You've sealed the deal and collected the checks. Here's how to provide visibility that will please sponsors and encourage their continued support.
• Praise publicly. Verbally acknowledge key sponsors in introductory remarks. Display the names of sponsors in visible spots around the event, via banners and signs. During receptions or meals, show slides or video loops listing sponsors.
• Spread the word. Create a section of the show directory that lists sponsors and/or add a sponsor "thanks" page to the event app.
• Give them perks. Thank sponsors at a private reception held during the event. Make it even more exclusive by inviting top clients and other VIPs to the reception, giving sponsors unique access.
• Send a letter. Always send a personal note of thanks. Be sure to outline why the sponsorship was important and how you valued their participation, recommends Holmdel, N.J.-based trade show consultant Sylvia Allen. - L.A.G.
Editor's note: For even more fresh sponsorship ideas, click here
Traditional sponsorship opportunities -- signs, banners, show directories, to name a few -- still have their place, but why stop there? Show organizers are finding new ways to bolster their coffers by helping companies impress their target audience.
On the following pages, M&C rounds up 10 of the freshest ways to secure sponsors for meetings and events.
1. Event apps. These are attractive vehicles for sponsors to support. Opportunities for sponsorship include the splash page (opening page) of the app or certain functions (show map, schedules, etc.). Or, sponsors might buy banner ads that appear in sections of the app.
"Sponsors like apps because they can determine how many users viewed the app or clicked their ad," notes Donna Kastner, director, expo/sponsor sales and activation, at Twinsburg, Ohio-based Velvet Chainsaw Consulting. However, she warns event organizers to keep the users in mind. "Don't get too money-hungry and line up 17 sponsors; it can jeopardize your attendees' app experience.
Users can get turned off and even stop using the app if there are too many ads to click through," she says.
Also consider whether the convention facility has enough bandwidth to support all potential users during the show. If not, even that scenario can be turned into a sponsorship opportunity: Kastner says a firm can sponsor a code, embedded within the app, that gives users faster connections and the ability to view videos via a higher bandwidth. Users access the code by clicking into the sponsor's ad.
For a detailed look at best practices on app design and usage, go to here.
2. Interactive walls. New high-tech display walls are drawing crowds at events. Among the most innovative is the 10-foot-high interactive graffiti wall from 3D Media Group (3d-mediagroup.com), where up to four attendees at a time can electronically create messages or even artwork. Images can be printed on the spot as a giveaway, further extending the marketing opportunity.
The interactive video wall from PSAV (psav.com) works like an iPad. The wall, available in sizes of up to 11 feet high, is equipped with 32 touch points that can be used to display maps, games, presentations and schedules, all of which can be sponsored.
Both walls also have the ability to digitally display any sponsor's name and logo.
3. Charging stations. Even on a crowded trade show floor, charging stations for portable electronic devices get noticed and usually are in great demand. Potential sponsors will recognize the high visibility of signage on such a well-used resource. Among firms that rent out kiosks specifically for this function is SmartSource Computer & Audio Visual Rentals (smartsourcerentals.com).
A word of caution: It's a good idea to post a notice on each kiosk that clearly states that individual users are responsible for any devices left unattended, suggests Melinda Kendall, vice president of business solutions at The Freeman Co., based in Dallas.
4. Wi-Fi . Wi-Fi charges can be a big expense for planners. Jeremy Luski, director of event operations for New York City-based Breakbulk Magazine & Events, often has Wi-Fi connectivity covered by a sponsor. "They get the recognition by having their logo on the login page," he says, "as well as on a chip we hand out during registration, which displays the login code on one side and the sponsor's logo on the other."
5. QR-code games. Games and scavenger hunts that make use of QR codes, which attendees scan with their smartphones or tablets, increasingly are becoming popular components of trade shows. For each code scanned, users get a clue that leads them to the booth of a sponsor. Attendees who complete the hunt typically earn some type of small prize or are entered in a drawing for a larger prize (which also can be sponsored).
The best of these hunts, says Freeman's Melinda Kendall, at some point requires participants to engage directly with a live sponsor. "Don't let scanning codes be the only requirement of the hunt," she advises. "It's better to require the attendees to get answers to trivia questions by talking directly from someone in the booth."
That's how Angela Mootz, membership services director at the Austin-based Texas Society of Association Executives, operates QR-code scavenger hunts at her organization's events. "I think smaller exhibitors really appreciate it, since it gives them more traffic than they typically would get," she says.
A number of firms can create such activities; Mootz uses Scanvenger Hunt (scanvengerhunt.biz).