Deliver and You Shall Receive

With a Little Give and Take, Nightclub and Bar Operators Can Successfully Attract Sponsors for Promotions

party shot in a bar

We all know the never-ending process of thinking up, planning and staging promotions…and the never-ending costs. So how can we further increase our sponsorships and, in turn, profits?

Now I know many of you “have been doing this for years,” but that may be the problem for some — in this new economy, sponsors expect and demand more return than ever for their sponsorship dollars, which may be different than the give-and-mostly-take relationship you’ve had with them in the past. In fact, you may have seen sponsorship offers evaporate lately, leaving you wondering, “How the hell are my competitors getting all this sponsorship?” Relax. The truth is your competitors likely are building relationships, and they know how to deliver for their sponsors by producing successful events representing and promoting the sponsor’s brand. Learn how to do that, and you’ll get the support you need to make your events wildly successful.

Why should you give so much to sponsors? First, understand what your alcohol/liquor reps have to go through. They have to go back to the office and ask, advocate, beg and even fight for you and your promotion or event. Remember, there are other reps in other parts or your city, area, region and/or state, and they are all fighting to get a piece of the budgeted/allocated funds for their accounts and clients. Your rep or sponsor must justify to his or her boss why the brand or distribution company should allocate funds to you, and how much to give out of their limited budget. It’s up to you to give them something to fight for, and with.

But creating a quality promotion to gain sponsorship requires preparation. The best way to start is to go back to the planning stages. When was the last time you, or your staff, wrote out a promotion plan? In order to get increased advertising dollars from your sponsors, you must get control of your promotion schedule/plan. It’s true that not every promotion or event can be planned months in advance, but if you want a larger allocation of funds, you must stake your claim early. Plus, if you and your team know what you’re doing months in advance, it will be easier to present your schedule of promotions and collaborate with your sponsors — as well as gain new sponsors.

Growing a Relationship

Additionally, it’s critical to constantly build your relationships with your sponsors, and if you haven’t done this lately, it’s time to re-establish the connection. I know many clients who simply take the support/sponsorship for granted, forgetting why they get all the “free stuff” — thus reducing their “relationship” to asking for trinkets and giveaways. To go beyond the begging, know and understand how they allocate/distribute the funds or sponsorship dollars. Ask them what they are willing to do and what they are interested in accomplishing for their own business. To put it simply, they want good brand exposure/promotion and product placement, so show them how you can offer it.

When most bar operators think of sponsors, they think of large amounts of sponsorship, but it all adds up. One low-cost, locally grown idea? An area flower shop provides roses for you to give to the women when they leave at the end of the night with a small tag with the flower shop and your venue’s logo attached. Or maybe a local limo company provides a free ride to and from your venue as a promotional giveaway. How about a beauty salon or spa service giveaway at your event or promotion? All this creates perceived value to your customers and guests, and best of all, it’s free for you. It’s crucial to think outside the box when it comes to sponsors so you can attract a new audience and beat out the area competition, who are all fighting for the same top brands.

But the relationship is a two-way street — you don’t just give coverage to a sponsor and get nothing in return. Once you’ve sold a sponsor on your promotion idea, they can pay for things like advertising, promotion materials (products, models, banners, fliers, posters, etc.), giveaways and talent, and sometimes they can reimburse related expenses, depending on local laws and restrictions.

Bottom line: Communicate with your alcohol/liquor reps, vendors and other potential sponsors. Ask questions and get to know them! It’s a give and take relationship, but sponsors favor those who know how to deliver. NCB

Tips for Building a Successful Sponsored Promotion

1. Create an Event Sponsorship Proposal, at minimum a one sheet. A one sheet explains the who, what, when, where, why and how of your event. This info should include your targeted attendance numbers as well as the age group, ratio of men to women and type of group that will be there (professional, college, urban, etc.). Additionally, note what exposure or impressions you can or will give the sponsor, such as website traffic, social network invites, e-mail blasts, TV and radio ads, etc.

2. Notify your alcohol rep or sponsor of your event in advance — about 30-90 days out.

3. Ask your rep what his or her agenda is and what brands the company is trying to “push.”

4. Expose your sponsor as much as possible at your bar by maximizing product placement.

5. Document past events/promotions — take pictures, show quality produced promotional material such as fliers and ads. Hint: When taking photos of promotions/events, showcase sponsors’ products and show the brand and product placement in the photos. When sponsors see that you “get it,” they will be more likely to give you more of their budget and more sponsorship.

6. Remember the following tips: Pitch it and sell it — make them excited so they’ll  want to be a part of your event/promotion. Represent the brand with high-quality print design. Your sponsors are looking for branding, product placement and exposure that represents them well.

7. Finally, if your sponsor is not an alcohol brand, match your demographic with the sponsor’s product, and then match an alcohol to that demographic.

Sponsors to Tap

•    Alcohol brands

•    Energy drink brands

•    Cigarette and cigar companies

•    Clothing brands

•    Gaming companies

•    Automobile companies

•    Chewing gum brands

•    Beauty/fashion products

•    Cell phone manufacturers and carriers

Finding Someone New

When seeking new sponsors, get creative and collaborate.

•    Ask your staff for suggestions and ideas.

•    Look at local nightlife publications in your city and other areas, which are easy to access online. See who is sponsoring their events.

•    Don’t underestimate the power of local promoters to bring in great sponsors. They hear and see all other promotions, so empower them and keep the lines of communication open to their ideas and information. (Know your promoter’s demographic and match his or her crowd to your sponsor. For example, if you have a hip-hop clothing line sponsor, match them with a hip-hop promoter and crowd.)

•    If your city has a convention center, tap into the profits! Many companies attending conventions will buy out space and sponsor events for convention attendees, so know the convention schedule. For example, a pet convention brings in major companies like Purina who will likely sponsor a mixer for clients, and they pay premium.

•    Look for what’s hot and what brands are selling in your market, and then contact them. 

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