Making the Most of Event Sponsorship Opportunities
Have you ever wandered around an event – perhaps you’re exhibiting, perhaps you’re merely attending – and noticed a pattern with the brands plastered throughout the venue? You see the same brands repeatedly, and you see them everywhere.
That’s the power of event sponsorships: brand recognition. When you decide to exhibit at an event, you do so for a reason: your desired audience is in attendance, and you want to make a deeper connection with them. Adding a sponsorship package to an event where you are exhibiting can significantly extend your brand’s visibility.
Now, you may feel that sponsorship packages are available only to the big guys with thousand-square-foot displays and seemingly limitless marketing budgets. However, that’s simply not true. There are a wide variety of sponsorship opportunities, and with a little planning and persistence, you will find one that fits your needs.
Of course, that leads to the first big question of any sponsorship:
What Are Your Needs?
The central issue to any sponsorship (and the event in general) is discovering what you hope to achieve and identifying your primary goals.
· Are you interested in generating more brand awareness?
· Would you like to increase foot traffic at your exhibit?
· Are you launching a new product or service?
· Is there a new audience you wish to reach, or would you like to improve your relationship with your current crowd?
· Are there social issues you wish to advocate for or promote?
· Do you intend to reposition a struggling service, product, or brand?
Once you establish these goals, you need to identify how to achieve them. Part of that is knowing who exactly you are trying to reach at the event. For example, if your target audience encompasses a broad swath of the event’s attendees, then you should find a sponsorship situation that exposes you to as many viewers as possible, such as putting your name on a contest. However, if you intend only to reach a specific segment of the crowd, try to find a sponsorship that exposes you only to this audience, like a small, dedicated cocktail hour or mixer.
You can also reach out to your existing clients and ask what elements of events they found most useful. Then, see if any sponsorship opportunities exist in those areas. And if they don’t…
Expand Your Sponsorship Options
Event organizers and show management want sponsors – they need sponsors. That’s the exact reason they create sponsorship packages, to appeal to and attract potential sponsors. However, that does not mean they have thought of every single sponsorship opportunity or that they are only limiting themselves to the existing packages.
If you have an idea for a sponsorship opportunity not currently offered by the organizers, pitch it to the show’s management. Most likely, they will be very receptive to the idea. And if not (perhaps your idea conflicts with an existing sponsorship in a way you didn’t perceive) now management knows you are interested in an out-of-the-box sponsorship opportunity, and they will keep you in mind should another opening arise.
Ensure That You Get the Most from Your Sponsorship
Many companies believe that the extent of event sponsorship is slapping a brand logo at various points throughout the show and calling it a day. However, obtaining true value from your sponsorship requires a much deeper integration with the event and its marketing.
To start, you want to make your sponsorship an extension of both your brand and your exhibit at the show. That way, you create a cohesive message of who you are and what you have to offer.
The event’s sponsorship opportunities will likely include several of the following benefits. However, if they do not, remember, it never hurts to ask.
· Event email communications – have your sponsorship (and brand) promoted in all pre- and post-event emails.
· Banner placement on the event site – potential attendees will visit the event’s website, often more than once, as they contemplate purchasing tickets; a banner ad will be the first thing most visitors see.
· Prominent locations in the event app – every attendee will use the event’s app and having your brand on the homepage will make a big impression.
· Include links to your website – have your biography or sponsorship info include external links to your website.
· Notifications – the event’s app can send periodic notifications to attendees with directions to your exhibit, or if the event is using geolocation beacons, when they are near your display.
· Signage – depending on the amount you committed to the sponsorship, your brand may not be included on all of the printed signage; however, you may be able to have your brand showcased in the event’s digital signs.
Indications that You’re in Good Hands
Not all events are created equally. Unfortunately, as a sponsor, you often don’t know you’ve partnered with a questionable company until you are in the midst of the event. The good news is that some early signs will indicate when event organizers are committed to delivering a positive ROI to their sponsors.
They understand what sponsors need from the event’s attendees.
When you are engaged in a serious discussion about potentially sponsoring an event, one of the first questions you should ask is about the attendees. Actually, in an ideal situation, you won’t have to ask. The event’s organizers should have detailed metrics on their attendees – and an understanding of how their crowd aligns with your desired audience.
They are prepared for the sponsorship to begin immediately.
By the time you are in a discussion about sponsorship, the event has already begun marketing itself and selling tickets. Ideally, event organizers are prepared with ways for your sponsorship to start paying off immediately. That may be through a presence on the event website, or by including your brand on communications with attendees, or by having your brand participate in social media discussions. An event that has put thought toward ensuring the success of its sponsors will be ready to begin ASAP.
They will want the partnership to continue after the event’s doors are closed.
An event’s value does not exist only during the days and dates of the exposition. Continuing the discussion with attendees once the event is over is critical to building brand and event loyalty. Many events will have an online community where attendees network and share best practices and will ask sponsors to join and contribute. Event organizers may also put you in touch with other sponsors to discover how you can help one another grow.
The more value that organizers provide to you as a sponsor, the more likely you are to return next year – and maybe become an even bigger sponsor.
Measure your Success
The only way you will know if your event sponsorship was a success is by measuring the outcomes. This is why you establish your goals for sponsorship at the beginning of the process. That way, you know what you hope to achieve and can determine which metrics will help you accurately judge your level of success.
You can also ask the event organizers for a post-event report (if they have one). This will be a useful supplement to the information you gathered about your participation.
By finding the right event to sponsor – and the best opportunities at the event itself – you will obtain the most value from your sponsorship efforts.