How to Utilize the Data You’re Already Collecting on Your Sponsors

February 23, 2017

Cathy Hopkins

Cathy Hopkins is an Associate Marketing Analyst with the GES MarketWorks team, providing research and assisting with creating, implementing and analyzing various client and internal studies. 

Sponsorship data has been a hot topic for years and continues to play an important role in the events and exhibitions industry. It’s clear that sponsorships are here to stay! Which is why it’s so important to learn how to utilize collected data so you can make informed business decisions. Most event professionals recognize the importance of data collection, but they also know and understand how overwhelming it can be if processes are not set in place.

Chances are you are collecting sponsor data every year at your shows, such as: Who’s coming? What are they sponsoring? How much are they contributing? If you haven’t already, combining your year-over-year data is a great way to start recognizing trends and patterns. Are your top sponsors returning to your show every year? Do you have several smaller sponsors who attend once and never return?

To start getting answers and gathering insights backed by data, follow these tips:

1. Consolidate your data

The most important, but sometimes daunting first step is to organize and consolidate your data. Look for duplicates in company name, sponsorship levels and all naming conventions. For example, if you have data from ABC Company, Inc. and ABC Company Incorporated, combine these two fields so the data is in one place. Spreadsheets are an efficient way to organize large amounts of data. The goal is to have all similar data in one place, in the same format, with the same data fields.

2. Identify loyal sponsors

Now that you have all of your data combined, you can start segmenting your sponsors. To better understand relationships and create targeted messages, determine the degree of loyalty per each sponsor. Segment companies and organizations that come to your event every year and break out repeat and non-repeat sponsors. You may also notice a large number of sponsors who participate only once and never return. Once you have groups, make note of any similarities. Perhaps your loyal sponsors are all involved in the same sponsorship offering. Their loyalty can be a reflection of the value in that sponsorship.

3. Determine sponsorship spend levels

The GES MarketWorks’ Sponsorship 2020 research initiative uncovered that 61 percent of exhibitors feel that sponsoring an event in which they are exhibiting is important. That leaves 39 percent who need to be more aware of the value sponsorships bring. Gauge the value perception of your current sponsors by grouping them into spending tiers. Your largest sponsors will likely be the most loyal while your smaller sponsors will be less consistent. Note the effort required to retain your smaller sponsors. You may find that cultivating your mid-level sponsor tiers produces a greater return. Notice any other trends within your tier groupings concerning booth size and types of activities being sponsored. Once you establish a baseline of your sponsorship offerings, you can try new things and see what resonates. Also, recognize what’s not working and remove those offerings.

4. Consider outside factors

Data can be a great starting point for determining the success of your sponsorship program, but sometimes an additional explanation is required. The economy, show location and a number of other factors can affect your sponsorship success. Consider surveying your sponsors for a deeper dive or partner with another company or third party to strategize the best way to gather sponsor feedback. Show audits, interviews and focus groups can provide insights to supplement the findings from your data.

5. Tailor your messaging and make changes

Put your newly organized data into action! Consider sending specific marketing messages to different sponsor segments. Reward and nurture your loyal sponsors. Include compelling and relevant insights when you ask previous sponsors to come back to your show. Update your offerings based on your findings.

Your sponsorship program should evolve as your sponsors’ needs evolve. Combining your data and identifying the changes each year will provide the foundation for your evolution.

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