We define mid-sized events as events with up to 5,000 participants and how you approach sponsorship can differ from that of a larger event. You still need disciplined sales practices about how you manage your time and your pipeline, but there are unique success factors that will help you land in-kind, cash, and media sponsors.
Unless your in-kind sponsor is also paying cash, limit their exposure to to product placement onsite at your event (e.g. XYZ energy drink at the finish line). This will also boost the value of your cash sponsorship packages, not only because you are giving in-kind sponsors incentive to upgrade their involvement the following year (with cash!) but you are also ensuring you do not end up with a dilutive sponsor ‘alphabet soup’ with 50+ logos on all your event marketing materials.
When it comes to cash sponsors, pursue regional and national companies with a strong brand and a local presence (such as a Volkswagen dealership). This will lend credibility and raise the profile of your event which will also helping you land other cash sponsors.
Media sponsors, however, really should be your first stop when building out your sponsorship program for a mid-sized event. Go after media partners in every category (TV, radio, print, etc.) by offering sponsorship benefits – much like you would to any other potential sponsor – in exchange for promotional inventory (e.g. 15-sec radio spots) you can use to promote your event while folding this in to your sponsorship packages as an added sponsor benefit to your cash sponsors.