IEG is the industry leader on sponsorships and how to value them. They provide consulting and have a yearly conference for sponsors and properties. They recently published a paper on what sponsors are looking for in regards to benefits. Sponsorship spending in North America for festivals, fairs, and events is expected to rise 2.1% to over $878 million this year. That still lags behind sports, entertainment, causes and the arts.
What is striking in the report is that sponsors want more digital presence and aspects as part of their benefits. Digital platforms rose over traditional media and became the second most sought after benefit. Digital media includes the presence in digital, social, or mobile media. 95% of the sponsor respondents mentioned that social media is the number one channel for public relations for the sponsorship. Category exclusivity was still number one in regards to benefits for sponsors.
Having a digital strategy is important for your festival and event. This strategy has to be similar to your advertising strategy and should cover all digital platforms. This way, you can provide the best possible benefits for potential sponsors. More importantly, you need to build the audience and fan base. Without that, the digital strategy can fall flat.
Organizations need to start with a solid foundation such as their website to help build an audience. From there, you can develop communication strategies and build the social platforms. The result will be growth in your fan base, which is beneficial to partnerships. Many properties should also consider a mobile app. An app can bring new people to the organization or property and engage the audience in unique ways. It can make the attendee experience unique through a variety of engagement opportunities, all which can be supported by partnerships. At a previous festival that I ran, we created a mobile app and had a tremendous response – over 60,000 users in the first six weeks, including the 11 days of the festival. It was a huge success and a great opportunity for a partner activation and gave the festival a platform to develop new and engaging activities.
Having a digital plan is important for the growth of your organization or festival and now has an additional benefit as it is something that partners are looking for to engage with the audience.