Sponsorship has been part of trade and consumer exhibitions for many years. Show organisers have used event sponsorship to generate income outside of the typical exhibition stand and ticket sales revenue streams. In its most basic form sponsorship has been used to entice existing exhibitors to brand show assets or event publications as a way to cover event costs.
In a time when exhibition organisers are looking to grow and adapt their shows to meet the needs of changing consumer and exhibitor demands, sponsorship should be considered as integral to event growth strategies. Below, Gareth Lloyd, Head of Media Sponsorship and Sales at the NEC Group, outlines some key principles which should be considered by event organisers and event owner seeking to secure new brand partners.
- Think partnership not sponsorship
In recent years, the sponsorship industry has changed dramatically. No longer are brands willing or able to simply pay for additional visibility and badging. Consideration should be given to creating mutually beneficial partnerships where both parties commit to achieve aligned objectives. Consider objectives in addition to the typical revenue, data capture and sales objectives. Additional partnership objectives could include how the partnership can extend the marketing reach of your event and partner, engagement in new features and potentially how the partnership enhanced customer experience as this will improve return attendance.
- Think engagement not branding
Yes, partner brand visibility at your event is key but engagement between partner and all attendees to your show will deliver greater results. Also, don’t just think about engagement at the show. Consider how each partner can become part of the build up to the show helping to build two-way communication with consumers and developing excitement. Engagement essentially means providing multiple touch points between partner and audience with the secret ingredient being that these touch points are meaningful and memorable.
- Who would you like as an event partner & why
So, you’ve developed engaging partnership programmes, now is the time to do your homework on who to approach. Don't just bash out a load of emails as it will end in the deleted items folder very quickly. Take some time to consider who you would like as a partner for your event and even more importantly why is your approach relevant to them. Consider the demographic profile of your event audience and who would like to engage with them and how.
- Put yourself in the brands shoes
This key point is continuously over looked. When approaching a brand consider what’s in it for them, how does your proposal meet their business objectives, what will get them excited and how can you make the partnership activation impactful. Timing is also critical. Typically brands don’t make decisions quickly so consider budgetary windows as well as the decision making processes of the brands you approach. One final area to consider is that the brand is unlikely to have internal resource to maximise the impact of the partnership so propose ways your teams will lead the delivery of the partnership.
- Partnership revenue is great but long term partnerships deliver much more
Your focus should be to create a long lasting partnership as these evolve and grow over time. If you’ve identified the right partner for your event don’t be afraid to create high impact, low cost partnerships in year one but have a growth plan. This shows you are willing to invest in a partnership and are confident it will deliver the objectives you say it will.
- Utilise technology
The majority of event venues offer a wide variety of new technologies to be utilised by event owners and visitors. Consider ways which your partnerships can incorporate these facilities; the venue’s digital media solutions, the venue WiFi network, venue and event App and online event registration are all are partnership assets which can drive real impact and can obtain measurable data for you and your partners.