No matter what the core goal or objective of your meeting or event a successful result will inspire, engage, bring together, and/or educate your attendees. If you are organizing the US Open, a city-wide convention or a corporate event, securing sponsorships not only brings in added revenue and the ability to enhance the overall attendee experience but also can increase value and opportunity for both the sponsors and participants alike. With the ever increasing pressure to increase revenue and lower expenses meeting professionals are continually looking for creative ways to leverage sponsorships.
Before setting out on developing your sponsorship plan, you need to understand the type of audience you are reaching at your event. Do your attendees or stakeholders cover a certain niche? Are their companies/products that you can tap into that want to get in front of them?
In regards to your target list, yes you are going to start with the obvious including past sponsors and your peripheral connections but push yourself to think beyond that. While speaking at a recent MPI Tampa Bay event for the pre-education portion, they brought in John Hancock retirement services. While retirement services are not unique to the meetings and event professional, most certainly everyone needs a retirement plan!
Garnering a successful sponsorship portfolio for your event not only involves identifying a quality list of targets to reach but also developing unique and compelling sponsorship packages. There are often many competing events with the same audience and limited sponsorship dollars. This can be done both in creative sponsorship packages but also showcase how awesome your group of attendees is! It’s all about ROI in the end right? Make sure to define your attendees, the more information you have on them from previous years as examples the better. Develop your prospectus with visuals that are clearly understood.
Now on to some ideas for additional sponsorship opportunities to add to your arsenal.
Digital content platforms offer easy ways to push products and add to sponsorship options without a lot of additional costs. As mobile apps are ever increasing as the mainstay and replacing onsite printed programs, they are an easy way for sponsors to push content directly to attendees in various ways, such as direct messaging, video or special promotions. QR codes and gamefication activities for attendees can be easily added into the mobile app.
Another digital option is a social media feed take over, where a speaker or business leader may be looking to spread their message further or even increase their organizations or personal social presence. I follow many bloggers that do this and I will specifically follow their feeds if they takeover a brand I like for the day. This could work either pre or post or during a conference. For this to work successfully the one taking over the feed would need to align with the audience and also follow any of your organization’s social media guidelines.
Specifically targeting certain social media platforms such as Snapchat can also be an added benefit. Custom filters are getting increasingly popular and accessible, and as the reach of this platform is increasing it opens up more opportunity for sponsorship. Specific examples include selling upgrades to have the sponsors logo be included in the event filter, gaining much exposure in connection to the event and attendees followers, also making a potential keepsake.
If all else fails, you can always fall back on exclusivity or the element of surprise. The meetings and events industry is excellent at being creative with sponsorship and exhibits– from capitalizing on what makes their venue or destination unique, I mean who doesn’t stop at the Germany booth at IMEX for the traditional beer garden experience?
Lastly, make sure always to be open to adjusting and adapting on the fly. At the most recent MPI WEC in Atlantic City, during the opening session a new sponsorship presented itself and they immediately captured it. They had a circular stage, so at all times the master of ceremonies had her behind facing someone’s direction. They took this as an opportunity to incorporate humor by selling add space on the very adapting MC’s back side for $4000. This type of advertisement was a highly visible opportunity for the eager sponsors and very memorable for attendees. I still can not get the images of Reno and NOVA on the speakers behind out of my head.
No matter your audience or budget, take the time to look at your options and understand your audience. What can you digitally promote? What may work better visually on site? Put yourself in the shoes of your attendee and follow their journey starting with even before they start to travel to your event. Each step along the way offers a new way to showcase a potential sponsor.
- Understand your audience
- Add value
- Create an experience
- Be memorable
- Leverage your relationships
- Be flexible
Talk with your sponsors, see what they are looking for and find creative ways that work for both parties whether in-kind or cash.
Creative Sponsorship Quick List:
- Wi-Fi – Set the password specific to the company – attendees will constantly be typing in the company name
- Social ad posting – Social media feed takeover
- Custom Snapchat filters
- Mobile app – push notifications, video, campaigns
- Local experiential outing or promotion