How Do I Get Corporate Sponsors?

Terry Masters
Terry Masters
Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

You can attract corporate sponsors by setting a value on a marketing opportunity, preparing a written proposal, making a targeted approach, and arming yourself with personal and professional connections that can garner interest. Sponsorship procurement is ultimately about convincing a corporation of the value inherent in a partnership. Successful engagement is based on many of the same principals as basic sales, and relies heavily on relationship development and management.

Sponsorship is a value proposition that has to be defined and packaged to entice corporate interest. Corporations are inundated with thousands of sponsorship opportunities each year, and they choose opportunities that are most closely aligned with their current strategic interests. Defining the opportunity, preparing a written proposal, and identifying appropriate target companies are all steps needed to be successful in obtaining corporate sponsors.

For example, maybe a bank or a major car company is expanding operations into your community. You might read newspaper articles about how excited these companies are to work with people in the area. If your event presents opportunities for these companies to reach markets that they have already identified as strategically important, it will be much easier to convince them to partner with you for your event.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when preparing your pitch to recruit corporate sponsors is taking the wrong perspective. It is easy to think that you should be convincing the corporation that it is worthwhile for them to want to sponsor something that benefits the community. Goodwill is a byproduct and not a goal. Although many corporations will claim the goal of their sponsorship is to support a cause or an organization, in reality the ultimate goal is to increase their profile and market share strategically. In every proposition you should answer the underlying question of exactly how this investment will increase the corporation’s market share.

Cold solicitation has only a limited prospect for success. If you want to engage corporate sponsors, particularly for a new event without a track record, you must establish personal relationships with people with buying power at target corporations. You can do this by setting up a host committee for the event and inviting prominent professionals to sit on it. Alternatively, you can tap the social networks of everyone involved in the project, looking for anyone with access and a willingness to put in a good work or make an introduction. Asking a friend at one company to act as a host to introduce you to similarly situated colleagues at other corporations may be your best chance for a successful outcome.

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