A prospectus is a sales tool for generating sponsorship support. It should be approached as a proposal to prospective sponsors, not a catalogue of available sponsorships. Some sponsors will still appreciate the latter and want a list of opportunities to choose from. But many will want to work with you to design something that optimizes their return. The prospectus will form a base for discussion and tell prospective sponsors how you value assets.
The first rule in developing a sponsorship prospectus is to make it about the sponsor. Put yourself in their shoes and ask the question “What’s in it for me?” To answer that question you will want to let them know
- who the audience is and why it’s of value to get in front of them
- the size of the audience (depending on what they are sponsoring, the audience may be more than just event attendees)
- the direct benefits of sponsoring (think logo placement, free admissions, etc.)
- the indirect benefits of sponsoring (think brand association, goodwill, etc.)
Let’s unpack each of those a little bit:
You should already know who your audience is since you’ve designed this event to fulfill a need for them. So let the sponsor know who these people are and what their needs are. Then back it up with some detail and statistics. Infographics are a great way to dress up this boring but vital information.
In marketing, impressions are a measure of exposure. It is basically a measure of the number of times content is viewed. Sponsorship is a form of marketing and impressions are an asset that you can sell. Help sponsors to understand how many people will be view the sponsor as a partner in this event. And how may times people will see this message.
Direct benefits are reasonably easy to identify and sell because they are tangible and you, as the event planner, can control the outcomes. These benefits are delivered by you, over the course of the event lifecycle (you can guarantee that logos are on appropriate signs and swag, that complementary tickets are sent to the sponsor, and that the MC names and thanks the sponsor at lunch). They deliver the message that the sponsor is a partner but the real value to the sponsor is what the audience does with that message and those benefits are beyond your control.
Indirect benefits are harder to identify because each sponsor will value return differently. They are also harder to sell because the audience is in control of the outcomes and sponsors may not see these benefits immediately (they will be seen after the event concludes, over a period of time or maybe even years down the road). While you cannot guarantee that business relationships will form or transactions will result, you can work with the sponsor to identify their investment goals and take steps to facilitate meaningful connections between the audience and the sponsor. Help your sponsors to see this as an investment in business development and future growth.
For event sponsors, the main goal of partnering on an event is to make their organization visible to a target audience. Just as your event fulfills a need for this audience, sponsors offer something that fulfills another need and success for them is being given the opportunity to do so. Your role in this is to facilitate interactions and impressions between the sponsor and the audience. You sponsorship prospectus should articulate how you plan to do achieve this.