In the wake of the spread of Coronavirus, major festivals through May are beginning to cancel or postpone their events. The live events industry is now beginning to be effected amid public health concerns. Their relationship with potential event sponsors is a major concern live events are having right now. Our CEO Michael Bleau interviewed Teresa Stas, the owner of Green Cactus, one of the most consistently successful festival sponsorship agencies in the country.
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The full interview can be listened to here (or below)
While the lessons learned from this conversation were sparked by recent events, many of them are good action items to implement in general. They are some best practices that every event should put into place when it comes to building healthy relations with event sponsors. Here are two common fears that organizers hear from sponsors when environmental factors threaten an event’s viability.
Fear #1: If the Event Cancels the Sponsors Will Lose Their Money
Contracts are very important. Often times smaller events operate without one. Having a sponsorship contract is not only helpful when it comes to managing expectations in general. In addition, it can also assist in situations where an “Act of God” affects the event. Having contingency plans in place that dictate how the refunding of money will work is critical. Stas suggests putting in the agreement that if the event does not take place that it’s written that the sponsor will get their money back.
One key consideration when creating the terms of the agreement is how much digital marketing is done for the event sponsor. These deliverables can be executed regardless if the event takes place or not. When writing a cancellation policy, this is a key consideration. An event may want to prorate the amount returned to the sponsor based around what online elements were already executed or can still be delivered.
Another option is that in lieu of giving a refund, the event can offer a credit for next year. When offered alongside a detailed plan to provide ROI, it is a way that you can build long term trust with a sponsor. In addition, having a plan for the following year in place shows that you are not flying by the seat of your pants.
Fear #2: The Event Happens But Attendance Will Be Much Lower
In one of our previous blog posts, we discussed that you can supplement fears over a dip in attendance by adding virtual components and other helpful strategies. You can read the full article here.
In the interview, Stas discussed lead up perks that can be added like website pages, social media, and other digital marketing components. There are various marketing tactics that you can coordinate with a sponsor for selling tickets. Also, an event can coordinate a perk or offer with the sponsor. One example she used was how they engaged with a liquor sponsor to help increase retail sales.
Another best practice is drawing event sponsorship perks past the event. This can be achieved through various digital marketing components. One example discussed was a campaign titled, “Backstage Access”. Here, the content was delivered to the audience after the event by the sponsor. The featurettes included interviews and a look behind the scenes. The key is to create a year-round culture online around the event.
Final Thoughts on Calming Sponsor Anxiety
Be familiar with what is going on. Keep current on the latest information. Treat this situation the same way that you would plan for bad weather, active shooters, or other extreme circumstances. As an event organizer, you need to plan for contingencies and protect yourself in your partnership agreements. Then if something happens, you know how and what to communicate with your sponsors. Having a clear cancellation policy in place that you can share with stakeholders is important. The more thoroughly you are prepared, the greater the trust that sponsors will have in you to handle a challenging situation.
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