether it is changing with the times.

I firmly believe that successful event management must be based on two things – a) the Founder’s rationale for the event and b) being focused on the attendee experience.

Here is a short story of what I mean of (a) above.

Alex Gibson, an ex-colleague of mine, has a passion for all things related to Augmented Reality. Unfortunately, there was no event that he could attend here in Ireland, where he could mingle with others of that ilk. So, guess what? Yep, he founded an Augmented Realty Conference in 2014.

Alex did it for a genuine reason – he wanted to provide a platform for showcasing and debating the business case for the emerging technologies of Augmented Reality. This year he has added a Virtual Reality dimension to the conference and expo and is attracting some serious speakers as a result of his authenticity and personal touch – see here ARVR INNOVATE

With regard to (b) above I believe that there are some basic questions that must be answered if your event is to be truly attendee focused.

  • Who is your target audience?
  • Is your founding rationale relevant to the audience?
  • How and where is that audience educated, informed or entertained usually?
  • Does the event footprint (activity timeframe) suit your target audience?
  • Are the planned logistics user-friendly?
  • Can you deliver a wow factor for your audience (will you need to outsource)?
  • What results will you measure?

Attendees’ expectation of events is sky high, these days, and reinforced by all things digital. As I believe that the role of the event manager is changing, I thought it might be worthwhile to suggest some of the tools, channels and tricks that I have come across. I have split them into those for use before, during and after an event. Hopefully some of them will help people involved in any aspect of event management.

Create Event Awareness even Before You Start Formal Marketing

We would suggest that 6 weeks is the minimum time to execute a good marketing plan.  Even before that, however, you can start creating awareness, for the event.

One of the first things to do is to create a website / microsite / landing page for the event. Make sure however that you have a strong call-to-action (CTA) on all online descriptions of the event e.g. click a link to sign-up.

A second step would be to create a simple flyer for the event. Once done it can be re-purposed for use online e.g. website, social media, blog etc.

A third step is to determine how people will pay for attending (registration). One method is to use EventBrite which can be embedded on your site and the info shared on social media.

Finally, I would develop a contacts list which would include previous attendees (if not a new event), influencers (use followerwonk) and industry leaders. Use a tool like MailChimp to engage your list using topics like date-in-the-diary; registration is open; special features, guests or to ask them to share the email with their colleagues.

Other awareness ideas would include:

  • using a twitter chat session, google hangout or Blab to start the conversation
  • preparing a short video showing your speakers (YouTube, Vimeo, Vine)
  • creating a contest to increase online share-ability (rafflecopter, promosimple)
  • asking your speakers to post on their own social networks
  • developing a hashtag for the event and posting it often and everywhere

Times have changed from the modest press release strategy of spraying and praying. Using social media to avoid spending unnecessary money on promotion is very do-able, no matter what size your event is.

Here are some tools that might be helpful to you as an event manager:

  • Before using a #hashtag as mentioned above, check it out first using tools such as Hashtagify or Tagboard.
  • Use click to tweet on emails, tweets, blogs etc. (as we have above)
  • Schedule a series of informative tweets using e.g. Buffer, Hootsuite or Drumup
  • Use twitter lists to send messages to your twitter contacts with large followers (I mentioned the followerwonk tool above)
  • Create a Facebook page and pin your event flyer to the top – all posts should have a CTA
  • Use Facebook Exchange (also known as FBX ad targeting)
  • Post details to your Google+ pages, and circles if appropriate
  • Create a Google+ Event to discuss the event content
  • Create a survey on e.g. surveymonkey or a poll on Twitter
  • Use your LinkedIn account to raise awareness amongst your friends / colleagues

Event Management Tips and Timesavers

Let’s say that you have planned your event perfectly, you have a full house and now you want to ensure their participation expectations are met –

During the Event

  • -Assign people to live post / retweet attendees ‘handles’ during the event
  • -Use a platform like for audience participation
  • -Use tools like Catchbox, Crowdmic and Cloudmic for audience interaction
  • -Encourage social media interaction using the event hashtag
  • -Provide proforma posts / info on speakers for attendees during the event
  • -Facilitate interaction between attendees and sponsors
  • -Use a screen to reflect live tweeting during the event such as Tweetwallpro or a social media wall
  • -Connect a video to a large screen for live streaming
  • -Use QR codes for mystery freebies

After the Event

  • -Post photos / videos on the event Facebook page and tag people known
  • -Distribute feedback forms by email to all attendees
  • -Write summary blog post and share on social media channels
  • -Share presentations on Slideshare
  • -Upload event videos to YouTube


It is imperative that attendees at an event are totally immersed in a unique experience by being educated, entertained of informed in a novel way. Otherwise they will not be repeat customers or maybe worse – won’t recommend it to others.

Either way, the role of event management is changing. An event manager / planner now must become a co-ordinator of experiences. Attendees want a more immersive experience through one-to-one interaction and sponsors want more than just signage and brand awareness.

With the technology readily available and the right mind-set, there is no reason why event management can’t be better than it used to be.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email, when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K


Can You Handle the Truth about Event Marketing and Engagement?


Straight up, here’s the truth – using events as part of your marketing activity is the real engagement that people need and want.

In this post, after initially discussing event marketing, we are going to look at ways to evaluate third party event sponsorship. Thereafter we will provide our usual section on marketing tips and timesavers. This time, the tips are focused on event planners.

We totally subscribe to the fact that we have all become more connected than ever and that the volume of communication has risen.  We would also agree that, to most smartphone owners, connecting online has become as normal as talking to a neighbour across the fence.

What we’d like to suggest, however, is that the value of that communication has decreased. This is mainly because brands appear to be focussing on the channels / tools more than the audience. And anyway, in reality, an online relationship isn’t always reciprocal.

If you look at it from a business point of view – we have staff working in digital marketing, we have community managers, content marketing, online publications and many more methods of communicating with prospects. The trouble is, as we see it, brands are in danger of losing sight of what they are trying to do – which is to make a person feel important.

After all, it is these people that are the lifeblood of our businesses. With our constant analysis, projections, ROI and margins sometimes the human touch gets lost in it all.

Get back to the future by using event marketing to talk to people

Look at this another way – how do we engage with our friends? Well, I for one prefer to talk to them face-to-face. We usually enjoy similar interests but still appreciate each other, if not. Basically, we have trust and we help each other out.

Now we know that a brand is not going to have such a close relationship. Surely, though, it should, at least, try to create an authentic and relevant interaction about whatever it is the customer is using / buying. An excellent place for such interaction is at an event. What people don’t want is for irrelevant brands to interrupt or waste their valuable time.

Since the dawn of time, marketers have known that it is emotions that drive action so I guess we need to go back to the future here. Being real and talking to people through event marketing allow brands to have a better chance of moving people from being watchers and listeners to doers.

At an event, people get to meet the real you, your people and the brand’s personality. We don’t believe that relationships can be based on online impressions, likes, click-thru’s and web traffic. True relationships are action based and as such are about reciprocal bonding – just like in the old days of the local shopkeeper.
Even our friends at have realised this by recently removing their ‘share counters’ and changing the favourite button to a heart button.

We would argue that the driver of engagement is not online activity but real-life experience. Certainly engaging in relevant conversations online can help nurture relationships. However, by facilitating participation, that allows people to come into real contact with your brand, is how you ensure people will remember you / your business.

Just observe the attendees of any sports event, theatre production etc. what do you see? Emotion – that’s what. It is only by sharing these emotional experiences with them will you truly engage with people and manifest your brand in the real world.

Evaluating 3rd party event sponsorships

In a previous life as Head of Sponsorship in AIB Bank, my constant battle was with our finance people about sponsoring unplanned for, third party events (i.e. not your own hospitality). These would have been outside of my initial budget. They could have ranged from exhibitions at trade shows to large sports activities and small student events.

The most important part of my arsenal was the research element undertaken before I approached them.

Of course, there can be many reasons why a business might sponsor a specific third party event and there are too many to cover here. Suffice to say, though, whatever the reason a business gets involved in an event it must always be based on advancing an overall business objective – in a measurable way.

From a sponsors point of view, here are some items to address in your proposal to the CFO (or to ask yourself, if a business owner).

  • Stick to the details – does the timing and location ‘fit’ with your other marketing activity? How large an audience will there be and does the activity and theme ‘fit’ with your brand message? Don’t engage in deficit funding i.e. absorb the risk from the event owner. Are there other sponsors (are they complementary) and is there a hierarchy (gold/ silver etc.)?
  • Look at the people involved – are the event owners ready and able for a professional sponsorship? Can they deliver on their promises and your objectives? Is the promised audience actually going to turn up? Look at audience demographics from previous events, what level of leads might they be, (executive vs manager)? Can the event add value for your internal audience in any way?
  • Determine what value you will get – Speaking or customer engagement opportunities, lead generation, branding basics, outside-the-box promotional opportunities, digital visibility opportunities, content creation or savings from an advertising budget. How will the audience / customer benefit from your sponsorship involvement? Make sure you include a figure for activation – depending on the type of event start-off with a €1:€1buget.
  • Measurement – measure by cost per 1,000 attendees not media value, how many new customers / leads? include digital analytics if available and summarise with the overall impact the sponsorship should have on business growth.

Here is a very good article based on recent research, from, which proves that businesses are using events to reach customers. For example, “nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents say events are one of the better sales and marketing approaches that a firm can employ to engage customers.”

Tips and Timesavers

Whether working with businesses or event owners, a constant obstacle that we come across is the expectation that each party has of each other. This obstacle usually relates to money i.e. who is paying who to do what. That is, the event planner is relying on sponsorship funds to make the event bigger and better – the sponsoring business wants a top return on its investment. Obviously, a clear agreement, backed up by an activation plan, is paramount at the start of the relationship.

We have covered sponsorship from a sponsors’ point-of-view previously, (e.g. here), so here are six tips for the event owner / planner:

  1. Planning and logistics are very important but a waste of time if there is no audience. Make sure you outline a realistic marketing budget and then allow the potential sponsor to augment it
  2. Don’t presume a sponsor will undertake the marketing for the event. Brainstorm to develop some creative marketing ideas – think about digital opportunities the sponsor might want
  3. Don’t be a one-man show. Use a community of designers, social media influencers, techies and PR people. Many start-up businesses might be glad to be involved for awareness and networking reasons
  4. The event really must have its own website. If you don’t have the expertise there are many free templates etc. out there (e.g. ). Attach google analytics so you can show results to your sponsor and you can undertake simple SEO yourself
  5. Do we even need to mention that social media should play a large part in the marketing of an event? How about inviting a well-known speaker / performer that you are connected to online? They might even guest write for you or offer a promotion on their own media sites.
  6. Will the event be interesting to any specific media? Don’t just circulate a press release, think about who would want to cover the event story in a specific way e.g. sports vs lifestyle. Link your database to an email marketing system such as You will need to send a group promotion piece, so depending on the number, it might be worth upgrading to a system that can handle your requirements.

One caveat to the above tips is that the event you are planning must be relevant to someone, preferably a specific audience and that it would be affordable for that audience to attend.


At the end of the day, an event should be a win: win: win for all parties involved. The owner / planner wants to host a successful event, the audience want to have a wonderful experience and the sponsor / business wants to achieve a business objective. So really, it’s a combination of how the success of the event is measured by all parties, that leads to a better understanding of its value, in the long run.

Here are three other ways to think about an event – i) did it grow (year-on-year)? ii) do the activation insights show an increased appreciation in general? and iii) one for the financial guys – how was the cost per attendee? – total promotional spend / no. of actual attendees = cost per attendee.

As we’re prone to saying here in Ireland – ‘is there any better way to engage with people than to throw a bit of a party’.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K

11 Good Networking Habits That Will Grow Your Relationships.

business-networking-Irish Biz-People

IrishBizPeople Event

Recently we received a reminder that a popular series of networking events for Irish SMEs is starting up again in October. Dubnet events are business ‘get-togethers’ for people who, more than likely have engaged online through social media. It is, in essence, an opportunity to build relationships – which is critical in business.

As I was registering (it’s free to attend), I realised that, in general, I look forward to these networking events. Mainly because we all know that leads / new business does not come knocking on the door. Instead, opportunities are usually found attached to people and such events as Dubnet (or groups like #irishbizpeople on Facebook), is a perfect platform to meet such people.

People either love networking or hate it. Whichever one you are is determined, in our opinion, by your attitude to meeting new people. A lot of the time people put stress on themselves, even before they attend an event. Here are some of our thoughts to help with any pre-event stress.

  • Don’t worry too much about first impressions. Wear whatever you feel comfortable in because what you wear shouldn’t make or break a relationship.
  • Appreciate that most of the information that will be presented (by speakers) you’ll have heard before, but that’s not the point – face-to-face engagement is.
  • You should really behave yourself around the free food and beverage opportunities but do be ready to hang around a little afterwards, if required – after the formalities, people usually relax more and be themselves.
  • Don’t try to be a professional networker and learn your ‘lines’ by rote – talk about what interests you, just be genuine and sincere. People, just like yourself relish real conversation, preferably stories.
  • Don’t worry about leaving the company of someone who is selling to you. They probably just want to spread their business cards around anyway. Spend longer with people you enjoy

The wrong question – “So, what do YOU do?”

I’ll probably get in trouble for this statement, but I honestly believe that when people ask you this question they don’t really care about the answer. So the challenge, therefore, is for you to help them care. Don’t try and cram everything into that 20-second elevator pitch – just make your response different or interesting enough to grab their attention.

This means answering with something that is totally unique to you. Your personality should shine through and make them realise that you are a human being – not a prospect! After doing that, you might draw them in further by suggesting a common problem SMEs have, by way of a question, e.g.“You know how little time small business owners have to review their marketing?”

Usually, this leads to the ‘great minds think alike’ moment and you can then mention your elevator pitch, as part of the conversation, describing what you do.

With regard to elevator pitches – I can’t remember where I came across this simple formula so I have to use it here without appropriate credits:

“I help/teach ________ (ideal client) to ________ (feature) so they can _________ (benefit).

The caveat here however, is that if you can’t move through the stages as alluded to above, naturally – don’t attempt it. It will come across as being contrived and at worse a sales pitch. Stick with rule #1 – be authentic.

Tips and Timesavers.

We wrote on this topic on numerous occasions previously and one that seemed to resonate with people was this one – 11 Bad Networking Habits. For our tips in this post, we are taking a more positive viewpoint and would offer these suggestions:


Before you attend, change your attitude to focus on meeting friends rather than business contacts.

uncomfortable person

Remember many other people are just as uncomfortable as you are – which quite often is just shyness.

smiling and networking

Did you know that people make a snap judgement on whether you’re trustworthy after 35 milliseconds of looking at your face – smiling indicates trustworthiness.

be prepared for networking

Before you head off to the event try and do some research in advance. Find out what type of event it is, its theme, a list of attendees and the speaker’s names.

business person networking

Prepare a 10 second introduction about yourself. This is not an elevator pitch it is a warm introduction to a potential conversation.

smiling person networking

Be more interesting. As mentioned above – give the person you’re talking to, something more to work on. Don’t just give your name and your job. Try telling them the benefit of what you do.

what about you networking

And how about you? Is much better than: So, what do you do? Don’t you think?

Thumbs up at networking

Give compliments that might encourage conversation. Make sure you accompany your observation with a question to continue the conversation.

networking and meeting people

Make people at ease and don’t wait to be approached. Why not talk to the person who isn’t talking to anybody?

groups of people networking

Don’t be afraid to join a bunch of people who are having fun. If you are part of a group having fun, be conscious of others trying to join in. Open up!


Be nice to everyone by paying attention to them and if you must move on – do it with compassion.


Hopefully, our tips above will help you build some good networking habits. Making a few little adjustments to your attitude to networking should make meeting new people, building relationships and converting leads, a second nature to you. The main point to remember is that relationships are how you grow your business. Don’t be scared to reach out and establish real connections.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

Would you like us to notify you, by email when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

Avoid these 8 types of people when building your business network.

Building a Business Network

Whether you believe in having a business network or not, at some stage you will probably need advice from other people, to help grow your business. In order to obtain that advice, you can pay for it e.g. outsourcing, use an existing network of friends or build a network of business contacts.

Either way, it means having access to a group of people whose opinion you trust. For the purpose of this post, we’ll discuss ways to start, build and develop a network of contacts.

Remember though, starting any sort of successful business network takes time and effort.

Start a business network by being consistent and available to others.

Yes, it is easier to start a business network online nowadays by using social media channels. The thing is that by just setting up an account (channel) doesn’t guarantee that anybody will notice you or if they do – want to have a relationship with you.

In O’C&K, we use two main channels for online networking, LinkedIn, and Twitter. If you are embarking on social media for networking, here and here are two really good articles on using both for business.

No matter what methodology you decide to undertake, online or offline, consistency across all touch points is the key to building relationships that matter. All engagements must reinforce who you are and what you do in a way that prospects will remember you (within reason, of course).

Purposely engaging with the same people, online and offline, in a consistent manner will help build familiarity. In essence, you are proactively forging a relationship with like-minded people in your industry (influencers). You want them to make referrals when appropriate.

A common parlance of marketing, about scratching each other’s back, reflects the thought that people like engaging with those that they know, like and trust. It follows, therefore, that to build a successful network you have to have a reputation for being genuinely available to others.

There are buzzwords for this such as ‘karma’ or ‘paying forward’. Quite simply, it’s about being there for people when they need help, in an informal way. If your advice can assist them over a hurdle, the relationship seed has been sown and when nurtured properly will lead to a formal business relationship.

Build your business network before you need it.

We mentioned above that time and effort are required to build a successful business network. This means, from the word go, you are watching out for potential people to add to your network. This can spill over into your personal life but to what extent that happens, is up to yourself.

The caveat is, however, that your network shouldn’t comprise any old group of contacts. Rather, it should be an authentic list of the ‘right’ people you may need at some stage, to help your business.

This might entail joining or attending local networking groups, e.g. dubnetbiz, business associations e.g. SFA, or any body of people that are relevant to what you do. As they say – to be successful you need to surround yourself with successful people.

Now, at these events you are going to come across people dealing out their business cards, willy-nilly. What do you do when you see no obvious benefit in them? We say – ‘take them’ and ask if you can keep in touch. Send a follow-up email the next day and stay in touch through email or at least on a social media channel.

Why? Well, just because you might not perceive them as being an important connection initially, their network might well contain a prospect for you. At some stage in the future, they might tap into their connections on your behalf. After all, it is about building a business network.

Develop the network by staying in touch and cultivating the relationship.

Just like friendships, business relationships need time to grow. Trust can arise from a forged bond through networking. However, it does need to exist before others will recommend your business to their contacts.

Some people hate the thought of meeting new people at an event and going through the motion of being ‘chatty’. They just want to get on with the business side of things.

Our tip is to be a good listener because people love to talk about themselves. Watch for word signals such as ‘I can’t find’ – ‘can’t get my head around’ – ‘don’t know how to’ or ‘don’t know of anyone who’ etc. You might be able to help them there and then or promise to get in touch with them shortly thereafter.

Look at a networking event as a room full of professional friends that you haven’t met yet.

Whilst these events may be a stepping stone, it is entirely up to you to demonstrate your competence and trustworthiness thereafter. By patiently cultivating a relationship, you will build a reputation for credibility and commitment.

Six tips for staying in touch with your business network.

  • Follow up the next day – without reinforcement, the impact of your 1st meeting diminishes every day.
  • Record details – write notes on the back of a business card or in an app/spreadsheet when you get the chance.
  • Use your online calendar to remind you to catch-up – when you do keep the message short.
  • Use social media – link on LinkedIn, like their Facebook page, follow on Twitter or comment on their blog post.
  • Host a networking event – invite them along.
  • Create an online alert – be notified if their business is mentioned online.

Tips and Timesavers.

Networking is a proven way of building a community of professional contacts that you may use to help you grow your business if required. To develop your network do things like:

  • Focus on adding value to your existing network by finding prospects for them.
  • Target a small number of industry contacts that you want to connect with and go to an event where they will attend.
  • Build a community of contacts out of your bigger network – deliver most value to them.
  • Become the connector for your network.

However, networking, when done wrong, can be a complete waste of time and money. Avoid these 8 types of people when building your business network:

  1. They accept referrals but don’t offer you anything in return
  2. They are not interested in learning about your business, not even your target audience
  3. They take ages to respond to your phone call/email
  4. They break appointments at the last minute
  5. They say they can’t help you with prospect introductions
  6. They ignore you at events and are handing out business cards to ‘new’ contacts
  7. They don’t look at your card when presented to them at an event
  8. They keep looking around the room when you are explaining what you do.


At this stage we can agree that forming meaningful relationships, with the right people, can have a positive impact on your business. The ‘trick’, just like in life, is to be more interested in other people than trying to make them think that you are interesting.

When you consistently offer assistance to people, in a way that matters to them, gradually they will believe in you, lower their guard and share with you where they need help.

“We hope you have enjoyed our marketing tips and timesavers blog” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email, when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K


How to find a sponsor for your brilliant idea or event.

Lifes2good cycle sponsor

5 ways to check that you have the right attitude towards finding a sponsor.

We made a presentation recently to a group of NGOs about the difference between a sponsor and donor. The audience comprised sponsorship seekers and/or fundraisers, so the presentation was customised in its content.

It is not our intention to revisit the presentation here, but we would point out that the main discussion running through the session was that of attitude. Our objective was to change the attendees’ attitude towards sponsorship and fundraising by demonstrating the difference between the two.

As a result of our half day session, it appeared that we were successful in that most attendees recognised that sponsorship is a joint marketing activity as opposed to the giving nature of companies supporting a fundraising campaign.

Recently, we wrote a blog post on the topic of sponsorship engagement (here), in which we offered various tips for sponsors and some for sponsees (sponsorship seekers). Today, in this blog post we would like to continue our sponsorship theme by writing about a sponsee’s attitude when approaching potential sponsors.

Let’s start at the beginning. Event owners, in any category, should have one focus only, and that focus should be on producing an event that will keep their audience engaged. Ultimately, it is the consistent positive experience of the audience/attendee that, over time, turns them into appreciative and loyal fans because their passion is being satiated. If the owner then wants to enhance the fan’s experience in some way, they may well search for a sponsor/partner to assist them.

It might be easy to write standard proposals for a Top 100 Companies list, but be warned – this is usually a complete waste of a sponsee’s time, due to lack of relevancy.

Do your homework first.

The very first step for all event owners is to know exactly what type of event they have and what it is that they can offer potential sponsors. The second step, building a target list of prospects, is not an easy one. Our own methodology for this stage is to compile three sub-lists and then merge them into one.

Our lists would include, a) what companies/brands would appear to be a ‘good fit’ with the event from a positioning point of view. The next list, b) is one of personal contacts/relationships that you (or your team), have with the first list of companies particularly, or with any other companies. The third list, c) outlines brands that are currently active in marketing to the same audience as the event

The third step is adopting the right attitude before meeting any potential sponsor. As mentioned above, a sponsorship is a joint marketing activity so here are some tips as to how to have the right business attitude to sponsorship.

  1. Do some background research on each potential sponsor – find out about their culture, product lines, brands, competition, marketing channels.
  2. Prepare to be a valuable business partner by using your experience of the event/fans – match their vision, mission and goals with yours. Understand their audience.
  3. Discover what they are saying in public about their business objectives – if a public company, the annual report is a mine of information; research their social media.
  4. Identify ways for them to turn your event into a business opportunity – the partnership must be a win-win-win for the sponsor, the sponsee and the audience.
  5. Make sure you can show how you will measure success – assign responsibilities, fulfilment reports, benchmarks, audience research etc.

Event owners must be committed to the implementation of activation strategies and to ensuring that the sponsor gets the credit where applicable. In this regard, the importance of a fulfilment report cannot be over emphasised. Not only will it show that agreed milestones have been met but it can also help sponsors justify their investment to an internal audience. Furthermore, it can show where the basic terms were exceeded and it can be used as a basis for renewal discussions.

Determine if your event offers real value to a sponsor.

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the sponsor, for a moment. All companies have business objectives and they use various marketing tools to help achieve them and grow their business. Sponsorship remains one of the more useful marketing tools in this regard, in my opinion. This is mainly in response to the fact that customers are expecting more personal engagement from brand touch points.

We all agree that every company wants growth (better results), with minimum costs and in the fastest way possible. Therefore, wouldn’t it make sense for event owners to focus on helping companies to make informed decisions on sponsorship opportunities and not just on an event that requires funding?

If a company decides to go the sponsorship route it will be because they perceive some element of real value, by doing so. A real value is where the sponsor believes that they are getting more from the sponsorship than just the financial cost they are paying to be involved.

Typically, a sponsor’s objectives might not have anything to do with the event at all. For example, objectives could be all or any of the following:

  • Awareness, visibility and/or testing of a new product/service
  • Increasing brand loyalty/reinforcing brand values
  • Stimulating sales/meeting trade partners / entertaining prospects
  • Building a relationship with the sponsee / motivating staff

The point here is that generally, the benefits being offered to a sponsor have to be carefully selected so as to match the sponsors’ expressed and unexpressed wishes and expectations.

Doing the homework, as suggested above, will highlight your commitment to the prospect. It will also show that you are interested in their partnership, rather than just their funding. By researching their identity and culture, it demonstrates that they are not being dealt with in a standardised way.  You can be sure that the best sponsors are looking to see that the nature of the event, matches their strategic business objectives.

Tips and Timesavers.

Much time is spent agreeing on the tangible benefits that can be offered to a sponsor in terms of content and value. We list a sample of them below, but the real challenge is to match what you have, with a sponsor that can use them.

  • Naming rights: Can be in the title; a physical section of the event (including online) or even for an agreed length of time.
  • Image rights: If not part of the naming rights it could be the placing of logos, trademarks, signage, clothing, route signage etc.
  • Merchandising: The sponsor can make its products/services available to the event fan base through sampling, demonstration or display.
  • Print and promotions: All print items to support the event should carry the sponsor’s mark and any promotional activity, online or offline should also promote the sponsor.
  • Staff benefits: Staff of the sponsor may receive special offers such as tickets, membership, celebrity introductions etc.
  • Hospitality: Tickets, reservations, green room VIPs, special seating, priority services, exclusive transport, accommodation, celebrity introductions etc.

The potential list of tangible benefits is almost endless, depending on what the sponsor wants/needs. The trick is to be efficient and relevant. Be efficient by offering only those benefits that a sponsor might want and be relevant by matching the benefits with their target audience.


Looking for a sponsorship has become almost mainstream for many event owners/ organisers. My personal peeve is when I hear some event committee member saying “we need a sponsor to support our event.” These are probably the same people that send out standardised requests to 100 companies and are surprised when nobody replies.

If you want to fundraise for your event, by all means, go ahead and ask for support. If you want a sponsorship partner you’d better be able to deliver on their business objectives.

At the risk of repeating ourselves, here is what we believe a sponsor seeker should do;  understand exactly what your event is and who it will benefit; define a list of benefits that you can offer a sponsor; try to differentiate and offer exclusivity; make your proposal about their business (not your event), and agree a joint plan of activity.

Above all – listen, learn and be professional because these are the things that show you care about a sponsoring partner. Believe us when we say a sponsor knows a good partner when they see one.

“We hope you have enjoyed our marketing tips and timesavers blog” – Aidan & Jim.

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Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we can grab a coffeet, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K