Acquiring sponsorships as a means to boost business revenue has been around for decades. It’s a practice born out of creative necessity. According to a 2014 IEG North American spending report, sponsorship spending hit $21.4 billion. Companies want to utilize resources that will help them connect with their target audiences. Trade shows are a gold mine when it comes to sponsorship opportunities. Show Managers know better than anyone that their main job isn’t selling real estate space on a show room floor, it’s marketing and leveraging their promotional expertise with prospective sponsors.
What sponsors are focusing on when entering new partnerships has evolved over the past few decades. In the past, sales and brand awareness were what drove businesses to sign on. Sales are still the ultimate goal, but it’s no longer the focus. Customers don’t want to be sold something, they want to be told a story or given something to emotionally connect to, and companies are increasingly aware of this. As a Show Manager, it’s your goal to translate your sponsor’s message in ways that are relevant and meaningful. This approach, by meeting the desires and needs of your attendees, will maximize sponsorship returns and create more revenue for you.
Consumers are making connections using technology and there are ample ways to utilize technology to reinvent their experiences. This gets them involved in what’s happening instead of passively acknowledging information. Here are some great ways to connect your attendees to sponsorship data using the technology they’re already using.
- Create event apps. Sponsors like the portability and ease of advertising that comes with event apps. It’s as simple as having a splash page created featuring one of your sponsors with additional sponsor banner ads. Include a feature such as an interactive map that adds a company logo to the corresponding booth number. Provide a brief description when they hover over a listing number. Just remember not to overload it with ads or attendees will be put off by how much they have to wade through to get information.
- Provide charging stations for guests. From airports to coffee shops, charging stations are popular and will undoubtedly attract many of your attendees. Sponsors are guaranteed great visibility and fulfill a tangible need that guests have.
- Have free sponsored wi-fi. Sponsors get their logo and the recognition for providing free wi-fi to all guest on the sign-in page. It communicates that they love this event and want the audience to get the most out of it. It’s a win-win for both parties.
- Provide an interactive wall. Nothing draws a crowd more than a high-tech digital wall where guest can play interactive games or create artwork and messages. It’s a captivating tool for advertising a sponsors name and logo.
- Play games. A popular game to play at shows is a scavenger hunt, where sponsors can buy participation as a stop in the hunt. Users can scan QR codes with clues that that will lead them to the next sponsored exhibitor booth. Make sure there is some interaction required with the exhibitor, or else the connection might not be made. As with any game, participants should receive a small prize upon completion.
From the sponsors to the show attendees, people want to feel valued. Demonstrate that by going the extra mile in the details. Sometimes it’s the small unexpected touches the go the farthest. When all guests feel appreciated, from children with their families to special VIP’s, it can make an impact beyond the showroom. The following ideas will appeal to a variety of audiences.
- Don’t neglect the lobby. There are plenty of sponsorship opportunities to make guests feel welcomed. Besides signage, you can provide complimentary photo opportunities, like having a child get his picture taken with a local mascot. Have someone hand out free balloons to children with a sponsors logo and tote bags for adults.
- Provide a children’s area. Have a designated children’s area with sponsored materials. For example, at a home and garden show, Lowe’s sponsored a children’s building center where kids could wear construction hats and create a special hands-on character from a popular movie. It gave the children something to do and gave the parents a chance to explore exhibits.
- It’s in the details. There are many ways to include sponsors in the small details. During luncheon, put company information on the napkins. Or, provide beauty samples like hand soap and lotions in the restrooms at a beauty event, letting attendees experience sponsor products without obligation.
- Cocktail reception. Let the sponsors know that your partnership with them is valuable and that you appreciate them. A great way to do that is to have a special reception for them that they can invite their VIP’s too. It provides a relaxing atmosphere where sponsors can interact without sounding like they’re giving a sales pitch.
- Educational Sessions. Sponsors like to have a say on what the content will be for speaking opportunities. Show them that their message is important to you by giving them some time in the spotlight. This can be for a demonstration or an informal educational session.
We use the expectations of others not only for influence but to create results. When you create opportunities for sponsors that make connections with their target audience then you have created the most valuable platform for them. In return, you will have a mutually profitable partnership that will want to stick around.