We’ve decided to pledge our support to Open to All, a national nonprofit campaign based around the idea that everyone should be welcome regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, immigration status, religion, or disability.
We’re proud to support some of our favorite media and technology conferences like SRCCON , ONA , and WordCamp NYC – just to name a few. Over the course of the year, we sponsor roughly one event per month, and we consider proposals from many more than that. To all of those event organizers, we have something to say:
If you offer more benefits, we will give you more money.*
Don’t get me wrong. We believe in the missions of the events that we sponsor and we are happy to provide financial support. But there are a few things that event organizers can do to encourage all sponsors (not just Alley) to increase their funding, which would make your events even better.
First, don’t assume that every sponsor’s needs are the same and can be met with a combination of a logo placements and exhibit space. Instead, try to find out what each potential sponsor would like to get out of the sponsorship and come up with custom ideas to achieve those goals. A lot of sponsors have pretty specific things they want to do and are even willing to pay extra for those rights. But you won’t know until you ask.
Of course, you do need to have some standard packages to offer. As you put them together, try to think of your available assets as inventory and price different sponsorship levels based on the value of that inventory to the sponsor – not on your costs. For instance, a coffee break sponsorship gives the sponsor the benefit of interacting with everyone at the conference who drinks coffee (i.e. everyone worth interacting with). So don’t base the price on the cost of the coffee; base it on the value of the benefit.
Speaking of which, I should add that the value of “exposure” is nil. The word is frequently invoked in the context of logos on the website, tweets, mentions in blog posts, etc. Let me assure you, we don’t care about that stuff. Granted, it would be weird to sponsor a conference and not have our logo on the website, but it’s not like we get any real value from that either.
Finally, follow up with all your sponsors after the event. Amazingly (or maybe not), the majority of events that we sponsor do not do this. While we always appreciate a polite thank-you, we actually want to know precisely how many people attended, see highlights of press and social media coverage, etc. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but a quick semi-personalized email goes a long way.
Our expectations are realistic; we know the scale of the events we’re supporting. Still, a little effort to turn sponsorship into an actual sales process would give us more reason to give you more money to help your event grow.
*: No guarantees, of course.
Before getting into media, Josh managed sponsorships for cycling events and professional teams.