As I was hosting the Group Action Coaching Call for the Butts In Seats Virtual Boot Camp, a question came up that I thought could benefit you too, in case you ever got into a situation like this.
“I have to postpone my event due to personal circumstances. How do I postpone an event and not lose the sponsors I have already signed on and who have paid!?”
To Postpone Or Not To Postpone? That Is The Question
There are 2 schools of thought on this. Neither of them are right or wrong and neither of them are ideal. It really depends on the severity of your circumstances and what you can still do.
The first one is that the show must go on and to power through it. This school of thought is shaped by the sense of duty and responsibility that you have to your stakeholders, including your attendees and your sponsors. After all they are depending on you, have paid for the event and have made arrangements to be there.
If you are going to continue and power through, you must rely on your team to do the lion’s share of the work. Then you show up for your event and perform your usual magic. This takes an awesome team and a great deal of trust in them. In addition, it also means that you would be able to get your head in the game during your event and be able to deliver what you promised.
Sometimes that is just not possible. If we are physically unable to be there or if we are under such mental duress that we just can’t deliver what we promise; it is best to postpone the event.
After all, your attendees and sponsors paid to see you and have you perform at your best. If you could only deliver a fraction of the benefits that you promised or if you are not “all there” for your audience, you are not doing them any favors by being there.
Don’t Want To Let Them Down
It’s like being on a football team and getting hurt during a play. You see players really getting hit hard; getting their bell rung and end up with a concussion. But they insist on going back in because they don’t want to let their teammates down.
The problem is that they are letting their teammates down by going back in. The fact is that when they are hurt, they are more likely to make a poor decision or a poor play that can cost their team the victory. They could give up the winning play. They could drop the ball in the end zone. They could run the wrong route, have the other team intercept the ball and return it for a touchdown.
They are not doing their team any favors that way. Not to mention that they could hurt themselves even further and end their career right there. That’s not going to help the team.
Don’t Hurt Your Reputation
If you put on a bad event due to your situation, you can hurt your reputation. Your attendees are not going to come back and your sponsors aren’t either. And people who have a bad experience are about 10x more likely to tell their friends about it than people who have a great experience. That is the kind of word of mouth you can do without.
How Do I Keep Everyone Happy?
When you have decided that the best decision is to postpone the event, the question becomes “How do you break the news and how do you keep everyone happy?”
The bad news is that it is impossible to keep everyone happy. You will lose some people. They may be attendees or they may be sponsors.
However, here are some strategies that allow you to not only keep your sponsors, but turn them into raving fans in the process.
Be Honest With Them
When you tell them that you are postponing the event, also tell them exactly WHY you are postponing the event. You have a very good reason to postpone the event and your sponsors deserve to know it. While they will be disappointed, if you present a well thought out reason, they will sympathize and understand your decision.
That means you better not sound like you are making up an excuse from the “My dog ate my homework” variety. For instance, your sponsors will NOT be sympathetic, if you are postponing the event because you had no registrations.
Although they will understand your decision, they are not going to want to sponsor an event without an audience or a much smaller audience than you had promised. Also, having low registrations means that you messed up along the way. That is not a good excuse.
Beyond Your Control
Once you have broken the bad news about circumstances beyond your control, it is time to give them some good news. This is where you present them with some incredible value, so they get at least double the value for their money than they would have gotten otherwise.
Here are some options you can offer them. Instead of sponsorship for one event, if you know you are doing it again, offer them the second year at no cost. That way they will have the same sponsorship for 2 events, without paying any extra.
You can also upgrade lower level sponsors to a higher level, so they receive additional sponsor benefits for the same price.
What other ways can you make your sponsors happy?
Generally, companies sponsor events to get more clients and get in front of audiences they normally can’t get to. So how can you make that happen for them?
Think of all the ways you may be able to make your sponsors happy. Brainstorm a big list of everything you are willing to do and give away. Place a value on each item. That way you know approximately how much you are offering.
Keep in mind that just because it doesn’t cost you any money, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have value. For instance, if you host a webinar with a sponsor for your audience that doesn’t really cost you anything. But if they end up doing $20,000 worth of business from it, that is a lot of value!
To find out what your sponsors really want to make them whole, the best way is to ask them. They may come up with something really simple that you hadn’t thought of, but is easy enough to make happen. Perhaps they want a personal introduction to one of your clients or other sponsors. Perhaps they want a solo email to your database.
Perhaps they want you to host a webinar for your audience with them. There are a lot of options and they will vary for every event, industry and company. Talk to them about their goals for their sponsorship and how you want to help them reach them.
Once you have your list with your values, break the bad news to your sponsor. As you are talking to them, let them know that you value their sponsorship and their commitment to your event and your audience. Reiterate your commitment to them and that you are not only planning on delivering on that commitment, but that you are planning on overdelivering.
Then ask them what their specific goals were for their sponsorship if you don’t already know and what you can do to make sure they not only reach them, but exceed their goals. They could very well tell you on the spot and you have your list of things that you can offer them. Exceed their expectations and you will have a fan for life.
Do you have a question you would like answered? Join me as I answer your most burning event questions on February 28th. Get all the details and ask your question at http://eventstrategysolutions.com/burningquestions