Tag Archives: events

12 Things You Want To Know About Event Sponsorship


I was chatting recently, with a bunch of my friends, about the array of large sports events on offer this year. There are the Rio Olympics, Euro 2016, the Tour De France, the Cricket Series and the Ryder Cup, to mention but a few. The conversation came around to money which led us, inevitably, on to sponsorship.

Some of you that know my background will appreciate that this topic is one of my favourites.

In fairness, my friends stayed with me as I espoused brand fit and awareness, crowd loyalty and the attitude of rights owners. They know that brand communication is what I do for a living, so they were sympathetic.

As usual, I ended up discussing (arguing) the difference between advertising and sponsorship – even if I knew they were just doing it to get me going.

For the record, guys, of course, both advertising and sponsorship have massive power and they do go hand-in-hand mostly. But, I believe there are different reasons for using them separately.

My discussion prompted me to write this post about sponsorship. I will outline 3 important pre-sponsorship agreement areas to attend to and then list 9 reasons why event sponsorship is effective.


Advertising is perfect (and necessary, we could argue) for establishing a brand and raising awareness. It usually is a campaign so it is for a specific duration with measurable results.

Sponsorship, on the other hand, is usually a long-term commitment between a business and an event. The objective is to build a strong and sustainable relationship with an audience. Preferably the audience should be mutually sought after by the business and the event. With a good partnership, research shows that good event sponsorship can lead to high levels of awareness, recognition and loyalty.

Event sponsorship is best where businesses genuinely have a joint objective, with the rights holder. In essence, it should fit both of their images, values and audiences.

From a sponsor’s point of view, they should be relevant to the nature of the sponsorship (similar attitudes as the audience). They should have some similar demographics e.g. geographical, and should be in it for the long term. As a result, they will have a greater chance of affecting the attitude of their target audience.

As I’ve pointed out in previous posts on sponsorship, changed attitudes can lead to changed behaviour. At the end of the day, with clear marketing communication objectives, a business will be able to decide whether to use advertising, sponsorship or both.

An up-front effort will ensure that you start off on the right foot.

Traditionally there have been seven sponsorship platforms:

  1. Arts & Culture
  2. Broadcast
  3. Cause
  4. Fashion
  5. Film
  6. Music
  7. Sport

You could probably add digital (eGaming), on to that list now. To a certain extent, nearly all of them can be approached in the same way. This is because the most important part of a sponsorship is that the partnership is a win-win-win situation i.e. for the audience, the event owner and you, the sponsor. You getting bang-for-your-buck is, of course, essential if the partnership is to endure.

We would suggest three essential things to do before entering a sponsorship arrangement.

The first one is at the identification stage. You really should undertake research to determine what relevant opportunities are available. Needless to say that there will be many events looking for a sponsor. However, you should only consider those that have the same values, audience and attitude as your brand. We call this, having a good brand fit.

When you have a list of potential prospects, be tenacious when meeting with them by asking pertinent questions. For example, determining the timing and place of the event is important because it must fit your business calendar or portfolio of other sponsorships.

Also, find out if there is a communications / event theme (does it match yours?), is there a marketing budget / team (will you have to do it all?), what is the size of the database (will they get the audience they propose?) and who are the other sponsors / suppliers (any competitors in there?).

The second most important thing is determining if your business audience is the same as the event audience. It’s best to have a narrow focus rather than accepting a general description such as male / female / young / old etc.

The third is, determining what value you will receive for your investment. I do not mean simple branding opportunities here. If you have certain objectives that you want to achieve (speaking opportunities, meetin’ greets, VIP hospitality etc.), make sure all of them are achieved and ignore the distractions of signage / tickets / mentions etc. if not required.

You may or may not be the sponsorship decision maker

If you are a small business and the sponsorship investment is large, the decision may have to go to a Board. In a medium to large business, if you’re not the final decision maker you will have to make the case internally. In either case, the best suggestion we can offer you is to include the results of your research, outlined above.

Your outline should include such items as, brand fit, audience profile, predicted ROI, benefit packages and your personal recommendation. These are the basic necessities and if the decision maker needs more information, at least they’ve shown an interest in pursuing the proposal further. Negotiations with the rights owner can commence.

Outsourcing vs In-house

It might be that you are a business owner and you don’t have time to undertake the research above. Your options would be to outsource the job or employ a sponsorship manager. The difference is usually experience and cost.

From my own background, I am aware that a sponsorship manager wears many hats. These hats can be business development, events manager, marketing, social media or even a CSR expert!

Anyway, whatever ‘hat’ the person is to wear, you should look for as many of the following attributes as possible. If hiring a sponsorship manager they should be / a:

– good negotiator                                                  – proactive but patient

– somewhat creative                                            – self-confident and committed

– great communicator                                         – multi-tasker (team player if relevant)

– good with people                                               – decision-maker

I’m not sure where I read the following quote but it stuck in my mind ever since.

“We hire people based on the skills we are looking for, and we fire them based on the people they are”.

If you are thinking about outsourcing, here are a few questions to consider:

– do I / my team have the time                          – look for experience of sponsorship previously

– do I / my team have the experience              – are they active in the industry and online

– do I have the budget                                        – get specific references from other experts

Tips and Timesavers for Event Sponsorship

More and more marketing communication options are becoming available due to technology. At the same time, the CFOs (or your business partner) are looking for more powerful ways of differentiating your brand from competitors. Whilst you could argue that traditional marketing channels have lost some impact, one option that doesn’t appear to have lost its effectiveness is event sponsorship.

Here are 9 reasons why it’s still a powerful way to achieve business objectives:

  1. Brand awareness and recognition
  2. Targeted marketing (see above)
  3. Brand credibility enhancement
  4. Online / offline media exposure
  5. Lead generation and new business partnerships
  6. Community impact
  7. Sampling / special offers
  8. Data-base / mailing-list usage
  9. Measurable*

*I smile when I think about the traditional ad measurement of ‘opportunities-to-see’ loved by the media so much. This is like counting how many people look at your shop window but don’t go in and buy anything. I mean, what’s the point?

Bad sponsorships have been guilty of measuring the wrong numbers also. Logo exposure, name recall, share-of-voice, anyone? Businesses now realise that these common measurements have no effect on the bottom line. An example of what should be measured would be loyalty, propensity to buy and brand perception.


Event sponsorship is still a powerful marketing communications tool. As a sponsor, however, it is important to have your sponsorship objectives linked to your business objectives. Also, a business benchmark should be agreed prior to the event (Guinness do this by installing pumps in surrounding bars before an event and measuring any increase in sales + pouring rights revenue, of course).

A final heads-up is to be realistic with your target figures. Make sure they are achievable and measurable. If you have business measurement tools in place – include sponsorship in them.

Event sponsorship offers you the privilege of connecting with people and building relationships with them through something that they care about. Get it right, at the start.

“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 www.twitter.com 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 marketingprofs.com, 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. www.wordpress.com ). 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 mailchimp.com. 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

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


11 bad networking habits.

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

Do you value networking for lead generation?

I came across a video from entrepreneur.com recently, on making small talk, which brought a smile to my face. Humour really is the way to get a message across a lot of the time, don’t you think? Anyway, it made me reflect on the number of events my colleague in OC&K, and I attend each month. Every time we are at an event it is very amusing to spot the various networking techniques being employed and the number of people that are just not comfortable networking, in any situation.

So in this post I’m going to chat about how being more prepared can help get rid of ‘cold feet’ and then outline some examples of bad networking.

I am conscious of the fact that for many people reading here, this is an old and well documented topic but, for me it never seems to be a waste of time reviewing how to communicate clearly and effectively and how to go about building relationships from a standing start. Of course the words you speak and hear at a networking event do play a part in getting your message across but it is the way that you speak and listen that makes a significant difference.

OK so – hands up – how many people think success at an event is a case of counting the number of people (business cards) that you encounter (distribute)? One might even measure it as a personal brand awareness driver by spending an evening chatting with acquaintances over a ‘free’ glass of vino! Either way, here are some thoughts that might make your networking efforts, actually worthwhile.

Food for thought.

Above all else – have a short and simple description about what you do. At OC&K, ‘we help, mainly, small businesses to be smarter about their marketing activity’. If you can’t ream it off naturally, how is your ‘listener’ going to understand what you do without further clarification, who will then probably switch off, as you continue to elaborate. Prepare before you attend i.e. find out who is going to be there that you would like to chat to and while preparing your ‘strategy’ – decide on some objectives (2/3 is fine). This way you can judge whether your evening was a success or not.

A trick I always like to use is to go and say hello to the speaker. It’s amazing how many people you meet that gather around the speaker after a presentation. If there is no speaker, use the organiser instead. Even if they are not relevant to your business – they are usually well connected, and you’d never know who you’d ‘bump into’.

The best thing to do at any networking event is to really listen. However, if you are talking, try to use similar terminology and follow the body language of your counterpart. Someone pointed out to me that the word listen is an anagram of silent. – which is a good way to remember this point.

This is an old one but, where possible get them to talk about their work, career, interests or even their opinions.  We know that people tend to have positive recall of a conversation if they have spoken about themselves. Give the other person your undivided attention and if that’s working both ways, then a relationship commences. I believe that the hardest thing to do is to get out of your own comfort zone. It is all too easy to talk with somebody all night that has the same interests as you have. Mingle and listen to different stories.

I attended a fantastic networking event last Thursday evening, the #dubnet, 1 year old celebration organised by the @dubnetbiz gang, at a great Dublin city centre venue, The Church.  During the evening I was reminded that trying to stay focused on someone who is talking about their business in an incoherent way, is very difficult. It is all too easy to make an excuse to leave and move onto somebody else, but of course I wouldn’t do that. I believe that not only would it be bad manners to do so but it could also mean that perhaps the person had not prepared properly and should be given a chance, within reason. In fact, on the one occasion that it happened last Thursday, I summarised what I believed the person was saying and they noticed that they were babbling on. Lesson learnt, I hope.

Personally, when networking, the two things I focus on the most is being helpful, where and when I can, during a conversation, and making sure I make a note to follow-up where I have said that I would.

Tips and Timesavers.

There are no hard and fast rules about what not to do so here are eleven examples of what I consider bad networking:

  • You move on after an introduction because you believe that the person isn’t useful to you.
  • You don’t allow the person you are speaking with to speak in a 60 second period.
  • You remain in the company of a colleague / friend that you attended with.
  • You give a business card to people you haven’t spoken with.
  • You forget to keep a note of who you promised to follow up.
  • You are there for the food and/or the booze.
  • You stay talking to a person you know already.
  • You spend your time on your smartphone.
  • You gossip about others at the event.
  • You ask closed (yes or no) questions.
  • You sell.

In the advent of uber connectivity online, I believe that it is more important nowadays that we don’t lose the skill of good face-to-face networking. Of course online networking is an integral part of building and growing a business, but offline follow up is essential, if a relationship is to be developed. It is a skill to feel confident in a networking situation, but with experience and some careful planning you should be able to capitalize on the value of networking for lead generation.

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K