6 Steps to Recession-Proofing Your Sponsorship Strategy

Whether you believe that we are headed into a recession or not, the hint of a possible recession will cause many sponsor decision makers and marketing budget holders to tread very carefully in the near future.

During a recession, businesses typically look to reduce their operational spending – reducing their hiring, laying off workers, and significantly changing their marketing plans.

Here are six things you can do to strengthen your sponsorship program and your position brand marketers.

Know Your Audience

As sponsors’ budgets tighten, they are going to become very targeted on the audiences they need to reach. This makes it imperative that you can definitively tell prospective partners which audience(s) you can connect them to.

What do you know about your primary audience? Do you have defined secondary audiences?

Building a defined demographic profile including age, gender, location/catchment area, income and interests becomes a delineating factor that will help you stand out from other sponsorable opportunities.

Understand Your Value

Not every partner is going to be a match for you. The more you know about your audience and how you can create engagement between the audience and sponsor, the better you can establish the value of the partnership.

Defining your value or equity will help you find the right sponsor prospects and justify why a partner should invest with you. Does your audience come from a specific cultural or defined activity group? What are the commonalities amongst your attendees? Do they have specific needs/goals that are unrelated to your event that would be attractive to your prospective sponsors?

What would it cost for the sponsor to reach that same audience elsewhere?

Listen to Your Partners

Too often we start with the sell. We know our deck, we have done some research on the sponsor prospect and we feel ready to jump right in to close the deal.

Take the time to listen to prospects more before even talking about the sell. Start the conversation as a discovery session. You need to uncover their marketing goals. What audiences do they want to reach? What initiatives are they looking for? What’s their budget? What would success look like to them?

Tailor, tailor, tailor

Only following the discovery conversation can you truly put together a sponsorship package that would fit their needs. Your standard benefits may not be effective for them and maybe there are elements you can provide that you hadn’t thought were valuable previously.

Tailoring will save you time, effort and will significantly increase your sponsorship success.

Maintain Ongoing Communication

Don’t go radio silent once the contract is signed. 

Expecting your partners to be ready to launch once the event is about to go live quite often means that the engagement will start flat-footed.

From your discovery conversations and tailored sponsorship, you should have a road map for their engagement with you. Create regularly scheduled touch points with your sponsor contacts. Keep them engaged with you. Make it a relationship, not a transaction. This keeps you apprised of any changes to their expectations and showcases your strengths as a partner.


Demonstrating Return-on-Investment has been the #1 concern for marketers and agencies for seven out of the last ten years of the Canadian Sponsorship Landscape Study. It was #2 or #3 in the other three years. Its importance is often overlooked.

Sponsorship accountability is a hot button issue with CEOs and CFOs. 78% of brands report that the pressure to validate sponsorship results has increased. 60% of CMOs are under pressure from the CEO to communicate, measure and grow sponsorship impact and performance. Knowing that this is the scenario decision makers are already experiencing prior to any recession discussion, the importance of providing post-sponsorship reports will only be heightened.

Your goal in your reporting should be to showcase that they made the right investment. They need to justify to their boss that the sponsorship provided effective ROI. A generic post-event report will not accomplish that.

Work with your contact throughout the relationship to find out what success will look like for them. This will help you capture the right elements during the event and will provide the framework for your post event report for that partner.

Whether the recession is looming or years down the road, implementing these 6 steps will position you for significant success with your partners.

Want to find the right sponsors and partners faster?

Get started with Sponsor Circle now!

Central Counties Tourism & Sponsor Circle have partnered to provide our members with a complimentary one-year subscription to the Sponsor Circle platform*.

Sponsor Circle helps the events, entertainment and sports industry connect with new sponsors and new suppliers. The campaign tool helps brands find the audiences they want.

  • The Sponsor Circle platform recommends brands and vendors matched against your audience.
  • Maximize your revenue with new sponsors, partners and travel revenue.
  • Run your campaigns using the Sponsor Circle platform and track the engagement.

Contact your region’s Industry Relations Manager to find out of if this opportunity is right for you:

*This is a time-limited offer. Restrictions may apply.

By: Sponsor Circle


Central Counties is located North of Toronto


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Chuck Thibeault

Executive Director, Chuck Thibeault