Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Running a developer event – sponsors

They may not come through when you think they will and even if they say they will, others though will come out of the wood work. But they will never find you first.

But don’t let that put you off!

There are a few or companies who support the UK MS development community that you could say will be guaranteed to help out in some way, make contact with these guys as early as possible as they always run their sponsorships on a first come (with the best idea) first served. And they take the longest to get money signed off and paid.

Now its the hard(er) bit, start sending emails out to every business contact you know, anyone could be a sponsor. I didn’t go for the give us cash or forget it, it was important for me to get ‘stuff’ that could keep the costs down and I never said no to a sponsorship offer.
The email that went out was heavily focused on what I was trying to do, not on how much cash I needed, actually for most first contact emails I never asked for cash. If there was a positive email, then I would send a gracious thanks and mentioning cash needed.

My initial thoughts were to ask for small amounts (trying to avoid a ‘no’), after speaking to someone who knows about running and organising a lot of successful events (Simon Sabin from SQLBits), I realised that I should be asking for the full amount from everyone and seeing what happens… First try on this was surprisingly effective.

Don’t stop looking for sponsors, you cannot be certain of anything until the cash arrives.

Be prepared to cover some(or all) of the costs for the event yourself, hopefully it wont come to that. But you do need to bear this in mind, this will also keep you focussed on finding both sponsorship and the right venue.

Phase1 – the people you know
Phase 2 – the people you know through people
Phase 3 – random companies that you have seen advertising in the magazines you read, who may or may not have any link to the event
Phase 4 – repeat 1,2,3

It takes balls (not literally) to run an event, if you approach people confidently and know what you want to achieve you will get a better response. If you know what the sponsors can get out of the event, you will get a better response.

My initial emails were basically crap, it took me awhile to get my story of what I was trying to achieve straight.

Once you have your sponsors, do keep them in the loop, now this is not something I did on the run up to dev4good, but I will be sending a thanks and summary to them all within a few days of the event finishing.
While the event is on, make sure every attendee knows who the sponsors are and what they paid for, I did a lot of this on day1, but forgot about this on day 2.

And most importantly don’t lie to sponsors, ie this is our 5th year, we have 200 people registered, your closest rival has given us £xxx etc It will only get you bad press when the truth comes out and you will find it very hard if not impossible to get these people to ever take you seriously.

Well that’s a few bits on sponsors, don’t hesitate to contact me if you want to find out more, tweet me @chillfire

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