By Dave Lutz, CMP, Managing Director, Velvet Chainsaw Consulting
Across nearly every industry, exhibit-booth footprints are shrinking. However, there is a silver lining: the opportunity to develop fruitful strategic partnerships. Just be ready to prove why a sponsor's dollars are well spent on your organization.
More companies are demonstrating their products and services via digital technology rather than face-to-face events, which is bad news for your convention's revenue-diversification model. As an organization, you need to shift those revenue dollars from industry suppliers by developing a strategy around your sponsorship offerings. One of the best tactics to up your sponsorship sales game is to become an expert at compiling post-conference proof of sponsorship activation. When done well, your evidence will go beyond measurement of attendee demographics, impressions, and clicks to true engagement outcomes.
No marketing investment is easy to measure. Sponsorship is the most sophisticated and emotional marketing-spend category of all and requires a strong story — one that can be shared up the ladder. The best way to prove to sponsors that their investment is well spent is to create an easy-to-digest PowerPoint presentation. Here's what it should include:
1. A Conference Overview
Include several photos, stats, and strong headlines conveying that your property is a leading conference for the industry you both love and serve. Be sure these photos include lots of attendees and capture their emotions at your conference's biggest and best moments.
2. Proof of Benefit Fulfillment
In the sponsorship agreement, you promised a number of things. Provide visual proof of delivery and activation of each with an action-packed, professional photo or screen capture. Also include details of the associated promotional or PR placement and metrics.
3. ROI Pointers
Sponsorship ROI is an inexact science, and you're never going to have the most important metric: customer sales. Help your sponsors’ business case by aligning their investment to their marketing objectives, calculating cost savings, profiling the buying power of the attendees, and, finally, by explaining the amplification effect of your conference beyond those who attended. Go out of your way to identify media mentions, attendee comments, or any other insights that demonstrate the ripple effect of their investment.
4. Help Them Stand Out
Your job is to help your sponsors better compete. For this section of your presentation, either demonstrate how they are beating their competitors or give them guidance on how they can better position themselves next year.
The better your organization gets at demonstrating value to your sponsors, the stronger your consultative selling muscles will grow. Start by doing this with your top 10 sponsors, and then improve the deliverables each year. Be careful to keep your deck to a digestible length. Your main goal is for your sponsors to share it with their bosses. The more C-level-ready you make it, the higher the likelihood of being rewarded with the renewal — or better yet, increased investment. .
Sponsorship Is Evolving
Moving forward, sponsors are going to favor investments that provide visibility and access to the desired audience across a longer stretch of time, not just during your event. Eyeballs and impressions are going to be given less consideration than sponsorship opportunities that make an emotional connection, are valued by your members or attendees, and align with the sponsor's marketing objectives. Organizations that upgrade their proof of performance will grow this important revenue stream, outranking their less-strategic competitors.