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  • Writer's pictureMichael Cocce

$HOW ME THE MONEY (As posted in IE Magazine, Nov. 2023 by Dave Demer)

Updated: Nov 29, 2023


(How am I going to get there if I don’t know where I’m going?)

Welcome to the first installment of “$how Me the Money”, a (hopefully) helpful set of tips and tricks to drive more sponsorship dollars into your events, compiled from years of experience selling sponsorships and helping events generate revenue.

I’ve been involved in sponsorship for over 30 years. I’ve sold for events large and small, from concerts to festivals, sports to charities. Currently I’m the Founder/President of The Event Shop. My colleague Carol Kirshner deserves the kudos for our tagline: “Connecting Marketers with the events that build brands. Connecting events with the sponsors that build bank accounts”. She sums it up well.

We’re a non-retainer based sponsorship sales and consulting firm, and we’re passionate about the power of events to drive results for sponsors. I am tapping into that passion to share with all of you some things I’ve learned over the years, I hope you find it helpful!

Successful sponsorship selling is a process. If you start and stop or go down rabbit holes or try to shake up the natural order of the process you won’t be as successful.

Today I’ll cover Prospecting. It’s the time of year to start to create target lists of who you’d like to pitch for the upcoming season. It’s a very important first step, and really provides the road map for the rest of the sales process. You can’t get anywhere if you don’t know where you’re going, so take this downtime to make the plan for who you’re going to pitch.

In future articles we’ll talk more about how to get meetings, how to uncover opportunities, how and what to pitch and how to close the deal. But none of that means anything unless we have a list of prospects to start with. It’s the beginning of our road map.

Assuming that you’ll only get partnerships from a percentage of those you meet with, and you’ll only get a meeting with a percentage of the people you connect with, and you’ll only connect with a percentage of people you reach out to ….. I think you see where I’m going.

I didn’t get into events to do math, I got into events because I couldn’t do math. But I do know that using the formula above, I need to create a long list of prospects to be successful.

Here are some ways to start that process. Make a list of:

  • All the companies that sponsor other events in your market

  • All the businesses that sponsor local sports teams

  • All the advertisers that you hear or see often on the radio or TV or billboards.

That's a good start. Now:

  • Think of the categories that traditionally sponsor events: Banks, Credit Unions, Car Dealers, Real Estate companies, Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic beverages, Hospitals, Home Improvement companies, etc.

  • Google the words “(Your city) Hospitals” or “(Your city) Credit Unions”. Add the results to your list.

Lastly, think through the “theme” of your event, and come up with a list of categories that fit the theme. For example, if you’re producing the “Anytown Wing Fest”, think of the categories that fit the theme. In this case, maybe Napkins/Paper towels? Wet wipes? Antacid? Blue cheese dressing?

I once had to find sponsors for a harvest festival where they served all the corn you could eat. Land O’ Lakes butter was a natural target. One phone call later we had a commitment. (Pro tip: if you have a category that makes sense like butter in this case, but you don’t know all the companies in that category, Google “Land O’ Lakes vs.” …. Before you press enter, you’ll see Google’s suggestions for their competitors, add them too!).

Add those companies that fit the theme to your list.

How’s the list coming? Are you up to 50? 100? There is no right number, but the bigger the better.

Taking the time to do this work will benefit your event. If you don’t take this step, you’ll end up trying to piecemeal together some sponsors with random touchpoints over the year. The math formula just doesn’t work if you don’t start with a long list of potential sponsors that make sense in your market for your event.

I hope this has been helpful and look for future articles where we’ll talk more specifics about how to move forward on your prospect list.

Bonus tip: If your list is full and you want to get started, use LinkedIn or call the main line to start asking “who handles your advertising decisions”, you’ll be ahead of the game!

Dave Demer has been selling sponsorships for events of all shapes and sizes since 1993. In his 30+ years he’s picked up a trick or two to target, research, meet and close sponsors to the tune of millions of dollars. He’s been media, sports, special events and non-profits. He’s currently the Founder and President at The Event Shop ( a non-retainer based sponsorship sales firm. And on weekends, he still loves a great festival, concert or sporting event!

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