Traditional event marketing at trade shows, sporting events, nonprofit events and conferences helps sponsors and exhibitors advertise services or products will help make customers’ lives better/easier/more fun. They have less than 30 seconds to attract potential customers/leads into an area to showcase their company’s services or products; then they have less than three minutes to convince them they want to know more. Event marketing is widely considered to give companies and sales teams the best ROI of any other marketing channel, but decreased attendance has made exhibitor booths and sponsorships a tough sell in this economy.
That is why, along with traditional event marketing concepts, event organizers also must offer a solid online marketing campaign to bolster what is offered at the face-to-face event. Paramount to making a successful match is finding companies that truly offer items and services that your attendees need and providing multiple ways for partners to communicate that synchronicity.
To attract more exhibitors and sponsors to your event (and create new revenue streams), think about incorporating the following into the marketing packages you offer for your events:
- Create an area to display sponsors’/exhibitors’ logos and Web site links on the event’s Web site, appropriately tiered to their sponsorship level or amount of investment in your event. Create advertising banners on the site that may be purchased at an additional cost. The Web site for the Kentucky Derby is a good example of how organizers are maximizing online advertising opportunities and helping attendees find related social networks, where sponsors and exhibitors may also engage attendees.
- Allow sponsors or exhibitors to co-sponsor a webinar or online seminar that will reach your audience before or after the event to maximize their exposure.
- If your event has a nonprofit element, such as an auction or other fundraising opportunity, ask sponsors or exhibitors for donations. Not only will it help them underscore their commitment to causes important to your attendees; their company can claim a tax-deductible expense.
- Offer to create a co-branded content site that drives attendees from your event Web site to additional educational resources, sponsored by your event exhibitors or sponsors.
- Set up an online matchmaking system, like 3-Way Street, that allows attendees to select which sponsors and exhibitors they would like to make time to see during the event, and vice-versa. Ask invitees who cannot attend the event if they’d be interested in meeting with any of your exhibitor/sponsors while they’re in town.
If you think about incorporating creative, multi-touch ways to connect your exhibitors and sponsors with your attendees, you’ll have an easier time selling your event to potential partners. Because even though they may intuitively understand that event marketing delivers more bang for the buck than other marketing channels, they need to know that you’re doing your best to help them succeed when they invest money in your event.
The Practical Guide to Meeting Planning
Pages of handy-dandy checklists of essential items and best practices.