Navigating the Pharma Sponsorship Landscape


Pharma sponsorships can be a very valuable addition to an event portfolio, providing financial support and opportunities for collaboration. However, navigating this complex landscape can be overwhelming. In this post, we will delve into the concept and importance of pharma sponsorships, and provide you with a step-by-step process to identify potential sponsors, conduct thorough research, and build meaningful relationships. Let's dive in!

What goals do life sciences companies have for sponsorships?

Life Sciences (and pharma) sponsorships are, like any other sponsorship, partnerships between pharmaceutical companies and event organizers.

However, the life sciences landscape is characterized by the complexity of the goals that pharmaceutical companies strive to achieve and of the restrictions they operate under, which can be quite different from, say, those of a packaged consumer goods company.

For example, a life science company may think about:

  • Product promotion: A company may aim to raise awareness and generate interest in a specific medication or treatment. For example, they might launch a campaign to promote a new cancer drug or an innovative therapy for diabetes. This is a classic example of a product-centric campaign - or "branded" advertising, as it's often called.
  • Disease state education: Companies may also prioritize raising awareness about certain medical conditions - or about some specific issues associated with a given condition. Here is a great example of this type of campaign. Note how there is no visible product brand on this campaign: the goal here is not to directly drive product sales.
  • Clinical trial awareness: One may launch awareness programs to promote clinical trials or patient recruitment campaigns. This is particularly important when there is a lack of public knowledge about the disease. Here is an example. And here is another.

So what?

  1. In this highly regulated industry, product promotion comes with very stringent guidelines. Due to this, sponsors tend to be highly concerned about the specifics of how their products or brands are presented to the public. As an event organizer, you must be prepared to accommodate these demands while ensuring compliance with all relevant regulations.
  2. As an event marketer, you are not limited to targeting only brand teams for sponsorships. It is beneficial to broaden your focus to include companies and even portfolio teams. By doing so, you increase the pool of potential sponsors and open up opportunities for diverse partnerships.
  3. Companies without marketed products might also be interested in sponsorships. They often aim to raise awareness about clinical trials or specific medical conditions, which is equally valuable for them. Hence, don't disregard such companies when looking for event sponsors; their objectives might align perfectly with your event's purpose.


How do I reach out to potential sponsors?

Like with any other sponsorship, effectively reaching out to sponsors and winning them over requires matching two crucial elements:

  1. The demographics and interests of your event audience; and
  2. The objectives and aspirations of your potential sponsor.

A tangible example: the "Race to Vaccinate". One of our clients, a NASCAR racing team, had compelling data about their audience: this led us to the realization that they would be a great match for a consumer-facing vaccination campaign. This helped us create a shortlist of pharmaceutical companies that were interested in promoting vaccinations (mRNA, shingles, seasonal flu...) and to launch a sponsor search that yielded 7-digit results.

So, what are the right steps?

  1. Understand your audience: To find the right sponsors for your event, start by defining your target audience. Go beyond the basic demographics - if they're professionals, where do they work? What kind of practices do they collaborate with? If they are members of the public, what are their profiles? For example, age, conditions they may suffer from, and insurance status are all crucial elements for a sponsor.
  2. Map your potential sponsor companies. Based on public information and filings, you can find out a lot about which pharmaceutical companies may be interested in reaching out to your audience. Think expansively: look at company pipelines (i.e., products under investigation).
  3. Research the people: Before reaching out to potential sponsors, invest time in researching their brands, products, values, and previous sponsorship engagements. This will help you tailor your pitch and approach them with a well-informed proposal that demonstrates your understanding of their needs and objectives.
  4. Reach out with a partnership in mind: Most important - rather than crafting a sponsorship proposal and circulating it outright, reach out with the idea of tailoring your offering to align with their goals. Reach out putting demographics in the forefront, not how much a WiFi password sponsorship would cost!
  5. Maintain Meaningful Relationships: Whether you secure a sponsorship or not, focus on building a strong and lasting relationship with your target sponsors. Regularly communicate updates, offer opportunities for involvement, and express gratitude for their support.  
  6. Prepare for the agency: Most pharma companies operationalize activities through marketing agencies. Don't be surprised if your target person refers to a third party - that's normal.

In a nutshell...

Navigating the world of pharma sponsorships may seem daunting, but with a systematic approach, thorough research, and effective communication, you can secure valuable partnerships that enhance your event's success. Remember to maintain transparency and nurture meaningful relationships as you collaborate with sponsors.

And, if you want to accelerate the process, reach out to advisors with relevant experience! 

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