Corporate partnerships or sponsorships are a beautiful thing when done well. They raise the brand equity of both partners and introduce an already-loyal audience to a new brand at a relevant time. They can also be a painful waste of time and resources when executed poorly. That’s why we’ve compiled best practices when it comes to corporate partnership for events.

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We’ve seen (and orchestrated) a lot of corporate partnerships in our years managing events for clients like iHeartRadio and Capital One. Here’s what we’ve learned about making it work for your event.

Don’t Force It

You’re dealing with a savvier consumer than brands did ten, five, or even one year ago. They’re getting more connected and are attuned to fabricated brand moves by the day. They can see through a partnership that doesn’t make sense. It is so important to create partnerships that put you in contact with your target audience. You should also provide something relevant and useful to that audience. Being force-fed brand messages or products that don’t add anything to the experience is worse than doing nothing – now your audience is annoyed and views you as unnecessary.

For some examples of recent event partnerships done well, we loved BizBash’s article on the topic.

Expect a Courtship

Joining forces on this level simply doesn’t happen overnight. You’re hoping to merge objectives, budgets, personnel, and communications with another brand entirely, so there are plenty logistical, creative, and legal hoops to jump through. It’s still worth the effort for the right partnership! A more efficient way to promote and host events, you can gain an entirely new and captive audience in the process, and you have access to resources you didn’t before. Many brands get discouraged by the long process and abandon what would’ve been a beneficial arrangement. Remember: if right now isn’t the right time to form a partnership, but you think you have the right partner, keep communication open for future events.

It’s a Marriage, Not a Blind Date

You’ve identified a perfect partner, you have put in the hard work of aligning objectives and resources, and you might even have an event under your belt together. Partnerships are best when approached like a long-term commitment, rather than a one-and-done association. You’ll make different (and historically better) decisions about almost everything when you are thinking of it like a relationship and not a transaction.

A great example of this is Marriott’s new partnership with the NCAA – rather than focusing on a one-off deal or just March Madness, they have worked out a partnership that places the Marriott family of hotels as the “Official Hotel Partner” for all 90 championships the NCAA hosts.

Plan Thoughtful Promotion

Several studies have found that underperforming corporate sponsorships spend big money on securing sponsorship rights, but then fail to spend as much or more on promotion of that sponsorship. Promotion makes or breaks the reach you have with your audience during an event, and you have the opportunity to promote before, during, and after an event. You should be planning resources and budget for each of those three areas to really make the best impact. makes promoting event partnerships easier.

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