Selling Special Events
A Special Article from BREAKTHROUGH marketing

About the Author:
Abbe Marshall is Vice President/Consulting of BREAKTHROUGH marketing, the nation’s most progressive new business development consulting firm. They provide consulting services and products for broadcast companies, teaching them how to systematically and strategically place themselves between the manufacturer and the retailer in order to develop marketing dollars for themselves. For more information about BREAKTHROUGH marketing’s products and services, call (425) 747-0647 or visit

Event and sponsorship marketing have come to the forefront for retailers, manufacturers and broadcast companies alike. More and more companies are looking for ways to enhance their traditional advertising and add value or recognition to their product or service. Event marketing is one way companies are doing just that.

Before you can determine whether an event will be profitable to develop or tie into you must first define the event’s tangible assets or your salable opportunities. Make a list of all items available for sale. Determine what you can create to sell. Salable opportunities can include:

  • Audience
  • Media Inclusion
  • Site Participation
  • Collateral Participation

If you own the event or have the rights to sell an event coming into your market, the two most profitable salable areas for you to research are Site Participation and Collateral Participation. In these two areas alone one could build selling opportunities around:

  • Signs/Banners/Pennant
  • Stage Sponsor
  • Site Map Sponsor
  • Redemption Program
  • Billboards
  • Booths
  • Meet and Greet Sessions
  • Food Pavilion Host
  • VIP or Hospitality Tents
  • Ticket Giveaway Sweepstakes

When calling companies for sponsorship marketing opportunities, most stations just try to sell, sell, sell the event without determining the sponsor’s needs or helping the sponsor develop sales overlays which can help ensure the participant’s success and set the station up for an easy renewal for next year. The goal is to tailor the event’s salable opportunities to meet the individual needs of your client. When selling the potential client keep these three simple tips in mind:

1. Focus the client on the benefits of being apart of your event

2. Develop the sponsorship package to meet the needs of the client

3. Give the client ideas or sales overlays to use at their booth or sponsorship endeavor during the event.

Some sales overlay ideas are:

1. Building a Targeted Database - This is one of the most underutilized areas of sponsorship marketing. If a sponsor’s main goal is to develop a direct link between themselves and the potential customer, what better way than building a database? A sponsor could have a membership drive offering discounts and free samples with product purchase, which promotes brand trial — especially for new products. After the event, the sponsor could mail out offers for product merchandise, discount coupons, and/or free samples all that are directly targeted to their consumer.

2. Retail Bouncebacks - Have coupon redemptions tied in with sponsorships, directing the consumer to go to a key retailer to redeem. The sponsor could also tie its key retailer with at the event.

3. Immediate Reward for Accepting Promotional Offer - Promotions that offer the "prize" (discount, cents off, free gift, etc.) immediately will make consumers happy because the prize is easy to attain — at the event! After all, do you remember (or take the time) to mail in the UPC codes and receipts (if you can find them) to get discounts for ticket admission?

4. Capitalize on Personalities - If you have an event with a known personality, (player, coach, owner, etc.), use that person to endorse product(s) they may actually use in their business, (e.g., a software program the coach uses to help him in running a more successful team).

5. Add Cause Overlays - Tying in your client with a local cause or charity organization.

6. Give to the customer in the Hospitality arena, VIP area or Food Pavilion - With the increasing restrictions on clients accepting gifts, use this area to offer something companies seek out...on-site seminars or comfort items like seat cushions or fans.

7. Use sponsorships to drive traffic to your Web site - Develop hotlinks or hyperlinks interacting the station’s website with the sponsor’s. Promote an on-line sweep-stakes offering the winner gazillions in cash. This is a very easy way for consumers to participate in a sweepstakes providing the sponsor with an automatic database.

8. On-Site Demonstrations - create an exciting reason for event attendees to come to your sponsor’s booth or area. Ask the sponsor to hold interactive demonstrations. Consider giving participating attendee’s rewards for taking part in the demonstrations; e.g., those who come to Bose’s Mobile Music Theater get a free CD; those who attend Dell Computer’s demo get one free month of America On-Line.

9. Redemptions and Enter-to-wins - allow event attendees to show proof-of-purchase of designated product and receive a buy one get one free pass or discount admission into the event. Don’t just give those tickets away during morning drive - hold a register-to-win contest with a participating sponsor which includes a packet of tickets (25 people) combined with a meet and greet session before or after the show. Consider selling these two packages individually and separately (not apart of a regular sponsorship package) to maximize revenue potential.

The number-one goal for event marketers is to put the product in the hands of their potential customer, which will help break through the clutter of their competition. Event Marketing can do this while also bringing in a profit for your station’s bottom line.