Proving Sponsorship ROI?

April 24, 2022
Opinion Pieces

Article actual date: Apr 8, 2018

In my discussions with clients, I have often been asked how to prove ROI to end-users, typically key sponsors and exhibitors.

A fantastic study in a recent Convene Survey said that acquiring event sponsors is the top sponsorship challenge cited by respondents. One of the key difficulties being managing expectations in an economy driven by bespoke experiences, unique customisations and “big” data. With sponsorship revenue contributing 28% of the event’s overall revenue and 18% of the organisers’ overall revenue, they are super important and it is absolutely imperative that we start owning this aspect of the event business.

Now firstly lets go back to basics, why would there even be sponsors for events? The answer is simple, events are still the best way to generate business when compared to other channels. Secondly, why is it so difficult to prove ROI? That is because, events are considered as an expensive channel and hence data savvy sponsors are demanding justification for their investment. So, how do we start attracting sponsors, manage their expectations, deliver and prove ROI to them? Try this out.

Know what your sponsors want

I’m not talking about the surface level — logo placements, speaking opportunities or social media mentions — I am talking about the actually revenue based outcome of all these offerings provided. From my experience, sponsors are usually looking for new business referrals. Pre event, sponsorship teams usually rely on an assortment of methods to book meetings at the event. These include initiatives like posting on social media, email marketing to prospects, website announcements and even press releases. During event, most new referrals will come from booth traffic, networking events or sporadic random meet-ups. In these instance, if you have the ability to engineer a powerful business matching structure that favours your sponsors, you are definitely off to a good start.

Valuate your sponsorship offering

Before you can start measuring ROI, you will need to know what your sponsorship offering is worth. Performing a valuation is the first step in determining and proving the ROI for your sponsors, which would help you determine your sponsorship charges, categories and tiers. From my experience, the quality and quantity of leads (meetings), that your sponsors have at your events, is the number one driver of event ROI. That being said, the value of a sponsorship, can go far beyond just providing direct leads. If your event is technology-enabled to a certain extent, you can give detailed data to sponsors about who interacted with their brand. We are talking way more than just impressions — it’s demographics, geographic data, intentions, interest, actions they’ve taken, etc. of course being GPDR compliant in the process.

Delivery process and manage expectations

Based on your valuation above, sponsors start their review process, if they accept it, they would start conducting their own ROI practices. This is where knowing the market value of your sponsorship offering becomes critical, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to articulate their needs and interests. In my world, the best trustworthy and indisputable source that I know is data. Hence I urge you to develop a transparent framework around proving ROI to your sponsors. This will give you the ammunition you need to negotiate with sponsors. Once agreed upon, and implemented the offerings, it is a must that you deliver a ROI fulfilment report proving the you have delivered what you said you would. This will be easy to prove if you have an end-to-end solution that tracks meeting potential and meeting fulfilment for your sponsors throughout the pre, during and post event period. You may like to include calculations based on your valuation numbers and actual deliverables. This will put you in a position to show them the true ROI of their investment, and the right to ask for their continued sponsorship support.

What do you think? Globally, sponsorships represent a $60 billion dollar opportunity. Let’s not let that slip past us. As always, if you would like to chat about aligning your event tech with how you’re selling and proving ROI sponsorship dollars don’t hesitate to drop me a line at

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