With optimism for a post-COVID world, many first-time properties and events will debut this year and next. Quite a few of them have reached out to us for advice on selling sponsorship. As we all know, it’s tough to sell sponsorship in the first year of an event because of the many unknowns.

In one conversation last week, I was asked, “if you were starting from scratch, how would you sell sponsorship for a new property?” That was a great question. So, let’s talk about it.

My New Property

For illustration purposes in this article, I will refer to a fictional new property. My friends and family know that I LOVE pizza. For this reason, someday, I’d love to promote the ‘World Pizza Festival’ (WPF). I’ll attract vendors specializing in the dozens of regional and national types of pizza and create a weekend special event out of it.

Be Realistic

I will sell what sponsorships I can for WPF’s first year. However, I know it is unlikely I will cover all my expenses from it. I’ll set realistic (i.e., personal pan pizza size!) goals for Year 1 and learn what works and what does not.

Leverage Your Existing Brand

The WPF has no track record of attendance, audience demographics, or other event KPI’s. So, I plan to leverage my existing brand for event promotion. For example, I have previously promoted the National Hot Dog Expo (my second favorite food) and Sushi World (my third favorite food).

Through my promotional track record, potential sponsors will see WPF’s substantial potential for success. I will reach out to sponsors from my previous events to join me in WPF. I will also reach out to endemic pizza sponsors: flour, cheese, yeast, and sauce producers. In each case, I’ll promise results similar to my Hot Dog and Sushi event experiences.

Study Your Audience

I have hired a reputable market research agency to conduct an onsite study at the inaugural WPF. From this study, I will better understand the demographics and psychographics of my fellow pizza lovers.  Additionally, I have the email addresses of my ticket buyers. This allows me to do a post-event survey to gauge overall satisfaction and collect more demographic data. These activities will set me up for success as I sell sponsorship for Year 2.

Document Everything

My WPF intern will create a comprehensive photo record of the event, follow up with sponsors regarding their ROI, and assemble our internal data on attendance, attendee spending, and other valuable facts. Through this process, we’re creating “stories” for Year 2 related to the strong sponsorship potential of the event.

Create Sponsorship Categories

Unfortunately, during Year 1, our attendees complained that the lack of WiFi diminished their festival experience.  Therefore, in Year 2, I will create an Official WiFi Provider category to ensure we provide this coveted service for attendees. I will also look at all levels of the experience and explore other categories for the event that I did not contemplate before having the first year’s experience under my belt.

Final Thoughts

Any first-year property should approach sponsorship realistically. There’s definitely an opportunity in the rookie season.  However unlikely that newbies will ring the bell of success right off the bat, building a solid sponsorship portfolio is within anyone’s grasp with patience, flexibility, and a long-term development plan.


Schedule a Free Discovery Call

If you would like CHARGE to help your new property build a sponsorship strategy,  schedule a call with one of our experts today.

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