I am hesitant to share this post because apartment communities often like to lean on their vendors to help with their resident events. So I don’t want to further that problem, but there ARE good ways to work with other businesses to provide free elements to your apartment community party.
First of all, the key is to understand what companies could be helped by contributing to your event. Rather than see the companies as an open checkbook, instead look at what ways your party could help them increase sales or exposure to different audiences. For example, we recently shared a clothes drive event on Resident Events, where we suggested working with local clothing companies to provide gift cards. The event was all about clothes, so it made perfect sense to reach out to that type of store. Similarly, an event about creating planters on resident balconies would be a great tie-in for a home improvement store or nursery. Conversely, asking a vendor that provides pool supplies for funds for your party doesn’t make any sense, because they simply won’t get any value out of the arrangement.
Once you establish what companies might be a good fit, you need to make it compelling for them. You already have the “story” part down, by having the event related to their offerings. But now you need to make it compelling from an investment point of view. In other words, is it worth it for them to donate elements to your party? So along with creating your event plan, it is a good idea to create a very simple marketing plan for “selling” the company on participating! In general, this will be a function of what locations you can showcase them and how big the audience is. For example:
“We can share your logo and information in the following places:”
- Newsletter shared on every door – 413 Residents
- On our website – 2,935 Monthly visitors
- Poster in our community office – Hundreds of residents and prospects
- On our Facebook Fan Page – 312 Fans
- Through Twitter – 196 Followers
- Logo at the event
The key is to quantify every element as best as you can so they can see the audience size. Also, when discussing residents, it is often to use the number of residents, not the number of apartments. Since many apartments have multiple occupants, that number will generally be higher and have a bigger impact. Also, if you have a high-end community, it would be a good idea to make that apparent, as well. This helps convince them that not only do you have an audience, but that audience has disposable income!
In certain circumstances it may even make sense (or be required) that the company attend the event. For example, a caterer will likely be present, so the ability to do more overt marketing by letting them put up a banner might help. Or I’ve seen a salesperson for renter’s insurance actually attend an event and set up a table and talk to residents directly, which could be a good opportunity to them. The key to this part of the process is simply understanding all of the resident touch points, and how they will be displayed during each touch point.
Once you have a marketing plan, you need to decide how you want to handle what is asked. Sometimes, you need to know exactly what you want out of the deal. But sometimes, it is best to leave it up in the air and let them offer something. For example, if you are looking for gift cards, you could keep it vague and ask if they would like to share any gift cards for being included. Of course, you need to have an amount that is fair for the “deal”, but leaving it up to them may yield you more than what you would have asked for.
Lastly, if you ever want to go back to the company again, it is good to share the results of the event!