Sponsorship ideas are hard to come by. Everything feels old after a while. It’s the same “get your logo here ” opportunities that just aren’t that inspiring. And if they’re not inspiring, sponsors won’t want to give your chamber money. So how can you give your sponsors what they want?
First, you have to understand what they want and why they would be interested.
Why Sponsor a Chamber Event?
While most of us assume businesses want to sponsor events because they want to get more customers, that is not always the case.
They may be considering sponsorship ideas for reasons such as:
- overcoming some recent bad publicity
- differentiating themselves in a crowded or confused market
- looking like a community supporter
- giving back to the little guy (especially important after the pandemic)
- recruiting or hiring purposes
- building or rebuilding their culture or reputation
Why they are sponsoring has a big impact on the type of sponsorship they will be most interested in.
Have a conversation with potential sponsors before putting together a sponsorship package for them to help you successfully pitch them and better achieve their business goals.
Whenever possible have that discussion first, but if you can’t, you can arrange sponsorship opportunities by desired outcomes and show them the list.
That way it is very clear what each activity will give them. Compile your sponsorships in a “If X is what you want, then select Y sponsorship” to make it easy to differentiate benefits. Doing this helps them say yes faster.
Present what’s in it for them before you show them where their logo will go.
Now, that we’ve gone over some of the reasons that businesses seek to sponsor (besides more customers and revenue), let’s take a look at the big list of sponsorship ideas. We’ll start with the tried and true methods and then address a few creative ideas for your community.
But first…the secret sauce.
The Secret Sauce of Sponsorship
In addition to helping your sponsors achieve their goals, there is another special “secret sauce” that will help your chamber event sponsorships stand out. It’s like putting an exclamation point at the end of the sponsor’s sentence.
This is a much more fluid concept and requires an in-depth conversation with your potential sponsor. It will also require creativity on your part.
The best way to illustrate it is through an example.
Imagine you have a sponsor that is a new restaurant near your town’s dog park. One thing that makes them different is their desire to serve dogs as well as human patrons. They want everyone to know they are dog friendly. You may ask them about their business goals and they may tell you they want people to know they serve good food and they want more customers to get to know them. They may not even mention the dog part because they know dogs aren’t the ones paying.
However, after talking with them and looking at their menu, you uncover the dog connection and how important it is to them. You want to use that to help them create a sponsorship that will be invaluable to them. Inspire them to host a networking event where pets are welcome or you could work with a local dog bakery member and get the restaurant’s logo printed up on the dog biscuits. You could pass those out at the chamber with a copy of their menu or in an event swag bag.
Find out exactly what’s important to them or new or unique to their business and connect the sponsorship specifically to supporting that goal.
Remember, sponsorships needn’t be event related. You can create your own sponsorship opportunity for members. The point is to get value for them and–in this case–that means telling the community this is more than just a new restaurant. It’s a respite for your canine friend to enjoy with you.
Tried and True Sponsorship Ideas
These are your traditional, been there, done that, ideas that are still very effective.
- Introductions. Give your sponsor time to speak when they introduce your speaker or special guest.
- Emcee. Have a sponsor with a dynamic personality? Ask them to emcee your event.
- Award naming rights. Allowing a sponsor to name an award can give them exposure and increase their reputation in the community. It can also associate them with the spirit behind the award.
- Video introduction. Whether it’s a virtual or an in-person event, there will be time when people are gathering waiting for things to start. An intro video is a good space filler and gives the sponsor a captive audience.
- Catering. People love food and knowing it’s free to them because of a sponsor, is very nice.
- Moderator. Have a question and answer session or a panel? Then you need a moderator.
Sponsorship is also about logo placement. So let’s cover some options.
You Put a Logo Where?
We know people love their logos so here are a few ideas of where you can offer them exposure:
- cups and dishes
- take home containers
- swag bags (there are options to do them digitally as well)
- stair wraps
- picture backdrops
- name tags
- space behind the speaker
- virtual backdrop or frame
- floor decals
- lighting (yes, you can create a logo light – it’s called a “gobo“)
- ice cream cone holders
- hand sanitizer containers or stations
- balloons (if this seems like an old idea to you, consider a giant balloon that inflates even larger with every tweet about the event. People can watch it grow throughout the event. When it explodes, something from your sponsor can pop out like gift cards, coupons, etc. Just remember to warn people it’s happening so no one drops their drink when it finally pops.)
- floating logos in a water feature (pond, pool, drinks, or fountain)
- centerpiece vases
- branded cow bell. We all know we need more of that!
- reusable straws
- cupcakes (this logo is fleeting but if you can encourage people to take pictures and share them on social media, the reach can be much greater)
More Creative Sponsorship Ideas
- Greeter. Sponsors (wearing logo shirts of course) can staff a greeter table to help direct everyone where they need to go and to answer questions. While this takes some bodies, it can be a very effective way to show just how helpful the sponsor company can be.
- Wellness break. If you have an extra long event, consider a fun wellness break that will help people refocus and energize. This could be leading some stretching, providing a quick natural pick-me-up of food and beverage, or providing chair massages.
- Photo booths or picture spot. There are a lot of sponsorship opportunities with pictures from backdrops to props, printed frames to logo’d places to stand. Plus, it’s lots of fun.
- Prizes and giveaways. This can be a sponsorship or a donation. Ask a company with a fun product or service if they might want to be part of a swag bag giveaway or offer up a prize for your raffle or give away a door prize.
- Craft area. DIY activities can sometimes help break the ice or give people something to do or make conversation about. Sometimes you can create an entire event around these types of networking activities.
- Makeover tent. If you’re hosting a gala, you could create a one-minute makeover section for people who need a quick pick-me-up and you’ll need some paparazzi, of course.
- Meet with all of your sponsors and create a video where they answer the same question like “What makes our city special.” These types of get-to-know-you opportunities can help people feel closer to them.
- Facebook page video. Have a sponsor create a video for your Facebook page in the cover slot.
- Record your own intro video. Hit up all of your sponsors to record a one-minute reason why they plan on attending your event. Put them all together and you have great exposure for them and for your event.
- Give them a survey question. If you’re sending out a post event survey, give your top sponsor the ability to ask a question of your attendees. This could be a valuable opportunity for data collection for them. This could also be done at the event as part of the opening ice breaker (or pre-event) activity.
- Let them host a pre- or post-event gathering.
- Put them in charge of the big name. If you’re bringing in a big name, offer your top sponsors the ability to meet them in a small gathering or create the opportunity for an introduction. This may also be appealing to a new business person meeting your local government leaders.
- Sponsor valet parking. This can be effective when paired with a clever slogan such as “Trust your car with us today, trust your savings with us tomorrow. ~ City Bank” Dress valets in branded uniforms.
- Event experiences. Sponsors can host a scavenger hunt or other game inside of your event.
- Speed networking sound. If you have a sponsor with a memorable jingle or commercial, you can use it as the sound that it’s time to switch in your speed networking sessions. At the end of the night, that song will be in everyone’s head.
- Try before you buy. If you have a sponsor that offers a very different product (like a cryonic facial) give them the ability to sample their services to your audience.
- Entertainment. Your event entertainment doesn’t have to be music. A member with a dog obedience school might put on an amazing drill with their skilled pups or someone might try and break a world record eating cupcakes. These make for great sponsorships as well.