So many different words for basically the same thing - a gathering of people that potentially fit your ideal audience that you need to get in front of.
That’s precisely why event sponsorship exists; to ensure your company can have prime placement to market, talk, and sell to your target audience.
With any luck, you already have an idea of how to make your planned event sponsorship a raving success.
That’s all good and well, but I’m here to burst your bubble…
In my experience, there are four reasons why your event sponsorship will fail that almost anyone can be guilty of.
Ready to have a real conversation? Let’s dig in!
1. Zero Booth Planning or Training
I know what you’re thinking…
Duh! Of course, if you don’t plan for the event and your booth you’re going to fail.
I usually think of this in two parts:
A. Booth Design & Aesthetics
A key part of planning for your event sponsorship that could result in failure is not thinking about the appearance of your booth.
Having a booth that doesn’t feel “put together” can leave the attendees wondering if your offering will give them that same feeling.
Any area that doesn’t scream super professional or exciting can make attendees t to another booth instead of yours, simply based on first impression.
That’s exactly why putting the proper focus on your aesthetics and appearance can yield great results.
Many events offer turnkey booths with beautifully designed layouts that you can slightly customize, and bring your own banners to get extra exposure from -- which helps the organizer create a consistent experience for attendees and sponsors.
If the event you’re sponsoring doesn’t offer a turnkey booth, don’t fret.
A few simple things can help make sure that your booth will be visually stunning.
For instance, bringing a few important things such as an on-brand tablecloth, backdrop banner or step-and-repeat (such as the one below), and a well thought-out visual for the computer/monitor at the booth will help make sure you’re not on the road to event sponsorship failure.
B. Booth Behavior
Booth aesthetics aside, another important item you should plan for is your team’s appearance and how well they understand how to manage the booth itself.
Ensuring that your team understands the commitment and expectations of their presence at the booth is key to the sponsorship not failing.
Having a plan for behavior ensures you can provide the best experience possible to your booth-goers.
Dressing nicely, not being on your phone the entire time, and knowing how to talk with prospects sets everyone up for true ROI.
The last thing someone wants to be greeted with is a person totally ignoring them, messing around on their phone or worse, someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.
You definitely don’t want to put your company in a bad light by having that be your first impression.
Pro tip: Have the folks responsible for your booth role-play before the event. That helps shake off any nerves and lets them understand how to handle potentially awkward/difficult situations. Don’t go easy on them!
Make sure to have any booth logistics or processes hammered out before you show up (or as much as possible).
A sure-fire way to look like an amateur is to have your on-the-ground team scrambling to use the lead registration page you setup -- or worse, not use it at all because they don’t know how to get it on the monitor.
The last big item on the planning list warrants its own section because of how important it is.
Make sure you plan to provide visitors to your booth and event attendees with an absolutely, no-brainer offer to make sure they convert.
2. A Lackluster Offer
So you bought a booth at a conference, you’ve got a plan for how it’ll look and be setup.
You’re all set, right?
Wrong. If you show up without an amazing offer, you’re practically fighting with one hand tied down.
Your booth setup is what helps start the conversation, your product keeps them there -- the no-brainer offer is what gets them to convert (or even close!) on the floor of the event.
That actually happened for Vidyard last year when they sponsored our event, IMPACT Live.
Vidyard came ready to rock with a show-stopper offer -- 50% off their GoVideo package for attendees only, IF they signed on the floor of the event.
The result? Vidyard walked away with five new customers and more extremely strong conversations to follow up with in the weeks following.
What type of offer could you create for your booth to make it an absolute no-brainer for the attendees?
One of our most successful booth offers is a Website Throwdown -- basically a live 10-minute website critique.
It’s so valuable that we’re even able to get attendees to register before the event for their time slot, and fill in the remaining slots on the floor.
What type of offer could you create that would have attendees signing up before they even arrive?
When you’re thinking about what offer to make, it’s important to ensure that the event organizer is okay with that type of promotion.
Which leads me to the third reason your sponsorship will fail...
3. Limited Communication with Event Organizer
Event organizer communication is another thing that can make or break your sponsorship.
When you’re vetting an event sponsorship, it’s important to ask what the communication and support will look like.
Is there an on-site kiosk/booth that will be able to help you day-of? Do you get phone numbers for quick texts and questions? Do you have a personal contact? What’s realistic turnaround times if a problem arises?
You should also be able to work with the organizer to ensure you’re getting the most out of your investment and that you’ll receive the level of support that you’re comfortable with.
It’s not fun to have things go wrong while you’re setting up and have no way to get in touch with someone for assistance.
It’s like customer service. As a sponsor, you want to be able to reach the person you’re doing business with to get things rectified.
Pro Tip: Run ideas by your contact. No one should know the event and audience better than they do so they should be able to advise you on what offers or messaging perform well.
If you have speaking time attached to your sponsorship, work closely with the organizer to ensure that your session will actually be valuable.
Inquire about what types of sessions have worked well in the past, and how to really make sure you shine at their event.
The last thing you want to do is have a talk track fall flat in front of the entire audience because it was “salesy” and not valuable. Then you’ll just be the “company that sold their whole session” - and that’s a label no one wants that.
So, make sure that you know what “lifelines” are available to you, and if you didn’t get a phone number -- don’t be shy! Ask for it ;)
4. No Swag!
Last, but not least, not having memorable swag will undoubtedly make your sponsorship fall flat on its face!
This is potentially a polarizing subject, but in my experience, a great piece of swag can go a loooong way.
What would it mean for your brand to have 100s of people wearing your logo on a shirt? Or have your coffee mug used in their office months after you have a conversation?
The return on investment might not be immediate, but swag is a great way to stay top-of-mind with potential prospects or customers.
Having a ton of branded swag myself -- from chapsticks and bottle openers to charging blocks and t-shirts -- I can say that the companies who gave them to me definitely are present when I’m thinking about organizations I may want to work with (if we don’t already).
ReachForce, for example, handed out branded, pre-charged charging blocks at INBOUND last year and it was a lifesaver at the event, and it’s something I still use at home today (Thanks!).
Go Forth and Prosper!
Event sponsorship can be an extremely beneficial way to get in front of your target audience. Avoid these common pitfalls and work with your event organizer to make sure you’re starting on the right foot. If you have a solid plan and give the attendees an amazing offer combined with memorable swag you’re going to be setup for success.
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