Choosing the event to sponsor based on a general description or for the wrong reasons
How to choose the right event to sponsor is a topic so generous that calls for a dedicated post (that I am definitely going to write soon), so I’ll mention here only this first layer of the problem.
It is surprisingly common to decide to sponsor an event based solely on the industry, theme of discussion and a general description of the target audience. Especially in B2B, this could be a dangerous path because choosing to sponsor the wrong event can make all the difference in spending wisely those sponsorship money and getting enough ROI back.
Sure, all of the above are useful information but try to go deeper before committing to anything. Ask the question: will my ideal audience be there? If the answer is yes, ask another one: will they have enough decision power to become qualified sales leads for me? And further yet: will they come in enough numbers to justify my sponsorship expenses?
Just because “the topic fits perfectly with our products” or “their audience is well within our target market” doesn’t mean you have to spend a portion of your marketing budget sponsoring it. What I mean is they are too general of a motive to justify an expense and expect a real ROI. Even worse, reasons like “everyone in the industry goes there” or “the competition sponsors it every year” or even “it will give us a lot of exposure” are too vague to justify the expense.
The audience, subject and content might be very well fit with your product and services, participants might be interested and your direct competitors present, but if the audience will be packed with people that have no decision influence or no buying power for what you have to sell, you better spend your marketing money elsewhere.
Concentrating efforts mainly in deciding what event to sponsor
Some companies do not make the mistakes mentioned in the previous paragraph. They spend a lot of time analyzing the best event in terms of audience, exposure, sponsorship mix offered etc. They have several discussions with the event’s organizers, they ask detailed question about audience, they require statistics on segmentation, participation and engagement rate for the last editions, they ask about the communications efforts and they make detailed SWOT analysis before deciding which event to sponsor.
If you are one on these companies, kudos to you! You are careful with your marketing mix and I respect that. What I could never understand, if why some companies stop here. It’s like choosing the perfect event, which matches greatly your goals, your audience, your well… everything, then don’t do anything else, because it’s enough. Well, I hate to spring this on you, but it’s not. If your intention is to promote and eventually sell products to other companies, just having banners at the location and your sponsor section on the website, will not help much in reaching your goals, (unless your only goal for said event is brand awareness, but this is another mistake in my opinion and I will talk about that later).
Make your presentation too sponsor-y (or not relevant for your audience)
You spent a lot of time and effort to have those people in front of you. You chose the event wisely so you are speaking to just the right audience. The organizers (and hopefully you too) did a wonderful job and the room is packed with decision makers that are looking to buy the kind of products that you are selling. All eyes are on you, expecting to spend the next hour actually learning something.
Then you start talking and, even you are funny and nice and charismatic, you speak only about what your company has to offer, about your products and, let’s be honest, in general, about you. I’ve seen a lot of yawning in conferences rooms during this hour, especially when also the funny, and the niceness and the charisma are missing. This is the hour in which you can create the most value for your audience and for your sales efforts. It’s maybe the most important moment of your event sponsorship, yet a lot or companies are failing it completely.
People are not going to events to hear sales pitches. Sure, they expect to receive some, to a certain extent, but mostly, they don’t want to. Use your sponsor presentation to share relevant content, real knowledge that your audience actually care about. If they are impressed with your presentation, they will come to you at networking time and ask about what you have to offer. That is the moment for the selling pitch, when people are coming willingly, curious to know more because you gave them some great food for thought during your presentation.
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If you want to find out about more mistakes in sponsoring events, read Episode II.