Where some forms of marketing rise and fall with the times, sponsorship has remained a constant. The ability for brands to buy exposure whilst aligning themselves with the values of an event, individual, or institution, is appealing whether it be physical, online, or on mobile. In fact, according to the IEG 2015 Sponsorship Spending Report, global spend on sponsorship has grown from $48.6 billion in 2011 to $57.5 billion in 2015.
Traditionally, sponsorship has been dominated by sports companies, with 80% of sponsorship dollars going to sports in 1984, according to Aftermarket Advisor. But the landscape looks very different in 2016; the world of B2B marketing is ripe for sponsorship and events, in particular, are proving effective spaces to engage the target customer. Not to be confused with advertising, sponsorship allows a company association with the event in question and often means direct, face-to-face engagement.
Event sponsorship in particular can be productive and worthwhile for most brands, yet many still expect it to yield results regardless of how they approach it. Engagement varies wildly depending on a number of key decisions sponsors have to make prior to the event itself. Here are the top three things it’s key to consider so that your brand can be among the resounding successes of event sponsorship:
Choose the right event
The most obvious and most important thing to ensure is that the event your brand sponsors is right for you. It’s no use sponsoring an event - no matter how popular the event may be - that has no relevance to your brand, particularly within the B2B space. Before sponsoring any event, know what the attendee demographic looks like, what they want, and whether they align with your brand’s target audience. That way, you can be sure that your brand adds something meaningful to the event. Make sure, also, that the event represents the way your brand wants to present itself culturally.
It doesn’t stop at the attendees, though. It’s important that you and your team like both the way in which the event is run and the people running it. A positive relationship makes the entire process more smooth, as both the event organisers and the sponsors are looking to make money while bringing value to the attendees.
Take your best people
B2B events will have multiple sponsors, usually in close proximity with each other, looking to engage with the attendees - cutting through the noise can be difficult. It’s important, then, that sponsors take their best people to promote their brand at events. Your delegates should be absolutely clear on the brand’s goals, its product, and the type of attendee it wants to focus on. For maximum engagement, ensure you take your best salespeople and most knowledgable employees - they have the best chance of connecting with attendees in one-on-one engagement.
Too many brands make the mistake of just throwing money at an event and expecting the ROI to build itself. Having a brand presence will passively spread the word, but event sponsorship is often a case of getting out what you put in. The difference between effective sponsorship and simply cutting a check is engaging with the event before and after it takes place - post on social media about the event in the buildup, put the event’s logo on your wider digital marketing output, and take photos at the event to share afterwards. Active public engagement with the event is good for both the event and the sponsor - the profile of both is raised.
Consider bringing giveaways and spend time and money putting together your pitch. The more superficial elements of sponsorship are drivers of the real value - one-to-one engagement with delegates from industry leading companies. Aligning your brand with an event and engaging with its attendees could be the source of the next big sale for your company, just make sure its done right to see the biggest ROI.