The Pain Of Student Events, How To Solicit A Sponsorship From Companies With Digital Marketing Knowledge


I studied in the industrial design department. As we all know, the Department is a cash-burning department and frequently holds exhibitions. Whether it is the departmental exhibition from freshman to junior year, the on-campus exhibition, the off-campus exhibition, or the graduation exhibition in senior year. These activities require a lot of manpower and resources and are also essential training for students during their studies.

Before starting this article, I would like to introduce myself briefly, including my experience in activities before I started my career, the sponsorship cases I have contacted since I started working, and the most important thing you want to know, the way to solicit sponsorship from enterprises.

In terms of events, I have served as the event general coordinator of the christmas party, the director of the department, and the CEO of TEDxKMU. I know the frustration of many people who don’t like to solicit sponsorship but have to do it: practicing PR replies many times, staying up late to revise the proposal numerous times, a long list of enterprise sponsors, the low response rate, and a very possibly zero success rate in the end. This article won’t let sponsors come in like Harry Potter’s admissions letters, but it will at least give you some direction and an idea of how the enterprise side handles these things.

In 2016, I graduated from university, and in 2017, I joined a major domestic helmet manufacturer as marketing specialist, and most of the student sponsorships will be initially reviewed with us. I think my experience in talking about student sponsorship is a little bit convincing, because the users of our brand are mainly college students. I have not been out of student life for too long, and haven’t forgotten how tough it was to ask for sponsorship from companies.

Why Should Enterprises Sponsor You?

If you ask a person on the road, “Hey, can you invite me to watch a movie tonight”, what do you expect the probability will be?

I’m guessing you don’t care about success rates anyway, because you simply won’t do it, and that’s the point. Even if you’re rich, in fact, you don’t want to spend your money on a strange person who just strikes up a conversation. If you agree with that, let’s go back and think about why enterprises should care about your random conversation. Imagine you want to throw a party, have some heart, beer, hot dancing, and then you want to ask for enterprise sponsorship? It’s called “an opportunity for students to express themselves,” but if you’re thinking straight, I bet you’ve asked yourself, “Why would a enterprise pay me to have a good time and then get a certificate of appreciation that is not helpful at all?

Let’s Start With The Certificate Of Appreciation

One time in my sophomore year, I took a few of my sisters campaign door to door for sponsorship. That time we walked into a musical instrument shop. As soon as I started talking, the owner said, “Tell me, who called you guys, are you cheating? ” Immediately, I was a bit frustrated, but I still put on a smile and explained, “We are students of the design department, and we hope to have the opportunity with you for sponsorship and cooperation because we are going to hold an exhibition in a while.

After further discussion, the boss said that many students had come to the shop to solicit sponsorship and promised to give a certificate of appreciation, and he was very generous with his sponsorship at first. Later, some students did not return the certificates of appreciation, or others received them but forgot to tell the boss, which caused the boss to believe that the students who came to ask for sponsorship were all frauds.

After the event, I delivered the certificate of appreciation to the store in person and the boss smiled and said, “So you guys are for real! Next time your underclassman want to hold an event, you can ask them to come to me again! ”  A while later, I went back to the musical instrument shop and bought an electric piano.

Substitution Of Appreciation Certificates

Not only student activities, but also the cooperation between enterprises and the university, they often give certificates of appreciation after the cooperation. But usually only a few businesses will care about the certificate of appreciation, such as the musical instrument company mentioned above, although saying so is a bit blunt and a bit hurtful. The boss doesn’t really think a certificate of appreciation is useful, it’ just that the student said they would give it, but he didn’t get it, so he keeps it on his mind. In brief, the function of the certificate of appreciation is just a receipt.

For larger enterprises, certificates of appreciation can be a nuisance. If it is not a formal and prominent partnership that should be hung high in the office, such a certificate of appreciation is usually useless and takes up space. But it seems strange to throw them away, especially when they are discreetly frame, so that the recipient is embarrassed to dispose of them directly. The frame of the certificate of appreciation is usually left in the corner with dust in the office, until one day the guilt is not so heavy, or when the contractor leaves the office, then it is removed together with other trash.

I know that there are few things that schools and students can feed back, and a certificate of appreciation is one of the easier things to achieve, but that is usually not the one the other party wants. For enterprises, I offer a more feasible and win-win proposal: write a short article about the event, with text and pictures, and the overall content does not have to be too long. The two most important keys are to have a link to the enterprise’s website and to post it on the school or department’s website. The theoretical basis of this proposal is “SEO” and “backlinks”, you can refer to the article “Understanding Backlinks: The Origin of Backlinks and SEO” by Mr. HARRIS, white hat SEO master in Taiwan.

If the enterprises you’re contacting have been doing online marketing and have some expertise, they’ll understand when you mention “SEO” and “backlinks”. Remember to add that it’s super important to know whether the article will be posted on the school website or the department website. This is super important because the URLs of school and departmental websites end with .edu, which stands for education government educational institution. Normally the domain has been operating for a long time, and the traffic is also quite large, so the domain authority is also relatively high, and the two together is persuasive. However, when publishing information on edu’s website, there may be some regulations to avoid profiting specific vendors, and this is the part that requires communication with the university.

There are two points that need special attention in the practical implementation. The first is that you should not post it on the student union or department’s own website, as it is not very useful. Because the URL of these sites is usually not .edu, and the traffic is not very large. The second is that the URL provided by the enterprise should be an official website, not a Facebook fan page or an official Instagram account, because FB and IG are social networking sites, a very different concept from SEO. Some enterprises may not know much about this stuff, so you can just throw Harris’ article at them and tell them “I’m doing it for their benefit”. When the enterprise thinks “this student is quite professional”, you’ve won half of the battle.

Focus of sponsorship partnership

Many students are confused when writing a sponsorship proposal, for example, where should I focus? How unique is my event, how ambitious is my goal? Or how about presenting a Gantt chart that looks professional but doesn’t actually work. Does it mean we are organized and structured? Or do you want to show that the budget is clearly presented to show that the officers are not wasting it, and expect them to sponsor us?

One of the activities I was involved in once wrote a 30- to 40-page PR cooperation proposal, which listed in detail the various elements mentioned above, such as the content, vision, schedule, organization and budget of the activity. I thought it was immature when I saw it at that time, but now I think it is beyond belief. Private enterprises are so busy with their business that no one is interested in your history, and they must not fully trust the execution of student organizations. Therefore, your proposal can focus on two things: “why you want to sponsor” and “why the enterprise wants to sponsor you”.

The question “Why do you want to sponsor” is easier to understand. It means how do you want to use the sponsorship? Is it a lottery? Do you give them away when signing up? Or give it to the first few registrants? The question “Why should a enterprise sponsor you?” is more complicated and will be the main focus of the following discussion.

Attention to my title above, I used the word “sponsorship cooperation”. Since it is a cooperation, it means that we are pursuing a win-win situation. You will get the sponsorship that you want, and you will help the enterprises to get what they want. Some people may say that enterprises are too realistic and want to ask for things from students. Aren’t enterprises supposed to give back to society and help students realize their dreams? Sponsorship can enhance the corporate image of your enterprise, right?

In the same answer, even if you’re rich today, you don’t want to spend it on a random weirdo, especially one who comes out in numbers a month or two before Christmas. And if you want to raise your corporate profile, you can donate the money to charity and save on taxes. So how can I not be pleased? If the core motto of a student to solicit sponsorship is that “enterprises should give back to society and help students who are enthusiastic”, it sounds reasonable at first, but only enterprises themselves can say this, and a third party asking for it is like emotional blackmail. And if enterprises are not earning money, how can they give back to society? In general, “giving back to society” is a one-sided effort by the enterprises, and even if such a relationship is successful, it will not last long. For profit-oriented enterprises, a win-win situation with mutual trust and benefit is the long-term solution.

Sponsor Type

Back to the sponsorship partners. First, let’s talk about the size of the sponsor. We can roughly divide the sponsors into two types, enterprises and businesses. Enterprises include medium and large companies, while businesses are small companies, such as a noodle store or a copy store next to a school. The former are larger and have higher sales, while the latter are smaller and can provide limited sponsorship and have limited digital marketing impact. Here, we focus on medium and large companies, which are always referred to by enterprise names.

Secondly, the business model of the sponsor, I would recommend looking for a B2C (Business to Customer) brand, rather than a B2B (Business to Business) enterprise or a channel merchant.

There are several purposes of sponsorship, including maintaining a good relationship between the enterprise to enterprise, or brand promotion. The former is like a sports drinker sponsoring a sports brand event; the latter is a sponsorship that students are more likely to ask for. Because students have independent purchasing power, if enterprises give away $10,000 worth of gifts, can return $50,000, or even $100,000 of orders, and develop new brand advocates, then why not? Especially with young people as the sales target of the brand, such a strategy is more likely to work.

Here’s a counter-example. When I worked for a helmet branding company, I saw some sponsorship proposals from schools in Taipei, and if they didn’t have very attractive features, I usually closed them within a minute. Why? Because of the well-developed transportation in Taipei, many students either don’t need or don’t even ride motorcycles. Since you don’t need the company’s products, there is no brand promotion benefit available.

Product Sponsorship Or Money Sponsorship

I’m not sure how other enterprises thought about it, but in the case of the company I work for, we only offer product sponsorship in principle because the company brand is printed on the product, but not on the banknote.

You may ask, “Can’t you offer a money sponsorship and then I can put your logo on the poster or video? Of course you can. I would call it “advertising” if you pay for it. So you may notice that for FB or Google ads, there are two little text beside the title of the ad, sponsorship. If it is necessary to spend money on advertising for exposure, I will just go to FB or Google ads, why should I sponsor you? Will your advertising be more effective than FB or Google?

Another way a company might spend money is to work with the media, which can range from $10,000 to $30,000 per article, and the strength of the media depends on the number of viewers, but I believe most student groups do not have such resources.

Sponsorship Approved By The Boss Without Discussion

One of the sponsorship proposals I handled was for a university’s solar-powered car team, which was going to Australia to participate in an international race of more than 2,000 kilometers, with a total of four participants. They wanted the company to sponsor four helmets with national flags on them. When we received this proposal, the team members would be leaving for Australia in less than two weeks to prepare for the race. Therefore, the proposal was handled as a rushed one with quick approval and quick delivery, so that the participants could get the hats before they left for Australia. Because this event was unique and they represented Taiwan, it coincided with the company’s brand’s DNA that emphasizes MIT.

Since this team is a department-based team, new members join every year and the event will keep going. A year after the competition, we received a message from this team, that they had just finished a showcase where our sponsorship products were displayed and that they had taken videos and videos for our promotion. Sponsorship cases like this have positive benefits and the company was willing to cooperate.

However, it is not the case that every event has such an opportunity, so does that mean no enterprise will pay attention to you? The next part is the core of this article.

Therefore, How Do We Get Sponsorship From Enterprises?

Many student clubs run their own fan pages, and among the sponsor feedback there is usually an introductory article that can be sent out several articles. By this point everyone will have done it, but you haven’t maximized your bargaining power. To increase your persuasiveness, you need one more action, the ”calculate”.

Those who are familiar with digital advertising will know some nouns such as CPC (cost per click) and CPM (cost per thousand people reached). You can search for the average cost of recent FB ads and combine it with your own data. If it costs $4,000 to reach 10,000 people with a FB ad, you can ask the company for $4,000 in product sponsorship. Then make sure that the post reaches 12,000 people and put the above data in your proposal. If the enterprise you contact happens to have young people as the main customer group, the proposal will have higher chances of being approved.

This approach will work based on three main facts.

All You Care About Is The Selling Price Of Sponsored Goods, While Enterprises Consider The Cost Of Goods

The actual cost to the enterprise for a $4,000 product may only be $1,000. Back to the above example, it is $1000 in exchange for 10,000 touches, it’ s a good deal! But even more cost-effective transactions have to be calculated first, and that’s the point. Since you don’t know what the actual cost of goods is, the two parties in this project are in an unequal information situation. Here I provide a figure, the cost of goods accounted for about 40% or 50% of the selling price, can be used for preliminary estimates.


Another aspect that students don’t usually think about is that many physical products have somewhat poor quality Seconds in the manufacturing process. There may be some external imperfections, but they can still be used normally, and there is no safety concern. Such Seconds are not suitable to be sold to consumers at the original price, but it is too wasteful to discard them directly. Therefore, they are usually kept in the warehouse for the time being and given to employees as annual gifts or purchased by employees at low prices. When a company receives a sponsorship proposal, it may use Seconds as a sponsorship item, because some of the defects are so minor that the consumer will not notice them.

Different Needs Of Each Party

For many SMEs’ marketing departments, either they want to advertise but have no budget, or they want to raise the advertising budget but the boss won’t agree with them. The boss doesn’t give money, but the boss can give the goods; the marketing staff can’t get the advertising budget, but they can use the sponsorship activities as advertising, which will lead to their own KPI. All they need is a number that can convince the boss.

In fact, you may be offering a very favorable sponsorship reward, but you need to have data as a reference (Benchmark). It is best to list the details of CPC, CPM, etc., so that the other party can present it to the boss without any modification. Bosses are usually sensitive to numbers, and as long as the numbers are good, the job is half done. If the other party does not know much about online marketing, and you can explain the meaning of each indicator in a concise manner, then your professionalism will increase instantly, and the relationship will move from a unilaterally profitable one to an equal one.

After the revamp of Facebook, everyone can directly see if each fan page has ads, without any special tools or permissions. Therefore, you can pick those B2C brands that have developed their own brand e-commerce, but do not have a lot of advertising, and your calculations are bound to attract their interest.

Analyze The Digital Marketing Maturity Of The Enterprise Beforehand

It’s best to know the general operation status and maturity of digital marketing before negotiating with a enterprise to avoid display your slight skill before an expert. Here are three Google Chrome extensions that are commonly used in the industry and can help you quickly find some clues.


The tool allows you to check the system used by the website and the packages installed. The purpose of this is to see if the site has complete digital marketing tools and e-commerce features installed on it. This allows us to further evaluate the digital development of the brand. For example, Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, the former also includes Google Analytics Enhanced eCommerce, which is an enhanced e-commerce feature.

Facebook Pixel Helper

Facebook Pixel is similar to Google Analytics, but it was developed by Facebook, which is an extension to check whether the Pixel is working properly on the website.


SimilarWeb is a tool that analyzes websites and can be used to observe the traffic of other websites. There are two versions available, the web version and the Google Chrome extension.

SimilarWeb allows you to see the monthly traffic to the site, and the percentage of each country. These two indicators are super useful. If you are looking for a clothing brand to cooperate with, but you are not sure which brand is more suitable, you may want to check the traffic of each brand in your country first, and then decide whether to look for a big brand or a small or medium-sized brand according to your strategy.

The traffic data is the Monthly Visits in the lower right corner of the graph, which refers to the number of visits per month. Since this traffic is estimated by SimilarWeb, unlike GA which collects real data, it may be slightly different from the real traffic, but it is not far away in my experience, so it is still very valuable for reference.

Besides, if the traffic of the website is not high, the data may not be displayed with Chrome extensions. I think the standard is about 50,000 visits per month, below 50,000 will not be displayed. At this point, you may try switching to the web version for testing.

The Way To Solicit Sponsorship With Business

All of the above are ways to solicit sponsorship from medium to large companies. Here are some extra suggestions for soliciting sponsorship from smaller companies or businesses around the school. The reason why we need to divide the discussion into two parts is that medium and large enterprises usually have more manpower and resources to do digital marketing and expect better results, while the situation of small stores is completely opposite.

When you think about it, the owner of a noodle store located next to a school is already busy servicing customers. After closing time, how can they have the energy to run an official LINE account or a Facebook fan page? Even if the way you give back to the sponsor is by helping the owner set up the account and complete the initial set up and operation. And? The chances of ending up with nothing are very high.

Furthermore, even if the restaurant’s food is superb, how many people are willing to come all the way here? If the odds are not good, it means the potential business opportunity cannot cover the cost of digital marketing. If it’s done without careful estimation, you may end up discouraging the participants, and everything will go back to the way it was.

So, how do you solicit sponsorship from small businesses, and what feedback can students provide? My answer is a Google map of business profiles, user reviews and local guides. For small businesses, this is more effective than running a community.

A lot of small businesses are not yet listed on Google Maps, or if they are, the owner of the business does not declare himself as the person in charge of the business. This can lead to misplaced business hours and even further impact on sales, but the owner has no right to change this on his own. For merchants with good quality, you can also help to take beautiful photos of the store and food, or motivate students to give full points as a feedback. Remember, we are only discussing methods here, and do not encourage untruthful advertising for the purpose of sponsorship.

From the student’s point of view, students’ association or department club can also create a Google account for legacy, and jointly operate Google Local Guides to accumulate points and levels. Although it is still uncertain whether the level of the local guide has any real meaning, but since it is a Google product, I believe Google will definitely include this target as part of the algorithm. In short, the higher the rank, the more effective the recommendation may be.

A data scientist working in a retail company, with experience in web design and marketing. Recently dives into cryptocurrency and quantitative investing.