I know a lot of associations are very concerned with the decline in sponsorship revenue. I don’t know if you’re going to be able to replace it with some of these new opportunities, however, I want to give you some thoughts on how to do it.
Currently, a lot of associations are converting some of their content delivery, moving parts of their annual meeting online. We’re going to see some great new practices in that area! And sponsors are looking for those chances. It’s a missed opportunity if you’re not trying to deliver some content through a platform like Zoom, GoToMeeting, FreeConferenceCall.com, or other. Doing so raises the profile and the value of the association in front of your industry. It also provides valuable opportunities for the sponsors to get out in front of the audience that they value anyway. Those opportunities have really shrunk for them. It is especially true if you cancelled your in-person meeting.
I really like the opportunity to move the investment into webinars to deliver programming and utilizing your sponsors. First and foremost, I would get a collective group of your sponsors together to talk to them before you actually design the opportunity. See what their capacity is, what their expertise is, and if they are already delivering online webinars. This will allow you to understand what your sponsors are already capable of. Then, I would restructure the pricing program and be thoughtful about what you’re going to provide them. Are you going to give them lists? Is there going to be an ad in the middle of the webinar? Are there going to be bookend advertisements during the webinar? Will a member of that sponsor team speak? These are the things you need to think through. Next, I would consider reevaluating and loosening up your association’s thought leadership protocol regarding sponsors speaking at your events. You can call them bonus sessions, if you want. Just do something. My guess is these folks have a great deal of content and they would like to share it with your audience. Now is the chance if you don’t do it currently to trial it out. You may realize that nobody’s hair caught on fire because the sponsor spoke.
And then, finally, follow closely what other associations are doing in the area of one-on-one meetings. I’m watching an association that is having joint meetings between the supplier, or the vendor, and some of their core members and facilitating those partnerships. I’ll give you some thoughts on those best practices as I see that program start to develop for you.
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