From the corner tap to independent restaurants to national chain locations, anyone with a bar tends to be inundated with event or promotion sponsorship requests from spirits, beer and wine brands. These people want to get their brands into your customers’ hands, so they’re often eager to throw a party or other event at your establishment. Sounds great —events represent great opportunities for building a customer base and awareness for your place — but the challenge is how to separate the wheat from the chaff and know the sponsor partner will deliver a great event that puts your establishment at center stage.
Here’s a checklist of questions to make sure you and your place get the most bang for your sponsorship buck:
1. When is the event?
Make sure you have a minimum of two weeks to execute and ideally a week to plan and prepare before going into to execute mode — three weeks total at the least. Shorter lead times usually mean poor results. It’s also a clue to the “fit” of the opportunity. A well-planned event with sufficient lead time means your prospective partner “gets it.” If yours is the last venue on the list to be asked to host the event, how much commitment and execution are you really going to get?
Proper lead times mean you’ll be able to get the benefit of advance advertising and publicity. Make sure your sponsor partners will be able to feature your logo, location and contact information in advance advertising, publicity and on-site signage.
2. Who’s coming?
Are they your target audience? If not, are they the crowd you want in your place? And, where do they come from? If you’re an independent restaurant, you know your customer base probably lives two to 10 miles from your location. If the event will attract people from farther away, how likely is it that those attendees will become regular customers, and how efficient will the return on your investment be?
3. How many will be there?
Forecast the cost…in food or free goods, and don’t forget the impact on personnel allocation to service a larger crowd. Make sure you still can deliver great value and service to the customers in your bar or restaurant during that time period of the event.
4. Can you pay with something other than cash?
Frequently a sponsorship can be paid for in kind rather than cash (check local regulations), which allows you to get the benefit of the retail value of the goods or services, while you only pay the other hard costs associated with the event.
5. What are the organizers’ publicity plans for the event?
Ask what their advertising and PR plans are and specifically what they’re going to do to promote your establishment. Don’t rely on them saying, “Oh, yes, we’ll include your name and logo.” Ask for more than what they’re offering, and you’ll usually get what you need.
6. Other key elements to request: Category exclusivity, signage opportunities, logo inclusion on the step and repeat and featured on the drink menu, a mention by the emcee and rights to use of the photography.