October 14, 2019

Beverly James photo

Selling event sponsorships can be a good way to increase revenue and, better yet, it doesn’t use up a lot of on-air inventory. However, what makes reps great at selling underwriting credits doesn’t always translate into finding sponsors for events. Connecting with prospects interested in event sponsorship requires more time and a compelling proposal of what the event will deliver for the prospect’s consumers. Kim Alexandre at The Center for Sales Strategy offered some timely tips at the 2019 Public Media Development and Marketing Conference (PMDMC) about how to understand event sponsorship prospects’ unique needs and craft successful presentations to meet those needs.

Why do companies even sponsor events?

Companies generally decide to sponsor events because they want to start a relationship with consumers. Events allow them to interact with people in a meaningful way, just as they do for your radio station.

Selling event sponsorships involves a process that is less transactional than on-air sponsorship, so start this process early to give prospects time to work your event into their calendar.

How to get the conversation started?

It’s hard to get appointments with any prospect, as we all know. When it comes to selling sponsorships, it’s imperative to do your research so you can know something about their company, their marketing focus, any new products or initiatives. Take the time to write compelling emails showing that you know something about them and that you can help them reach their goals.

Alexandre recommends creating a one-sheet that gives basic information that can help prospects make the decision about letting you in the door. A one-sheet can help to start the conversation; it should be transparent and concise. Key things to include are:

  1. Event date and time. It’s surprising how often this is overlooked!
  2. Target consumer profile. Paint a picture of who the event will attract.
  3. Expected number of attendees.
  4. Sponsorship opportunities starting at $XXXX. This will pre-qualify prospects.
  5. Deadline to participate.

A meaningful conversation

Once you get an appointment, you need to have a meaningful conversation where you truly can uncover their needs. Outcomes of that conversation might include things like:

  • What are their desired business results?
  • What are two or three measures of success in their minds?
  • What are their decision-making criteria?
  • Get an assignment for yourself for next steps.

Design a proposal

Once you get to the main presentation, tell your story with photos when possible. A shot of a huge crowd filling a park is way more impressive than a number on paper.

The best sponsorship presentations start with a story about the prospect’s consumers. Then match those consumers to your event attendees. Presentations should always prioritize the client’s goals over anything else. Use language such as “Your consumers are likely to…” vs. “Our audience is likely to…”. Think about how to convert attendees into their new customers.

Do your best to tell a story about what the event means to people and why they come. Be sure to include the key elements the client is looking for, rather than defaulting to your standard on-air radio pitch.

According to Alexandre, the big three items typically are:

  1. Activation
    This should be the most important part of your presentation. What is the action your sponsor wants their consumers to take, and how will your event generate meaningful leads? These could be sampling opportunities, driving people to their website, improving their brand awareness, or even recognition of employees. Sponsors will want more than just being seen. When you do your needs analysis, ask them what kind of activation they are looking for.
  2. Audience
    This is more than just the number of attendees, although that is good to include. Sponsors want to know as much about your event attendees as you can tell them. Information about attendee age, income, interests, perhaps even other hobbies or activities they engage in are all helpful. If you’ve done this event before, what has worked for other sponsors? What outcomes were you able to deliver?
  3. Assets
    This is the nitty gritty of the sponsorship. What size space will they get and what opportunities you provide. Will they be invited backstage or to a VIP area? Can their employees meet the artists? Can they have their product on display on stage, or give samples? Can they have a contest on-site and have your on-air personalities announce the winner from the main stage? Think about how you can tie them into your event so they are seen as an integral part of it. This is what makes them feel like a partner rather than just a sponsor.

What’s it all worth? 

Event sponsorships generally include many items from on-air promos to digital ads to booth space to tickets, to, yes, even on-air underwriting spot banks. In order to get top dollar for your event sponsorship you need to add everything last little thing up. Our sponsorship valuation tools can help remind you of all of the assets at your disposal, along with industry standards of what those assets are worth. Take the time to fill this in so you’ll know that you are priced right from the start. Smart companies that buy event sponsorships know what they are doing and the difference between real value vs. your made-up numbers.


Events are a lot of work for everyone at the station, and for your sponsors. They are also extremely important in the marketing of your station. They can help you build stronger relationships with listeners and members, thus increasing the donor base. Knowing what your sponsors are looking for and how they value what you have will help you get noticed, and more importantly, partnered with.

Beverly James photo