In our expert series we’ve talked about the key components of stand design and technology, but we now focus on sponsorship, and how to take advantage of the opportunities presented at a show. Being responsible for organising your company's presence, you wont be able to hide from senior executives and sales people who will see first hand whether the event been a success or failure, so it is critical that you make the correct decisions on where to spend the budget you’ve been allocated.
Why should I look at sponsorship?
Most marketeers don’t have unlimited pots of exhibiting budgets to support their stand presence, so there is a strong impetus on organisers to create sponsorship opportunities which are relevant, tactical, engaging and complement specific exhibitor event goals.
Unlike other forms of advertising, which are frequently intrusive and unwanted, event sponsorship allows consumers and businesses to connect through meaningful real-time interaction.
A study in 2016 found that 72% of consumers positively view brands that provide quality event experiences and 74% of respondents admit that engaging with brands that create memorable moments makes them much more likely to buy their product.
What this indicates is that the right kind of sponsorship means much more to your target audience than just exhibiting. Sponsorship helps generate awareness around your brand and get additional exposure through various media channels. Also, being a less intrusive form of marketing enables event sponsorship to create trust between the brand and the customers more easily.
It also creates better perception by your target audience. Direct communication with your target market brings your brand closer to your customers, makes people relate to it on a personal level and blurs all those boundaries. When sponsoring a charity event, for example, you will be associated with positive experiences and the audience will perceive you as a socially responsible brand.
Therefore, find out from the organisers what their marketing plan is and don’t forget to ask about the opportunities to engage with the audience before and after the event — via email, social media or the event app.
Typical tried and tested sponsorship opportunities presented to you by organisers will probably include:
• E-ticket e-mails
• Theatres & Features
• Show guides
• Visitor bags
E-ticket e-mails present a great opportunity to maximise your exposure to visitors. Despite the burden of spam and junk mail, E-ticket’s have a strong open rate providing significant exposure at a key point when the visitor is engaged and planning for the event
Theatre sponsorship enables you to capture new audience data, whilst driving brand awareness for any future marketing campaigns as you align yourself alongside industry thought leadership. Make sure you know the topic of each of the talks first though, you don’t want to be seen to be supporting a talk which inherently contradicts your company position.
In order to determine whether the event is worth further sponsorship investment, it is important to understand what you will get as a sponsor and whenever you can, negotiate additional value such as logos and web banners on the event site, presentation opportunities and on-stage mentions and find out if you get exclusivity or will you be sharing it with another brand?
Try to remember that the main reason why people attend live events is for interacting with like-minded professionals and staying up-to-date with the latest industry news. Therefore, don’t become just another passive sponsor and do not leave it all to event organisers, if you have a great idea let them help you turn that into reality.
Promote the fact that you are sponsoring an event on your networks. You can cover this information in one of your blog posts, mention it in your podcast, share on social media or through an email.
Although an exhibition itself represents only a brief and intense period of exposure, sponsorship will create brand awareness opportunities over a more prolonged period - both before and after the show.
Measure the value of your sponsorship
According to a study conducted by the Association of National Advertisers in the US back in 2015, a quarter of event marketers do not gather, analyse or use data in sponsorship decision-making. Those who do evaluate the results on their sponsorship efforts consider product or service sales, the amount of media exposure generated, brand awareness and attitudes towards the brand the most valuable metrics for measuring the effectiveness of the sponsorship.
Measuring your success will help justify the investment, understand what works best for you and make better sponsorship decisions in the future.
Therefore, after the event is over it is time to revisit your sponsorship goals and evaluate the return you got from the money spent.
This can be measured in two ways: through financial gains or through evaluating the return on engagement (ROE), which relates to the overall brand experience.
Choosing the right event technology can facilitate the measurement of ROE, which at first may seem like a daunting task. Professional wifi providers can collect the attendees’ behavioural data and reveal target market interests, such as what web pages were viewed and how much time attendees spent on each of them.
Event apps can provide you with real numbers on your audience engagement such as adoption rate, the number of profile views, live polling and questionnaire results and post likes and shares.
These, of course, will help you evaluate the effectiveness of your investment and all of your future sponsorship decisions will be based on real data.
Why are sponsorships sometimes considered a failure?
Sponsorship can be highly effective but if not implemented properly will fail because it doesn’t bring any value to the event or its attendees. Moreover, the traditional sponsorship marketing efforts listed above could damage the company’s reputation as instead of enhancing the whole experience, the distracting adverts dilute the message.
Sponsors who are dissatisfied with their investment often expect instant results and fail to maintain communication with the audience after the event is over. However, building loyal communities requires time and effort, and sponsoring an event is only the starting point in this journey. Albeit, a good starting point.
The format of conferences and exhibitions is constantly changing as do the attendees and their goals. Therefore, traditional speaker — attendee — sponsor approach might not be the most effective one anymore. Modern attendees, just like modern students, are no longer interested in passive learning. They expect sponsors and organisers to provide them with great interactive content, a personalised approach and opportunities to network and relate to other professionals.
When sponsoring an exhibition, your main focus must be on enhancing the attendee experience by creating and nourishing a community of people that share the same interests and adding value to your audience by providing practical and emotionally engaging content.
Therefore, make sure you have the right content to support the customer journey after the initial engagement
Modern consumers want a more personalised approach and exhibitions provide brands and organisations with the opportunity to connect directly with their target audience and build long-term relationships with their customers.
Sponsorship can lead the way to acquiring new clients, build a corporate reputation and increase your organisation’s visibility. Two important things to remember when looking for sponsorship opportunities is to choose the right event and to carefully prepare the content strategy. Defining clear goals will help achieve the required return on investment and make better sponsorship decisions in the future.
Speak to one of our experienced Project Managers today for a free design and cost consultation on your stand, use the contact form or call us on 01527 510 154.