The benefits of event sponsorship are numerous. Getting your message out there - through a 20-minute keynote, a Q&A session, a fireside chat with one of your clients - is an essential part of growing any business, and access to a room of decision-making executives is of enormous value to both large and small companies. People like to leverage events because it's an opportunity not just for interaction but for keeping the industry up to date with what’s happening with your brand.
It’s difficult to get executives out of their offices for the day but, when they do, they want to meet people. This is precisely why events represent an unparalleled value proposition to businesses of all sizes. Execs receive more email pitches a day than you could ever want to read. Events are the only place you can get face-to-face time with numerous decision-makers and really engage with a number of different people.
Getting a solid ROI from them isn’t as straightforward as you might think, though. Having a booth at an event will give you exposure, sure, but it’s not a case of ‘If you build it, they will come.’ A few flyers might be read and a few important people might recognise your brand when they see a list of potential solutions, but ultimately more is needed to make a lasting impression.
Preparation is key. Essentially, the more you put into an event sponsorship package, the more you’ll get out of it. Simple things like looking into the attendee list for the event - which most events companies will make available to you ahead of time - and make a wish list of the executives you’re looking to engage with over the course of the event, can have a huge difference on the success of your investment. Once you have your attendee list, do some research. Find out where the attendees’ companies are based, the size of their profits, the areas they’re moving into, the capabilities they already have in-house - once you have all of this information you can develop a pitch tailored for each individual exec.
Once at the event, it’s crucial to throw yourselves into it. Firstly send your best people; the more charming and knowledgable the salesperson, the more attendees will take away from your pitches or presentations. Following this, it pays to get involved with discussions both in person and online. Having an active voice on the social around the executive forum can further your brand’s reach. Engage with event hashtags, join any relevant LinkedIn groups, and act as a correspondent for the event.
Before heading out to an event, you should also have a good look at the agenda. You should know who’s speaking when, if your competitors are speaking, if your clients are speaking, and crucially exactly when the breaks are. The breaks are your time to engage the audience candidly, to give a pitch whilst also building a rapport. Stage time is one thing, but face-to-face communication is unbeatable - schedule meetings during the coffee breaks and have your people engaging with attendees where possible. Knowing the topics is also a must; your pitch should be about aligning your brand with the topics being discussed at the event. This means refining your pitch based on the agenda and identifying problems highlighted in presentations that your brand can solve.