Reaching Out to Event Sponsors: Founder of Consulting Firm Gives Advice on Event Partnerships

Reaching Out to Event Sponsors: Founder of Consulting Firm Gives Advice on Event Partnerships

Tiffany-AllenPodcast speakers: Savannah McIntosh (Purplepass Marketing Director) and Tiffany Allen (Founder of AEA Consulting Firm)Jump to the show notes below. 

 

The EventBuzz podcast: AEA Consulting Firm

presented by Purplepass

 

 

 

Show Notes

Topic markers:

03:50 - How to submit a government proposal (event planners)

05:50 - Reaching out to sponsors for events

08:21 - How to get sponsors for a new event

10:19 - Creating sponsorship packages 

14:30 - How to create partnership contracts

19:55 - How to invite speakers to your event

28:03 - Tips for event vendors 

 

Links: 

AEA Consulting Firm

Legal Zoom for creating contracts

Personalization Mall

 

Quotes:  

Finding sponsors for new events

"...my best results were calling out and reaching out to friends of friends, or colleagues of colleagues and some cold calling. And what helped was having a well known keynote speaker as well. And also giving the agenda, you know, even if it's a draft agenda, just so they know, okay, this is what I'm giving my money for. Oh, this is the caliber of speakers who will be at this event, this is a good investment for my company. If you know your agenda, even if it's a draft and try to stick with you know, don't totally do 180 on your agenda. But if they can see what, who you're having, and they'll know if this is their target audience."

 

Inviting speakers to your event

"...be very transparent, if they will get paid or not, right, like, we would like you to speak in kind or in turn, you can have a vendor table, or are they after for this networking session for this VIP reception. And so you kind of do have to throw in incentives if not paying them or on top of payment, like you will receive a speaker's gift. And another thing, and that's a huge thing. I love personalization, I mean, not to give a plug but personalizationmall.com have the best little personalized gifts...even if the speaker is paid or unpaid ordering guests from there, it really does add a nice touch to say thank you for coming to this event."

 

Advertising to my target market

"So your target audience and location is not created equal. And I think that's one of the hardest things is trying to figure out where am I going to find these people and how am I going to reach out to them? Yeah. In your b2b, your b2b conferences, you're going to have to try to get the email addresses or obviously advertise on LinkedIn. But your general public conferences, you're going to, you know, depending on the demographic, you know, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok. So nothing is created equal."

 

 

Podcast Transcript: Purplepass + AEA Consulting Firm

Savannah (Purplepass):

Hi, everyone, welcome back to the EventBuzz Podcast presented by Purplepass. I'm Savannah, your host for the show and part of the Purplepass team. Today's guest is Tiffany Allen, founder of AEA Consulting Firm, a full service corporate event management company, drawn from her 15 years of public sector experience, where she was a contract manager. Tiffany leverages this expertise to help businesses and agencies create memorable events.

On this episode, we will be discussing vendor and contract management when it comes to event planning as well as tips for securing speakers and forming partnerships.

Hi, Tiffany, thanks for coming on to the show. We're so excited to have you. How are you doing today?

 

Tiffany (Purplepass):

Pretty good. Thank you for having me.

 

Savannah:

I let the listeners know in the beginning a little bit about you and your company. But if you don't mind, just starting this off with introducing yourself and just maybe a little bit about your background and how you got started in the world of events.

 

Tiffany:

Sure. So my name is Tiffany Allen. So personally, I'm a mother of three kids, owner of AEA Consulting Firm and fun fact AEA is a my children's initials Anya, Ethan and Adriana. So an easy, easy name for the company.

So I got into event planning, because I was pretty dissatisfied with my nine to five, um, it just didn't allow for any creativity. And in my nine to five was in contracts. But as part of that role, I would sometimes you know, plan conferences for my, for my job and and they were pretty large conferences, people from all over the country would attend. And I liked the work and so I said, well, let me just try to, to see if I can do this.

Um, so my first couple of clients were friends to have one had a nonprofit one was a business owner. So I started small with them, just to kind of build up my past performance and I have been up rolling ever since then. And I started in 2016.

 

Savannah:

Wow, good for you. I love that! I feel like we are seeing that more and more every day. I feel like people are just over nine to five and and doing something else finally to make them you know, more fulfilled.

 

Tiffany:

Exactly, exactly.

 

Savannah:

I love that. And okay, so everyone answers this question differently. So I want to ask you, for when you're working with event planners are planning an event, where do you start? So what do you start strategizing or planning first?

 

Tiffany: 

Okay, so I don't do social events. Most of my clients are government agencies, or corporations and nonprofits. So when you ask about strategizing, my strategy is part of the proposal that I submit. Yeah. And so, when I submit the proposal, and I learned this from another event planner, like she told me, hey, your proposal has your whole work plan in it, you're giving them too much information? Because if you lose notice, take your proposal, and they could do it themselves, or have another company do what you said you're gonna do.

When I submit my proposals, to whoever I'm submitting it to, I have kind of a high level plan of how I'll get the work done. Right? So when you're submitting a government proposal, they still they issue an RFP or request for proposals. So they already have it listed out what they want done. And so pretty much to answer your question, my strategy is part of my proposal process level strategy. And so, if they, if I get awarded a contract with the government, or if the private industry chooses me to do their event, then I can give, I can plug in the more detailed parts. Right?

So, for instance, I had a contract with us with a city, a city organization to acquire sponsors for them. And so I wrote the proposal high level of how I would get this sponsors who I could possibly, what kind of companies I would reach out to. Once I got a contract, I then said, okay, I'm going to reach out to these specific companies, right. So you give the high level first and once I get the award, then I'll give them more detailed information.

And then from there, I start the timeline. And after I pretty much do the timeline after our kickoff meeting, right? Because another thing that I've learned through the years, people who are writing the proposals, it's no fault of their own, but they don't know what they don't know. Right? So that initial kickoff meeting, more things can come out, and more things are extracted, and then you can build even a better stronger strategy and then you can form your timeline after that.

 

Savannah:

Gotcha, that makes sense. And so when you say, I know, part of your job is reaching out to sponsors, reaching out to speakers or who you need to reach out to. That's a good question, because a lot of people don't know how to approach this, or how to even go about, you know, reaching out to these people or where to start. So do you have any suggestions when it comes to, you know, forming those types of partnerships?

 

Tiffany:

Sure. And so first sponsors, the best approach that has worked for me, is LinkedIn. And to be honest, when I first started, I couldn't believe the response I received, um, just from, you know, doing doing research on the company. Um, let's say I wanted to use Johnson and Johnson, for instance. Okay. See, okay, who on LinkedIn works for Johnson and Johnson? And it does definitely take some research. But I, I've really, I've had the best of luck with LinkedIn for sponsorship acquisition.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, it really simple platform, you just wouldn't think like, that's where you should go for your sponsors. But it makes sense, cuz it's a networking platform.

 

Tiffany:

Exactly, exactly. And then to another. Another thing that helps a lot, and not just with sponsors, but with securing speakers, is I have a pretty large network. So I feel like anybody in my network can get ahold of somebody who can get ahold of somebody, it's one of those things like, you know, someone who knows someone who knows someone, and so not paying out to be a speaker, or a sponsor, per se, where they can give recommendations. But just through my network, I was able to acquire a large amount of sponsors for a contract I had, you know, with the local city here.

And, and also, another good old fashioned thing is cold calling. And so, I've learned too that if you're, if you have an event planning contract, for an established event, it's almost simple to get sponsors, it's harder to get sponsors for a new unknown event. I will that's 100% that's one thing I do know, if it's something that's new, or it's only been in, it's only been in existence for two years, it's harder to get sponsors. But it's a well established event and people around town know it. The sponsors literally kind of pour in.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, so for those, those newer ones, do you have any, any advice for them when it comes to I mean, obviously, it's going to be a lot more challenging to get people to believe in your event, and want to be a part of it. But I mean, I guess that comes with how you approach them.

 

Tiffany:

So, so to be honest, so with the new event, when I planned about, well, pre-pandemic was right before the pain to make it my best, my best best approach was, or my best results, I should say, was calling out reaching out to friends of friends, or colleagues of colleagues and some cold calling. And what helped was having a well known keynote speaker as well. Um, and also given the agenda, you know, even if it's a draft agenda, just so they know, okay, this is what I'm giving my money for. Oh, this is the caliber of speakers who will be at this event, this is a good investment for my company. If you know your agenda, even if it's a draft and try to stick with you know, don't totally do 180 on your agenda. But if they can see what, who you're having, and they'll know, okay, this is their target audience. This is a good target audience for my company to reach out to, or this is a good target audience for my logo to be on their website or on their program. Or for us to even have a table there, a vending table, you know, depending on you know, different Indy go on the type of conference that you're having.

 

Savannah:

Yeah. And so like you're saying logos and tables and stuff like that, I'm assuming that's part of like a package. You know, sponsor package. Do you create those? Do you put together the sponsorship packages that kind of convinced people to come aboard?

 

Tiffany:

Yes. And so. So I work with the client in, you know, I give them a proposed list of who I plan to reach out to. And before I send out the sponsorship deck or the packet, I will send it to my client to make sure that they're okay with it. And yeah, so the best option is to is to have three to four different levels. Right?

So one of them I did, it was a huge, huge event that when I was referring to with the city contract. It was maybe 25 to 30,000 people in attendee attendance. But there was a performing performance stage with a jumbotrons on both sides of the stage. Right? So one of my sponsors was Coca Cola. So their name was listed on the jumbotron. But if someone donated to any, you know, dollar amount of donations, but if someone donated $500, they wouldn't get on the jumbotron. But they would get some other little, maybe they would get prime location as a vendor, right?

I'm making up that not that dollar amount went 500. That's not a lot, but if it was a small amount of money, you know, obviously, we get less, less advertising at the festival. But our larger vendors, I'm sorry, our larger sponsors, they their logos are on the back of the T shirts. They were listed on the jumbotron, right. And we even gave them representatives from their companies, tickets to the mayor's ticket at the event. Right? So depending on how you can incentivize, you know, incentivize your goodies that you're going to give to the to the people and they absolutely loved it. Absolutely. I mean, a ticket to the mayor's tent in a summertime festival is a huge deal. I mean, you wouldn't believe how huge that is. So to me, that's been that's been the best, the best approach.

 

Savannah:

And do you think when it comes to sponsors, would you say like there's a certain amount or would you say more, the more the merrier?

 

Tiffany:

I would say honestly, the more the merrier. Now, however, you don't, you have to have know that sweet spot of the cut off, right? Because you don't want your program to have 100 different logos in it, because they want to stand out, right. So to have your logo and the program or your name on the jumbotron, like, if I gave $500 I wouldn't ever I'm sorry, if I gave $10,000, I wouldn't want my name on the jumbotron with someone who gave $500. Right?

So those exclusive exclusive advertising rights, you kind of have to go with a higher amount of money. So the more the merrier. But you do is a sweet spot, you have to cut it off at some point because you don't want to have this whole crowd going.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, exactly. That makes sense.

 

Tiffany:

Yeah, we're nobody's getting recognized as a sponsor, right?

 

Savannah:

Yeah. Are you're like flipping through five pages of logos.

 

Tiffany:

Exactly. No one. No company who donated money wants to be in that situation? I have to put myself in the, in the mind of a donor. Like if I'm a donor, what would I want? Would I want my logo listed next to 5 other logos and I would not.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, exactly. I make sense. And then I want to ask, because I know previously, you were a contract manager, do you still have a like, are you in control of the contracts or putting them together when you're doing all these partnerships as well?

 

Tiffany:

Definitely, yes.

 

Savannah:

I want to pick your brain about that. Because I people, I mean, that for some reason, like contracts, it's a scary thing. You want to make sure you're covering all your bases doing everything right. So I just want to see if you have any, like suggestions when it comes to like putting together that contract and, you know, making sure everything's good to go.

 

Tiffany:

Oh, so first of all, number one thing when you're putting together a contract, if you're promising somebody something, make sure that you can deliver, right so double check with your client to make sure okay, I can deliver what I told this sponsor that I'm going to give them and I'm assuming you're, right now we're referring to sponsorship contracts, correct?

 

Savannah:

Yeah, yeah. Since we are a roll with that.

 

Tiffany:

Oh, yeah, yeah, so yeah, so make sure number one that you can deliver what you promised you say that you would deliver. Um, and and number two, it doesn't have to be super long. Two to three pages, go over the contract with the sponsor as well. And when I say go over it, I mean, just have a quick little meeting where you literally read over it, read through it line by line, sentence by sentence. And I learned this from my on the job from my former career where we, you know, would award contracts. And it was very painstaking. I mean, it was painful.

We awarded the contract to a large contractor and our contracting officer, we had a kickoff meeting with them. Who literally read a 50 page contract. I mean, read it out loud. And he was very painful to sit through. But it was very necessary. I've learned that it's very, very necessary. So both parties understand and then you can do this before it's signed, you know, both parties understand this is my expectation. This is your expectation.

 

Savannah:

Yeah

 

Tiffany:

And obviously too, have a lawyer look over a contract, just to make sure that I have I have two lawyers on hand that I use, but I haven't that I should say that I used. Because once you have one, you know, you have your template, you can kind of use it over and over again. Yeah. So just have, I would definitely, if you're not a lawyer, which I mean, most event planners are not going to be a lawyer, have a lawyer review it, and this use that template, and then you can just interchange it, and then change the specifics, depending obviously, on your client, the date of the event, and the expectations.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, and would you recommend, like researching too because I feel like there's some things if you're new to like, you know, putting together a contract and stuff, there's some little things and statements you you might miss. Just because you don't think about it that you want to have in that contract?

 

Tiffany:

Yeah, definitely, um, I haven't used Legal Zoom. But I know people have pretty good luck with Legal Zoom, just use, you know, as a template. Um, but I've just kind of, I've had my, my lawyer draft it for me, just because this is what they do is, you know, a lawyer, lawyer friend, again, reaching out to my network. And she said, okay, this is what you're going to use to protect yourself legally, and this protects them, you know, as the sponsor. So I've kind of been lucky in that.

 

Savannah:

That makes sense. I know a few people that have used Legal Zoom before, and they like it. And it's supposed to be really easy, straightforward process to use. I didn't even think about that. But that's a good idea.

Because I yeah, I don't know, contracts are intimidating, because you really don't want to miss anything out. So I can see, like, that's why people have, you know, like 50 pages, because they're like, and in case this happening, and this and this and so definitely make sense.

 

Tiffany:

And also, I mean, while we're on the subject of contracts, um, and this is one thing I've learned through the years, because remember, when I told you mentioned earlier, when somebody writes a RFP, they don't know what they don't know. Have some kind of language or contingency for an amendment, right? Because you don't want to get stuck. We call it in, in government contracts, we call it Scope Creep, right, where, you know, they wrote the scope for these four tasks. But once once the work starts, they want you to complete six tasks. And those other nodes additional two tasks, were not in the RFP, right?

But they want you to complete the work for that same amount of money you agreed upon. And, and that has happened to me before only once, but I vowed out that would never happen to me again. So I always make sure that I have some kind of amendment language in the contract that we have in our final contract that we signed.

 

Savannah:

Okay, that's a good point. That's a good point. And I wanted to also jump back to so we talked about sponsors, and I think we covered that pretty well.

So I want to jump back really quick to, you know, speakers or talent that you bring on. Is the approach for reaching out to them different would you say a little different than like reaching out to sponsors?

 

Tiffany:

Yes, because with the speakers, I normally have an introduction will eat will the sponsors to have an introduction, introductory email. But with this speakers, you want to give them more information on who will likely be attending this conference, right? Because you're going to have that information already before you speak before you reached out to them. Because you want them to know the audience they're speaking to.

And also, before you reach out to speakers, another thing that I found helpful is if you can find a little clip of them, you know, maybe a YouTube video or something. Because you want to make sure your speaker has a little bit of I know, some subjects are really hard, because no two events are created equal. But you do want to have a speaker with a little bit of charisma, you don't want your audience to fall asleep, you know, if you do have, you know, if it's a very, very tough, meaty subject matter, maybe put that in the morning. You know, right after the plenary session or after breakfast, you know, when people's minds are fresh. But going back to your question, when he, when I reached out to speakers, I really have a more, in my email contains information of who will be there, and why we are reaching out to them.

And of course, you know, and you want to put this, you know, be very transparent, if they will get paid or not, right, like, we would like you to speak in kind or in turn, you can have a vendor table, or you know what I mean, are they after for this networking session for this VIP reception. So, um, so you need to offer all of that free parking, even if you're not paying your speakers, but if there's paid, you know, you would reach out to them a little bit more differently, right. And, and if you want, whoever you have speaking, want them to show up, even if they are speaking, complimentary. You still want them to show up, right?

And so you kind of do have to throw in those incentives, like you'll, you will receive a speaker's gift. And another thing, and that's a huge thing. I love personalization, I mean, not to give a plug but personalizationmall.com those have the best little personalized gifts don't always get gifts, even if the speaker is paid or unpaid ordering guests from there, it really does add a nice touch to say thank you for coming to this event.

 

Savannah:

Okay, yeah, I love when people give plugs, because we're trying, we're doing this podcast also to help people. So I will go ahead and link that to the bottom for people that listen and and might want to learn more about that. And I think what you said is extremely important regarding knowing your demographic, and it's part of like the timeline of planning. And I think people tend to overlook how important it is to know your demographic, and who is going to be coming to your event first before anything else, before anything else. Or else it's like, you're going to have this type of audience and invite this other type of speaker that doesn't either connect with them or isn't what they want. So it's really important, and that's a good tip.

 

Tiffany:

And it piggyingback on knowing your demographics. So whoever is your demographic, you're going to find them in different places, right? So for instance, we did a conference called the Business Gold Symposium with a our target audience was small to mid sized business owners, mostly government contractors. We reached out to, well not reached out but use the list. The public list that has a list of contractors who are certified right, small minority, disadvantaged Business owners, women owned businesses. All those lists are public, so we send out mass emailers to them, right? So depending on who your target audience is, they will be in different places, right?

So if you're doing a huge festival for 20 somethings you're going to do heavily advertised on Instagram or probably now tik tok, right. So you your target audience, location is not created equal. And I think that's one of the hardest things is trying to figure out where am I going to find these people and how am I going to reach out to them? Yeah. In your b2b, your b2b conferences, you're going to have to try to get the email addresses or obviously advertise on LinkedIn. But your general public conferences, you're going to, you know, depending on the demographic, you know, Facebook, Instagram, tik tok. So it's nothing is created equal.

And also YouTube, YouTube as well. So, yeah, and then the the festival that I did in this city, they had bus advertisements and billboards. Right? So, but they had a large budget for that. And and that goes to you with what is the budget, right?

So a government or going to a government organization budget is going to be different than a nonprofit budget, you know, so you have to be creative and work with the client to figure out, okay, this is this is how we're going to spend our money to get the word out to this target audience. And then also, another thing to remember, if you're a nonprofit, a lot of local radio stations, you can get free ads. And I've learned that as well.

 

Savannah:

Oh, that's nice. Yeah, people forget about traditional marketing.

 

Tiffany:

Yeah, like, the public radio stations, we actually I was able to set up an interview with the keynote speaker, and a local, local public radio station. It worked great. And it was, you know, free advertising. And it was maybe a 10 to 15 minute interview about the event. I mean, we're not just about the event, but you know, asking him questions about his career, and then we were able to, you know, plug in the events, so. So yeah, do not forget radio, and approach your local public radio stations.

 

Savannah:

Yeah. You can also do flyers business, like event card that like local shops. And yeah, there's so much you can do you just gotta get super creative.

 

Tiffany:

You have to get super creative and just know, okay, this is the best way to reach this audience. Right? So I did a republic event, you know, flyers may not well, I'm sorry, general, public fliers would work. But if I'm trying to reach out to business owners. I have to figure out where they are.

 

Savannah:

Exactly. Okay. Well, this has been a great interview. And before I leave Tiffany, I did want to ask if there's anything else you wanted to put out there for people listening, tips, general tips when it comes to like, performing partnerships, like we've talked about sponsors, or anything else you feel like you wanted to add?

 

Tiffany:

Oh, well, one thing I do want to add, um, our tips for vendors. So I know that vending can can be pricey, right? I'm costly, especially post pandemic, you know, in person events, we're starting back up, and now they're kind of shutting back down. And we just don't know where we're going with the Delta Variant. But hopefully, in 2022, things will be on the up and up again. For vendors, if you cannot afford a table, do not be afraid to negotiate, right?

If it's obvious, if it's a well known event, those vendors spots are probably going to sell out. But if it's a newer event or smaller event, you can try waiting until the last day to you know to register as a vendor. Or if you know they may have spots available, you can say hey, you know I'm this is I'm a small business, I'm a locally on business. Can you give me a break on the vending fee? Right, so don't be afraid to negotiate. And I would say more than just vendors Don't be afraid to negotiate period. I figured the worst that someone can say is no. Like, no, it's not the end of the world. It's no it is a complete sentence. But hey, if they say no at least you try, like, just never be afraid to negotiate anything. Because people come in with their price. And, and you have your price in mind. But you never know what happened if you just ask.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, you never know what they're thinking to. So they might be willing to go way lower than you thought.

 

Tiffany:

Exactly. Exactly. And also to I want to add that for when you're when you're creating your event website. Um, it's obviously you're going to have the the details You know, the date, the time location, the point of contact, but it's also pretty nice to add your speakers pictures to the website to make it more personable, and a little hyperlink to their bio to go along with your picture.

So those are pretty nice things to add to the more so a corporate event, a corporate events website, and the agenda, a draft agenda as well. So that'll help you with your advertising and possibly attracting more people.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, people definitely like to see like the schedules online because they like to know what to expect. That's a good point. At least for me.

 

Tiffany:

Yeah, same for me as well. Yes,

 

Savannah:

I look for that. And like, Hey, what's happening?

 

Tiffany:

Yeah, and when is it happening? And most importantly, what time is lunch?

 

Savannah:

Yeah, exactly. Where's the snacks? Exactly. That's great. points. Thank you so much. And thank you for taking your time out of your day to talk with me. I really appreciate it. And I know our listeners are really going to benefit from everything you had to say because contracts and partnerships. Those are scary. I don't know why we have to face people that so it's those are a lot harder tasks to do.

 

Tiffany:

Yes, Yes, they are. But at the end when it when it all pays off. It's well worth it at the end of the day when you can look back and say this event was a success.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Okay. Well, thank you so much. And enjoy the weather there while we have it.

 

Tiffany:

Yes.

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