How many times have you encountered the Logo Wall? You see them all over the place. Events have stages with logos tiled on the background, or banners plastered on every available surface. Brochures have a display of pixilated jpgs of logos, crunched down or blown up beyond their intended dimensions and looking all the worse for it. My own community quarterly magazine repeatedly publishes sponsored logos that are almost unreadable.
Websites often do the same thing, sometimes as a form of social proof on landing pages, and sometimes on a general “thank you” page for their sponsors and partners. Often, these companies also simply post a photo of a logo on Facebook or Twitter with a “Thanks BusinessName for sponsoring our event!”
If you’re sponsoring an event, is that the kind of acknowledgement you want? It doesn’t catch the eye, it’s not interesting, it’s not inspiring, and it doesn’t make other companies want to join you in sponsorship. If you’re the one thanking your sponsors, you need to remember; the purpose of thanking your sponsors is both to promote them and to attract more.
Rather than posting the minimum low-effort acknowledgement, here are some ideas of ways to truly thank your sponsors.
1. Scale Acknowledgements Based on Sponsorship Level
This first one isn’t so much a specific way to thank your sponsors. It’s more of a way to adjust all of the subsequent ideas to suit whatever your sponsor has done for you. Always consider how much the sponsor is doing for you and scale your thanks appropriately.
A small sponsor that is only giving your organization a small amount of money or support is going to receive something simple, like the example thank-you post on your social media, a logo on your website, and a logo in your brochures. All of those methods are standard and, I think, should be included for just about every sponsor regardless.
Larger sponsors can have more personalized and more valuable forms of thanks, such as the ideas below. Just remember that any given idea can be expanded to suit even more valuable sponsors.
The most valuable sponsors will basically buy your attention and it’s generally a good idea to let them come up with a proposal for what they want. Some of them will get product placement at your events, some of them might just want a prominent logo or mention before your main event, and who knows what else. Huge organizations like hospitals often change their names to reflect their high-class sponsors, while others might name an event or sub-event after the sponsor. Figure out something appropriate.
2. Create a Thank You Video
A video goes a long way towards showing that you’re putting effort into your sponsors. The scale and scope of the video can vary depending on the sponsor, of course. A low tier sponsor might get a video of your office, in sync, saying “thank you BusinessName for sponsoring our event!” A more valuable sponsor might get a more detailed video, perhaps talking to crucial members of your organization about what the sponsorship means, or showing directly where the money is going.
In some cases, you can work with the sponsor to create the video. You can have representatives of the sponsor come in for a tour and film the whole thing for use in a promotional video. You can even just produce something they script out; their marketing team might have better ideas than yours.
You don’t need much to take a video; a simple smartphone, a tripod to hold it steady, and some post-processing to make it look good can do well enough. For high-tier sponsors, though, you may want something with a more professional look to it.
3. Create an Impact Photo Set
A lot of nonprofits use this technique. What better way to show how effective a sponsorship is than by showing exactly what it’s allowing you to do? It might be difficult to tangibly show what the money is used for in an event sponsorship, but a donation to an organization that reaches out to people or helps specific individuals or with specific results can make great fodder for an image set or short video/slideshow.
For example, if you’re running an organization that helps out people with a specific disease, you can interview a few specific success stories your organization has created. Inform them that the sponsor helped out and get them to say “Thanks to BusinessName, I’m able to afford the treatment I need” or whatever it is that’s most applicable to your situation. A direct testimonial or two, even if they’re short, can be a great indicator that not only are sponsors appreciated, but that they’re making a tangible difference.
Related to the first option, you can simply share a promotional video created by your sponsor. Sometimes all the sponsor wants is a bit of ad space, and paying to sponsor your event to get in front of your audience is good enough. You see this a lot in gaming tournaments, for example; promotional videos will have a “sponsored by” card at the start or end.
The caution you need to make here is that the video they produce is something that will capture your audience and fit within your usual messaging. You don’t want to be, for example, a generally liberal organization suddenly sharing pro-life and anti-gun control videos, or vice versa. Then again, something that clear-cut is unlikely to come up; a politically diametric organization is unlikely to sponsor you, if they know your perspectives.
5. Add Sponsored Content to Your Calendar
Sometimes all you need to support your sponsor is make sure you’re sharing their content on occasion. The simple things are often the most effective, right? All you really need to do is make sure you’re bookmarking the blog, YouTube channel, and/or social media profiles of the companies that sponsor you. Once every few weeks, or whenever they publish something relevant to your organization, use your social media to share their content.
This has a number of benefits for both you and the sponsor. For one thing, you get to share content to your feed that you didn’t have to invest in creating. For another, it’s an ongoing benefit that the sponsor gets out of their donation. This helps encourage future, recurring donations.
The one thing you need to worry about with this system is making sure you’re not drowning out your own content with content from various sponsors. Make sure you have enough of your own content on hand, and make sure sponsor content has a shelf life; if a sponsor hasn’t donated in over a year, cut them off unless something exceptional shows up.
6. Create a Sponsor/Donor Badge System
Who doesn’t like a little gamification? Set up a page on your website with credits for your donors and sponsors. You don’t necessarily need to make it explicitly how much of a donation is required to reach what badge level, but you can if you want. Allow people to donate to achieve a badge, and keep track of cumulative donations.
This can add some overhead that you might not initially want to track, especially if you have a lot of very small sponsors. It might be worthwhile to hire a developer to automate the process through a submission form, so you don’t have someone spending all day just managing badges.
How does this tie into social media? You can post a monthly update on your leaderboards, for one thing. You can also start to recognize individuals who are frequent donors and recognize them for their cumulative value.
7. Interview Sponsors Directly
Sponsors tend to love exposure, so why not give them what they want? You can send a representative to your sponsor’s business and interview them about your niche and their engagement with it. Some of them will no doubt work in that space, while others are more likely to have personal motivations.
A good, deep interview can be relevant to your audience, and to the audience of the sponsor. It helps humanize both sides, as it’s not between a company and a representative of another company, but between two human beings with their own thoughts and goals. A good interview can provide quite a bit of content for a blog, and individual responses make great social media posts.
8. Offer Rewards to Sponsor Employees
Depending on the kind of organization you are and the level of the sponsorship, you can offer a lot of more tangible rewards. If you’re running an event, you can print out a bunch of tickets for the sponsor to give out to their employees. If you’re more of a nonprofit organization or you have some sort of retail store, you can offer coupons for your products, or simply send a gift basket to the office of the sponsor.
You will need to tailor whatever you’re sending to the size of the organization and the size of the sponsorship, of course. You don’t want to commit to sending a t-shirt with your branding on it to everyone in a 10,000 employee firm just because that firm donated $500 to your cause, after all.
You can get members of the sponsoring business to send you photos of their employees at your event or wearing your merch for use on social media, for some added levels of engagement.
9. Promote the Sponsor on your Cover Photo
Many organizations tend to forget about their cover photo. It’s understandable; you don’t necessarily see it often when you’re managing your page from the back end, or in a third party tool. Yet the cover photo can be an excellent tool for marketing and for thanking your sponsors.
I’ve seen a few different examples of this. Some organizations use the cover photo sort of like how a NASCAR; covering it with brand logos for anyone that sends them a sponsorship. This can work, though it looks cluttered eventually.
Others will make a completely new cover photo for each sponsor, running each one for a week or two, depending on the engagement it gets and the sponsorship level of the donor.
My favorite is to make a sort of adaptable template cover photo. Something that can showcase your own branding, but can be adapted to fit the colors, logo, or theme of the sponsor. You may need a clever graphic artist for this, but it can work wonders both with advertising and with brand consistency. Think something like the Google Doodles, but for your Facebook and Twitter cover images.
10. Create Dedicated Sponsor Landing Pages
Imagine this: you have a link on your social media leading to a sponsorship page. The sponsorship page includes a rundown of what a sponsor can expect to get out of their sponsorship. In addition to the usual benefits – and the sort of ideas I’ve listed above – you can create a dedicated landing page for each sponsor. The landing page will include basic information about the sponsor, their relationship with your organization, and a way that any user can engage with the sponsor.
I don’t know how well this sort of idea can work; it’s a lot more effort than a lot of organizations would like to put in. If you want to scale it back, you can instead write simple blog posts involving the topic of your sponsor’s business and direct a link in it back to their site. A link can be just as valuable, if not more so, since the sponsor’s site is likely to have more focused marketing than your simple landing page.