09 Jan 2014 Making Sure Your Sponsors Get the Most for Their Money
While membership and conference dues provide a good portion of revenue for an association, Sponsorships and the companies who purchase them are a crucial part of running a strong membership or trade association. And while the sponsoring company generally has their own marketing personnel or at least plan, it is the job of the person managing the association and the sponsor relationship to make sure that the dollars being spent are helping the company as much as possible.
Here are a few common things I have noticed and simple mistakes that can be easily corrected.
Marketing Material/Promotional Give-Aways – One classic mistake I have seen is when there is not enough materials for the people at a particular event or conference. A company will spend their crucial marketing dollars on sponsoring a conference and then send over 80 copies of a whitepaper. Turns out there are 120 people at the conference, and they each want one – a very basic problem that can be solved but also a huge missed opportunity for the sponsor. An association manager should always communicate with the sponsor up until the last hours before an event the number of people attending and encourage the sponsoring company to send enough for all. Often times there is a disconnect in a larger company between the department or line of business purchasing the sponsorship and the ones who are actually sending out the materials. I suggest you make sure the one who is spending the dollars, that manager, knows how many people are coming and make sure that they work internally to get everything that is needed.
Setup of a Table or a Booth – I have been at events, often a regional evening event where a sponsor has purchased a table or a booth to sit outside the conference room right next to the registration table. But then the sponsor representative shows up halfway through or just as registration is starting. By the time they are ready half of the attendees are already inside and past the registration area – another missed opportunity. Always encourage sponsors to show up early or if that is not possible to send their materials ahead of time so the conference planner has time to setup their materials near the registration desk.
Collecting of Information – Membership Data is very valuable but also something that is entrusted with an association. Depending on the association’s policies – often that data is never given to a sponsor, as much as they might want it. However you should always make sure there is ample opportunity to be contacted if they want to be contacted and that the sponsors have a way for people to “opt-in”. One of the simplest ways of doing this is to suggest the sponsor raffles something off and has a bowl to collect business cards. Attendees know that by dropping of their card at a sponsors’ table, their info got to the sponsor directly and not through the association.
A one time sponsor is good, but a long term sponsor is great. Hopefully following a few of the simple steps above will create a win-win for everyone involved.