April 01, 2001
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio April 2001 Current Issue
April 2001 Back to BasicsPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:

Back to Basics

By Chip G. Stockton, CMP


Organizations can help underwrite an event through staggered levels of sponsorship

Sponsorships of meals, services and other event elements are economic necessities for many conferences. Before your organization begins soliciting these angels for the first time, it’s important to define levels of support, what is expected from sponsors and what they will get for their money.

For an event of about 750 attendees and 100 exhibitors, the following guidelines have worked well. For comparison’s sake, exhibit space runs about $30 per square foot, and it is based on that price that all levels of sponsorship and trades are made.

Our conferences, most of which involve the computer industry, offer organizations and publications the option of becoming co-sponsors, cooperating sponsors or “in participation with” sponsors.

Co-sponsors are expected to offer services, products or advertising trades valued at $15,000 or more per event. They may be involved with developing the program by reviewing papers, supplying speakers, organizing sessions and/or participating in development committees. Because the computer industry is so competitive, we have to limit co-sponsors to a few noncompeting periodicals, organizations or associations for each event, chosen on a first-come, first-served basis.

We presume that our co-sponsors have substantial direct interest in ensuring the success of an event, and therefore we expect them to provide more of their technical expertise and networking muscle than lesser sponsors. Most important is the co-sponsors’ help in promoting the conference, in the form of advertising space in their periodicals, editorial write-ups, listings in calendars of events, co-promotion at other events, help with mailing list sorts and mailing services as needed.

Cooperating sponsors are expected to offer services similar to those of the co-sponsors, but in value from $7,500 to $15,000. They are asked for promotional help but are not required to provide committee participants or speakers.

“In participation with” sponsors pay up to $7,500 to support activities, souvenirs, giveaways or trade-outs. For them, it’s an opportunity to show an interest in the subject of the conference without a substantial investment.

Of course, potential sponsors do not offer to support an event without some quid pro quo. Over the years, we’ve developed various offerings.

All sponsors are listed, logos included, in publicity before and during the conference. This includes appearing in the call for papers, the advance program, advance announcements, all press releases and the final conference program. Co-sponsors and cooperating sponsors also receive a Web site listing and banner; information about them appears in the conference proceedings book of white papers, the final program and other event-related materials, including e-mail and Internet announcements.

In addition, co-sponsors and cooperating sponsors get a free 10-by-10-foot space on the exhibit floor. They are also provided with up to 500 complimentary VIP exhibit-only cards, which they can imprint with their own logos.

Co-sponsors can rent up to two additional booths for a 25 percent discount. They also can be the exclusive sponsor of one conference event or giveaway. Cooperating sponsors can underwrite one conference event or giveaway as well, but on a nonexclusive basis.

Co-sponsors get a few more perks: Their materials and souvenirs are included in registration packets at no cost, and their names appear on all conference signage.

All sponsors receive the final attendee mailing list so they can continue their marketing efforts after the event.

Chip G. Stockton, CMP, is an independent planner specializing in high-tech and computer events for Conference Concepts in Poway, Calif.

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