For exhibiting success: Think like a sponsor

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Posted by , 23rd January 2018

Think like a sponsor and improve your exhibiting results

Last week’s post highlighted a success mindset that could help you succeed when you exhibit. A way of thinking that would motivate not only yourself, but the colleagues working with you at the show.

Today, I want to alert you to another way of thinking that will also generate big results. The secret sauce is this; think like you were the sponsor of the show no matter how big or small your stand is.

What does the word “sponsorship” conjure-up?

What comes to mind for most people when they think of sponsorship is a company’s name emblazoned around a venue. Many consumer exhibitions have headline sponsors. You see their name on advertisements, on banners and screens at the venue. Their name may also be on the ticket you print out in advance of the show.

Sponsorship conjures-up brand domination, brand awareness and …. big expenditure by the sponsor. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

The sponsor’s mindset

A sponsor wants to get the biggest bang for their buck. They want their brand to be highly visible. Basically, they want everyone attending the show to see their name, whether that’s the company, product or service name or a combination of all three.  They may also want visitors, maybe not all, to visit their stand, sit in on a demo or take a sample away with them.

Let’s go back one step. Why are they a sponsor of the event? Because the profile of the attendance marries with the people that they most want to influence in some way. No mystery there but it is the important detail that triggers that sponsorship spend.

The sponsorship mindset for you

Think of your exhibiting fee as a sponsorship fee. Then bring the sponsors mindset to your show preparation. Now things look more serious. There is more importance placed on your show participation. You actually see all of the costs in perspective and realise that even on a small stand a substantial investment is being made. You need to make the very most of this investment.

Before we look at how you might do that, consider the true cost of the investment.

The cost of your show presence is not just the cost of your stand space. You will need a stand even if this is a shell scheme. You will need exhibits. You may need to pay for their shipping. Graphics or digital screens or both may also be required. A power supply. Lights, possibly data. And people to be on the stand. Their time is a cost plus there is travel and hotels to allow for too.

The costs alone should highlight this is a serious exercise apart from any sales goals you may have been given to achieve. What next?

Talk with your sponsorship provider

Your “sponsorship” provider is the organiser of the show, regardless of the size of your stand.

Event sales people are the gateway to other parts of an organisation that could help you significantly increase the return that you get from their event. Bring your sponsorship thinking to your negotiation with an organiser right from the very start. Here are some items you could discuss with them.

The objectives that your business has for their event. How can the organiser help you achieve them? Feature areas within the show: How can your company contribute to one or more of these?

What about opportunities for content distribution in advance of the show? Or speaking opportunities? And how can the organising company help promote your presence in advance of the event?

Ideally, these are questions that are asked and answered before you officially book into a show. Just like a sponsor.

Promote. Promote. Promote.

Sponsors as has already been mentioned, tend to have their logos appearing in lots of places before the show. That’s not a happy accident. Their sponsorship packages include a menu of options for this. It’s part of the deal that is offered to them.

You won’t have a deal like this offered to you as a standard part of your exhibiting package. You will have to create your own promotional plan instead. But that’s not a big problem, if you allow time for this in advance of the show.

Squeeze all of the promotional opportunities that you have at your disposal. Your company’s website; email marketing; direct mail; webinars and of course, social.

Take a piece of paper and list all of the places that could carry a promotional message about your show appearance. Keep adding to it as new ideas and places pop into your head. You’ll be surprised jus how many there are. Apply the sponsor’s mindset to this area of your event planning.

Increase your at-show visibility

When you are working with a limited budget this isn’t easy but the first thing you need to check is your stand.

Ensure that your company name, brand name or important visitor messages will be seen clearly. Take measures to improve your site’s in-hall visibility. Hanging banners can help this. So can adding height to your stand. Find ways to make  your stand be more visible amongst its neighbours. On-stand games or attractions can work for you here even on very small stands.

Where a budget permits, you may also be able to invest in on-site advertising opportunities. If you think like a sponsor, you will negotiate these before you sign for the show.

Be memorable

Yes, a sponsor wants you to notice them before and during a show but they also want you to be thinking about them after the event. They want to be memorable in the minds and budgets of show visitors. When you next think about purchasing whatever it is that they supply, they want their brand to be considered. Most of all they want their brand or product to be purchased.

So, how can your business be memorable? Follow the guidelines above. Work to create the best possible visitor experience for the people that come onto your stand (see this article). Promotional giveaways can help. A fast and tailored follow-up will serve you best.

Measure your results

One more important thing that you can learn from sponsors is that they measure their results. They measure lots of metrics and in doing so they gauge the effectiveness of their expenditure. They have to because sponsorship metrics, like those for exhibiting, often include both hard and soft measurements. You can measure leads recorded, that’s a hard metric. Samples or promotional items given away is a soft measure when you don’t know who you given those samples to.

Here’s another list to get together. All of the ways that you can measure the effectiveness of your trade show spend. If you’re stuck for ideas download our white paper “15 Key Steps To Effective Trade Show Participation”, you’ll find an extensive list in chapter 14.

Take action

Apply this “sponsor” mindset approach to your next event and notice the difference in results. Work more closely with your organiser. Measure your results across a wider set of success metrics.

Talk to us here at Exhibitors Only if you would like to use our event consultancy service to sharpen-up your event effectiveness.  We would love to help. Just email for more details.

Posted in Experiential  /  Sponsorship  /  Stand Management  /  Trade show marketing

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