In-person events encompass a multitude of options. From massive tradeshows to intimate meet-up groups, the scale and audience range is diverse. Evaluating what is right for your company within your industry is critical for these, especially because events can carry a hefty price tag.
The most important factor of events is knowing your audience, and knowing what events they go to. Sponsoring a polo match versus a NASCAR race are two completely separate worlds and you need to know which ones to choose to market your brand. Finding sponsorships for B2C companies are a bit less tricky than B2B, but are nevertheless still challenging. Here are a view options or sponsorships to consider for all types and levels, resources permitting of course.
Professional organizations’ chapter meetings are typically more intimate and focused on a professional topic. Most people attend these for career advice and educational opportunities and do not like being sold to. However, they do appreciate refreshments and snacks. From sponsoring the food, to providing a meeting location, to making an in-kind donation, local and regional groups are a great place to display your content, and people are appreciative of your support. Not only is your business recognized, but you also create a favorable opinion among attendees and members. In addition, you can gain insight to potential customers, learn more about what they’re really interested in, and build relationships with them.
Hosting events is a great way to gather a group of people you want to get a message out to. Whether you want it to be a professional meeting or summit or a relaxed gala, be prepared for the needs and expectations of the people you invite. Launch parties, foundation fundraisers and leadership summits are typical examples of this.
Networking events also usually have a smaller crowd or venue. Similar to chapter meetings, there is a common interest. However, people are there to network; specifically to make new business connections. This is a great opportunity to promote products and services, and connect with people on a personal level. People do not go to a networking event and expect to sit in the corner all night. (Although I have seen it before – free food and drinks will get turnout.) The key is to find people who you could have a mutually beneficial relationship with, whether it be a future customer, partner or employee. And don’t forget about maintaining relationships as well. With your content marketing strategy in place, there is plenty of new information to share about your business. Sponsoring these events is also an option
Speaking or presenting is usually reserved for thought leaders and experts, but again, think about the scale of opportunity. Small events need speakers too and may not be able to pay. Being in front of a captivated audience for a period of time, regardless of size, is something any marketer should jump at. If you don’t have the charm or confidence to be an engaging speaker or presenter, think of who you could ask within your company.
As with the other events, keep your audience in mind. If they came to learn about a certain topic, or even if you’re a speaker for entertainment, that’s what you should talk about. A speaking engagement can turn sour quickly. For example, at a recent conference I attended, the keynote was more like a 90-minute commercial for that speaker’s product. The Twittersphere was rampant with insults, and let’s just say that even though I am actually interested in genealogy, I will not be joining that specific site to track my family history.
It’s can also be flattering to be offered a speaking position. If this is a route you take, don’t let your ego get in the way and forget about the fundamentals for your business.
Tradeshow and conference exhibition is what many people think about when sponsorships and events. These shows are elaborate, take a lot of planning, and come with a hefty price tag. This is definitely a case where you need to have a content marketing strategy in place in order to maximize your opportunity. Working a booth is not what it used to be. Of course you want to engage people and get their contact information, but just like the approach to marketing has changed from push to pull, so has exhibiting at tradeshows. Audiences are starting to change and the booths that genuinely interest them with either a game or content is where they’ll spend time.
Don’t forget that just because many of these options require a sponsorship package, it doesn’t mean just being an attendee with no sponsorship isn’t valuable. Many times if you have limited personnel resources, it’s almost better not to have a static booth or table at a show. You are not required to focus on being at or working the booth, and you can engage in conversations with other people. Find a session that relates to your product or service and strike up a conversation with other attendees.
With any of these events, there is one common factor: you need to have a goal when you sign up for it. Events can be a whirlwind, and you don’t want your money, time or effort to be a waste because you were overwhelmed. Make sure you also send the right person (or people) to represent you if you’re exhibiting. The right people aren’t always the most boisterous sales people. Maybe a technical person should go because the attendees will be technical minded and need to communicate. And of course, make sure to have the content available for attendees. Whether you have flyers, books, or QR codes, you need to make sure you get that information in the hands (or on the mobile devices) of your audience.