Extraordinary Events Podcast

Ep 48: The Future of Sponsorships

February 02, 2021
Extraordinary Events Podcast
Ep 48: The Future of Sponsorships
Chapters
Extraordinary Events Podcast
Ep 48: The Future of Sponsorships
Feb 02, 2021

If you have not been listening to our Tuesday "Lessons and Life Coaching" episodes, this is the PERFECT one to jump into! In this episode, I share how we are doing Sponsorships (ie. Partnerships) for our upcoming omnichannel conference and some of the innovative ways we are structuring these to be a win-win-win. I also share how we are making our partners and our primary target market WORK to get the opportunity to be "in the room where it happens".   Are you scared to make that ask? Listen in and steal all our secrets! 

Interested in our Friday webinar series? It starts back up this Friday, February 5, and continues every Friday for the rest of the year. February's series theme is on Online Event Technology. To register for this free event, click here: https://go.unl.edu/nextlevelevents

Want to connect with us in other ways? Connect to all our social channels at our website, extraordinaryeventinitiative.com!

Show Notes Transcript

If you have not been listening to our Tuesday "Lessons and Life Coaching" episodes, this is the PERFECT one to jump into! In this episode, I share how we are doing Sponsorships (ie. Partnerships) for our upcoming omnichannel conference and some of the innovative ways we are structuring these to be a win-win-win. I also share how we are making our partners and our primary target market WORK to get the opportunity to be "in the room where it happens".   Are you scared to make that ask? Listen in and steal all our secrets! 

Interested in our Friday webinar series? It starts back up this Friday, February 5, and continues every Friday for the rest of the year. February's series theme is on Online Event Technology. To register for this free event, click here: https://go.unl.edu/nextlevelevents

Want to connect with us in other ways? Connect to all our social channels at our website, extraordinaryeventinitiative.com!

Hello hello my friends! We have such an exciting week coming up. This Friday we start back up with our Friday webinar series, which used to be called the PD Power Hour, but we're shifting that name to Next Level Events. And it used to be Friday from 1:00 to 2:00 P.M. CT, but now to help accommodate all of our European friends who have been staying up late for it, we're shifting that to 10:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. CT. There is registration required but it is free, so you can go to our website, extraordinaryeventsinitiative.com and click the link to register, and we’ll send you all the details. We are so excited about this! Kicking it off for the new year! New us, new podcast, new everything, so exciting! This month we're focusing on online technology, so it's definitely one that you do not want to miss! 

So let's jump into today's podcast! I'm really excited about it! This is a Tuesday podcast so behind the scenes we call Tuesday's lessons and life coaching. And then on Thursday’s, if you’re new to the podcast, we rotate between student-created podcasts where students, future leaders, create podcasts and then we post it on our podcast and then we alternate those Thursday's with industry interviews from people in the industry living the life right now and getting all the insights from them! So super exciting welcome to the podcast if you haven't heard the podcast before!

One of the things that I've been asked a lot about recently is sponsorships. Sponsorship changes, re-envisioning this concept of sponsorships for the current times and the future. Now sponsorships is something that I am super, super passionate about mainly because one) my previous life is in marketing and two) currently I work for University and I do a lot with students. And because of that, student budgets are externally small, but I want them to have the best experience they can have planning events and so I seem to always be soliciting sponsorships. But of course I want it to be a win-win situation for our sponsor and for the students so that way everybody has a fantastic outcome. 

So a couple years ago with student events, I started really customizing these sponsorships so that way they would include things that were very very specific to that sponsor and their objectives for their company. So what I would do is I would really write out an entire list of every single thing that we needed. We would put our own value price point on it behind the scenes and then we would categorize these into bundles. So typically we would call these the metal sponsorships so gold sponsor, silver sponsor, bronze sponsor. But of course we would always give them fun and unique names. You see these metal sponsorships often, but they're not customized specifically to a sponsor's company. So what I started doing is I started listing all of the items out individually into their own separate mini buckets and then sponsors can pick and choose whatever they want. Now this does lead to some decision fatigue, so what can we do  with that now? 

So what we're doing for our event this year, and this has been such a hot topic locally, we've been reaching out to sponsors for our April 1st conference which is “Level Up Your Event Game” specifically designed for meeting planners and meeting designers who want to get in on that current action and future focus trends. And we're doing something really, really cool with our sponsorships this year and so that's what I wanted to focus this podcast on in case it was beneficial for you and you wanted to design your sponsorships this way as well. I can say I have done a lot of events, I participate in a lot of events, I've consulted on a lot of events, and I have never seen this particular thing done before. So, I think that it's new and unique and different. If you’ve seen it somewhere else definitely reach out and let us know so we can give you some props in the show notes. 

What we’ve decided to do for this year's conference is we created levels. So we have a top-tier level, a middle-tier level, and a lower-tier level. And what we've done is we've listed out ten different items under every single one of those tiers, and then we're telling our sponsors, pick any five in that category that’s specific to your company. This helps to eliminate the decision fatigue, but then it’s still customizable to that specific sponsor's organization's mission vision and goals. So for example in a lower tier, maybe we have a website call out, a social media call out, or an email blast and we list ten different things. Maybe a company doesn't really care about a couple of them, so then they would just pick the five that they care the most about. If you decide you want to be a middle to your sponsor, you can pick any five of those and any five of the lower-tier, which is really really cool. 

Another thing that we’ve seen a lot with sponsorships before is of course leads/access to attendee data. We've kind of kicked this up a notch with our survey design. We send out a series of pre-surveys and then we also send out a post-survey. We are allowing top-tier sponsors to actually add two of their own questions onto our survey and then we will give that sponsor not just the least data, but also the answers to their two specific survey questions, which is really kind of cool and different, I've never seen that done before. So I’m really kind of excited and jazzed about that. Could you imagine if you were able to ask your target market, maybe not everybody turns into a lead, but it gives you that data and gives you insight into your target market. So these are really, really cool things and I’m really excited about it! 

We also have created separate from these tiers, we've created exclusive sponsorship opportunities. Now these are your traditional sponsorship opportunities that can only have one. So if you were a top-tier sponsor and you chose five but one of them was an exclusive sponsorship that wouldn't work, right? So you have to separate out all those exclusive sponsorships. We only need one bathroom sponsor, we only need one name tag sponsor, etc. So we’ve split out all those exclusive opportunities into a separate list and there's a very small amount, five or six, and those can be totally separate from your tiers. We've already started sending out and talking with our potential sponsors and everybody is really, really excited about this new and different format! And just based on the conversations, I've had multiple potential sponsors reach out to me saying, “This is really cool! I've never seen this before! We really want to do something like this too!” And so then of course I’m sitting there and I’m like “I have to share this on the podcast!” Because how cool would this be if this became a worldwide trend where we are providing real customized value for our sponsors. 

Because we can no  longer have hundreds of people in a room, last year we could have hundreds and hundreds of people in a room, this year we were limited to 90 - 100, we really want to make sure that we have the right people in the room. And the right ratio of these different people in the room. So for example in our April 1st conference, we are really targeting the meeting planners. We want and need meeting planners to have this information and therefore it wouldn't be very good if we had 80% sponsors and suppliers in the room and 10% students and 10% meeting attendees.  We want to make sure we really have 80% meeting planners, 15% sponsors, and 5% of future leaders and students in the room. 

This is really, really important concept of having the right people and the right ratios in the room. I really challenge you to think about this in your events and then how you can show that ROI to your sponsors, to your partners, so that way they can say, “Okay I know that this information is getting to the right people!” This really also brings us to the concept of hybrid. So yes I want 80% meeting planners in the room, 15% suppliers, and 5% future leaders, but of course I want everyone to have access to this content. Online is a really great format for content, but we see online is that it's hard to create engagement. Yes there are many ways to create engagement but all of your online attendees have different levels of buy in. Some are just there for the content, some are there for the engagement, some are there for engagement but maybe the engagement is not happening. Maybe the people who need to engage with each other are not logged in at the same time. So if you think about it, if your event was a hybrid or omnichannel event then you can really facilitate those discussions in your in-person environment, of course with content, and then you can really focus your online experience with really kind of that content focus. And then your in-person attendees can have access to the online and the in-person. It all comes down to scheduling.

So for example, for our conference, we will have online content with engagement for our online attendees. But we’ll have online content available for three mornings in a specific week. Attendees can login, engage with a content, engage with the facilitator of that content, and engage with other attendees in more informal campfire sessions. But then the meeting planners will come live to our meeting, that 80% of the room that we want, meeting planners. They'll have maybe a snapshot of content specifically if they didn't watch the online portion and then they'll engage in more real life workshops and discussions with each other, learning from each other in the room. This is really really important and critical, and this is why you can charge such a premium because you're guaranteeing that you have the right people in the room. 

The second thing that I really, really, really want to emphasize and I know that I've spent the last six or seven minutes calling them sponsors. But I actually don't call them sponsors in real life. I intentionally kept this for the second half of the podcast so you can kind of hear the difference. We've started shifting our terminology starting with last year to really the term of partners and this year specifically because of Covid and spacial restrictions, strategic partners.  For many many years of event planning I would accept a check from anybody. You want to sponsor anything at my event? You want an 8-foot table? A 6-foot table? You want to be on the emails? You want to be on the website? Sure, here’s your price, send me a check and then we'll do it. This is not the way that I work anymore. Now, you have to be a strategic partner to get access to my attendees and in my room. Because of Covid and social distancing and spatial requirements, I no longer can sell an 8-foot table to anybody! I can no longer give every single sponsor free tickets to get into my room because my room is limited. I also want my meeting planners to be engaging with each other in facilitated workshops and discussions and not just with suppliers who are trying to sell them things. Now of course this is very important, it's an important dynamic, it's very important. But I can show more of a return on investment to my sponsors if they're strategic. If they have buy-in to my event, they pay a higher price and they have more things that they have to do in order to be a partner because a partner, as it implies, means that we're in it together. You're not writing me a check for access to my attendees, we're in it to make this event successful together. Successful for you, successful for me, successful for the students, and successful for the attendees. 

This also means that I have an application process for my attendees. Now this might seem so silly, but think about it, it’s a scarcity principle. People always want what they can't have. There’s the fear of missing out, the love of missing out, there's people who want to be in the room. Just think about Hamilton. The concept that they want to just be in the room. They want to be in the room where decisions are happening, where talks are happening. And they will pay a premium for that if you can guarantee it's the right mix of people. So, say I have 200 meeting planners who want to come to my conference but I only accept 80. Is it first come first serve? Is it locals? Is it internationals? How can I ensure that I have the right people in the room? I'll tell you how I'm doing it for this year! I'm doing it this year by the fact that those meeting professionals, those meeting designers, meeting planners they have to show some kind of level of investment into the students and into the conference to get admission into this room. Because, just as I said our sponsors are partners, the meeting professionals are partners as well. I know this is such a weird concept, but this is the way of the future! 

So for example, I was working through the event design canvas, if you’ve never heard of the event design canvas, I highly recommend you look it up! Me and a group of students were doing an event design canvas design meeting, and we invited ten meeting planners to come into the room with us. We said, “Hey. We only have 80 spots for meeting professionals, but if you  give us a day of your time, we’re asking for your time, not only will you have exposure to this design canvas, you will also have a guaranteed reserved ticket, not a free ticket. You still have to pay for your ticket, but we will reserve you a ticket for the in-person experience but you have to give us a day of your time. And I will tell you 60% of those meeting professionals that we invited showed up. Three of the ten said that they wanted to come but that they weren't able to come because of their scheduling, and two of them passed on this opportunity but did ask if there would be another opportunity in the future. 

This is really important to know because if you think about it strategically you can get everybody involved in the design, the execution, the planning, paying for things, laying things out. It's a win, win, win, win, win situation for everybody! I think that a lot of people are just scared to make the ask. They're scared to make the ask and they don't know how to approach the situation. I hope that this concept and this conversation has been helpful to all of our listeners out there today! I will continue to share progress about our April 1st conference throughout the weeks as we're doing different things in an innovative way, in a future looking forward way, and I’m really, really excited to share some cool things that we're doing with all of you on the podcast! As always thank you so much for taking the time to make the time! I'll talk with you soon.