Struggling sponsorships

How Does 6 Wedding Dresses Relate to Business Decision Making?

In honor of my 1-year wedding anniversary last month, I decided to repost an article I wrote last year for ‘Lady & Company Creative’ and how having SIX wedding dresses helped me with my business decision making and overcoming analysis paralysis.

I have four wedding dresses hidden in the back of my closet, and two more being shipped to me as I type this blog. I’m just going to let that sink in for a second. This is not an exaggeration, this is my current situation. By Tuesday, I will own six wedding dresses.

So, this is the point in which I answer a few questions running through your head. Yes, I am actually getting married in March. No, I’m not one of those women who has dreamed about their wedding day since they were little, this is my second marriage which may be a contributing factor to this whole ”dress situation”. You are also probably wondering how my inability to say “yes to the dress” relates to business. I promise I will get there, just stay with me.

Like I mentioned, I had been married before — which doesn’t mean that tying the knot with Steve (my fiancé) isn’t exciting and special — it just means I already have an idea of what to expect at our upcoming nuptials. This time around money is probably our number one factor, if it wasn’t for wanting to share the occasion with family we probably would just elope. We don’t want to spend a bunch of money on a big affair, we would rather put the money to a trip or put it towards our house, or simply just not spend the money at all. So the bigger question is now “why?” Why when I don’t want to spend extra money on my wedding am I sitting on a bounty of white lace? Well, quite simply put, I can’t make a decision and because of this it’s costing me money. Money I can’t afford to waste. Even though I know this, I still have taken no action to actually make a decision.

Decision making can be a hard and overwhelming process, making the wrong decision can cost money, customers, and stress. Several bad decisions could even generate the worst case scenario of your business closing. It makes perfect sense that business owners can find themselves paralyzed when faced with a major decision — but I got news for you: making no decision at all can do the same exact thing, and inevitably cripple your ability to move forward or grow.

I was doing research on business decision making and came across an article on, written by guest writer Stan Popovich (author of A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear), in which he offers six suggestions on how to make the right business decisions ( In this article the one thing that really stood out for me is his reminder that running a business is a series of never ending decisions. We all know this, but for some reason when the big ones hit we become stagnant or avoid the choice we have to make. Popovich reiterates this notion by reminding us to stop putting off important decisions, and to not worry about our past mistakes, “just keep focusing on what is best for your company.”

Did you know that you can get a MBA in Decision Making? There are diagrams and worksheets available online, and oh so many books on Amazon, all dedicated to helping you make the right decision. Realistically though, we can’t diagram every decision (I know because I have tried), you just have to evaluate the choice, be clear on the outcome you are trying to achieve, ask for advice when you need it, and when you do make a decision accept that you made one and move forward.

So, just like I have to do daily with my business, I now need to decide on a dress, because if I don’t do it soon, I’ll end up having to start a new company, ”Teresa’s Wedding Dresses,” boy, I really hope I kept the receipts!

This blog was originally featured on January 2018.

Meeting 4

How to Approach “I’ll Pass” from a Prospect

For this blog, I wanted to share a story with you that happened recently.

I’m currently working on a new event for a client of ours, and a colleague suggested a possible sponsor prospect for the event. After doing a little digging on the prospect’s brand, I totally agreed that it would be a fantastic fit. So I set out to establish a connection with the brand.

I was lucky that my colleague was able to get me the contact for the head of marketing — so I didn’t have to spend too much time on the contact info — but as many of you could probably attest to, finding the contact can at times be the easy part because you haven’t had to face the possibility of a “no” yet.

I reached out to the brand with my short and sweet intro email, and attached my introduction deck about the event. Then I waited… I was fully expecting to have to reach out again in a few days, but to my surprise first thing the next morning a response popped up in my inbox. Now I’ll be honest, in my experience when I receive an email involving event sponsorship that quickly it’s usually on the positive side. Typically, if they aren’t interested, I tend to get no response at all until I keep checking back in with them. I was pumped that this was going well. I brought my mouse up to the email and clicked to open it…immediately my mood sank. It read simply, “We are going to pass on this.” Now my first reaction was to just delete the email, check it off my prospects list, and move on, but I really wanted to know why this event didn’t warrant at least a discussion. So instead of hitting delete I wrote back.

“Thank you [XYZ] for your response, although disappointing I do really appreciate that you got back to me. I don’t want to eat up any more of your time, but I handle partnerships for several large events in the Pacific NW and California, and I am interested in knowing what kind of events, if any, you would consider for [ABC Company]?”

I totally thought that I wouldn’t get an answer back since they had already passed, but to my surprise this is what I received:

“Not really sure, we are really careful with watching our expenses so typically mostly [Expo] events since that targets our core customers. Your [event] sounds like a great opportunity, but is probably too expensive.”

With that email I realized I had a major hangup: they didn’t know the pricing so she assumed it was out of their price range, when in fact this event was quite affordable. So I gave it one last try.

“That makes a lot of sense. I do think you would be surprised by how inexpensive it is, and it could be a great way to ‘thank’ your core customers, or even your employees. The top sponsorship is [$X], but I can even create a custom one for your brand as low as [$X] – [$X]. The big thing for [XYZ Event] is community partnerships, so they are very willing to work with pricing when it comes to great brands and companies. I am not trying to be ‘salesy’ I just think it could be a great fit for that part of Oregon, and I would love to put something together for you. I totally respect your decision to pass, so I don’t want to just send you stuff without your okay, but if you are willing to look at something custom to a budget then please let me know. Thanks again [ABC]!”

And you know what happened next? I got this email:

“Ok you can send me some information and I will take a look at it.”
I wish I could tell you that I was able to turn this “pass” into a huge sponsorship, but that didn’t happen. I did send them something custom with a few options, and it did end up getting sent further up the chain than it had before, but ultimately they still passed.

So, why am I sharing this with you? Because I was still able to turn a hard “pass” into a “maybe” and that’s what you have to keep trying to do. I was also able to build some kind of connection to the brand’s gatekeeper that one day could end up being a “yes”. We often times look at the immediate, which is booking the sponsorship right now, and that’s important, but the long game is also very important. This year’s “no” could be next years “yes.” My advice, and what I continually have to remind myself, is not to take the rejections personally, and to look at them as opportunities to find out why your event isn’t the fit for them, because other opportunities could arise in the future.


Small Event, Big Sponsors Vol 1: Two Essentials for Successful Small Event Sponsorships

Most events need sponsorship sales in order to succeed and grow but getting sponsorships can be a little tricky when you’re dealing with smaller numbers of attendees. If done correctly, however, Small and mid-sized events can successfully find sponsors and generate a decent revenue from their support.

Guess what? These small events still make money from sponsorships.

My goal with this column is to share ideas, case studies, and tips that will help smaller events find, build, and land sponsorships that will not only help them secure revenue, but grow their event.

First though, let me share with you a story from one of our clients.

Case Study: Texas Music Takeover

Texas Music Take Over is an organization that works with Texas-based musicians to bring tours and shows to international locations such as London, Australia, and Ireland. This not only promotes the Texas music scene internationally, but it also gives musicians the opportunity to perform in areas they probably wouldn’t normally get to play.

As you can envision, building out these kind of international events costs a significant amount. Just imagine the travel budget for approximately 20 people each trip! Here’s the kicker. These events are in venues that can only host a maximum of about 500 people.

Circling back to my story, Amy – the director of Texas Music Takeover – was reminiscing about the very first event she did in London. She booked the acts, hopped the pond, and landed in a venue. As Amy sat in the green room, she found herself on the verge of a panic attack, knowing she had poured her blood, sweat, tears, and money into it, but having no idea if it was going to be a complete flop. (I’m sure everyone in the event industry has had this feeling on more than one occasion!)

Then Amy heard a knock at the door. It was one of the venue’s personnel telling her the show had just sold out! Instead of jumping up and down over the success of her slam dunk, she started crying uncontrollably, releasing all the stress, fear, and anxiety that had built up worrying that her event might fail. She even had to kick everyone out of the green room so that she could pull herself together and finish out the night!

I loved that Amy shared this story of vulnerability with me because it was one that I could relate to. In fact, it’s one that most events can relate to! Here is the kicker though. Once you have a successful event, the need for sponsorships comes right up on its heels.

In Amy’s case, that first successful trip has now evolved into four week-long trips with five shows each and is adding a U.S. tour as well! Of course, all of these elements need support from sponsorships. But these shows are not large festivals or even shows with 1,000 people. These are shows that have 100 to 500 attendees each.

Two Essentials for Successful Small Event Sponsorships

So how do you sell sponsorships for events that have attendance numbers under 5,000? I’m going to be up front with you. It’s not always easy. As I’m sure you already know, there are many elements to selling sponsorships, but two that are essential for small events are creativity and the ability to super serve your sponsor.

For Amy and Texas Music Takeover, a big part of their value for sponsors is the access that they have to artist influence. Her attendance may not be huge, but the influence that these artists can provide to sponsors is of major value.

Does your event have access to influencers? Is this influence something you can provide a sponsor, such as through a social media? To clarify, I’m not just talking about a logo post and “shout out” to your sponsor. I’m talking about exclusive and creative content.

An example of using influencers and exclusive content is a pop-up concert that Amy’s team did with DFW airport. They had a few of the artists perform at the airport for unsuspecting bystanders, then posted the videos on their social media. This content was exclusive to DFW’s socials and something that DFW could not have done without the event’s support. For a sponsor, this kind of reach has nothing to do with the amount of people in the venue, and everything to do with the influence of your event brand and the people they are targeting.

Look for opportunities that lie outside of the attendee numbers. These types of opportunities will excite sponsors and get them interested in what your event can offer. A simple example of a creative asset for a small event that we’ve used several times is a digital photo booth that uploads to social media and has brand logos and hashtags. These are always a hit and can extend your sponsors’ visibility outside of the event. Every time someone takes their photo with the digital photo booth, it will upload with a brand logo or hashtag that is visible to that attendee’s social network.

Let’s work the numbers. Say you have an event where 100 photos are shared on networks, and each of those guest’s social media network averages 350 people. Even if only 10 percent of those 350 people see the photo, you have created “endorsed visibility” to 3,500 people who probably weren’t at your event.

What do I mean by “endorsed visibility?” It’s the idea that if a friend is sharing a brand or product favorably, they are seemingly endorsing that brand. People are more likely to buy or partake in a brand that is endorsed by a friend than by an advertiser, so endorsed visibility can be more powerful than advertising!

I have lots of other suggestions on ways to generate sponsorships for your small or midsized event that I can’t wait to share with you over the next year! In my next column for IFEA we will look at some small events and how they brought in some big money.

This article was written by Teresa Stas and was originally published in the International Festivals & Events Association’s “i.e.: the business of international events” quarterly magazine February 2019.

The premiere association supporting and enabling festivals and events worldwide. For more information on the IFEA, go to:”

Sponsor Gifts

Showing Gratitude To Your Sponsors

I know that when this goes blog goes up Thanksgiving will have passed, and the topic of gratitude is one that you will see over and over this time of year, but in my opinion it’s worth repeating.

I am actually writing this on Thanksgiving morning. My house is quiet while my husband is sleeping, and I am not rushing around trying make a massive meal for my family. We are going to my sister-in-laws for dinner, and the only thing I was asked to bring was wine. I did a silent gratitude shout-out for that when I woke up this morning!

When it comes to the sponsors of your event it is so important that you show them that you appreciate them, and that they are important to you – just as you do for the people in your personal life. Your sponsors are the ones who believe in your event enough to “put their money where their mouth is,” so to speak. They are willing to give you funds because they believe you have a great product. Of course this is a business transaction, but remember that they didn’t have to pick your event, and their support is what helps build your successful event.

Here are my top three ways to show gratitude to your sponsors:

1) Do An Event Recap! It’s always frustrating to a sponsor when they support an event, then after the event they don’t hear anything until it’s time to renew. My suggestion is to always recap your event within a month of it’s end date, if possible. Doing a recap that highlights the event, and your sponsors involvement, is always appreciated. It often times helps them in feeling good about renewing with you again. Make sure to show photos and lots of proof that you executed the things you agreed to doing.

2) Send a Thank You Note or Email. Make sure to tell them “Thank You” for doing business with your event, and for supporting it! This seems simple enough, but showing that you really do appreciate them goes a long way!

3) Sponsor Gifts or Hospitality. I’m a big fan of sponsor gifts and hospitality tents at events (or during the holidays), but I know that this can be an added expense that can add financial stress to an event. If this is the case, then think of ways that you can make your sponsors feel special both at the event and later in the year. Letting them know that you really appreciate their support is important! Maybe hold a “first look” at your event before everyone else is allowed into the event. Or perhaps doing holiday sponsor gifts, or something like a sponsor cocktail party. These are all ways to say “Thank You,” and also help keep your event top-of-mind with your sponsors throughout the year.

Showing authentic gratitude is something that is not only important in your everyday life, but also in your event life. Don’t take for granted the support of your sponsors, and try to always make sure they know that they are an essential part of the success of your event!

HTC Pool Activation

Let’s Talk About Sponsor Activations!

One of my favorite things about sponsorships is activation! How a sponsor partners with an event is everything! In my opinion, a successful sponsorship activation is one that enhances the event that patrons experience, while creating a memorable impression about the brand. We went to visit one of our clients earlier this month in Bend, Oregon for their event: Hood To Coast High Desert. One of the activations that I loved, was a traveling pool and hot tub used to promote a custom-build pool company. Now I’m not talking a blow up pool, or one you can pick up at Wal-Mart for $200. I’m talking a fully tiled and custom pool! It was totally eye catching, and definitely made for a memorable experience at the end of the race party!

When sponsors bring in exciting, fun, and useful activations, it can help connect not only the brand, but the event to a patron on a more emotional level. Photo booth sponsorships are a great example of this; they may not be entirely original, but people love them. Also, being able to have a brand logo on a digital strip –that is being shared socially– is a huge win. You are not only generating a fun feeling during the process, but with each share the brand is being endorsed to peers of the event patron.

Other successful activations are ones that fill a need for the patron, like phone charging stations, or water refill stations. These are associated with being “helpful” which is a positive feeling for an event patron.

Next time a sponsor just wants to set up a table and flyers try to suggest some creative ways to up their activation game. It will be a win/win/win for them, the event, AND the patron!

Check out some fun activations we have spotted at different client events!

Custom Built Pool – Hood To Coast: High Desert
Custom Built Pool – Hood To Coast: High Desert
Firestone “Destination Country” booth where patrons got the chance to meet a Jamboree artist each day of the festival! – Oregon Jamboree
More of the Firestone “Destination Country” booth. On this side, patrons got to take a photo in front of a green screen and share the branded photo to their personal social media platforms! – Oregon Jamboree
Mike’s Hard Lemonade Booth that featured a lemon shaped airstream trailer that they served samples out of! – Oregon Jamboree
Odwalla Juice Booth where patrons could charge their phones using the bike, and then receive a free bottle of Odwalla! – Hood To Coast: High Desert

Tips For Building A Successful Prospect List

In August I spoke at the Florida Festival and Events Association, and although the topic I was speaking about was creating a successful sales deck, the questions were focused on prospecting sponsors. A few weeks later I spoke to a group of professional sales representatives and again the prospecting questions arose. It is no secret that sponsorship prospecting can be tough, many would argue it’s the hardest part about sponsorship sales, and I would probably have to agree. It can be the most time consuming and defeating process, but I hope today I can give you a few tips that might make it a bit easier to create a prospect list.

Tip One: If you want to find prospects that sponsor events…go to events! I always encourage my clients to check local advertising on TV and Radio, but there are a lot of brands who really only spend their marketing money at events! Check out events that are similar to your event. Not only will it give you ideas for prospecting, but it can also give you ideas on activation!

Tip Two: Evaluate your contact list! I don’t just mean your business contacts: go through your Facebook, LinkedIn, and even the businesses you personally use. Sometimes we forget who we actually have connections with, like a friend that works for a company that could get you connected to the right person. Ask your gym, bank, or grocery store that you frequent. Businesses are more likely to spend money with those who spend money with them.

Tip Three: Google! Spend some time online researching events similar to yours in other states or areas. Most events post their sponsors online, and even if their sponsors don’t operate in your state or area, it can give you ideas to similar categories to prospect. For example most states have a lottery, and state run lotteries tend to sponsor events.

Tip Four: Really evaluate who your audience is, and what their lifestyle is like. Keep in mind: you do this to really figure out what the audience is into, and not necessarily what you personally like. Once you get a good idea of what your audience life-group is all about then you can brainstorm brands or prospects that would “fit” that group. If your event has 7,000 campers who attend it, then an outdoor lifestyle brand or store might be a good fit.

When creating your prospect list make sure you keep the best interest of the event and prospect in mind. It will be better all around if your prospects make sense for your event audience. You want your sponsors to help build a better event for your patrons, and you want your event to help your sponsors reach their goals!

Meeting 5

The ABC’s and 123’s of Sponsorships

I am passionate about sponsorships and I love how they can enhance an event in both experience and of course in revenue. I really believe that any good event should be able to find a sponsor or sponsors but it’s a competitive world out there so here are the basics to start with.

A is for Attendees: Knowing the data of your event will not only help you sell sponsorships but it will help you find the right sponsors. What are the demographics of your attendees? Age, Income, zip code, interests…the more knowledge you have for your event the better. You can get this info from your tickets, socials and even by survey at your event. There is also lots of new tech that can help in that area that you can look into.

B is for Business: Sponsorships can be a major business expenses so remember that although your event might be a non-profit, DO NOT treat those sponsorship dollars like a donation. Businesses are buying a product (your event) and you need to deliver that product with the utmost professionalism and deliver what you commit too.

C is for Closing: Closing a sponsorship can be hard. I have had sponsorships that took me almost 3 years to actually close but when it happens it’s exciting. If you get a “No” and you believe that a business would be a perfect fit…don’t give up. I find that if I invite the prospect to your event and give them a chance to see how great it is they tend to be more willing to look at the opportunity again. Also, some of my smallest sponsorships grew into my biggest ones with time so always look at how your sponsors can grow within your event.

And of course….the 1, 2, 3’s

  1. START EARLY: You need to start early when it comes to prospecting Sponsors it can be a lengthy process to get a meeting with a potential sponsor and once you get a sponsor to say yes it can take time to actually get the agreements finalized. I start a year out when it comes to my events.
  2. GOAL: Know what your sponsors goals or initiatives are…I can’t stress this enough. One size does not fit all when it comes to sponsors so know what they want! Not all sponsors will be interested logo placements or banners. Take the time to gain insight into why they’ll want to sponsor your event.
  3. RECAP: Don’t just disappear after the event…makes sure to sit down with your Sponsor and go over what they found to be successful and what could have been done better. This is also the time when you should prepare a recap of the sponsorship and the event. This keeps the door open for the following year and also allows you to get valuable feedback.
Meeting 6

Tips for a Successful Sponsorship Presentation

Based on a recommendation from a colleague, I have been taking an online business course taught by Kevin Redmon of Shaw Academy. I can honestly say that I wasn’t expecting much from an online, self paced class but it surprised me. It has made me re-work my way through some basics business “rules” that I just take for granted. Although the course is one geared to new business owners it has a lot of basics that applied to the fundamentals of Sponsorship Sales which I think is a really important topic.

When you have landed that appointment with a new Sponsor or even an old one, here are some key fundamentals that you should have built into your presentation.

First things first…your presentation should have structure. This structure should consist of a beginning, middle and end…easy enough right? So what do you put in these three parts?! Well that’s the fun part!

The Beginning: According to Redmond, “you should begin with the end in mind.” What is it that you want out of this meeting? What action are you asking the Sponsor to take? Knowing the answers to these two questions will help make sure you know where you are going from beginning to end on your presentation.

When writing the beginning of your presentation make sure to include an overview of your event and make sure that it is clear and concise…Sponsors do not have a lot of time and they don’t want to have to work for their answers. Give the “Why” of your event, explain where your event currently and what the foreseeable future plans are for the event. A simple story or some background on the event can be helpful but get to the point and make sure to show how your event is moving toward growth.

The Middle: The middle should consist of what you are offering your Sponsor, how your Sponsor could be an asset to your event and why you think it would be a mutually beneficial relationship. Remember that Sponsors want to be a part of events who work with them like partners…what can you do for them? Why are you worth the money? They want to know that you are looking out for them just as much as you are looking out for your event.

The End: The end is where you will cover the specifics of your presentation that need to be addressed. How you would you execute the proposed sponsorship? What does the timeline look like? And of course the most important part is the pricing. This is also where you would allow for questions, comments and feedback.

Two additional tips to keep in mind:

  1. Go into your meeting knowing what is important to your potential Sponsor…you should have identified their needs prior to the pitch meeting. For example, it’s a waste of your time and their time if you walk in with a a plan to pitch them the title sponsorship of a country music festival and you don’t know until you get there that their corporate initiative is to work with Sports events. Or perhaps you wanted to pitch them the branding name of a stage but their goal is to have a booth that will generate sales leads. You need to know what they want BEFORE you pitch. I like to set up a intro call or face to face meeting where I can outline the event but more importantly ask them what they want out of a sponsorship and what is the most important assets to them. Then I put together a plan that meets their goals.
  2. Above all else, make sure the Sponsor is the right fit for the event…forcing it may work for a year but it won’t be a constant…find partners that MAKE SENSE to your audience and for your event. It’s a much easier sale if its something that fits!
Meeting 7

5 Things Sponsors Want in a Pitch

When it comes to giving a sponsorship pitch there are lots of things that a potential sponsor may ask you, but I can pretty much guarantee you that these 5 things will be at the top of their list. Make sure you are prepared with the answers so that you can give a confident and successful pitch.


What, Where, and When? These may seem very basic but you would be surprised at how many events don’t have these three things lined out BEFORE they approach a potential Sponsor. Even if you are doing an event for the very first time you need to start with WHAT your event is, WHERE your event is being held and WHEN is your event being held. Even if the specific date and time is still a bit up in the air give them an outline they can work with. Sponsors base their spending on what their marketing or charitable initiatives are and knowing when your event will happen plays a big part in their overall plan.


Without your audience there is no reason for a Sponsor to be involved with your event. So be clear about who comes to your event. This includes who you target, for example “Women 18-34 who live in Portland, Oregon and love to cook” and who actually attends. Be armed with as much info as you can get about your audience…this will be very important to your potential Sponsor.


Sponsors want to know your past attendance numbers, your expected attendance numbers and what a sell out is for you. Now I’m not saying you need to tell your potential Sponsor that you only sell 200 tickets when a sell out is 700 but you need to show that their is potential to grow to bigger numbers. In the same vain if you consistently sell out your event then this is very attractive to a Sponsor as well! Another note to take away…don’t oversell yourself….remember that your Sponsor will be at the event they will know if you 100 attendees or 1000.


Don’t show up to a pitch without a clear breakout on what they will be receiving in exchange for their sponsorship dollars. Don’t make them guess or use “insider terms” on what items are. If they get commercials then tell them how many and where they will run. If they get banners or display areas they need to know where they are located, the size of the space. Be clear and be straight forward while also pointing out how each one of these items is a benefit to them.


Sponsors are not going to ask you for the money…you have to ask them. Tell them what your Pitch will cost them. Known Sponsorship Adviser Linda Hollander was quoted saying “They don’t call you to ask how much money you want. A Sponsor once said to me, If I don’t see a menu of prices, I throw it out.” In my experience you don’t necessarily have to price out each asset but you must have it priced out and know what the hard costs are.