6 Event Sponsorship Do’s & Don’ts

What do event sponsors want, anyway?

According to IEG’s recent report on What Sponsors Want and Where Dollars will Go in 2016, 46% of respondents ranked presence in digital/social/mobile media as the most valuable event sponsorship benefit. And IEG’s report on Association Sponsorship from the previous year uncovered that:

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Above all else, suppliers are seeking innovative, measurable ways to connect with corporate and individual consumers.

The challenge event planners face is finding a balance between delivering great value to sponsors and maintaining a quality experience for attendees. I.E. Making sure attendees aren’t getting a sales pitch every time they turn a corner.

With that in mind, here are some do’s and don’ts to help you walk the line between creating irresistible benefits for sponsors and ensuring you don’t lose your attendees’ attention.

1. Don’t turn your event into an infomercial.

Definitely, sponsors want value for their investment. One of the worst strategies event designers can implement is to overuse suppliers to deliver content. Unfortunately, this strategy is growing in popularity….with event planners….not participants.  If content for too many keynotes, panels, and breakout sessions is delivered by suppliers, participants simply tune them out and walk away frustrated that they were pitched endless commercials and limited content of value.

2. Use technology to create ambiance AND highlight event sponsors.

Explore different methods of creating event ambiance using the latest in event technology, like digital signage that allows you to:

  • Build excitement by showcasing social activity around an event hashtag
  • Brand an environment with dramatic event sponsorship visuals

Live Display
Check out how IncentiveWorks owned this Toronto convention centre with a dramatic floor-to-ceiling Live Display.

3. Host exclusive, invite-only receptions for VIP participants and hosted buyers.

Invite suppliers to mix and mingle with participants informally. M & I Forums uses this European concept effectively by hosting a reception the evening before their event begins. There are no sales pitches. Suppliers connect with participants on a personal level. By the time the forum begins, the ice has been broken and it is much easier to get down to business.

4. Don’t turn every meal into a wall-to-wall keynote.

One reason many participants attend events is to network. They need some airtime and white space between presentations to interact with peers. It is possible to take advantage of meal breaks without turning off participants with event sponsorship. 

One strategy is to have representatives sit with participants during meal times. Spread them out so that there is no more than one sponsor representative per table. Through informal conversations, rather than a hard sell approach, event sponsors can connect with participants on a personal level and build relationships.

Let participants enjoy most of their meal without distraction. When coffee and dessert are served, begin the presentations .  Keep them short, upbeat and interactive and, when possible, use event technology to deliver some of the content.

5. Give event sponsors an opportunity to gather attendee insightsevent sponsorship

Work with sponsors, presenters and facilitators to design surveys and games that can be used during the course of a session. Live polling, app quizzes, and contests are some other ways in which sponsors can get more value out of the event by gathering important insights about event attendees.

Surveys are easier to create and distribute with an event app.  

6. Set up an exclusively branded- zone on the trade show floor

Give it an upbeat name and make it colorful and inviting. Event furniture suppliers may be willing to fully or partially sponsor couches and lounge furniture to ensure participant comfort. You can even provide stations for attendees to charge their phones!

In the exclusive zone, in addition to coffee, tea, and soft drinks, provide cool signature mocktails,  hors d’oeuvres, and snacks that aren’t available in other areas of the trade show flow. Also, consider providing entertainment in that area for an ultimate event sponsorship experience.

What’s Next?