At this point, most marketers will understand the opportunities presented by event sponsorship. By giving brands the chance to get in front of their potential customers - where they can demo products, give face-to-face sales pitches, offer samples, etc. - events can be one of the most effective lead generation strategies when done right. A big part of the success of any event sponsorship venture, though, is the choice of event being sponsored; this may sound simplistic, but it’s amazing how many marketing teams get this wrong.
Ideally, you want an event which will see as many people in attendance that fit with your ideal buyer personas as possible. The first thing to do is to make sure that you and your team fully understand what that target demographic or firmographic actually is. From this, you can get an idea of the kinds of events that will have your target customer in attendance, and from there you can plan your event sponsorship strategy more widely. You will undoubtedly be aware of the biggest events in your field and, if you have the marketing budget to pull it off, getting your brand on the bill at a major event can work wonders for your lead generation efforts.
You should never underestimate the value of exclusivity, though. Some of the largest events can end up having so many high-profile sponsors that they end up becoming something closer to a trade show. At these, attendee attention is split by so many different vendors that making any meaningful impact can be difficult. Invite only or ticketed events are generally better at avoiding this as they rely less heavily on sheer footfall and, particularly in the B2B space, tend to make more ‘decision makers’ present.
So, exposure and value are both things you need to consider and balance. Exposure to low value audiences (for your business) will be unhelpful, as will only very limited exposure to high-profile or relevant audiences, but there will be events out there that strike a balance. Getting in front of the right audience is vital, so pick an event that can offer attendee lists or previous attendee demographics to ensure that you are getting the most out of your money.
One good example of the importance of demographics in sponsorships was provided by Campaign. Earlier this year, they looked at the rugby 6 Nations tournament, the sports biggest annual international competition. The tournament is attractive on the most basic metrics - it has a TV audience of over 125 million and is broadcast in some 190+ countries worldwide - but it also has a deeper value if you take a closer look at the demographics that engage with it.
Crucially, rugby fans are an affluent demographic. According to Campaign they have an average income of at least 20% higher than the rest of the UK, and ’71% are social grade AB and they’re more likely to convert across key sectors such as business, finance, and automotive.’ This means that getting in front of a rugby audience is more valuable for businesses in those sectors than it would be to get in front of a soccer audience, for example (though the gap between the two is shrinking). Campaign also identified that the rugby audience is more willing to share rugby-related content on their social channels, making them a more valuable asset to engage than other groups.
In this case, then, businesses looking to sponsor events could sponsor a sports analytics event, a live rugby event, or any other event expected to strike the same demographic. All marketing teams should apply a similar logic when choosing which events to pitch up at. Find out what your target audience is, where that audience is most likely to be, and which events are going to provide the highest number of them. Event sponsorship can be an incredibly effect lead gen tool, but only if you choose the right ones.