By David Saef – Executive Vice President of Strategy & MarketWorks at GES.
As event organizers and brand marketers, you already know that event sponsorships can be a significant share of your budget. You also know that finding and incorporating the right sponsorships into your event can bolster its overall success.
That’s why you can’t afford to approach event sponsorship opportunities as simply a chance for brands to slap their logos onto something.
Providing an immersive, multi-touch experience for sponsors and attendees will benefit you in a number of ways. First off, more high-quality brands will be eager to get involved with your event, allowing you to command a heftier price tag. Second, it will improve your event’s atmosphere as a whole, lead to a better experience for attendees, and boost consumer engagement for all parties.
According to my company’s research, 29 percent of potential sponsors say their top priority is seeking unique promotional opportunities. Trade shows can have anywhere from 25 to 2,500 companies all vying for the audience’s attention, making it awfully hard to stand out.
Allowing sponsors to set up strategic, exciting, and interactive booths gives them the opportunity to effectively compel attendees in distinctive ways. In return, attendees find great enjoyment in exploring these entertaining exhibits as they navigate the event.
It’s also wise to find ways to incorporate sponsors into the overall fabric of your show. The Golf Industry Show, for example, features an “Expert on the Hour” discussion that brings figures from sponsoring brands to provide brief presentations and answer attendee questions in a theater area of the trade show during an exclusive 30-minute period.
These are just a couple of substantive additions that could enhance attendee learning and engagement and boost brand equity for your company and your sponsors.
“Unique” is the key word when approaching a shift in your sponsorship mindset. Offering the same bland opportunities as everyone else provides absolutely no incentive for brands to choose your event.
Changing your sponsorship approach might seem like a daunting task. But it’s also critical, especially as more organizers recognize the importance of enhancing these opportunities. If you don’t act now, you could find yourself picking from a much smaller, lower-quality pool of potential partners.
Here are three steps that will send you down the right path:
Interview past sponsors to see what worked for them and what didn’t. In 2013, my company polled a large group of sponsors at a major food products trade show and found that a majority of them felt like their messages weren’t properly reaching attendees.
This insight drove us to hone our current offerings and make sure the show wasn’t partnering with too many brands. Narrowing the sponsorships added an element of exclusivity to the event and made it more valuable to sponsors. A little sponsor feedback can go a long way.
Many organizers fail to adopt an objectives-driven approach to sponsorships. Without aligning these opportunities to your company’s overall objectives, you’re creating a potential disconnect between yourself and corporate marketers. Take steps to communicate your goals and make sure everyone is on the same page. The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association successfully does this by publically posting a document that proposes sponsorships that align with a company’s business goals.
Organizers need to set clear objectives for sponsors and create benchmarks to help gauge the success of these partnerships. There are many factors you can measure to define these benchmarks: event attendance, the number of leads generated, website hits, attendee survey results, and more. You can even use video technology to help measure success. Documenting the flow of attendees and what they gravitate toward can be a great learning tool.
Modern-day event attendees seek multi-touch, immersive experiences, so it’s crucial to find unique ways to incorporate sponsors into your events. Successfully doing so provides a win for all parties: Attendees have a more enjoyable time, sponsors create more meaningful connections with consumers, and you, the organizer, get the perks of putting on a great event.
Tell me about your favorite trade show experience involving a sponsor. What made it so memorable for you?
GES is 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.