Today’s question is simple question yet very important, “How do I sell in-person event sponsorships and exhibits in 2021?”
Before I answer, here are some observations.
Events are going to face significant headwinds. Your organization may or may not be holding the meeting in person and, if so, it may be smaller. The event may also be in a different place than you originally planned it to be. Can the hotel accommodate that event as it did in the past? The format is probably going to be different and so will the size of the event. There’s uncertainty. Another thing to consider is the return of corporate travel. Will it be common in 2021? I’m not sure if your large vendors, suppliers, and corporate members are going to allow their people to travel.
All of this adds up to a challenge for sales. The main challenge is risk. Sales is about removing risk. If people feel comfortable, they don’t think there’s risk involved. If they don’t feel comfortable, if they believe that they may be making a bad decision, your barrier to get them to buy something from you is significant.
2021 sponsorships and events are ripe full of risks and we have to be able to lower them. So, how do we do it?
1. No obligations if the meeting is cancelled or moved to a virtual format. Don’t put them on the hook if things change.
2. Provide an option to convert to another program if the format of the event changes. Make sure that you provide an option that’s perceived to be even better than the original. One benefit could be membership.
3. Provide variety in your sponsorship prospectus. Include items such as podcasts, videos, and virtual events. Make your prospectus less reliant on in-person programs.
The things listed above begin to remove the perceived risks associated with in-person meetings next year.
The most important thing to do is to remove the obligation to sponsor if you change the format of your meeting; let your partners off the hook. Your sponsors are no longer the folks that underwrites your food and beverage costs. They are now your business partners. Reduce their risk and you will have a chance because they want to do business with your members. You’ve got to give them the opportunity to do so.
Become their business partner and I know that you will see success.