Sponsors are an important part of creating successful yoga events.
They add depth & variety to the experience for your attendees, contribute financially to the bottom line and also provide leverage and exposure as your event and their brand will be supporting one another in creating something great.
In order to get sponsors you’re going to need to do two things: prepare & pitch.
Let’s talk about preparing first.
In order to approach brands for sponsorship, you have to decide which ones you want to pitch—by creating a list of brands and then finding the appropriate brand contact. So, how do you choose which brands to go after?
1. Ask yourself why you are interested in that particular brand? Sponsorship is about more than just hoarding up a bunch of free stuff to give away, it’s about creating an authentic relationship between the brand and your event that is a good fit, that the brands ideals match the ideals of your attendees and vice versa. Your choice in sponsors reflects on you—so choose wisely.
2. Think local. What brands do you know in your community that are making great products and that you can access easily? I bet you already know a lot of great potential local brands.
3. Think big. The yoga industry is still surprisingly “mom & pop” which means many of the major brands in the space are run by small teams and may be easier to contact than you think. Grab a Yoga Journal for inspiration and help building your think big list.
4. Be realistic. I definitely believe that the impossible is possible, if you want Nike to sponsor your event then go for it! But, be realistic and balance Nike with brands that you have a greater likelihood of securing so that your efforts produce results. Hedge your bets, so to speak. When I worked in sales, we always made sure to pitch a lot of small fish that we knew we could catch while at the same time going for the whales. It’s a numbers game and you want to play it safe while also rolling the dice.
Now that you’ve created your list of targets, you’ve got to find the decision maker/s at each company. The folks you are looking for are usually going to be in the marketing, community, or PR departments. If all you can find is the CFO or the general information email address—email them, call them, send them a letter—remember, the squeaky wheel gets the oil and persistence and determination are key to getting through to busy people.
Once, after guessing what the email syntax was for the Oprah Winfrey Network, I emailed 20 people and 17 of the emails bounced back. I told myself I would email the three that went through every day until I got a meeting—and I did!
Scour the internet. It’s a gem for finding folks, and don’t give up. Unless someone lives under a rock—they’re out there.
Now let’s talk about the pitch:
1. A good pitch will tell the brand about your event—where it is, when it is, who will attend. Describe the attendees.
2. A good pitch will tell the brand why your event is a good fit and how it will add value and put them in direct relation to their consumers. What is it about your event and their brand that is similar?
3. A good pitch will be personalized. Yes, it’s more work but no one wants to answer a mass email solicitation.
4. A good pitch will include what you are asking for—have you thought about that yet? In kind donations? Are you selling ads/banners/booth space/gift bag participation? If so, where and how much?
5. A good pitch will be short. One page. Get to it.
6. A good pitch will be sent more than once.
Things to remember when pitching:
1. Plan ahead. Many brands plan which events they will sponsor well over a year in advance, so get in front of your target list early.
2. Think positively. Brands need to sponsor the right events and they have marketing budgets to do it. Rather than approaching this endeavor like you’re the only one who will benefit, approach it as a strategic alliance of two businesses who will both win from the support of one another. It helps a lot when you’re knocking on doors.
3. Follow up. Hitting send on an email does not mean your work is done. You actually cannot even assume your email was received. Get into the mindset that you will have to email, call and write to your targets over and over again. Be confident! After all—you are the right event to help them build a relationship with their consumer. They want to know you—even if they don’t know you yet!
Editor: Kate Bartolotta
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