Here is a dose of reality. Unbiased, from an outside source – someone you’re not paying (or, you could be if you’re one of my clients, although they know this already!). Here is the chance for someone to be completely honest with you about your current sponsorship program. Eight years and countless sponsorship programs later (both good and bad) have provided me the intel I’ll share today.
#1. No One Sponsors “To Support the Organization”
Sure, it looks nice and makes everyone feel good, but sponsorship comes down to “If I spend x, I get 10x back”. Period, end of sentence. Sometimes you can get someone who is chairing something to sponsor, and yes, sometimes we sponsor our kid’s peewee baseball team. But, in the world of high-dollar sponsorships, if the sponsorship will not result in new business, it will not be a successful program.
#2. The Lanyard Sponsors are a Dying Breed
I’ve worked with groups who were nearly driven to fistfights over the “lanyard” sponsorship. I’ve seen multi-year waitlists! Over lanyards?! It’s crazy. But it’s the demand is beginning to die out, and I’ll explain why. Today’s marketing professionals demand thought leadership and ways to share their materials and intelligence. However, keep selling the lanyards in the meantime… if, they continue to sell. But, if key cards, coffee cups, and lanyards aren’t flying off the shelves, then evaluate your offerings and consider non-tangibles like speaking opportunities, white papers, etc.
#3. Price Based on Attendee
We all want to believe each member holds the same value to our organization – and, they do. However, in the sponsorship world, a regulatory member is not perceived as “valuable” as a purchaser or a CEO, therefore sponsorship programs and prices should be adjusted. If you have a meeting comprised of attendees from the regulatory space, the event is a harder sell. The companies that primarily sell to regulatory are fewer and far between. To sell sponsors for those meetings, price accordingly. In the meantime, any meetings where attendees are stroking a check, consider a price increase!
Sponsorship sales is a top revenue-growth opportunity for associations – and, so many are missing the boat here. There is always something to sell if you’re open to it. However, finding the right event, developing the very best offering, and aligning those with just the right sponsor are critical pieces of a successful campaign strategy. Hopefully, these pointers will help you get there.
Elizabeth Johnson is a Vice President at The Moery Company. For additional content by Elizabeth, check out Chasing the Chickens of Membership. Follow her on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.
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