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Set Your Event Sponsors & Exhibitors Up For Success

Your event has a lot of moving parts. Finding and booking your speakers, creating great content for your attendees, handling the (often nightmarish) logistics of parking, “feeding the 5,000”, and so much more. The sponsors at an event though, are more integral to its success than many realize. A healthy exhibitor hall creates a buzz, happy sponsors will build strong relationships and create revenue, and a well-varied mix of relevant companies represented will add to the value of your event-goers. We’re here to help you check off those boxes to make sure you are creating the best possible experience for everyone involved.

Don’t just offer the ever so common “booth + slide + flyer” package, even though that may feel like the easy way to go. Be intentional. Think through the process. Make sure there is a “why” behind every “what”.

  1. Get creative with your sponsorship offerings.
  • Evaluate the physical layout of your event. Try not to get caught in the trap of setting everyone up in the main lobby. Do you have a special area where lunches are served? Are there areas of high foot traffic? Would sponsor banners or signage work in certain locations? Do you offer breakout classes? Walk yourself through your entire event, think about what makes your event unique, and ask yourself what you could do in different spaces to enhance the event experience and your exhibitor visibility.
  • Review other types of exposure. Commercials, conference slides, and program guide ads will always have a place at your event, as well they should. But why stop there? If you send reminder emails or surveys to your attendees, add an optional sponsor blurb. Offering access to a wireless network? Name it after a partner. Have an event App? Make it sponsored. Stage announcements, Q&A interviews with key vendors, sponsored lunches or classes, and raffle giveaways are some other ways to increase exposure, as well as your bottom line.

Your vendors are busy, and many times will not become 100% engaged until weeks or even days before your event. Keep in mind that this is YOUR event, and thus it is YOUR responsibility to keep everyone in the know.

2. Over-Communicate!

  • Early and often. You sent an email out 6 months ago with the “requirements of the physical booth space”, yet when an exhibitor shows up at the event with a banner that is too large, or items that may not pass the fire code; these are issues that becomes your problem. This also creates a negative first impression for your vendor, setting the stage for a not-so-great event in their eyes. Take it upon yourself to send the information that they need in bite-sized, easy to digest portions. Don’t be afraid to send and resend the details that they may need; and requiring confirmation or feedback along the way will only help things run more smoothly come “game-day”. You can even create a streamlined registration page like this one.
  • There’s no harm in repetition. As the old adage goes: Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.
  • Request feedback. While this may fall under the “post-event communication” category, it is really the first step in next year’s planning. Find out what worked, what didn’t, and address each area accordingly.

Whether or not your sponsors have a good experience and come back next year largely depends on their expectations vs. their results. Making sure they get what they pay for will ensure more sponsor competition and a higher return rate.

3. Provide adequate value.

  • Ask yourself: What are they paying for? An exhibitor that purchases a booth isn’t buying that booth location; they are buying foot traffic, solid conversations, and face to face interactions with your attendees. A sponsor that buys a link and a mention in your conference newsletter is really paying for branding, link clicks and web traffic.
  • Would you buy it? Put yourself in their shoes, if you were looking to promote your event, which opportunities would offer value, and which would be easy to pass on? If something stands out as a great deal (or a bad one) make adjustments so that those distinctions become more difficult to make.
  • Offer flexible exposure options. While fixed vendor packages or levels are a great way to standardize sponsor exposure and create some easy systems and guidelines, being open-minded has it’s benefits. In addition to your standard levels, allow for custom packages, or even à la carte offerings so that your vendors can create a unique sponsorship that they believe will yield the best possible outcome.

Keep in mind that all of these tips must be done well in advance of your event, so make sure to apply the appropriate amount of time planning. If you are creative with your sponsorship options, clear consistent with your communication, and ensure that your offerings add value, your sponsors will be sure to thank you!