sponsorshipA well-crafted sponsorship has the attendees’ needs front and center. If it adds value to the attendees’ experience, it naturally will add value to the event, making it appealing to the show organizer. If it adds value to the attendees experience, it creates a lasting and positive reaction to the sponsor’s brand.

But that is just the first step. A sponsorship that is good for the attendees and the show organizer is not going to automatically be a fit for every brand. To create a sponsorship that is a win for all parties involved, it must be able to integrate with the sponsor’s other marketing and communications efforts. Therefore, not needing it’s own campaign which will save money and resources.

So, how does a sponsor recognize a good opportunity when it comes around? Or even how might a show or conference organizer and potential sponsor work together to create the ideal sponsorship opportunity?

It all starts with well crafted guidelines. These are not branding guidelines, they are guidelines that ensure your company is positioned to engage with their target audience in a meaningful way. These guidelines will be the base for all event sponsorships whether they are trade shows, national conferences or smaller regional events.

What should these guidelines include?

  • Brand Personality – What do you want to be known for? Are you irreverent and edgy or formal and buttoned up? Do you position your brand as innovative or perhaps consistent and never changing?
  • Desired Demographic – What audience are you willing to pay to get in front of? While the general audience of a trade show is a good reason to exhibit, you may want to focus on a sponsorship that gets you in front of just the CEOs in attendance.
  • Goals and Objectives – What do you want to get out of your sponsorship investment?
  • Time – How much time is your company willing to invest? A good sponsorship requires a lot more than just writing a check.
  • Exclusivity – Do you want to be the only name attached to the sponsorship or are you willing to share it with others?
  • Event Investment – How much do you expect the organizer to invest back into your sponsorship?
  • Control – Do you require final approval on ever aspect of the sponsorship or are you willing to let go of certain aspects and what are those aspects.
  • Customer Access – Do you want to require your customers get VIP treatment such as front row seats for a keynote or special parking access? Perhaps even a DVD of event content.
  • Product Placement – Do you require the show or conference to use your product or service throughout the event.
  • Pre- and Post-Show Opportunities – Do you want your branding on event marketing? Do you want access to the attendees contact info for post event follow-up?
  • Visibility for Key Employees – Customer service employees could be showcased by having them staff the event information desk. Or key executives might be given a speaking slot.
  • What You Can Offer the Event – What are you willing to give other than money? Space on your company website? Promotion of the event to your database? Content?

For the part of the show organizer, they should be willing to share their sponsorship marketing plan with any potential sponsor. Organizers want their sponsors to put a lot of time, human resources and money into the sponsorship. Sponsors expect no less effort from the event organizer.

Sponsors would do well to steer clear of any show or conference that has a build it and they will come mentality. An event organizer that is not willing to promote something that makes the attendee experience better does not put much value on their attendees.

So sponsors should ask to see the marketing plan, but don’t give up if there is none. There is a difference between an organizer not willing to market your sponsorship and one that doesn’t have the know-how to market but is in fact willing. Sponsors and event organizers can work together to create one. Often times the event organizer does not have the marketing expertise to do this whereas a brand does.

Potential sponsors should not be discouraged by an event that does not proactively solicit creative customized sponsorships. If you have a great idea for a sponsorship you think would enhance the attendee experience, pick up the phone and ask to talk to the sponsorship director (or the person who makes the decisions regarding sponsorship, not the sales person). Keep moving up the food chain until you reach a strategic thinker.

Show and conference organizers and their teams are often spread very thin. Especially when it comes to association events. I cannot imagine an organizer who would not welcome great ideas that would make their event better for everyone involved.

Over the next five weeks, I’ll share with you my own ideas for effective sponsorships. One for each week. Sign up now for our email updates if you’ve not already done so to receive these posts via email, so you don’t miss out.

If you want more detailed information on how to create sponsorship guidelines, buy my book, The Social Trade Show. It’s available just about everywhere in print and e-book versions.

Read more: Does Your Event Sponsorship Request Suck?