10 Tips: How to Attract Conference and Exhibition Sponsors

Well, if only this was an easy to answer question…

One thing is for sure: Getting sponsorship for conferences and trade shows has become a lot more difficult, with so many options that potential sponsors have, and so many organizers competing for sponsorship.

 

Very broadly speaking, there is a basic dilemma for event organizers and sponsors. When looking for sponsorship, the ORGANIZERS typically want

  • Money
  • As  easy as possible
  • Standardized
  • Apart from that: To be left alone by the sponsors when it comes to the event programming (speakers, sessions etc.)

The SPONSOR, on the other hand, typically asks for

  • Exclusivity
  • A say as regards content (speaking opps, featured topics, case studies)
  • Individual offers
  • Preferred treatment throughout the whole event

During my time in a sponsoring and PR agency, working for brands like Volkswagen and Deutsche Post, I have learned how important those points really are for sponsors. As a potential sponsor, you immediately put aside those requests where you feel that you get a copy-and-paste template and where the organizers have not thought one second about your branding and positioning requirements.

Okay then, what would be some recommendations how to approach potential sponsors? Some food for thought, in the sense of a checklist of things to bear in mind:

  1. When you present a sponsoring proposal to a potential candidate, ALWAYS put their logo on the pdf or ppt! And make sure you use the correct and current one.
  2. Describe the target audience of your event – but not on a generic level, but particularly to what extent it overlaps with the sponsor’s target groups.
  3. Check on their website if your potential sponsor supports other events, and of what nature those are. What can you learn from that? Is there a particular person, decision maker or department behind those sponsorships?
  4. What can you find out about the brand positioning and brand values of your target sponsor? What bit of that ties in with your event positioning? Try to create a storyline that combines your event objectives with your sponsor’s objectives.
  5. Be creative. Develop out-of-the box offers to differentiate from your competitors. Of course, that also implies some research about what your competitors are actually offering.
  6. Be inspired by what other organizers (beyond the horizon of your own industry) have offered. Take a look at the sponsoring offers of events like SXSW, Mobile World Congress, CES, and in particular the TED Conferences. For our World Newspaper Week in Vienna, October 2011, we have created a comprehensive scope of promotional opportunities.
  7. Create some low-budget options for newcomers to your industry. We offer a simple branding sponsorship at our conferences, which is a kind of premium participation fee. A sponsor gets an entrance ticket, their logo on the website, on site, and their brochure in the delegate bags. Nothing fancy, but a good money maker.
  8. Involving sponsors in the program: Well… Why don’t you rather offer the opportunity to let a customer of theirs do the talking? That is much more credible and has a higher impact for the sponsor, too.
  9. Be flexible. You should have a clearly formulated offer when you approach a candidate, but be flexible enough to tailor it to their demands.
  10. Post-Event: Send a Thank-you-letter after the event along with a documentation (pics, facts and figures etc.).

Here you’ll find some more useful resources about how to attract sponsorship:

Why don’t you share your success stories here?

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5 thoughts on “10 Tips: How to Attract Conference and Exhibition Sponsors

  1. Great points Michael. I would just add one more to the end. Of course a thank you note is nice and don’t forget that. But also plan a post-event sit down with your sponsors to talk about what worked and what did not. This can set the stage for moving forward with their participation the next year.

  2. I agree with Traci and Michael but would add that some of our clients even go so far as to give a small present to the person at the sponsor or exhibitor that does all the organization work.

  3. Great ideas! It depends on how many sponsors you have, obviously. But you might have different categories, and to pay the platinum-type sponsors a personal visit afterwards, show them a video and pictures is definitely worth the while. And that is the right moment to say “thanks” to those guys that did all the work.

  4. Such a good blog you have here. Make sure you update this more
    often. This particular subject areas is my personal curiosity.

    Thank you.

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