Author : Saxe Coulson
July 11, 2018
10 Ways to Maximize Brand Partnerships
It seems that new festivals are popping up all over the world every day and with that, we hear of more and more being cancelled as well. Unfortunately festivals aren’t getting any cheaper to produce or to attend. We continuously hear stories of workers and staff not getting paid and we are now seeing more and more festivals charging for not only camping but extra to camp with your car, showers, and charging your phone. Many of these services should be included with the outrageous ticket prices but everything is an additional cost.
At the same time, big corporations and brands are trying to figure out how to market out to this new demographic of those who want to make the world a better place. They spend millions of marketing and advertising dollars donating to charities and then advertising that they are part of a good cause during the Super Bowl or playing host to charity events.
The overall festival demographic is becoming smarter and more informed about the brands they choose to use and consume. So why aren’t we seeing more brands partnering up with festivals?
The main dilemma is that we don’t know enough about who is attending our events. We also aren’t coming up with enough ways to turn attendees into brand advocates. Nobody wants to watch car commercial unless they are shopping for a car. Nobody wants to be shown an ad for a disease they don’t have.
If you know that majority of your attendees are vegan, then they not only wouldn’t be opposed to a vegan food company at the festival but this might actually add value to the festival. Now if the vegan food brand offered free breakfast or lunch at the festival, attendees might be more supportive of that brand. They might see that brand in the store and remember that the brand gave them free lunch or breakfast and be more inclined to make a purchase.
The best strategy to gain and attract brands that want to sponsor your event is to find out what your audience loves and is into and then convince that brand that the attendees at your event are who they need to market to. If you can then prove to them that their sales increased due to being a part of your event then they can convince their executives that they need to put more marketing dollars into your event.
Here are 10 ways to not only get brands to sponsor your festival but also how to increase the value and marketing dollars spent on your festival. This in turn will not only cut down on pricing but also increase revenue, attract investors, and add value to your festival.
1 – Know Your Audience
The more you know about your festival and who is attending your festival, the more you can convince brands that your festival is a right fit for them to partner up with. This also allows you to approach brands from a variety of industries. Food and beverage is the most common industry but there are countless more.
How many people at your event skateboard? How many people at your event are producers? Are they tea drinkers or coffee drinkers? Do they eat ice cream or yogurt? Do they ride bicycles?
We tend to collect data such as age, race, and gender and we may even know who their favorite artists are or genres of music but how much do we really know about our attendees and why isn’t this being collected? This is all important but we also should know the average income, brand preferences, and purchasing habits.
Most of us by now have heard how much our social media knows about us but we can also be using this to our benefit so that the brands that we actually endorse and support are the brands supporting the parties we love. If you know something benefits you tremendously, is healthy for you, or is just plain fun, then why not promote it?
The more you know what your attendees want and love, the better able you are to approach brands and convince them that the attendees at your festival are where there market is. You can also convince them that the attendees of your festival are likely to promote their brand. You can also show them how many of your attendees are already aware of their brand, how many of your attendees already like and follow their brand, and that there is a good chance that your attendees are also going to promote their brand at the festival as well.
The deeper the audience insights and the more you know about your attendees, the more value you can show to brands and the more money they will pour into your event.
2 – Offer Workshops
Many brands are looking to educate customers on their products and how their products will help and benefit them. Workshops are a great way to get brands to do this. Not only are workshops educational but they are also interactive and fun.
By implementing workshops into your festival you are also allowing your attendees to both expand on their hobbies and pick up new ones. A lot of those attending festivals are not only there to see good music but they are also there to connect and learn. Workshops are a great way for attendees to do this.
We tend to think of brands partnering up with festivals and events having lots of signage and logos everywhere. We tend to think of a team of people in t-shirts trying to sell you something or market out a new product but this is not authentic or organic. The best marketing is done subliminally and organically. The best brands know this and rather grow by word of mouth than by putting up billboards everywhere. Workshops are a great way of doing this.
By implementing brands subtly into workshops, you are allowing those attending to interact with the brands they love in an organic and authentic manner as well as discover new ones. Some ideas could be making ice cream or smoothies or learning how to make cocktails. If you happen to be doing an event or festival in California, you could even go as far as getting a pro skater and skateboard company to teach attendees how to do a trick. There are many ways to implement brands in a fun, authentic, and organic way into workshops that your attendees will love!
3 – Complement Existing Brands and Products
Most festivals sell alcohol but do they offer any other ingredients for their drinks? They may offer coffee and tea but what about sugar and milk and honey? There are many ways to complement existing brands with other brands and all brands are trying to figure out creative ways to further extend sales and promote and market their brand.
Once you identify everything you offer at the festival and everything that your audience and attendees want and are into, you can then go even further and look for brands that either complement each other or can complement existing brands. Brands love to partner up with other brands that can help add value for their brand.
Think of creative ideas and ways to get brands to work together and everyone benefits. This can also strengthen your relationship with both brands and the marketing executives will love you for introducing them.
4 – Look Towards Vendors
Vendors can be very beneficial to letting you know about your audience. In order to appropriately approach the right brands, it is essential to know what your attendees are buying more of. This can also help you better pick and choose who you want to vend at your festival. If more people are eating pizza than the vegetarian or vegan option, then it is fair to say that your festival might not be a good fit for an organic or vegan food brand.
You can also sometimes look towards vendors to become partners. Sometimes vendors are looking to be more involved with the festival and have a larger presence. Not all vendors want to just have a booth but they may also want to build a treehouse or an art installation. Vendors might also want to be involved with the artistic and creative process.
They might not volunteer this information because they may be happy to just have a booth and at the festival. If you approach vendors and ask if they want to be more a part of the festival and have a larger presence they might not be opposed. Especially if it can translate into more sales and more awareness for the vendor.
If you only offer options for different sizes of booths but don’t offer the option for further activations then you might be limiting yourself and the vendor. You can also offer vendors to do contests and giveaways, social media presence, and even media partnerships as well.
Don’t forget that vendors are brands too and not all vendors just sell at festivals. Some vendors can have a lot larger budget and more marketing dollars than you might think. Many vendors also want to be able collect data and know what is selling most as well which is now being made possible with RFID.
5 – Look Towards Other Festivals
It is not only good to know who our competition is but it is also good to know who is partnering up with our competition. This not only allows you to approach brands that might be a good fit for your festival but it also allows you to show brands that you’ve done your research.
Instead of just sending out a generic message asking for a brand to partner up with your event, you can send a message mentioning other festivals that they’ve partnered with in the past. You can also ask the brand rep how they were involved with the festival. This allows you to figure out ways that you can better market out their brand at your festival.
You’ll also be approaching brands that are already sponsoring events similar to yours and would be much more likely to sponsor your festival. There is also the chance that brands are sponsoring the wrong festivals and maybe your festival is a better fit. This gives you a chance to convince the brand why your festival is a better fit for their brand.
It’s always best to also see if this is the first time the brand has partnered up with the other festival or not and use that knowledge to your advantage. If a brand has been partners with another festival for a long period of time, then they most likely have a strong existing relationship with that festival and are satisfied. If this is the first year that a brand has partnered up with another festival, then there is a chance that the brand didn’t get enough out of the partnership.
You can also look for brands that have sponsored the festival in the past and haven’t come back. In this case, you can ask the brand rep why they didn’t come back and what it was that the other festival could have done better.
6 – Contests and Giveaways
Everyone loves a chance to win something for free. We tend to see ticket giveaways for every festival but rarely are those giveaways in partnership with other brands. There are many ways you can not only implement brands into existing giveaways by including accommodation and travel but also giveaway items that will help add to the festival experience.
If you happen to be organizing a camping festival, then why not give away a tent? Why not give away a shade structure or backpack? You can also get vendors involved with giveaways as well and give away food tickets or maybe a free piece of jewelry? This not only gets your vendors involved but it also incentivizes attendees to visit that particular vendor with their friends as well.
Contests are also a great way to get brands involved. We’ve all probably seen producing or mixing contests but technology also lets us do design contests that can allow attendees to be part of the creative and design. Maybe attendees can actually design the brand activation themselves or maybe it they can design their own tapestry or hat and then have the brand create what they designed for sale.
There are many ways to not only implement brands on a larger scale but also get attendees involved with the brand as well. Other ideas are trivia games or puzzles and even scavenger hunts. This makes it much more fun than the simple, sign up to win or share or like to win and will allow you to get a much larger amount of participation while also adding another way to further involve brands that your attendees love.
Contests and giveaways are also a way to go past brands being a part of the festival at the festival itself. They can be held any time before, during, and after the event and the more innovative and creative you are with them, the more varied you can make the giveaways and contests and the more frequent you can hold them.
7 – Media Outlets
Normally media outlets simply want to do a preview of the festival listing the best artists to see or maybe playing host to a mix or two. In return you offer them media passes to attend the festival and then they review the festival either highlighting the best artists or putting it into their perspective.
It is always best to give media outlets an angle or have them highlight something about your festival or event that makes it unique. The more activities you have, the more eclectic and varied your event or festival, the more the media and press has to talk about.
Sometimes media outlets will also partner up with a festival for a set fee. This can sometimes include editorial and social media coverage as well as live video or radio broadcasting and sometimes media outlets will take over a stage and curate the line-up as well.
Just as brands want to partner up with other brands, brands also want to partner up with media outlets and gain as much media coverage as possible. Media outlets are also looking for further ways of monetizing and be able to pay their writers (many writers don’t receive payment to cover festivals other than a free ticket).
Not only can brands and vendors advertise on media outlets that are covering the festival they are partnering with but they can also receive mentions in the coverage. Media outlets can also partner up with brands to play host to contests and giveaways as well. This all translates into more attention for the brands and in turn helps further create value as well resulting in marketing budgets expanding and more marketing dollars being dispersed.
8 – Logo Placement
Nothing says corporatism or commercialization like logo placement everywhere. Festivalgoers are there to escape from big corporations and the 9-5. Nobody wants to feel like they are being marketed and advertised to and studies show that this is true. People are paying more money for premium subscriptions to escape from ads and very few people ever remember that promo code they saw on the subway or at a bus stop.
Brand marketers are aware of this as well and want more than just logo placement. When you take away the logo, you take away of the effect of being sold to. You are now able to interact with that product much more authentically and organically rather than know you are walking into a demonstration.
If a brand insists on including their logo then maybe they aren’t a right fit for your festival or maybe you can implement their logo into an art installation or mural. The brand is there to be a part of your festival not to simply market out their product.
9 – Interactive Brand Activations
No matter how many times you see a car commercial, you still won’t get the same effect as if you were sitting in the driver seat. There is nothing better than actually going on a test drive and getting behind the wheel.
The best brands in the world know this too. They want consumers to interact with their brand and their products and what better way to do that than at a festival? There are many ways that you can make brand activations interactive and allow attendees to directly interact with a brand.
Workshops, games, activities, sports, lounges, contests, giveaways, and even competitions are all ways for attendees to interact with brands. Red Bull might not be the brand you want sponsoring your festival but they are a great example of ways to promote a brand in an innovative manner. Their soap box derby and king of the rock tournament are a few ways they promote their brand in a fun and interactive manner where everyone can be involved.
10 – Think Partnership Not Sponsorship
The two most important relationships a festival needs to have is with their attendees and with their sponsors. One shouldn’t see their attendees as just someone buying a ticket and spending money just like they shouldn’t view brands as simply giving them money to market out at their event.
Having the right community is just as important as having the right partners. If people attending your festival don’t get along and enjoy the same art or music then they might not come back next year. The same goes with brand partnerships, if they aren’t happy and satisfied with the partnership then they are much less likely to renegotiate or partner up with your festival next year.
Just as you post on social media or send a newsletter to thank your attendees, you should also thank your partners as well. The more personalized you are, the better. E-mail each partner who was involved a thank you letter or go as far as to call each one personally thanking them for being a part of your event.
This should be done immediately after. Your partners can attribute to a good portion of your revenue and with enough brands partnering up on your festival, you might not even need investors. It’s always best to treat your brand partners as you would any relationship. It is absolutely pertinent to always provide a fulfillment report and ask for feedback.
Let them know how many of your attendees interacted with their brand and also let them know what their reaction was. You can also go so far as to let them know who liked and shared and followed them and then figure out the NPS or Net Promoter Score that values the social media reactions to the brand activation based on a scale of 1-10.
The more analytics and data you have the better. The more you can prove to brands that your festival not only was the right fit but that your attendees reacted well to the activation, the more value can show to the brand.
With the right brands partnering up with the right festivals, both festivals and brands can benefit tremendously. The key thing to remember is that brands can attribute just as much value to the festival as the festival can to the brand. Brands are looking for more than just reach and exposure, they much rather be a part of the whole experience. This allows them to directly market towards their target demographic and audience in an authentic and organic manner that not only makes people aware of their brand but also creates brand affinity, brand loyalty, and brand advocates.
To learn more about how 6AM Group can help your festival gain and further attract and add value for brands, please fill out the assessment form here. A representative will be in touch to speak about areas that you can improve in and various ideas and ways to bring more brands on board for your next event or festival.