Conference & Trade Show Sponsors Want Relevance

2014.09.04_matter by duncan c, on Flickr

As we strive to deliver outstanding attendee experiences, our eyes turn to sponsorship. After all, somebody has to pay for this.

Yet sponsorship tends to follow the same random path: Logos are slapped on every last bit of real estate. Banner ads and app alerts multiply. As the promotional noise increases, attendee attention plummets – thus making sponsorship less appealing.

While eyeballs and clicks might have mattered to some degree in years past, that era is ending. Sponsorship investors are getting more sophisticated – and so must you.

Time is a Big Sales Barrier

Earning time with sponsorship buyers isn’t easy. Time poverty is everywhere (“We’re crazy busy. Call us next month”). In a recent video, marketing guru Jay Baer suggests a powerful and often overlooked remedy: How Relevance Magically Creates Time

Baer reminds us how complicated the world has become, especially in the last few years. As complexity increases, so do demands on time. To remove this barrier, Baer says sellers must be hyper-relevant, providing just-in time insight. This might be insight that helps sponsors make an emotional connection with their target market and ultimately accelerate their deal-making/speed of cash.

Applying this hyper-relevance principle to sponsorship sales, here are three things sponsorship seekers must do:

1. Customize to Your Buyers

Do you have a good handle on the top challenges your sponsors face? What mission critical goals must they achieve in the next 12 months? Who is their ideal customer? What new markets are they looking to penetrate? What new products will they release? What other conferences or trade shows are they investing in? Which ones are performing best? How do they measure success?

Obviously, this more consultative approach doesn’t scale well. Hence, the ever-popular sponsorship prospectus email blast. That blast might generate nibbles for lower cost items, but to secure (and keep) the major investors, you’ll need to ask smarter questions, listen intently and customize the offer. For top targets, to earn time on their calendar, you’ll need to grow bigger ears (as Chris Brogan says) to find some bit of buyer insight to make this conversation hyper-relevant.

2. Short List Recommendations

Either you earned a discovery conversation OR you did a boatload of discovery on your own. Don’t expect sponsors to read through a lengthy prospectus. Cut to the chase and provide two or three custom bundles that align with their goals. Then recommend one and explain why. Provide a concise pitch that can easily be taken up the ladder to decision makers, as there will likely be at least one more internal conversation before they sign.

3. Help Sponsors Activate

Once the agreement is signed, this is where communication tends to falter. Messaging focuses more on logistics, less on coaching sponsors on specific ways to activate (aka, leverage) their investment. Did you just sign on a keynote speaker that connects with the sponsor’s objectives? Tell ‘em. Surge in registrations? Tell ‘em and share a few tips on best ways to connect with their markets. The better the activation, the more likely the renewal or opening for upselling.

Is getting time with buyers a major roadblock for your sponsorship sales team? What shifts are you making to your approach to earn more discoveries and commitments?

Adapted from Donna’s Meeting Innovation post on Cvent’s Event Planning blog. ©2014.

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  1. Great tips! Everyone is to busy for something the may want to hear about or decide but no one is to busy for something that solves a problem they already have or fills a need of theres and communicates that clearly and concisely.

    1. Donna Kastner says:

      Glad you enjoyed it – thanks for commenting!

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