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Getting Sponsors for Podcamp, Barcamp, or Any Other Event

I had a question come in this week about event sponsorship. There are a lot of grassroots events out there and that in the current economy you might think it would be difficult to find sponsors but it’s actually easier than ever.

As far as what sponsors are looking for, it’s very simple, the majority of them just want to sell more stuff. Companies that are Marketing savvy may be satisfied with access to the audience (meaning, an attendee list with good emails and maybe snail mail).

The criteria for choosing your possible sponsor targets:

  1. Your attendees are their number 1 prospects, when they advertise, the put ads in locations where your attendees read or spend time.
  2. They have a active marketing organization with budget. There are 3 possible types, forward thinking ones that are already in social media (these are your number 1 prospects, because you don’t have to educate them as to the value of an event like this), ones that are doing advertising (they have budget and will be interested in an event like this that will be more effective and trackable than ads in magazines, radio, whatever), and third are companies that don’t actively market (and are a waste of your time).
  3. You have access to them – this can be challenging. It’s not enough just to email somebody or call the front desk, you need access to an upper level decision maker. Front line and most middle management aren’t looking for more work to do, so they will probably ignore you (like the folks at M-Audio who had no interest in Podcamp 1, and missed the bus). Forward thinking middle managers and top level guys are the ones who will see the value in sponsoring an event like this that will have greater return than whatever other forms of ads they are using.

Forward thinking marketers may be feeling budget pressure so many of them are more willing to consider alternatives like social media than ever before (more impact at less cost? yes, now is the time that these words will make people listen).

Once you have a list of prospects you have to get in front of the decision makers, this is where you want to leverage linkedin and the rest of your network so that you get a reference and a personal introduction. The hard work is getting to the right people, once you are in front of them it’s an easy sell: “What if I could connect you with X of your most loyal customers, who are active in the online community and will blog, podcast, and spread your message on Facebook for less than the price of a single month ad in X magazine?”

So the big question to get started is: “Where do your attendees spend their money?”