Vendor Sponsorships & Your Events: So Many Options, So Many Win-WIns

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Since getting her license in 2017, Aubrey Martin has built a successful business in the Portland, Oregon area, consistently selling between 54 and 74 houses a year. And because her prior professional experience was in the non-profit world, she recognized that a skill she learned there – getting belly-to-belly with people to build strong relationships –could also happen in this professional sphere through the events she hosts. Aubrey has used that experience to her advantage, creating events that are a draw for her sphere and vendors alike.

How does she do this? By investing in her relationships and providing value to the people in her professional orbit in as many ways as possible.

If you’re looking for ways to bridge the gap between your events and your vendors, read on for Aubrey’s advice!

1. Establish genuine relationships with vendor partners.

When you take the time to establish solid relationships with people, the desire to support each other in your businesses becomes a two-way street. Aubrey makes a point of showing genuine appreciation for each of her vendor partners at every opportunity. For instance, whenever she has a closing, she gives public credit to every service provider involved for their part in a successful transaction, whether they are the contractor, the carpet cleaner, or the lender. These are the same people she approaches when she has a sponsorship opportunity with her events. And because she is constantly cross promoting and referring business their way, it isn’t hard for her to ask them to sponsor one of her business events.

2. Invite vendor partners to your events, even if they aren’t sponsoring it.

Even if a vendor isn’t sponsoring the event, Aubrey will invite them to attend as a guest. By doing this, she’s letting them see for themselves what her events are like and decide first-hand if they’d want to be involved in a future experience.

3. Remember that not all sponsorships equate to money.

There are three ways that vendors can sponsor Aubrey’s events: donating time, in-kind or money. And each type of sponsorship is of equal importance and deserve equal appreciation. Whether your vendors help you set up at an event, provide swag or beverages for attendees, or give money, it’s all helpful to ensure a smooth event.

Each type of sponsor gets a table at her events where they can give out items of value and engage with attendees. And Aubrey has found that activity begets activity. In other words, because vendors are involved in her events, they are more likely to promote the event on their own channels as well.

4. Don’t oversaturate any particular vendor category.

While Aubrey has an extensive vendor directly on her website of potential service providers, she limits the sponsorship opportunities at her events to one vendor per category. Sponsors are not just lenders, but what she calls “real estate adjacent.” These are businesses and people that can add value to her relationships with her clients year-round.

And those vendors representing the various categories can change from event to event – it’s not always the same people.

5. Show your gratitude to your sponsors.

Last, but certainly not least, Aubrey makes a point to show her appreciation in a multitude of ways to the vendors she works with. After all, it’s likely they come into contact with a variety of real estate agents, so she wants to stand out from the crowd and thank them for taking care of her clients at a high level.

What sets her thankfulness apart is the annual “gratitude dinner” she throws. To get invited, someone must simply have provided a service and good experience to one of her clients in the past year or have provided a referral to her. Between 80-85 people across all service provider categories, from roofers and window washers to contractors and lenders attend. She chooses a different local restaurant each year – both to give back to the local business and to provide her attendees with a special night out with their significant others to relax, mingle with others in adjacent industries that can potentially refer business to them, and get to know Aubrey and her family better.

Aubrey has found that the energy and effort she puts into her relationships with vendors is a win-win all around. Not only are her clients happy with the quality treatment they are receiving and her vendors are happy for the exposure, but Aubrey’s business benefits as well. In fact, she’s never hosted a gratitude dinner where she received fewer than three referrals afterward. When it comes down to it, solid relationships are a two-way street. If you support others in their businesses, they will want to support you as well.

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