By Gary Schirmacher, CMP, Senior VP, Industry Presence and Strategic Development
Let’s start with a definition…
perfect happiness; great joy.
No doubt, event professionals are in the “delivering bliss” business, but sometimes we’re so focused on how this plays out for attendees that we lose sight of other event stakeholders —namely sponsors.
Logos and Links Aren’t Sponsorship Bliss Triggers
There are plenty of event professionals with valuable sponsorship offerings. Items that sell out year after year. If you’re reading this post, chances are high that you’re among this elite group who are always striving to deliver something more to your sponsors.
Yet others struggle to keep sponsors happy and renewing. They’re more often the traditionalists, who might fire up last year’s sponsorship grid, make a few quick updates, and they’re good to go. Unfortunately, this sponsorship fulfillment grid is filled with logo and link promises that fall short in light of today’s experiential marketplace.
This second group typically cycles sponsor acknowledgements through the usual channels:
- Thank-You slides with colorful logos
- 3-5 minutes of podium time
- Event website banners
- A mention or listing in the program
- Push notifications on the mobile app
Rarely will these tactics move the revenue needle significantly for sponsors. What sponsors want most today are richer, one-on-one encounters and shared experiences with qualified buyers. When you deliver on that count consistently, you’ll be rewarded with loyal investors who view your event as a business performance accelerator.
The Journey to Sponsorship Bliss
No matter where you are on the sponsorship sales spectrum, there are always opportunities to fine-tune and improve your program and go-to-market strategy. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Begin with a conversation about the sponsor’s goals.
Before launching into recommendations on how this sponsor might invest in your event, learn more about the sponsor’s goals and objectives for the coming year. Come to the call or meeting armed with good questions, listen intently, and summarize what you’ve heard to make sure you’ve got it right. That insight will help you make much stronger recommendations that link back to critical objectives they must achieve.
- Zero in on targeted attendee segments.
Your conference might attract thousands of attendees, but which segments are most important to sponsors? Premium sponsors are less impressed with pie charts about the masses. They’d much rather learn more about steps you’re taking to attract and engage their best buyers. At Experient, we’re helping clients to capture richer and more actionable attendee behavioral insight with our product, eventBit™. This valuable data insight can then be leveraged to improve personalization. Harnessing data intelligence is crucial to help sponsors align with buyer needs. If you’re not doing this now, make plans to tackle it soon, as it’s a huge differentiator.
- Create vibrant forums where sponsors can showcase their expertise.
Attendees want to learn about the latest and greatest industry trends and breakthroughs. What stories and insight can this sponsor share that align with top problems to solve for your audience? What new products have they launched? We’re seeing more new product showcases at trade shows and conferences. It’s vibrant forums like these, wired for hands-on involvement and interaction, that delight both attendees and sponsors.
- Increase the sponsorship value runway.
Digital provides more opportunities to amplify sponsor reach, before, during and after the big event. You might host a webinar, where sponsors share stories that extend key conference learnings. We’re often helping our clients to improve their messaging strategy, striking the optimal platform mix, which might include email, social media, the event microsite and the mobile app. Each digital channel opens up a wealth of valuable exposure for sponsors.
Keep in mind, there will always be people who wanted to attend your event, but couldn’t. Live streaming select sessions to a remote audience tees up additional high-value sponsorship opportunities, especially when the session topic aligns with the sponsor’s expertise. Added bonus: It gives those who didn’t attend a glimpse at all the great things they’re missing.
What changes have you made lately to boost event sponsorship bliss? What roadblocks make this bliss journey more burdensome?
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