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When Considering Event Sponsorship, Think Outside Your Industry

event-sponsorshipBy David Saef – Executive Vice President of MarketWorks & Strategy, GES.

An organization commonly stays in its target niche when attempting to grow an audience, but a powerful tactic worth exploring calls for seeking a marketing boost outside a familiar industry.

Opening the door to new players allows organizations to increase brand visibility, something that 59 percent of exhibitors cited among the reasons to sponsor events in our recent Sponsorship 2.0 research. And half of these same sponsors measure the effectiveness of the event sponsorship based on the number of visitors to the organization’s booth — traffic and visibility sponsors wouldn’t otherwise see.

Sponsorships Drive Brand Awareness

Sponsoring an event outside of an organization’s industry has triggered vast benefits in the past.

Consider Visa’s sponsorship of the 1988 Olympics. This came at a time when the company was a distant second to American Express. Visa’s sponsorship led to a greater awareness of Calgary and the Olympic movement, and it also opened the door for Visa’s use at all Olympic venues and competitions.

This was huge for Visa, which was looking for a unique, global event. The company saw sponsorship effectiveness among both cardholders and non-cardholders and an increase in spending by cardholders who associated Visa with the Olympic tie-in.

Similarly, Airbnb recently ventured outside of the hospitality industry to sponsor the Brooklyn Half to improve its brand reputation in New York. The company wanted to celebrate its ability to bring additional housing options to price-sensitive runners and headline a major race in the area. It was the title sponsor, which allowed it to spotlight signage along the route, sponsor a post-race party, and initiate brand activations after the main event. Airbnb was an active supporter of the race’s success while still promoting its services.

Your Event Sponsorship Checklist

As you begin to look for opportunities to sponsor events outside of your industry, keep some thoughts in mind:

  1. Know your goals for sponsoring. There are four reasons a company chooses to sponsor: to raise brand awareness, connect with a target audience, launch a new product or service, or show support for an industry. Make sure your reasons for partnering align with what you are trying to accomplish.
  2. Create a win-win partnership. Although many events offer standard sponsorships, look to create your own experience in a meaningful way. The Visa sponsorship created widespread awareness of its new capabilities, and Airbnb sought to solve a housing issue and be a good corporate citizen. These activations went beyond any standardized list of offerings and were customized to meet the sponsors’ needs.
  3. Implement brand activations pre- and post-event. Savvy sponsors such as P&G or Budweiser tie in social media campaigns, email and direct mail, blogs, and in-person events. All great sponsors think about and design experiences that create shareable content so the sponsorship lives beyond the event itself. It stays fresh in eventgoers’ minds, allowing them to digest the information for weeks.

Unique Ideas Garner Rewards

Creating epic event experiences is key to staying top of mind both during and after the event.

Hertz developed its own unique event sponsorship with Live Nation. When concertgoers purchased tickets, Live Nation’s website redirected them to a page where they could rent cars exclusively at Hertz. In exchange, Live Nation set up dedicated Hertz VIP parking adjacent to concert venues — the closest spots you could get to the sites. Additionally, Live Nation and the performers provided opportunities for Hertz rental customers to go backstage and meet the bands. It was a clever tie-in of a service with a higher level of hospitality and experience at an event.

According to our Sponsorship 2.0 research, 46 percent of event organizers are looking for broader relationships with sponsors. This tells us that they’re willing to take a look at new opportunities that allow sponsors to customize the relationships they have with eventers — resulting in a win-win-win connection.

Find out more about what event sponsorships will look like this year, and start banking on event sponsors with unique offerings.

What outside-the-box event sponsorships made an impact on you?

By David Saef – Executive Vice President of MarketWorks & Strategy, GES
LinkedIn:, Twitter: @DSStrategy

David is the Executive Vice President of MarketWorks & Strategy at GES, a global event marketing company with a long history of connecting people through live events. The company has more than 3,000 passionate employees throughout the world who provide unparalleled service and consistent execution of breakthrough experiences that blend art and science to foster engagement.