Back in 2015, I was a board member in charge of sponsorship and it was my job to cover a $10k deficit for the nonprofit. It was a tall order to fill but I was determined. I ended up making over $35k for the organization that year which was more than double the goal. Because of that, we got some amazing speakers that year.
So how did I get sponsors so easily?
Well, I didn’t just promise a logo on a shirt. I found creative ways to make sponsors happy because the one thing sponsors want the most is exposure. I wanted them to line up and ask me to sponsor! And that’s exactly what happened to bring in a record number of sponsors and money into the organization, putting it in the black with cash reserves.
First, I gave preferential seating to the sponsors and paid a lot of attention to them.
At every meeting, I was focused on making the sponsors happy and looking for ways to make introductions. They got reserved spots at the speaker table since it was their funding that allowed us to get such great speakers, they did the speaker intro, often went to dinner the night before, and I made sure to take photos of them with the speaker to post on social media. In addition, I made sure they got a shout-out in social media throughout the year and recruited a volunteer to make a spreadsheet for the mentions.
Feedback from the sponsors was glorious.
One of the most creative promotions was the book sponsor
Speakers often wanted us to buy cases of books but selling them was always a messy affair.
Do you send unsold books back? Will the lines be so long that it discourages people from waiting since the transaction part takes time? And will attendees feel ripped off that they couldn’t speak to the speaker because they were ringing up books?
So I decided to get a book sponsor and the company that stepped up would get a sticker on the front of the book with their brand logo giving them brand exposure that would last even after the event. Those who have lost someone to addiction or suicide also like to donate books in memory of their loved one.
I went online and had the stickers made at Vistaprint. Then our team put them on the cover of the books which were already signed. Someone was worried the author would mind a sticker on his book and I remember when I reached out he was elated and said he was going to use the idea at every event going forward.
Of course, attendees loved getting a free book and they were grateful for the gift. If an event had way too many attendees for everyone to get a book, then oftentimes we would promote early registrations by promising books to the first 60 who sign up providing an incentive not to wait. Or conferences have put a sticker on the folder at check-in to identify book winners.
Since it was so popular, I do this now with my own books when I speak at conferences and schools where the budget is often tight. No one has to fret over sending back leftovers, and attendees are happy as well as the sponsors.
Sticker Specs for sponsor logo or memory message
Usually, we order the round 1.5″ stickers from VistaPrint which cost about $74 for 100 stickers. The more quantity you order the better the price. If you have a coupon you can lower the price. Order the books first, then the stickers and volunteers usually are tasked with putting them on the books. I will sign them when I arrive or I can sign after.
Examples of sponsor images are below
The sticker can say, “This book is a gift from…,” “This book courtesy of...” “This book is a gift in memory of…” “This book donated in memory of…”
This sponsor wanted an “in memory of” message for her father who died by suicide. She bought several cases of books to give away at a mental health conference. Remember there isn’t a lot of room for them to put a long message and we want it to be at least 11 or 12 pt font (type) size. The candle is a candle icon.