Organizing a music festival can be fun and exciting, but you need to have access to money to do it. To hold a successful music festival, the finances have to work. You can’t rely on ticket revenue (if you’re charging for tickets) when ticket sales don’t start until weeks before the event but you have to pay vendors, the venue, and others months in advance of the festival! That’s why music festival sponsors are so important.
Finding music festival sponsors can be challenging. Believe it or not, there isn’t a line of businesses waiting for you to call and ask them to sponsor your event. To secure sponsors, you need to do some work.
There are three key steps to event sponsorship:
- Develop your sponsorship offers
- Find potential sponsors
- Sell your sponsorship offers
Let’s take a look at each step in detail, so you can seal the deal with the right sponsors for your music festival.
1. Develop Your Sponsorship Offers
Before you do anything else, you need to figure out why companies would want to sponsor your music festival. Can you give them brand recognition? Will they be able to acquire new customers? No company will sponsor your music festival unless they get something of equal or greater value in return for their investment. What benefits can you offer them?
For example, your sponsorship offers could give sponsors signage at the gate, around the venue, or on stage. You could give sponsors an area to give away materials or sell products. You might include advertising opportunities through your email marketing or mention sponsors in your own ads.
Don’t be afraid to get creative. The goal is to find the best balance between what sponsors want and what you can give. To get you started, here are some sponsor brand visibility opportunities you could include in your offers:
- Radio, TV, newspaper, and websites
- Logos on printed tickets
- Signage at the event entrance (then turn those signs around before the end of the event)
- Email messages before the event
- Mentions from the stage or public address system
- Post-event thank you message
- Event programs and handouts
- Booth space
- Social media mentions
I recommend offering tiered sponsorship levels to attract a more diverse group of sponsors (i.e., large and small businesses as well as companies from different industries). This also enables you to offer a minimum risk solution for businesses that aren’t prepared to make a large investment.
Keep in mind, seasoned event sponsors rarely pay full price and always ask for more. Have a menu of options available to negotiate with, but never advertise them. These are for negotiating with high priority sponsors only! Use them sparingly.
2. Sell Your Offers
Once you’ve developed your sponsorship offers, you can start selling them to potential sponsors. But wait! You need to have your sales pitch and proposal ready to go before you start your outreach efforts.
Your sales proposal should look very professional, so invest the time and money to make it look great with effective messaging and quality images. Most importantly, your sales proposal should answer the question, “What’s in it for me if I invest money to sponsor your music festival?” Your answer should be irresistible so they can’t say no to your offer.
Your proposal should include data about past music festivals you’ve organized if you have it. This is very important because it gives sponsors peace-of-mind that making an investment in your upcoming music festival should deliver similar results. Include information about your attendee demographics for your past event as well as the expected demographics for your upcoming festival. Even if you don’t have this information, many organizations that are affiliated with performers have already compiled presentations that might provide the data and can help sell your sponsorships. Important items to include are:
- How the event is perceived in the local community and who it appeals to (e.g., family-friendly, controversial, adult content, etc.)
- Home ownership
- Distance traveled to get to your festival (sponsors could be local hotels and restaurants)
Add data to your proposal about your marketing efforts (including social media) and the potential reach sponsors can get from it. If you have data and stories from past sponsors, use it! Share the sponsors’ results such as website visits, leads generated, sales closed, or any other metrics you tracked. This gives your new musical festival sponsorship offers instant credibility.
Speaking of credibility, as you’re creating your sponsorship offers and sales proposal, you should also be working to build your social media following. It’s a great way to increase early engagement and build a network that can drive powerful word-of-mouth marketing leading up to the festival. A sponsor is far more likely to invest in an event that already has tens of thousands of social media followers than one that only has a few hundred followers.
Furthermore, reach out to media organizations to get early coverage for your festival. This shows sponsors that you’re committed to organizing a successful event. Early press momentum gives sponsors even more confidence in sponsoring your music festival.
Once you have all of your information ready, you can start pitching your event to potential sponsors. Be prepared to answer a lot of questions. If there are other sponsors on board already, mention them. Again, this helps with credibility.
Finally, have answers to common objections on hand at all times. For example, people will say they’ve never heard of you or your event and ask why they should sponsor it. They’ll say you’ve never organized a music festival before, so it’s too risky to invest. They’ll say your sponsorship opportunities aren’t in their budgets. Show you’re professional and trustworthy by being completely prepared. When it comes to closing the deal, this matters more than you might think.
3. Find Music Festival Sponsors
Your offers and proposal are ready. It’s time to find musical festival sponsors! Keep in mind, the smaller and less well-known your festival is, the more outreach you’ll have to do to find sponsors. Businesses are far less likely to invest in an unproven event than one that has a track record of success. If your event is small, you’ll need to develop sponsorship tiers that match. Rather than promoting the size of the audience to potential sponsors, promote the niche makeup of that audience. For some businesses, that small audience could be highly desirable.
Here are five ways to get started:
Tap into Your Existing Network
Any salesperson will tell you, it’s easier to close a warm lead than a cold lead. Therefore, always look at your existing network of connections for potential sponsors first. Review your email list, your Rolodex, and your social media connections. When you find people whose companies could be the right match for your event, reach out and ask if they’re interested. If they’re not the right person to discuss sponsorships with, ask them to put you in touch with the correct contact.
Look in Your Local Community
There is no better place to find sponsors than the community where the event will be held. What large and small businesses have a presence in your area? Have they sponsored events before? If so, they’ve already proven that they believe event sponsorship is valuable. Even if they haven’t sponsored local events before, they might start if the value proposition you offer to them in your sponsorship proposal is attractive enough.
Investigate through Social Media
Search LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms to find people who work for companies that would be a good match for your music festival. Reach out to them and tell them about the opportunity. You never know who might be interested or might share the opportunity with their own connections giving your offer and festival a broader reach.
Next, it’s time for a Google search. Your goal is to find other music festivals like yours that have been held in the past year or two. You can do this through a Google search. Just enter music festival 2017 into the search box. You can get more specific in your search, use different dates, and play around with your queries to find the best results.
Once you find these events, visit their websites and look for the list of sponsors. These are perfect companies for you to approach with your music festival sponsorship opportunity! It’s a great idea to find a marketing or public relations employee on LinkedIn and reach out directly to him or her through a LinkedIn message or via email. Use a tool like Hunter or the Clearbit Connect extension for Outlook or Gmail to find email addresses. Often, you can find email addresses in individuals’ LinkedIn Profiles.
Get Help from a Professional
If you need help finding music festival sponsors and your audience will be larger than 15,000 people, you might want to work with a professional sponsorship recruitment organization who knows your market well. For example, in the air show industry, companies like Air Show Network or ADC Group, Inc. know air shows very well.
You pay the sponsorship recruitment organization to do the search and sales work for you, so you can invest your time more effectively in other activities. If you decide to hire a professional, don’t accept the first offer you receive. Get multiple proposals and compare apples to apples. Review their track records of success, and make sure they have experience finding sponsors for events like yours.
Music Festival Sponsorship Tips to Remember
Remember, sponsors don’t sponsor an event because they want to help you financially or because they like a performer. They sponsor an event for branding and results. They might tell you they like the artist, but you need to deliver tangible benefits. To that end, never over-hype your music festival to sponsors. If your event doesn’t deliver the expected results, that sponsor will never work with you again.
Importantly, always personalize your initial sales pitch and your sales proposal to each potential sponsor. Research each company to determine what they’re working on and what’s important to them. Review their blogs and press releases to see if any new products or services are being launched that they might want to promote at your festival. Search for a community involvement or corporate social responsibility (CSR) section on their websites to see how important being part of cultural and local events is to them. The more you understand their story and priorities and can tie them into the benefits of your music festival sponsorship, the better.
Finally, always remember that sponsorships which are done correctly could bring in more revenue for your event than ticket sales. With that in mind, invest in sponsorship sales and marketing as you would your attendee advertising. AttendStar can help you develop your sponsorship proposal in addition to your ticketing and marketing. Just give me a call (615-823-1164) or use the Contact Us Form to get started.