Creating Win-Win Sponsorships

Photo: FreeImages.com/Colin Smith

Photo: FreeImages.com/Colin Smith

When it comes to sponsorships, logos on lanyards and tote bags are old school!

What’s needed today are relevant opportunities which enhance the overall experience and are customized to the needs of both exhibitors and attendees.

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Too many show organizers use a laundry list of sponsorship options that hasn’t changed in a decade or two. (And don’t get me started on those unimaginative “gold-silver-bronze” packages!) Instead, it’s important to think about what each audience wants: exhibitors/sponsors want to increase their visibility and interaction with attendees, while the attendees want services that will add value and solve their problems at the event. The best sponsorships accomplish both sides of that equation.

For example, onsite WiFi – attendees expect it, but it’s often incredibly costly. So why not have a sponsor provide the service, then give them lots of visibility both online and off?

Here are some other creative and on-target sponsorship ideas:

  • Onsite event concierge: ASD Market Week offers “ASK ME” customer service staff who cruise the aisles wearing sponsor-branded t-shirts and carrying iPads, ready to help attendees who need a little show floor guidance.
  • Professional head shot booth: This service is popular at most every professional or association event, since many attendees would like to have a quality photo for their LinkedIn or other social media profile.
  • Fun zones: Help attendees unwind in an area equipped with games that are either low-tech (ping pong, skeeball) or high-tech video games.
  • First-timers orientation gathering: Help those who are new feel comfortable and make some friends prior to the official event opening. Of course sponsor representatives are on hand to help with that welcome!
  • Airport transportation: This is another form of welcoming committee … sponsors have reps on hand at the airport to whisk attendees off to the event without needing to wait in shuttle or taxi lines.
  • Enhanced experience for virtual attendees: Many events claim to have a virtual element, yet those attendees get a less-than-fulfilling experience. Use sponsor dollars to fund a virtual host that is dedicated to being the eyes and ears of virtual attendees.

And if you’re an exhibitor considering becoming a sponsor, your responsibility doesn’t simply mean writing a check. To truly maximize any sponsorship opportunity, you must first decide what your objective is in sponsoring anything. Do you want visibility or name recognition? The opportunity to meet attendees face to face? Your answer here will determine which sponsorships are the best fit.

Along with getting clear on objectives, decide how you will use the sponsorship to lead attendees to action. Do you want drive traffic to your booth? Get them to engage with you online? Capture contact information? Again, your answers here will help guide you to the right type of sponsorship. And of course whatever option you choose should be communicated to your entire staff and be a part of your overall show strategy. Then afterwards spend some time evaluating the success of your sponsorship.

Like so many other aspects of trade shows, sponsorship is a two-way street. When exhibitors and show managers work together to craft packages that benefit attendees, everyone wins. By providing tools or exclusive content attendees wouldn’t otherwise have access to, they’ll become fans of the sponsor who provided it for them.

Want to explore how you can maximize sponsorship opportunities at your next show? Whether you’re a show organizer or exhibitor, you can schedule a Sponsorship Brainstorming Session so we can create just the right options for you! Simply go to the Contact page and send a note with the subject line “Sponsorship Brainstorming.”

© 2015 Marlys K. Arnold (from the October 2015 TradeShowTips Online; To receive tips like this in your inbox every month, please take a moment to fill out this request.)

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Marlys Arnold

With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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