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   Columns by zerotol
Urgrade Time!
Wed, Jan 23 01:00 | 0 comments - Post a reply
It’s that time of year again…. No, I don’t mean all those holidays. They’re fine, of course. I mean…..upgrade time! It’s time to open up ye ol’ wallet and dig deep.
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Improving Your LANs: Sponsorship (0)
Local Sponsorship For Lan Parties (0)


How can you get a sponsor for your small local Lan Party? You aren’t the CPL or some other big organization but you can get 15-20 guys in your basement or garage. Let’s face it, you don’t want to foot the whole bill yourself so how can you get someone to share the cost with you? In other words, how do you attract a sponsor?

The first thing to ask yourself is what do you have to offer a sponsor. That’s what you should ask yourself. No sponsor will want to participate unless they perceive some value to doing it. Remember, this will cost them something, be it time, money or resources. So, they will expect something in return. What can you offer?

First and foremost, you have to approach a potential sponsor professionally. It is unlikely that a group of 16 years olds looking for sponsors will have much success. Most likely, some adults will have to be involved. You must have a confirmed number of people you are expecting. This is never going to exact but, you’ll need a number that the sponsor
can anticipate. Make SURE you invite the sponsor over to see the set up as well as invite him to stop by the event itself. This might be hard for people to visualize who have never seen a Lan party. Bring pictures of other people’s events. Let them see the rows of computers, the people holding up prizes. Bring some clips from magazines and newspapers about LAN parties. Remember, you’re SELLING here.

Most sponsors will only be interested in one thing: more sales. They’ll want people to buy more from them because of the sponsorship. Some sponsors are interested in helping the community simply because they are good local citizens. Naturally, if you have a personal relationship with a store or other establishment, the door is a little easier to open.

You should try to get a sponsor who can immediately benefit from your LAN party. One example would be a local pizzeria or sandwich shop. You tell the owner you’re going to be ordering a couple of hundred dollars worth of food, he might be willing to give you a discount. In return, he becomes a sponsor of your event. Tell him you want him to get you a sign that you can put up so that whenever anyone orders food, it will be from him. Ask him if you can offer a prize of a six foot sub or pizza “with the works” as a door prize. The cost is minimal to the store but helps attract people to your event. People DO eat at LAN parties. They have to get the food somewhere!

Also, a sponsor can help out simply by providing space or equipment. You might be able to get some chairs and tables at a local furniture store, as one example. Many places will let you put up a sign at a counter top or in a window. The sign needs to be professionally done, of course. If you are able to put a sign in 20 or 30 stores, those are all names you can add to your “list of sponsors”. Bring a long list like this to a small local radio station and ask if they could make an announcement for your local event. All local stations devote some time to community ads like this. College radio stations are best in this category.

Another good sponsor is someone whose product ties in with gaming. An electronics store, a PC repair shop, a local cyber-caf. These places are already “tech-friendly” and they can perceive some immediate benefit from getting their name in front of a bunch of computer people. They can offer coupons, discounts, give-aways. You’d be surprised at how many things these stores will make available. Some might be willing to offer a small cash prize for your event. You just have to ask!

People love to win things. If you can offer a great tourney prize, you can get many more people to your event. This, in turn, helps sell the event to any local sponsor. Your cost is defrayed so your admission fee may be less, the prizes attract more people, which helps build your reputation, the sponsor gets low-cost advertising. You win, the players win, the sponsor wins.

Here is a list of organizations that are very approachable as potential local sponsors:

-- Pizzerias (For snacks or contributions)
---Supermarkets/convenience stores
---Fast food restaurants (they are not all corporate owned so you can approach an owner)
---Community boards
---Youth centers
---Computer Repair shops (Owner can offer discounts on upgrades to attendees)
---Boy Scouts, Police Athletic Leagues, etc.
---Local cyber-caf.
---College radio stations

Places I’d avoid trying would be any establishment that would perceive you as competing with them. That would be any recreational place such as a bowling alley or a golf range. They want your leisure time to be spent with them, not at a LAN party.

Once you have a few local sponsors on board you’ll need to build a track record. Smaller sponsors lead to bigger sponsors. Your sponsors know people you don’t. They can lead to other relationships as well.

I haven’t gone into too much depth but this is a starting point for getting the ball rolling. Try some of these ideas. Most people running LAN parties could enhance what they do by trying a couple of these strategies.

I knew my business degree would pay off sooner or later…. LOL

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