Getting a liquor sponsor doesn’t mean finding someone to keep you from taking another swig of vodka. That’s a different kind of sponsor. For event planners, securing a liquor sponsor for an event can be a great way to keep costs down, and drive attendance up. But landing one of these deals definitely isn’t easy (unless you have a close connection; close like your brother owns Ketel One). Liquor companies won’t just sponsor any random event so for most party-throwers, securing free alcohol will require creativity and persistence.
Who to Target
First, carefully think about your event and what your target audience / attendee demographic will be. The main reason any company will agree to sponsor an event is for publicity and exposure. If the event you’re throwing is for a budget consumer brand, high-end dealers like Grey Goose and Patron aren’t likely to sign on board. The most important thing to highlight is why the audience that is attracted to your event is a perfect fit for the liquor company’s target market. Understand what the potential sponsor is looking to do brand-wise and market-wise and think about what’s in it for them, not you. If there is some way to demonstrate (or beg and convince) that promoting at the event will allow the sponsor to reach either new or more potential customers than they could on their own, you have a compelling case that stands a chance.
Lesser-known companies that are looking for a chance to build their brand can be great targets. There are tons of new alcohol companies that spring up every year, but few of them become household names at the bar. If you’re throwing an event for an up-and-coming, trendsetter crowd, why try for an established brand that’s old hat? An unknown, emerging liquor may not only be easier to secure, but a better fit for your event’s image. Similarly, urban brands like Alize are usually trying to get their name out, and therefore more prone to consider event sponsorship. As a final technique, do some good ole’ fashioned research – are there alcohol companies that are coming out with a new product, trying to expand to different customer markets, or hurting for sales and looking to revamp their image? Any of these scenarios indicate the company could be open to a potential sponsorship opportunity if presented in the right way.
How to Go About It
Once you have the pitch strategy down, it’s time to act on it. The most direct way is to directly reach out to liquor companies and have them connect you with the rep that covers your market. Restaurant, bar, and club managers are also good sources for finding out the names and contact info of liquor and distributor reps. If there are liquor brands these establishments are currently doing promotions for, even better – it gives you a starting point for identifying receptive targets. If the rep actually agrees to a meeting, being creative in how exactly the sponsor will gain exposure is often critical to sealing the deal. Promotional tie-ins like co-branding the event on all marketing materials, putting the sponsor’s logo on the event / host company’s website, meeting halfway and having the sponsor pass around free samples but not host the entire event, are all ways to create a win-win for both parties. Keep in mind who, why, and think innovatively about the how, and you might just have a shot (pun intended).