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Association Management

How to Handle a Dissatisfied Event Sponsor: 4 Steps

MemberClicks Avatar MemberClicks February 10, 2021
Table of Contents
3 min read

Securing sponsors is tough enough. But that’s only step one. From there, you then have to deliver on your promises and ensure each and every sponsor gets the value they were expecting…and then some. 

Now most of your sponsors will walk away happy, but every now and again, despite your best efforts, you’ll have one leave dissatisfied. Maybe it was because of something you did (or didn’t do). Or maybe it was because of something completely out of your control. Either way, though, it’s a situation worth addressing. 

Not sure what to do or say first? Try following these four steps to turn the relationship around…fast!

  1. Follow up right after the event. You should already be in the habit of following up with your event sponsors shortly after your event. First of all, to say thank you! But also to survey their representatives and identify any issues that need to be addressed. 
  2. Call a meeting. Gather all of the key players from the sponsor’s end, and yours. Give yourselves as much time as you need to discuss what was expected and where the event fell short. Fair warning, the issue may look totally different through the sponsor’s eyes, but a thorough conversation is needed to uncover the true problem so you can move on to the next step…
  3. Decide on a solution. Work together to come up with a solution that will make everyone happy. Depending on the circumstances, you may or may not be able to give them exactly what they felt was missing. If you can, by all means, do so! But if not you should be able to rectify the situation by providing something else of similar value. For example, if a logo was misplaced on event materials, consider giving them space on your website for some time.
  4. Move on. Hopefully, moving on means starting on your next event with that sponsor committed to returning. If that is the case, be sure to pay them extra special attention. (And consider even adding a few assets to their sponsorship at no cost, as a show of good faith.) It’s also entirely possible that moving on means breaking up with that sponsor completely. And that’s ok too! Sponsorships need to make sense for everyone, and if you couldn’t come to a resolution, then maybe it wasn’t the best partnership to begin with.

Honestly though, being proactive with your sponsors leading up to and at the event is the BEST way to ensure they get the intended value. By concentrating on building the relationship, setting expectations, and checking in with them as you go, you should be able to avoid ever having to take the four steps above. 

Want more tips for successful event planning, from ideation and promotion all the way to onsite engagement and post-event follow up? Check out our Complete Guide to Event Planning! Or, if you’re planning a virtual event, check out our Virtual Event Playbook

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