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Anatomy of an Event
Part 2 of 3

by Sylvia Allen

See Part 1 at:

  • Revenue Generation

    How does an event make money? One of the primary ways is to sell sponsorships. Sold in various dollar increments, sponsorships are designed to provide the sponsoring organization with an opportunity to support a worthwhile event while getting its message to its target customers and/or the public. The sponsor's target customers may include its own employees, consumers, others within the trade, and the media, to name just a few. Keep these realities in mind when selling sponsorships - understanding the reason sponsorship is being done helps you define a sponsorship program that helps a company achieve their stated objective(s). (A good resource for sponsorship is the book How To Be Successful At Sponsorship Sales, published by Allen Consulting, Holmdel, NJ.)

    Another way to generate revenue is to have a variety of activities with specific fees attached for participation. For example, participants pay a fee to compete, exhibitors pay a fee for display space, food vendors pay a fee to sell, parade participants pay a fee for placement, attendees pay a fee for photographs with celebrities, spectators pay a fee at the gate, and so on. (Ed. Note: Never work with vendors on a percentage unless you have a way of controlling the money such as tickets that the vendors have to turn in at the end of the event in order to get their money. With a flat fee, you are assured of getting your money!)

    Yet another way is to have various collateral materials in which (or on which) people can advertise. These include a program book or some sort of commemorative piece, display boards (with sports these can be the scoreboard or leader board), event maps, event posters, etc.

    Other ways of bringing in additional monies including having a carnival as part of your event, for which the proceeds are split 75/25 (75% to the carnival, 25% to you), a raffle with a 50/50 split, games of skill, electronic games, and so on.

    As you do event marketing you will be using all of these activities to generate revenue for your event.

  • On-Site Management

    The function of this group is to see that sufficient planning and preparation have taken place to ensure a smooth-running event. Because the event occurs in “real time,” with no rehearsal and no opportunities to do it again, all logistical issues and problems have to be solved, mentally, before they happen. On-site management is responsible for such mundane, but necessary, items as the following:

    • Portable sanitation facilities;
    • Tents;
    • Lighting;
    • Security and crowd control;
    • Audio systems;
    • Fencing;
    • Bleachers;
    • Tables and chairs;
    • Paper towels and toilet paper; vTraffic control;
    • VIP treatment;
    • Banners and signage;
    • Communications;
    • Sponsor liaison;
    • Food handling and distribution;
    • Staging, lighting;
    • In short, anything that is on-site!

    On-site workers should do a pre-event survey to determine any problem areas and how to most efficiently lay out the event. Then, 12 hours before the event, do another survey to ensure nothing has changed. On-site staff are usually at the event many hours before its official opening: tents, chairs, and other physical setups do not go up quickly (or easily!), and there are always last-minute details that need attention before the successful start of the event. They are also usually the last ones on-site, long after the event is over, tending to the cleanup operation and overseeing the return of all rented equipment. Their primary objectives are to return the site to its original pre-event condition and see that all contracted and purchased goods are returned intact.

    Time Line

    This timeline will be presented on a month-by-month basis to help you develop your own event strategy. Keep in mind that it is an ideal strategy; real world sometimes is different!

    • 12 months before your event
      • Develop your event strategy, set date, times and rain date;
      • Decide what your event components will be (food? entertainment? rides: crafters? what?);
      • Take inventory of your event ... what you have that will benefit sponsors and media partners; develop your sponsorship fact sheet; start soliciting media partners and sponsors.
    • 11 months before your event
      • Start your volunteer recruitment;
      • Continue sponsorship solicitation;
      • Develop media list with contact names, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, fax numbers, deadlines, etc.;
      • Develop your marketing plan (posters? flyers? banners? table tents? PR plan?).
    • 10 months before your event
      • Apply for community funding;
      • Apply for all your permits (site, banners, etc.);
      • Continue sponsorship solicitation;
      • Send out first press release and public service announcement to print and electronic media, announcing event;
      • Contact local, regional and national tourism offices to get onto their date calendars;
      • Start soliciting talent if you are having entertainment;
      • Prepare vendor solicitation forms (food, crafters, commercial displays);
      • Place ads in Sunshine Artists and other crafter publications, notifying them of your event and how to get an application.
    • 9 months before your event
      • Develop an event handbook, who does what;
      • Start volunteer training;
      • Continue sponsorship solicitation;
      • Solidify your media partnerships.
    • 8 months before your event
      • Contact fire, police, first aid and sanitation departments to explain event and get their cooperation/participation;
      • Continue soliciting and selling sponsors;
      • Do first vendor mailing (food, crafters).
    • 7 months before your event
      • Do second public relations mailing;
      • Start contacting radio and TV for interviews to promote your event;
      • Submit magazine articles re: your event;
      • Do site survey.
    • 6 months before your event
      • Order tents, staging, sanitary facilities ... all on-site materials needed to produce your event;
      • Establish volunteer responsibilities;
      • Do third press release;
      • Develop event-specific website (hyperlink to your current site);
      • Meet with current sponsors to discuss the involvement of their PR people.
    • 5 months before your event
      • Develop collateral material (posters, flyers, banners, table tents, etc.);
      • Continue sponsorship solicitation;
      • Complete talent negotiations and solicitations; mail contracts, deposit checks, confirmations to talent;
      • Continue public relations activity.
    • 4 months before your event
      • Solicit PR material from sponsors, talent and vendors;
      • Continue sponsorship solicitation;
      • Continue public relations activity;
      • Print all collateral material.
    • 3 months before your event
      • Do an event review ... what's missing? Not enough money? Not enough volunteers? Not enough vendors? Talent cancellations? Decide what areas need greater effort on your part.
      • Continue sponsorship solicitation;
      • Continue public relations activity.
    • 2 months before your event
      • Send sponsor, vendor, food and talent confirmation letters;
      • Continue PR activity;
      • Order volunteer t-shirts;
      • Develop media partners collateral material (if doing an advertorial, write copy for them; if radio partners, provide them with the appropriate sponsor tags and event copy; if cable or TV partners, provide them with event spots).
    • 1 month before your event
      • Put up street banner;
      • Distribute collateral material;
      • Put up table tents;
      • Re-confirm talent;
      • Increase PR activity;
      • Meet with volunteers and give assignments;
      • Re-confirm on-site support services (tents, sanitation facilities, staging, lighting, etc.);
      • Re-confirm municipal services (police, fire, sanitation, etc.);
    • One day before your event
      • Do final site survey and walk through;
      • Re-confirm all services (tents, port-a-potties, etc.);
      • If an outdoor event, check the weather channel;
      • Alert local police and Chamber of Commerce as to contingency plan if bad weather;
      • Pray!


    About the Author:

    This article is repreinted with the permission of Sylvia Allen, President of Allen Consulting, Inc., an internationally recognized sponsorship and event marketing firm located in Holmdel, NJ. A much sought after speaker and sponsorship "guru", Sylvia has published a book on sponsorship - HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT SPONSORSHIP SALES, produced a video - THE 12 STEPS TO SPONSORSHIP SUCCESS, and published The Sponsorship Newsletter, a monthly publication that is in its sixth year of pubication. Of course, she has done lectures on sponsorship all over the country - to rave reviews!

    You can reach her at 732-946-2711 to discuss booking a seminar or via e-mail at You can order her book, videotape and/or newsletter by visiting her website at or give her a call.

    Also take a look at, Sylvia's website that specializes in development of Sponsorship Support Programs and Services for Festivals, Events, Mainstreet Celebrations, Chamber of Commerce Activities, etc. Make sure you sign up for the free newsletter, Hometown News Online.

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