At Tito I speak with conference organisers every day and one of the main talking points is sponsorship sales. Be it a well established tech event or a one off charity function, get a big sponsorship client on-board early on and you can ride the momentum all the way till opening day. Get it wrong and you’ll be flying home cattle class with nothing but shattered dreams and a suitcase full of unused lanyards. With that in mind here are a few tips I have picked up over the years that will help you land that perfect patron.
1. No más to PDFs
For my mind placing a sponsorship PDF on your site does not set the pulse racing nor engage the prospect. It feels impersonal and gives me the vibe you are not willing to go the extra mile. Same goes for embedded forms where the user must fill out a form like a regular Joe. Your potential sponsor is a VIP. Treat them as such by publishing the name and email of your sponsorship lead, a good example of this can be found here from the team behind Voxburner and the successful YMS conference series.
2. Get me a real doctor
Sponsorship sales is a job for the grown ups. Handing over prospects to junior staff will lead to nothing more than a burned lead list. I have found there is a certain level of experience required to speak with C-level type prospects so organisers should be hitting the phones and stalking LinkedIn profiles. Only professional sadists enjoy making cold calls but unfortunately it is part and parcel of running a successful event. If you are expecting the sponsor to open the cheque book then the organisers should be directly involved. Embrace the challenge, it is only going to make you a stronger person, plus you’ll finally appreciate Glengarry Glen Ross.
3. You can have any color, as long as it’s black
Perusing the sponsorship landing page should be a stress free experience so try and keep the sponsorship options nice and simple. I get confused when I see lists of package levels from platinum level, gold level all the way down to pig iron level. By curating your options the sponsor can focus on the core offerings of your conference. Ideally you will have a tonne of secret add-ons that personalize the package and make the sponsor feel like a million bucks.
4. Logo on your website, no dice
Following on from the above, it is time to get creative with how the sponsors interact with your attendees. Banging a logo on your event website is great but for me I am interested in something more. Think how your sponsor can engage with the attendee, preferably by getting their product/service in a real use case. It conveys a sense of legitimacy and character for your sponsors rather than the in your face hard sell some organisers pitch sponsors at. Heroku pulled this off with great success very effectively by gifting credit to attendees to add to their accounts, whether they were existing customers or not.
5. When it comes to data analysis, I Excel
For organisers with a couple events under their belt a bank of attendee data is there to be analysed. There is no need to be overly clever, I will always be interested in the standard metrics such as demographics, social media footprint and potential reach. Testimonials of previous sponsors alongside ROI stats goes a long way to sealing the deal. The organisers at NEXT Conference layout wonderful visuals which sum up their data and who their attendees are.
6. It’s cool to be in-kind
Sponsorship is not always all about a cash injection or giveaway. Your typical conference involves an army of third party vendors and there may be a cross over of target markets well worth exploring. With Tito I am always open to discussing sponsorship opportunities and find it a cost efficient marketing play. It also means I can support fantastic community led conferences that need a helping hand, same too goes for charities.
7. Noah’s Arcade presents Wayne’s World
Quality not quantity is the mantra here. Although it may hurt your pockets in the short term it will serve you well in the long run. Your sponsors have to share common interests with the attendees otherwise they both lose out. Common sense yes but a mistake that is made time and again by organisers.
Karl McCarthy - Tito, Head of Expansion