6 Ways to Maximize the Value of Your Next Sponsorship Opportunity

January 17, 2015

David Saef

David Saef, the executive vice president of MarketWorks and strategy at GES, a global event marketing company with a long history of connecting people through live events and trade shows.

Trade show sponsorships can be a uniquely effective marketing opportunity for your business. You have the chance to give thousands of prospective customers a personal experience, spread brand awareness through print materials and signage at the show, and even connect with partner brands that can help your customers use your products in new and exciting ways.

But you must have a plan to measure your return on investment, or you’ll never know whether your sponsorship delivered those benefits or if it’s worthwhile to continue. To quote William Edwards Deming, “In God we trust; all others bring data.”

While ROI is difficult to measure for event marketing, it is important to have quantifiable metrics of success for trade shows. If you don’t, you’re choosing to rely on subjective opinions, which is a risky proposition.

Determine What You Want to Achieve

Although the exact ROI of a trade show sponsorship can be hazy, you can measure your return on objectives (e.g., How many people did we engage?). Instead of showing up and hoping for the best, create goals before the show on what you hope to achieve.

If you’re just starting out with trade show sponsorships, your marketing objectives likely include factors such as audience engagement, lead generation, and brand perception. Here’s a short list of common metrics you might want to analyze to determine your ROO:

·         Target audience engagement: How many members of your target audience were exposed to your message?

·         Target audience activation: How many members of your target audience performed a desired action in response to your sponsorship?

·         Favorable impression: How many audience members had a favorable impression of your brand as a result of the experience?

·         Future audience: What percentage of your target audience is likely to include the company in future business opportunities?

·         Cost per acquired lead: Divide the sponsorship costs by the total number of leads generated.

By identifying criteria and following up to gauge performance, you’ll be able to identify which sponsorship opportunities are worth the investment and which are not.

Prepare Beforehand and Analyze Afterward

Once you identify the most useful metrics for your sponsorship opportunity, create a plan for maximizing them while at the show and evaluating your success afterward. Here are six ways to ensure you generate the largest ROO from the sponsorship.

Before the event:

·         Establish clear expectations. Don’t leave ROO to chance. Be honest with yourself about your goals and the number of leads you’ll need to generate to justify the sponsorship expense.

·         Negotiate your activities. Make sure your sponsorship activities focus on your target audience, capture leads, and provide a unique and exclusive experience for potential customers. If they won’t, speak to the event organizer to negotiate what you need.

·         Train your staff. Even companies that carefully plan sponsorship activities often fail to train their own staff to effectively attract and engage attendees. This step is critical to the success of the sponsorship and the impression you give potential customers.

After the event:

·         Gather feedback. Hindsight is 20/20, right? So use that insight to review your strategy and results with the event organizer — especially if you plan to continue the sponsorship. Make sure you both agree on appropriate steps to improve your ROO at the next event.

·         Reward your staff. Recognize and reward staff members who play an integral role in engaging customers and creating a unique and memorable experience. For staff members who didn’t perform well, consider hiring a coach to provide advice for increasing engagement.

·         Follow up with qualified leads. It doesn’t matter how many leads you get if you don’t follow up. Connect with attendees after the event by providing a summary of event outcomes or the results of a survey if you conducted one as part of the sponsorship.

Trade show sponsorships can be a great opportunity, but you must make sure you’re getting the results you expect. Take your ROO into your own hands by creating a set of customized criteria, measuring your success, and doing the work afterward to maximize the connections you made. With the right data and support from your staff, you can make sure each sponsorship opportunity is worthwhile.

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