Sponsorship · Online advertising

How To Find and Connect With Sponsors?

Devin Dixon Business Developer Extraordinaire

September 8th, 2016

I notice that events on Meetup and Eventbrite have a lot sponsors. I created a platform that is designed to give sponsors more value and leads out of their sponsorships, but I am having trouble connecting and understanding sponsors. Questions I have are:

1. What do sponsors value out of their sponsorships?
2. What problems are they currently facing?
3. How can I connect with them?
4. How do they normally pay and how should I negotiate?

Anyone with this kind of experience, I look forward to connecting with you.

Rob G

September 8th, 2016

Devin, in the interest of time i'll be blunt:  you have it backwards and there is no free lunch.  Get out of the office and go talk to customers/prospects (in your case 'sponsors') BEFORE you 'create a platform'.  you don't have a business until you understand your customers inside and out - how to reach them, what their pains/needs are, current solutions, competitors (theirs and yours), etc.  For a 'business developer extraordinaire' this should be second nature... like breathing. You are trying to take the easy way out and there is no easy way, or if there is then someone else is already eating your lunch.   You should have answered all of your questions above BEFORE you created anything beyond a powerpoint presentation. 

Rob G

September 8th, 2016

Devin, you mentioned Meetup and Eventbrite. My answers to your above questions don't really matter all that much.   The opinions that matter are those of your prospects/target market.  Go to several meetups and events that have sponsors and talk to the sponsors.  Ask them the questions you pose above. Rinse and repeat.  When you feel like you know your prospects needs and pains then brainstorm solutions.  See if you can come up with a viable business model (how to solve your customers pain points and make money doing it).  Build a short powerpoint/prezi deck and go back to these prospects and get as much commitment as you can get.  Commitment can look like a lot of things, but things like a commitment to spend money with you when you have your MVP built, join your advisory board, be a beta user, invest real $$, etc. are all good signs.  If you don't get these sorts of commitments that is valuable feedback too.  

Devin Dixon Business Developer Extraordinaire

September 9th, 2016

Barbara and Nikki,

Please feel free to connect with me at devin.dixon at sproutconnections dot com. Barbara, you insight and very helpful, I'm defintely going to look into redbook. Nikki, thanks for the connections, and we actually know Keith who helps run that group. Small world. Does your Meetup group ever do events in NYC?

Chris Gorges Managing Director, Infinia Group // Founder, Biddlist

September 8th, 2016

@Devin check out www.sponsormyevent.com - I can intro you to the founder if you shoot me an email at chris at rocketure dot com.

Devin Dixon Business Developer Extraordinaire

September 8th, 2016

Rob, thanks for your reply again.

A little background on us at Sprout. We currently have about 300+ events,65k in users and just added a section for podcasts. Everything we have has pretty much steered itself into Entrepreneurialevents and content.

We do have a scalable revenue model but I don't like the amount of critical mass it takes to scale nor do not want it as our only revenue stream. So we've recently come up with an advertising model that is suppose to be low-risk, high reward, but for a steep price you can look at here: https://youtu.be/DDHxYfred58

But we are figuring out Go-To-Market Strategy and we feel sponsors are the best route. I do understand your approach of going to Meetups and such, but I'm working on a faster way to validate. Per answers like Barbara's, I can take that information and further develop a better go-to-market strategy and validation techniques within a few weeks, instead of months. I think of it as working smarter, not harder.

Devin Dixon Business Developer Extraordinaire

September 8th, 2016

Thanks Rob for pointing out all the things I possibly could have done wrong. Now moving forward and without knowing what I have, would you have any advice or tips on the questions asked?

Nikki Johnson White-Label SEO & Content-Marketing Specialist / Freelance Consultant

September 9th, 2016

Small world indeed!

The Inbound Marketing Professionals Meetup hosts sessions regularly in NYC, as I mentioned.

The Kuala Lumpur Marketing Meetup group is focused on recruiting local candidates here in Malaysia, so no need for NY events.

Cheers, Devin!  Have a great weekend!
- Nikki

Barbara Kelso Strategic Development, Social Entrepreneur

September 8th, 2016

1. Sponsors want a ROI - real engagement - brand placement is not enough
2. "Sponsor Fatigue" - too many events of the same nature or stacked up in one region, and non-stop asking from multiple sources.
3. RedBook has email info for most large corps - Book of Lists from BizJournal and call marketing department. Get referrals.
4. They pay anywhere from $500 to $150K per event or organization. Major endorsements are into the millions. Negotiations are a fine art. I start with thinking how to make a deal where everyone wins. What are the assets of the event and the assets of the sponsor, and then I architect a deal as where all parties win in making that deal. The hardest part is thinking you know what is best for a brand, but you have no idea what kind of money they have already sunk into other events and into a particular region. It is best to submit to their annual marketing budgets and provide HOW are they to get a ROI from a particular event or organization. 
Good Luck. Love to review what you have. 

Nikki Johnson White-Label SEO & Content-Marketing Specialist / Freelance Consultant

September 8th, 2016

Hi Devin! 

Interesting idea here!

I second Rob's thoughts about meeting up with existing group sponsors; it's the only way to figure out how best to approach the entire platform and all associated efforts.

But let me share my experience, having been a sponsor and organizer of two Meetup groups myself: 


>> INBOUND MARKETING PROFESSIONALS - New York City
- http://www.meetup.com/Inbound/
- Sponsored by Galileo Tech Media: http://galileotechmedia.com/

1. The group supplies a steady stream of prospective clients and partners.  It provides its sponsor with a great way to meet all sorts of new contacts who might be in need of marketing support themselves or be connected with someone who does -- either immediately, or at some point down the line.  It provides a friendly forum to initiate business relationships and build solid trust.  It has been a major source of incoming leads for the firm.  

2. New York City is quite obviously an enormous, crowded market.  Differentiation from all of the other active groups here is key.  Recruiting additional sponsors could take this group to a whole new level; you could potentially provide value by enabling the group to connect with other companies interested in teaming up to host much larger events at marquee venues in the city.

3. Go to an upcoming event.  The group has its next session planned on Tuesday, September 27: http://www.meetup.com/Inbound/events/233967595/.

4. Galileo covers all charges associated with running events for the group.


>> KUALA LUMPUR MARKETING MEETUP - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: 
- https://www.meetup.com/Kuala-Lumpur-Marketing-Meetup/
- Sponsored by Binary.com: https://www.binary.com/en/careers.html

1. In this case, Kuala Lumpur Marketing Meetup serves primarily as a recruitment channel for its sponsor, helping Binary.com to connect with prospective candidates to fill its many open staff positions.

2. Malaysia is an interesting market. The existing job sites tend to deliver a high volume of unqualified candidates; it's difficult to use traditional channels to connect with the type of sharp, self-motivated professionals who have proven to perform best at Binary.com.  So the main purpose of sponsorship is to enable the company to connect with top-of-the-line marketers and IT professionals, who are most likely to succeed as staff members for the company. You could provide value by introducing Binary.com to additional groups and other opportunities that help serve its recruitment needs.

3. I can provide any additional info that you need, including contact details for the HR manager at Binary.com.

4. Binary.com covers all charges associated with running events for the group.


I'll shoot you a private message with the contact details of my business partner in New York, Joseph McElroy of Galileo Tech Media (https://www.linkedin.com/in/josephmcelroy); you guys should DEFINITELY connect, especially since you're both based in NYC.

Hope this helps!  

Cheers!
- Nikki

Devin Dixon Business Developer Extraordinaire

September 22nd, 2016

@Rob Gropper, per you first comment, while my way of going to market is completely unorthodox to the standards, it's worked. I now have 2 pay clients using the platform and I have some bigger name brands signing up as well.

If you think it's a fluke, I've done this several other times with several other products, and it tends to work 4/5 times.

For me the approach is creating something that you know has value but then you are unsure what is the easiest product-market fit. To I try different markets, listen closely to feedback pivot and when I found a market that is highly engaged, I go after the low hanging fruit and work my way up.

If you'd like we could discuss more on how this non-conventionalmethod can work.