1. Zero Planning or Training
I know what you’re thinking…
Duh! Of course, if you don’t plan for the event and your booth you’re going to fail.
I usually think of this in two parts:
A. Venue & Aesthetics
A key part of planning for your event sponsorship that could result in failure is not thinking about the appearance of your venue.
Having a venue that doesn’t feel “put together” can leave the attendees wondering if your offering will give them that same feeling.
Any area that doesn’t scream super professional or exciting can make attendees to another event venue instead of yours, simply based on first impression.
That’s exactly why putting the proper focus on your aesthetics and appearance can yield great results.
Many events offer turnkey venues with beautifully designed layouts that you can slightly customise, and bring your own banners to get extra exposure from — which helps the organiser create a consistent experience for attendees and sponsors.
If the event you’re sponsoring doesn’t offer a turnkey venue, don’t fret.
A few simple things can help make sure that your venue will be visually stunning.
For instance, bringing a few important things such as an on-brand tablecloth, backdrop banner or step-and-repeat (such as the one below), and a well thought-out visual for the computer/monitor at the venue will help make sure you’re not on the road to event sponsorship failure.
B. Venue Behaviour
Venue aesthetics aside, another important item you should plan for is your team’s appearance and how well they understand how to manage the venue itself.
Ensuring that your team understands the commitment and expectations of their presence at the venue is key to the sponsorship not failing.
Having a plan for behaviour ensures you can provide the best experience possible to your venue-goers.
Dressing nicely, not being on your phone the entire time, and knowing how to talk with prospects sets everyone up for true ROI.
The last thing someone wants to be greeted with is a person totally ignoring them, messing around on their phone or worse, someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.
You definitely don’t want to put your company in a bad light by having that be your first impression.
Pro tip: Have the folks responsible for your venue role-play before the event. That helps shake off any nerves and lets them understand how to handle potentially awkward/difficult situations. Don’t go easy on them!
Make sure to have any venue logistics or processes hammered out before you show up (or as much as possible).
A sure-fire way to look like an amateur is to have your on-the-ground team scrambling to use the lead registration page you setup — or worse, not use it at all because they don’t know how to get it on the monitor.
The last big item on the planning list warrants its own section because of how important it is.
Make sure you plan to provide visitors to your venue and event attendees with an absolutely, no-brainer offer to make sure they convert.
2. A Lackluster Offer
So you bought a booth at a conference, you’ve got a plan for how it’ll look and be setup.
You’re all set, right?
Wrong. If you show up without an amazing offer, you’re practically fighting with one hand tied down.
Your venue setup is what helps start the conversation, your product keeps them there — the no-brainer offer is what gets them to convert (or even close!) on the floor of the event.
What type of offer could you create for your venue to make it an absolute no-brainer for the attendees?
It’s so valuable that we’re even able to get attendees to register before the event for their time slot, and fill in the remaining slots on the floor.
What type of offer could you create that would have attendees signing up before they even arrive?
When you’re thinking about what offer to make, it’s important to ensure that the event organiser is okay with that type of promotion.
Which leads me to the third reason your sponsorship will fail…
3. Limited Communication with Event Organiser
Event organiser communication is another thing that can make or break your sponsorship.
When you’re vetting an event sponsorship, it’s important to ask what the communication and support will look like.
Is there an on-site kiosk/booth that will be able to help you day-of? Do you get phone numbers for quick texts and questions? Do you have a personal contact? What’s realistic turnaround times if a problem arises?
You should also be able to work with the organiser to ensure you’re getting the most out of your investment and that you’ll receive the level of support that you’re comfortable with.
It’s not fun to have things go wrong while you’re setting up and have no way to get in touch with someone for assistance.
It’s like customer service. As a sponsor, you want to be able to reach the person you’re doing business with to get things rectified.
Pro Tip: Run ideas by your contact. No one should know the event and audience better than they do so they should be able to advise you on what offers or messaging perform well.
If you have speaking time attached to your sponsorship, work closely with the organiser to ensure that your session will actually be valuable.
Inquire about what types of sessions have worked well in the past, and how to really make sure you shine at their event.
The last thing you want to do is have a talk track fall flat in front of the entire audience because it was “salesy” and not valuable. Then you’ll just be the “company that sold their whole session” – and that’s a label no one wants that.
So, make sure that you know what “lifelines” are available to you, and if you didn’t get a phone number — don’t be shy! Ask for it 😉
4. No Swag!
Last, but not least, not having memorable swag will undoubtedly make your sponsorship fall flat on its face!
This is potentially a polarising subject, but in my experience, a great piece of swag can go a loooong way.
What would it mean for your brand to have 100s of people wearing your logo on a shirt? Or have your coffee mug used in their office months after you have a conversation?
The return on investment might not be immediate, but swag is a great way to stay top-of-mind with potential prospects or customers.
Having a ton of branded swag myself — from chapsticks and bottle openers to charging blocks and t-shirts — I can say that the companies who gave them to me definitely are present when I’m thinking about organisations I may want to work with (if we don’t already). Choose items your audience will actually want.
Go Forth and Prosper!
Event sponsorship can be an extremely beneficial way to get in front of your target audience. Avoid these common pitfalls and work with your event organiser to make sure you’re starting on the right foot. If you have a solid plan and give the attendees an amazing offer combined with memorable swag you’re going to be setup for success.
Interested in sponsoring events? We’re looking forward to amazing brands to be part of Route Tech Conference this year.