A healthy sponsorship program relies on keeping your sponsors satisfied with the value they’re receiving in return for spending their time and money on your event. Sounds simple enough, right? Theoretically, you should just be able to focus on fulfilling the details in their agreement - but in practice, it doesn’t always happen that way.
Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, some sponsors walk away from events dissatisfied. Whether it was a hard-to-please on-site rep, a venue problem that was out of your control, or you simply made a mistake (we’re all human!) your next task is to do what you can to turn that relationship around. Here are some steps to take:
- Follow up right after the event. You should already be in the habit of following up with your event sponsors shortly after your event. First of all, to say thank you! But also to survey their representatives and identify any issues that need to be addressed.
- Call a meeting. Gather all of the key players from the sponsor’s end, and yours. Give yourselves as much time as you need to discuss what was expected and where the event fell short. Fair warning, the issue may look totally different through the sponsor’s eyes, but a thorough conversation is needed to uncover the true problem so you can move on to the next step...
- Decide on a solution. Work together to come up with a solution that will make everyone happy. Depending on the circumstances, you may or may not be able to give them exactly what they felt was missing. If you can, by all means do so! But if not you should be able to rectify the situation by providing something else of similar value. For example, if a logo was misplaced on event materials, consider giving them space on your website for some time.
- Move on. Hopefully, moving on means starting on your next event with that sponsor committed to returning. If that is the case, be sure to pay them extra special attention. (And consider even adding a few assets to their sponsorship at no cost, as a show of good faith.)
It’s also entirely possible that moving on means breaking up with that sponsor completely. And that’s ok too! Sponsorships need to make sense for everyone, and if you couldn’t come to a resolution then maybe it wasn’t the best partnership to begin with.
Honestly though, being proactive with your sponsors leading up to and at the event is the BEST way to ensure they get the intended value. By concentrating on building the relationship, setting expectations, and checking in with them as you go, you should be able to avoid ever having to take the five steps above.
In fact, we have two guides to help you, our guide on event promotion and our guide on how you can be successful with your sponsors from start to finish. Take a look!