By Warwick Merry, CSP, CVP
(Published in Micenet Magazine - http://mice.net.au/article/who-is-the-best-person-to-speak-for-the-sponsor/)
Hybrid and online events are different for sponsors and in many ways, not as good.
At face-to-face events, people can casually pass by a booth, have a chat and possibly discover something the sponsor is offering that may help their business. For online events, you can watch a video, read a brochure and if you are keen, talk with them.
But here’s the thing, people HATE to be sold to. So the chances of people talking with a sponsor are not high to start with, unless they are already familiar with the sponsor and the kind of work they do. Often, sponsors have sales people in their booth and sales people are rewarded when they make a sale so they can be sales focussed which is not always inviting.
Sponsors are also very numbers focussed. Speak to any event prof and they will have a story of a sponsor who berated them for not enough people going through their booth or talking with them online. They can forget that it is QUALITY of a lead and not quantity that counts. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
There has to be a better way. A way we can increase the value for our sponsors. The good news is that there is.
One of the best people to represent a sponsor is their customer! High profile customers are good but a customer that matches the average delegate’s profile is great as well. Research has shown that increased trust leads to increased customer loyalty and increased sales. Often prospects are prone to trust someone who is independent in the sales process, namely the customer rather than the company.
Presenting a case study as a breakout session or having a Q and A with an existing client allows the delegates to hear the customer’s point of view. Too many of our delegates have been subject to a sponsor effectively saying, “BUY MY STUFF!” But to frame up the problems in a way the delegates can identify their own problems, and then present the solution the way the sponsor has helped implement is far easier for a prospect to digest.
And a breakout rather than a plenary is also a solid move. That way, you only get people who are genuinely interested. They are “Self Qualifying”. Now you may have to educate your sponsor about this as they will want to speak with everyone, but isn’t it better to speak to 50 people who are interested in discovering more about you than 500 people who just want this session to be over?
Having strong relationships with your sponsors is more than just finding someone who will pay you the money and then hoping that they get traction. It is about educating them on how they can be the best value from the event. Often this is about taking the spotlight OFF the sponsor and putting it back on the DELEGATE using a customer of the sponsor. It leads to better results, happier sponsors and an increase in repeat sponsorships.