4. Be Innovative
Companies want to invest in conferences that make them look good, enable them to stand out from the crowd and that optimises connection opportunities with their audience.
So, when creating your packages make efforts to break out of the mould of how’s it’s always been done.
Examples of innovation include:
- Maximise networking opportunities with interaction hubs throughout the exhibition.
- Add social activities such as receptions, dinners or even yoga sessions to maximise connection opportunities (for non-medical sponsorships).
- Provide exhibitors with the opportunity to hold education sessions.
- Use apps or social media platforms pre/post and during the event to help forge connections.
- Set up delegate/sponsor matchmaking sessions.
- Offer unique sponsorship offers – such as branded technology zones, touch screen advertisements, social media walls, reusable water bottles or even sponsored mobile recharge stations.
Don’t lose potential sponsors through silly errors in your approach.
5. Create A Process
Don’t lose potential sponsors through silly errors in your approach. Breakdown the process into defined, achievable steps, such as follows:
- Develop and practice your pitch – they need to understand the benefits of participation.
- Find the right connection to approach. If there’s someone in your organisation, or on your committee, who has contact with a potential sponsor, ask for an introduction. It’s always more powerful to be connected through an already trusted source.
- Make initial contact to introduce the event and to ascertain interest. This is a good time to confirm their objectives.
- If the company expresses initial interest, send tailored invitation with relevant information – be clear in your request.
- Follow up your request either on the phone in person. Ask how it fits in with their objectives and budget and whether they wish to make any changes. Be prepared to be flexible and know post discussion if you have room to negotiate.
- Once a company agrees to become a sponsor – make sure the process is smooth. This includes clear communication, easy invoicing and payment methods and ensuring you follow through with your promises/entitlements.
- At the conclusion of the conference give sponsors and exhibitors the opportunity to provide feedback on what worked and what didn’t. And listen.
If a company seems interested but doesn’t commit the first year, it may be worth offering them a free registration to the exhibition so they can obtain a better understanding of the value of the conference in person.
6. Tailor Your Offers
With competition high, you need to tailor your offers to each company accordingly – which if you’ve done your homework in steps 1 to 3, should be fairly easy.
For the companies you’ve identified as viable for larger investments – don’t send them the standard package and letter. Tailor your request with a value proposition that appeals directly to their needs and objectives.
For those companies you’re unable to pinpoint objectives, it’s beneficial to create a shopping menu offering where they can pick and choose entitlements/packages that fit their own objectives. These companies also need to receive a personalised, tailored letter.
When sending communications – make sure you spell the contact and company name’s correctly and be careful when cutting and pasting information as it’s easy to make mistakes. This is obvious advice. But easy to overlook and remember first impressions count.
7. Make it a Year Long Effort
If you’re relying on the same companies to return year after year, these relationships need to be nurtured over the long term.
There’s no use just getting back in contact as the next conference comes around – as company staff and strategies tend to change and your conference may have inadvertently been left out of planning.
By simply remaining in regular contact through telephone calls, surveys, the creation of social media groups, or even the occasional coffee catch up, your conference can remain top of mind. You can also build loyalty through value adding to the relationship with invitations to networking events, the sharing of industry data or simply supporting their social media efforts.
By putting in the effort to build long-term relationship you’ll also get a better understanding of the company’s ongoing needs and objectives so you can continue to tailor offers to suit.
Overall, obtaining sponsors for your conference can be a long and arduous process, but by implementing correct and thorough processes it can deliver a valuable return on effort.