Crowd Hands

Knowing The Basics

The following is an excerpt from “Sell Your Event! The Easy to Follow Practical Guide to Getting Sponsors” A few years back, I got a call from an event producer who reached out to me to ask if I would take her on as a brokering client, which meant we’d represent their event and generate sponsorships. She began to explain this awesome dog festival concept where people could bring their dogs to a concert, and there would be pet-centric vendors and activities. As I listened to her, I was getting excited. It sounded great. Then I started asking my usual questions: “What are the dates? Where is it taking place? How many expected attendees?” You know, the general questions anyone would ask when you tell them about a cool event. My fears were realized when I learned she actually didn’t have definitive answers for any of my questions. As much as I hate to say it, this is pretty common. People have great ideas all the time, but unless you have the details figured out, it’s nearly impossible to sell them to sponsors. I try to explain this to my clients by asking this question: “Would you want to invest your own money in an event that hasn’t figured out its details?” For a brand or company to be interested in looking at your event, you need to make sure it has moved from concept to reality. You need to make sure it’s dialed in. Most sponsors want to buy into a fully formed event. Just an idea or concept is not enough. They want to know the people putting on the event are professionals who will produce what they promised. So, before we get too deep into the sales side of things, let’s make sure you have the information you need to get started. Before you can approach your prospects or start creating your introduction deck, you have to have the details. A lot of people come to me with great ideas for events, because they want help with finding sponsors. However, they want sponsorship money before they even have an event built. What they are really looking for is for an investor to fund the creation of the event. This is not the same as a sponsor. Finding capital for an event is different than finding sponsorships for an event. In this book, we will focus on finding sponsors for events that have moved out of the concept phase. These events are already established or are going to happen regardless of sponsorship revenue. Before you can create your Introduction Deck or start prospecting sponsors, you need to make sure you have the following information figured out.

Event Date and Timeline

I work with a couple of events where their timelines can change year to year. Sometimes they know the month but not the exact date just yet. They still want to get it in front of prospects as soon as possible. You really need to have your date and timeline locked in. Even if you do not have the exact date, at least have it narrowed down to the month and the year. The more specific you can get, the better response you are going to get from prospects. Sponsors build out their marketing calendar around events, and it’s important they are aware if they are doubling up events during certain months or days.

Event Location

Where are you having this event? If you are still working on that, you at least need to know the city and the state. If you have an exact location, fantastic! If you have an exact date and location, you are doing even better.

Event Name and Category

What are you calling this event? What type of event will it be? Is it a concert, a festival, a race, or a foodie event? It is critical to know what category your event is. I assume this is the easiest question I have asked so far. If you do not know your category, you need to figure it out before you do anything else. When it comes to the event name, make sure you have one. It’s really hard to sell an event when you don’t know what to call it.

Audience Numbers

How many people are coming to your event? If you have never had your event, then what is your expectation? Be reasonable! You must be fair and honest when it comes to expectations. If you are going to sell based on attendance numbers, then you need to make sure it’s close to the actual attendance. You will have a lot of trouble with sponsors returning the next year if they feel like they can’t trust you to tell the truth. You are better off going in and pitching lower attendance numbers and having more patrons show up then pitching high numbers and having significantly less show up. It is better to under-promise and over-deliver when it comes to attendance numbers for sponsorships.

Advanced Details

Now that you have the basics down, it is time to start collecting some more advanced details. These are the items you will have to start collecting to make some serious sales.


If you have never had an event before, you might not have photos. You might have to pull some stock or generic photos to spice up your introduction deck. If you have had the event, then you need to find your best photos. Every year make sure someone is taking good photos. In particular, you want to get some of the crowds and the overall event. Be sure to also make past sponsors a priority. I always tell my clients photos sell more than words do. And it’s true. Humans are naturally visual beings, and the more you can appeal to that sense, the better chance you have. During the event, I would suggest even creating a shot list for your photographer. A shot list is an inventory of all of the various types of photos you want. For example, shots of the crowd from above, photos of patrons visiting a sponsor’s booth, and so on. It’s also important your event looks into investing in a professional photographer if possible. A good photographer can make even the most mundane and non-exciting booth look awesome! Many photographers like the chance to shoot events and would even do it for tickets or VIP. Just make sure whether you trade or pay your photographer, you have the rights to use the photos.

Asset List

We will cover this in detail in a later chapter, so we won’t go into too much detail here. The asset list is the general list of items you must sell. It’s like an inventory list. If you are an established event, you probably already have one of these, and if you don’t, we will go over how to create one in chapter three.


Demographics are the lifeblood of sponsorships. You would be surprised at how many events I come across that do not have demographic information. You cannot sell significant dollars if you do not have this information. In chapter four, we will cover ways you can collect audience data and how you can use it to your advantage.

Marketing Plan

You do not necessarily have to have a marketing plan to get sponsorship sales, but it does make a difference, especially when you are targeting your title or presenting sponsors. Those are the ones that are going to benefit the most from your marketing plan. If you know what your marketing plan is, then it is so much easier to sell to those larger sponsors, because you can show them how they will be included in your marketing efforts. If you don’t really know your marketing plan or just kind of wing it, then I suggest you take the time to lay out a plan. At the very least, get a basic understanding of what your goals are and what you can offer a title or presenting sponsor. If you are lost on how to develop your marketing plan, take a look at the companion workbook for an easy-to-follow template on building your marketing plan.
The above is an excerpt from the book Sell Your Event! The Easy to Follow Practical Guide to Getting Sponsors by Teresa Stas. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means without written permission from the author.

Small Event, Big Sponsors Vol 8: How Do You Sell Your Virtual Event?

Recently a report was released by EventMB called The Virtual Event Tech Guide about the state of virtual events as well as giving information about virtual tech. Two very noticeable stats that came to light for me is that only 32% of live events pivoted to virtual this year and only 2% of event professionals were able to recover 100% of their annual revenue and “70% of event professionals were unable to recover more than 25% of their annual revenue using virtual.” These stats just verified what my agency and myself had been experiencing firsthand. That Virtual events aren’t replace live event revenue and part of that is sponsorships. The following is an excerpt from my new book, “Sell Your Event! The Easy to Follow Practical Guide to Getting Sponsors.” “How do I sell my virtual event?” This is the question I was asked the most in the early months of 2020. As events tried to create virtual events that would make up for the lost income of their canceled live events, they often expected to pull in their same sponsors. My answer to them was sell your virtual events with the same principles as you sell your live events. You follow the same steps, and you provide the same information. The one thing I ask my clients when they are considering a virtual event is “What is the ultimate goal?” Are they creating this virtual event for marketing purposes to help keep their event top of mind and their patrons engaged? Are they creating this virtual event to make up the lost revenue? Or are they creating this virtual event to replace their live event for the year? Knowing what you are ultimately trying to accomplish will help you understand the reality of the situation and set your expectations. Although I do not believe virtual will replace the live event experience, it is not going anywhere, so we need to adjust for this popular form of event. To do this, you want to keep a few things in mind when it comes to sponsorships: 1) Audience data is the lifeblood of your sponsorships. You don’t have to be Coachella to sell sponsorships, but you do have to understand you are selling access to your audience. 2) The principles for selling live event sponsorships are the same for virtual or hybrid events. You must understand what the sponsor is trying to get out of the sponsorship. Just like in a live event, you need to know what the sponsor is trying to achieve. You need to know if you can help them meet that goal no matter what type of event you are doing. Just taking a sponsor who had a major activation at your live event and offering them a logo on a Facebook stream will most likely not generate excitement or sponsorship dollars. 3) If this is the first time you have taken your event virtual or hybrid then you are up against unproven results. Keep this in mind when you consider how you price your sponsorships. Perhaps you charge less than you normally would, but the event gets more sponsorship dollars based on impressions, clicks, or marketplace visits (if you are doing a virtual marketplace). You cannot just take the price of your live event and slap it on the virtual or hybrid event. 4) In the case of virtual or hybrid, make sure your production and your technology are good. When virtual events first took shape during the pandemic, it was okay to host in your living room, but things have changed. As virtual events become more commonplace, the audience is demanding more. Good production and professionalism are required for success. 5) You need to upgrade your marketing and make sure you message how your virtual event will work and how a patron can be a part of it. I have seen several events create great virtual events but did a bad job of marketing them or explaining how they work. This leads to low attendance numbers and low sponsorship dollars.

Virtual Event Assets

Digital assets can still be utilized for a virtual event. In fact, the value of these may become higher, since all you have is your online presence to connect with your audience, but again, this all depends on how much of your audience is actually seeing these assets. Traditional assets such as naming rights can also be integrated into a virtual event. Depending on the setup of your main entertainment, multiple stages could be named after sponsors. In addition, a virtual event could also host a presenting or title sponsor. Shaq’s Fun House vs Gronk Beach, Presented by The General® Insurance found many ways to involve sponsors. As you can see, in the name they hosted a presenting sponsor for their event. They also hosted multiple “challenges” that integrated sponsors into on-screen activities. These challenges included a Lip Sync Battle, presented by The General Insurance, where Shaq and Gronk faced off. The McCormick Grill Mates Steak Challenge had Shaq and Gronk grill, with Shaq taking home the title of top chef. Fortunately for Gronk, he won the jousting competition, presented by Monster Energy. Rocket Mortgage Sports Showdown involved a photo finish to see who won the final obstacle, an egg and spoon race. It ended with Gronk defeating Shaq in the Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin’ Challenge. As you can see, each activity involved the sponsor in a unique way. It also provided fans with hilarious entertainment to see two major athlete-celebrities go head to head in fun and light-hearted challenges. Sampling can still be done with some virtual events through welcome packs or swag bags. Our client, Hood to Coast, teamed up with their sponsor, ONE Bar, to include bars in all of their “Finisher Packs.” When a runner completed their mileage, they would log on to the event website and enter their time. Hood to Coast would then ship them a package which included their medal, a t-shirt (depending on the race), and a ONE Bar. This met the sponsor’s goal to get their product into the hands of their target consumer, and it did it when there were no events happening. Mailing a racing package to a registrant is a great opportunity to involve sponsors in a virtual race. This is a way for the event organizers to connect with their fans and engage with sponsors in a way that feels like how a normal in-person event would. It also gives races a chance to keep their most staple sponsor asset, the event t-shirt, along with the opportunity to include unique products. However, make sure you factor in shipping and production costs when adding items to the package. Coupons or free sample cards have the best return on investment. By using a tracking code, you can also see the usage from those bounce-back coupons. As an event organizer, you will want to limit the number of sponsors you include in any type of package and make sure you include items of value. You don’t want to be shipping junk mail. Not only will it drive up shipping costs, but it dilutes the value of the sponsorship. Limiting how many can be involved in the direct-mail assets will help keep the costs down and the value high.

Virtual Expos and Conferences

A virtual expo might also be the way to go. It provides another gateway for an online event to connect partners and viewers. A virtual expo allows organizers to incorporate vendors and sponsors into one portal. EventHub created a platform that allows for meaningful and high-quality interactions. Event partners can engage with attendees in real time through virtual booths. Each virtual booth allows for video conferencing between the attendee and booth host. Sponsors and vendors are organized in a grid format and can be sorted and searched by category. A Toronto marathon found through the virtual expo, they could showcase their sponsors, vendors, and even the charities they support. They even added programming to attract attendees to the platform. Throughout the virtual event, they hosted a speaker series that featured informational sessions for runners of all abilities hosted by celebrities and elite athletes. A virtual expo does not just have to be for race events. Organizers of all kinds of events can integrate this platform into their live streams. Music festivals, pride events, state fairs, wellness expos, and more can benefit by adding this outlet for interaction between attendees and partners. The portal can even be organized by priority, allowing for sponsors to pay more for a premium spot.

Hybrid Events

Live streaming a music festival is nothing new. Major festivals like Coachella and Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas have been live streaming their events for years. Coachella historically has received millions of views and broke viewership records when it hosted Beyoncé as a headliner. These would be considered hybrid events, where there is an in-person and virtual experience for the same event. But not all hybrid events are six-figured attendance numbers. I just spoke at a conference in Florida where there was a small, socially distanced summit with 100 people over two days. It was recorded and streamed to a much larger virtual conference audience of event professionals. The combination of both the live and virtual is the direction that many events are headed as we wait for the reopening of the event industry. Hybrid sponsorships tend to lend themselves to higher sponsorship dollars than just virtual, because they allow for some element of the in-person connection that is so important to virtual events. My biggest piece of advice that I can offer in the virtual/hybrid event space is just like your live event: Audience data is the lifeblood of your sponsorships. If you know your audience, then target those prospects who want access to them. These are unprecedented times, but I have seen such innovation from the event world this year that I know firsthand you can sell sponsorships to virtual and hybrid events if you use the same principles and techniques used to sell successful live event sponsorships. Don’t wait! Get out there because now is the time to make it happen!
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 November 2020. The premiere association supporting and enabling festivals and events worldwide. For more information on the IFEA, go to