Brand Sponsorships a Leveraging YOUR Negotiating Power

As an operator, you’re likely often bombarded with sponsorship opportunities from a variety of sources. There may be great opportunities in which to invest, but you need to turn the table and make your involvement in an event “proactive” rather than “reactive.”

The people pitching you know what they want, whether it’s a venue, free product, swag or – their favorite - cash. But remember, they are approaching you, and that gives you negotiating power. The key to good negotiating is knowing what you want from the arrangement, and then asking for more than you think you can get. Here are some tips:

1. Finding the Right Event: Ask lots of questions to identify the target audience. Who is going to attend? How many? Will there be celebrity appearances? Determine what are the solicitor’s publicity plans and what are the expectations or commitments in terms of publicity value for you (get them to quantify it in terms of impressions or dollars).

We also recommend providing your contribution in terms of time and materials, not cash. Things like free goods and use of venue all have value to your partner that’s greater than your costs. Plus, there is value for you in getting your products into a potential patron’s hands or to bringing new people into your place.

2. Signage: Make sure you have enough advance planning time to maximize your PR value by being involved in any and all promotional materials the organizers are producing. You’ll want your logo and information included on any signs or messaging. Will there be a step and repeat or other significant signage at the event? Your logo must be there! Even more important, your venue’s involvement must be included in all print ad materials, promotional brochures and literature to be disseminated.

3. Publicity: Those people soliciting you may have a professional PR company, but remember they’re working for their client, not you. Make sure to integrate their promotions to reach your target audience. Ask for their releases and get permission to distribute it to your own list. Even better, ask for permission to revise the release to get your name and involvement up front for the version you send to your customer list.

What about their social media marketing plans? Negotiate with event organizers to have your brand name – with links to your information – featured in Facebook, Twitter and YouTube activity.

4. Branding Opportunities On Site: If the event is not at your place, think about how to get your brand visibility. First up is a signature drink: Category exclusivity may be important to you and, if so, you want your venue’s signature drink featured. If you don’t have one, create one for the event, preferably something that will translate well into your own place’s repertoire. Next is staff branding. Ask for the opportunity to “brand” the service staff with your account’s wearable gear.

5. Photography rights: This is a big one and frequently overlooked. Often, sponsorship deals will bring their own photographers whom they’ve hired with limited “use rights.” Negotiate hard to have rights to use the photos, at least in your own local promotion. If that’s not possible, ask to have your own photographer on hand, either a professional or yourself.

The event organizers came to you for a reason – usually because they know associating with your place will attract more attention to and attendance at their event. While it’s great to support such events, make sure it’s a win-win for your business as well as their cause.

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