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Know Your Sponsor (KYS) Part 2: View Sponsors as Investors

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Surprisingly often, event organizers consider their sponsors as cash cows instead of what they actually are: partners who contribute to the success of their events. I am very active both in the startup scene as well as in the world of events and sponsorship, and I cannot help but see a lot of parallels between a startup seeking investors and an organizer reaching out to sponsors. The interesting question is: what can organizers learn from a startup/investor relationship? Quite a lot, I feel.

1. The quest for money
Both startups and event organizers are often notoriously short on money and spend a considerable amount of time reaching out to investors and sponsors. The process of reaching out to investors is quite straightforward when it comes to startups; investors expect a pitch-deck and an executive summary that should match certain standards. If you are in a startup you will spend a lot of time optimizing your pitch-deck. You will consult countless online resources that will help you put together a perfect pitch-deck that will help you convince investors. 

My advice for eventprofs: Get inspired by basic startup requirements and try to adopt a startup-mentality for your event. 

2. Landing an investment
Hoh boy, how many pitches have I delivered in my life? How often have I been grilled by investors with nagging (and justified) questions? What have I learned from that? Preparation matters. Trying to convince an investor without being extremely well prepared is DOOMED TO FAIL! Investors will pinpoint the flaws in your concept, execution and your documentation. It is merciless. Luckily it’s not that difficult anymore to find inspiration and examples of best practices online. Just navigate to YouTube and search for “startup pitches” and you fill find a plethora of interesting pitch examples that will give you a lot of inspiration of how to pitch your own event. I often assist in conference calls between our portfolio organizers and potential sponsors and I’m surprised on how often organizers are entering the pitching stage while being poorly prepared, sometimes up to a level that I have to take the lead in the negotiations.

My advice for eventprofs: Prepare for your pitch, rehearse and have important numbers and figures ready. Also, anticipate and prepare for answering lots of nagging questions.
 

3. The investor is a partner
Startups learn sooner or later that an investor is not just putting money into a company. Instead, a good investor invests so-called smart money. This means that the investor has the network, knowledge and other assets beyond financial ones that the startup will benefit from. The startups who neglect this wisdom may go on for a while, but often enough they stumble over their own feet. Investors are partners and therefore they should be treated accordingly; with all due respect and an obligation to report to them on a regular basis. And they should also contribute to the success of the company by getting involved to a certain degree.

It should not be forgotten that investors have a large network of companies they are working with and that they are more than interested in leveraging their portfolio by connecting those companies together. This can perfectly apply as well for sponsors who I call “smart-sponsors”.
 
My advice for eventprofs: Learn as much you can about your sponsor; about their connections and assets and try to include them as a partner who brings added value beyond their money from the very beginning. 

4. Investors expect reports
No investor will put money into a company without expecting detailed reports on traction, financials and other important metrics. This reporting obligation has to be fulfilled by the startup, otherwise it will be in big trouble sooner or later. The reason is obvious: investors have their own obligations to report what they’ve invested in. They are held liable for what they did and therefore need to justify that the money has been invested carefully. The bigger the investment becomes, the more detailed are the reporting requirements. 

Sponsors are no different; they invest money in your event—money provided by their company through a dedicated budget. And the sponsor representative responsible has to defend their decision to their superiors. Smaller companies might be more easy going, but bigger corporations will hold you more accountable for how you have been spending their money.
 
My advice for eventprofs: Be prepared to deliver clear and precise reports to your sponsors. The best way to do this would be to track sponsorship activities right from the beginning and to make sure that everything related to the sponsor is well documented. 

5. Manage your time
Event organizers are no different from startups. Fundraising is not contributing in any way to the productivity of the organizer/startup, yet it’s crucial for the success of the project. Startups are almost constantly fundraising, to a degree that it simply becomes a habit. This means building up long-lasting relationships with potential investors, nurturing these connections, updating their profiles on LinkedIn, etc. It’s not a short distance run, it’s a marathon, and the winners are those who are able to streamline their outreach, who are able to wisely use existing software and tools like to-do lists, CRMs and other (sometimes even free) solutions.

My advice for eventprofs: Get organized and learn how to use these tools before you start reaching out to sponsors. You won’t have the time to learn how to use important, necessary tools while all hell breaks loose with your sponsor relaitonships.
 
Learn more about the importance of setting your sponsors up for success by registering for our webinar KYS – Know Your Sponsor to Succeed.
 
About the Author
profile-img-1Since his youth, Peter had a passion both for tech and business. Right after his studies he created his first company, active in internet development and later in film production. Step by step Peter became interested in sponsorship and discovered what all could go wrong in this area. This experience led to the creation of SponsorMyEvent. Peter is active in developing SponsorMyEvent’s vision, the execution as well as the marketing. Besides he often appears as speaker at conferences, webinars or podcast – of course speaking about his favorite topic: inbound sponsorship. To learn more about Peter and his company SponsorMyEvent, please visit the SponsorMyEvent.com, request to connect with him on Linkedin, or tweet to @peterpoehle.

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