That’s it, the party is over.
We just reached the tipping point of event sponsorship.
Companies no longer believe in throwing budgets at the promise of exposure. What will smart event professionals do to fund their event in the future?
For decades we have sold the lie of exposure, special mentions and logo placements. And when I say ‘we’ I include myself in the pond. After all, at the first event I ever planned, I was presented with the task of selling sponsorship in the form of booth space, logo and banner placements. This is how we always did and will always do things.
But then things changed.
Gold, Silver and Bronze became meaningless words. Who is happy to pay for a table and a banner? Who is happy to share their logo with 50 others on a crammed website? Which company wants to attend trade shows where you have to literally grab attendees and force them to enter your booth?
In our digital world, companies are able to see how many times someone visits any content they produce. They can see where you click, how you scroll their page and how long it took before you purchased a product or asked for more information. They know your country, device, gender, sex and much more as soon as you land on their website. They know where you came from and where you went when you left their site. This amount of information has forever changed the way companies spend their money.
More and more companies are divesting from sponsoring exposure-driven events in favor of more intimate and owned spaces where they can get in touch with prospects and existing customers. You may have noticed the words ‘on tour’ and ‘roadshow’ popping up more frequently.
Barriers to entry in planning events are substantially lower than they used to be. With social media providing a constant feedback channel, content marketing creating an education channel and email marketing offering a communication channel, creating a community of attendees has become easier than ever.
So, if you do the math, what’s better? Being crammed into a room with hundreds of « me-toos » or having your own event?
Is this the end? Not really, my friend.
There are still A LOT of reasons why companies should invest in event sponsorship. They need to get involved with event planners that get it. They need to support event professionals who get disgusted by the word « exposure » as much as they do.
Understanding why companies invest in event sponsorship will help you create an event that will be a sponsorship magnet.
Here are 5 tips you should keep in mind before you start planning your next event.
1. A company event is a biased event
In a similar fashion to content marketing, a company can write the most amazing white paper on the planet, but the motive behind it is to sell a product. As unbiased as content can be, it is intrinsic that the objective is to sell.
Events that manage to get a reputation for authority, education, objectivity and a true desire to serve attendees should be sponsored. If the #1 objective of the event is to sell sponsorship or booth space, sponsors should run away as fast as possible.
2. Support communities
Some events are born because they are the expression of a community. They are a movement. These events are built from the bottom up; their main objective is to get together, be entertained, network and learn. Sponsors should fight with each other to sponsor such events.
Sponsorship in these instances means showing love for the initiative and support for the community behind it.
3. Measurable ROI
There is no excuse for not providing offline and sometimes real-time analytics to sponsors that invest in events. Despite the attempts of some providers to make the data feel like a new thing, we’ve been able to accurately measure footfall, brand interest, soft leads and a myriad of other KPIs for years. It’s just that some events didn’t bother to spend the money to offer that to their sponsors.Events that do provide this data won’t have to seek out sponsors, they will be knocking at your door.
True and smart matchmaking will change events forever. I don’t want to get into the hosted buyer discussion, but I know for a fact that those events that offer better matchmaking are the most liked in every industry. Your role as an event professional is not to upload a PNG to your site, it is to facilitate the connection between buyers and sellers.
Technology can help heaps with that. Having followed the evolution of matchmaking systems since their early days, I can say we are really getting there. You can rely on very advanced algorithms that scan the interwebs to match attendees and stakeholders in the best possible way. It takes very little to provide a better experience.
5. Meeting Design
The way you design the space and the event itself has a tremendous impact on the value delivered to sponsors. Being creative with the booth space allocation and the design of the event flow will increase the experience.
One of my favorite events from last year was the Amsterdam Motor Show where the agency was briefed with a very small budget and changed the layout of the exhibition delivering unprecedented results and sponsor satisfaction. You gotta love the Dutch.
Events are still the most effective channel for many brands but we need to step up the offering. We need to create events for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 not for 1889.
Those events that understand the basic principles of modern sponsorship can sell out both sponsor packages and tickets in minutes. If your event objective is to sell sponsorship, you will struggle more in the future. Conversely, if you genuinely want to innovate, educate, connect and entertain your audience, companies will fight with each other to get some space at your event.
Read more at http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/why-event-sponsorship-is-broken
*This article was originally authored by Julius Solaris the editor of Eventmanagerblog.com.