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Rethinking Sponsorships

Paper stating "Sponsorship" with a list underneath

Spending some time unpacking the existing frameworks of sponsorships, we know there is a delicate dance between ensuring that your sponsor feels like their expectations are being delivered on and spending a fair amount of energy reconfirming that their logo, their name, or their input is involved in whatever exchange that has been promised.

Either way—you’re expending way more energy than you’d probably like.

When we really unpack what it means to be a sponsor, to be affiliated with an event—it is really about being seen and associated with a particular image, status, or cohort of peers who likely all ascribe to a similar set of values, attributes, and company missions.

How can we make people truly feel seen? How can we make sure their companies feel seen?

We are proposing that companies and organizations consider these three questions to ascertain if they are ready to transition into the new way of soliciting sponsorship:

Are you able to consider partnering with your key clients, peer groups, and prospective clients and rebrand your event experience and theme to be more in alignment with your shared values and shared missions?             

Yes, this takes the control away from your meeting and internal planners, but as companies and organizations are shouldering additional costs for you—they are going to press for control already—why not make them a key collaborator from the beginning?

Can you allocate time and energy towards creating different event experiences for networking outside of happy hours or at the end of the day when folks are wiped from the day?

We know that providing valuable and authentic connections is critical to conference and event attendance. Is there a way for attendees to volunteer together, workout together (early AM walk and talks, gentle yoga, water aerobics), or spend some time on an external outing (not golf!) that is dedicated to conversation and relationship building? Companies don’t want to foot a bar bill anymore—they want to be the arbiter that builds meaningful connections with others.

If you are using conference sponsorship to offset hard costs from your event, can you consider scaling down parts of your event to better leverage your event dollars and share an impact report of the conference post-event?

Scarcity around budgets is a theme we’ll start to see in the upcoming years—and maybe that’s a good thing. Companies are extremely discerning with how to allocate their sponsorship dollars. Can your organization meet its discernment with some event concessions that acknowledge the reality of inflation and increased conference expenses?

Nonprofits do a great job of highlighting how they steward the resources of their donors. If you create a post-conference impact report, you can keenly identify the value of attending and the value of sponsoring events like these. Plus, this can serve as marketing fodder for when you might need to solicit the support of a sponsor down the line.

We know these questions aren’t the silver bullet that will solve all of your event sponsorship questions, but we are confident that these questions are important to answer to ensure that your colleagues and co-workers are allocating their time accordingly when they solicit sponsors.

If you are looking to take a deeper dive into sponsorship, we’d love to get in touch!

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