Think about your conference attendees for a minute.
And think about the lives they lead on a daily basis.
Now think about the roles corporate brands want to play in their lives as conference sponsors. That’s a hard thing for a brand to accomplish at a conference or even in the real world.
Consider Your Attendees Again
Keep thinking about your conference attendees for a moment.
Think about the relationships they have with other things. Things like sports, music, art, movies and fashion. Things like the innovation, creativity, inspiration and motivation. Things like the environment, social justice and charities. Things like their friends and families.
Some of these relationships are transactional. All are emotional.
What Your Attendees Value
So what do your conference attendees value the most about these things?
They value the context and meaning these things have in their lives. They value transparency and authenticity. They are passionate and emotionally connected to these things.
They place huge significance on experiences. They enjoy stories, storytelling and story sharing. They value community. They want to create with others.
They don’t value advertising and advertising space, product placement, logos everywhere, aggressive sales tactics, commercials, branding, in-your-face-marketing and media. They want less of these things. But these are all the things most conferences focus on providing in exchange for sponsorships.
Sponsor Brand Building Or Experience Building
Conference attendees don’t want to participate in brand building. They don’t want logos all over presenter slides, escalators and elevators, walls and banners. They don’t want constant commercials introducing speakers. They don’t want to hear the executive from this sponsor introduce the executive of that sponsor. That is interruption advertising and people don’t like it.
Conference sponsorship is not a battle for logo placement. It’s not a battle for fragmented, cluttered, brand awareness. It’s not a battle for stage time and holding a general session audience hostage to a sponsors’ message.
Conference sponsorship is a battle for experiences and advocacy. It’s a battle for experiences that connect conference participants, create communities and help spread industry messages.
Smart conference sponsors focus on elevating a unique, exceptional, participant conference experience. It’s not a paid advertising arena for sponsors. It’s an owned and earned arena for sponsors.
Conference organizers search out sponsors that want to align with the conference’s authentic purpose. These sponsors want to add real value to the attendees’ experience. They want to help attendees transition into creators and participants of that experience.
This is an opportunity for sponsors to create a conference culture and community that engages and encourages participants. That’s more memorable than logo bombardment covering every open venue space with brands.
Closing Thoughts For Conference Organizers And Sponsors
“You may think…I’m primarily in the business of serving good food. Actually though, food is secondary to something that matters even more…creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel,” restaurateur Danny Meyer.
To paraphrase Meyer, conferences, like life, are all about how you make people feel. Conference sponsorship is all about helping attendees feel, emotionally connect, build community and become creators and advocates.
Any conference can find a brand that will provide money through sponsorship. The right sponsors bring more! And the right sponsors get more!
This is part six in the series: It Is Time To Revolutionize Conferences.
Hat tips to Jack Morton Worldwide (and Matt Jones) for constantly elevating the experience and new sponsorship methods.
What does it take to transition brands from product placement sponsorships to conference experience building sponsorships? How do you evaluate the value of attendee experiences for sponsorships?