Sponsorship: Past, Present, Future

Theme of this week titled above. We will explore the ins and outs of past sponsorship in the event world, the current sponsorship, and what I predict the future of event sponsorship will be within the next 3 years.

Fair warning! This will be a very brutally honest week of coming to terms with the current state of the industry, how we need to proceed, and a few steps on how to get there.

Sponsorship: The Past

Take a walk down memory lane to the time when we used to have printed show guides and buyers guide for all attendees to aimlessly peruse.

Large banners displaying massive logos without a call to action (a booth number listed) Tote bags, hotel key cards, inserts into the tote bags, and the list goes on.

I call them the past, yet they still linger, seemingly providing some value for exhibitors and very little for attendees but alas ensuring ample markups to these sponsorships allows the show organizer a bit of a buffer in their tight budgets.

Who sells these? We all do. They won’t go away and yet in came the event mobile app and then the 365 mobile app or community app or association app whatever you may call it these days.


Advertising. Those sponsorships targeted the correct persona. The Marketing Professional.

Tons of ads were sold delivering massive profit for associations and events. It’s hard to say meh, let me throw all that away and give them an app

That was the first mistake we made years ago. Selling the wrong value proposition for mobile apps. They were there to replace those sponsorship but the past is still here in the present

So, the past is still here…what does that make the present?

Sponsorship: The Present

Here we are in our glory days, humming along with record growth and BOOM…COVID

That certainly put a damper on things but was it a blessing in disguise?

Certainly we have come a long way and yet still so far from where we should be.

So how have we fared? How have we taken the past and made it the present without much change?

We still offer so much of the past that its hard to tell if we are in the present or stuck in groundhog day.

We take two steps forward and one and half steps back…offering what seems to be the future of sponsorship but then it fails the first year and we take it away

Change isn’t easy.

How do we move from offering the same old to offering what the true new event persona, Marketing Professionals, desire? Have we asked them? Do we even get in front of them or do we still as organizers go after the event manager?

I am not saying leave the event manager behind. I am saying we need to deepen our relations in our exhibiting companies and broaden the scope of our offerings to appease to their goals and needs.

#marketingprofs and #eventprofs don’t speak the same language and have vastly different goals. How are you helping them achieve their goals with your #sponsorship program?

It’s time to #Create#Engage#Invigorate.

Sponsorship: The Future

Digital ad spend is well over $100 billion across the globe.

That alone should tell the #event industry something.

The conversation rate of those ads into MQLs and hopefully SQLs leading into wins for the organization, is what they see as the value of such a large spend on digital ads.

Can you track a large printed banner ad or a tote bag sponsorship to leads and wins?

Experiences are the buzz of the industry and have been for a few years. They are great. Why? Not only do they invoke the senses but those experiences can be measured for the sponsor to convert and track ROMI…

The #marketing industry moves so quickly and the event industry has’nt even begun to catch up. There are pioneers out there and they should be applauded but if we are to keep this industry alive, we must provide #sponsorships that can be measured and given back to the sponsors.

Budgets are tightening for field marketing and they are going up for digital ad spend and content marketing.

All event organizers should be tracking what the #marketingprofs are doing and needing to see where they should take their programs

That’s why virtual events are so appealing. Every click can be tracked and measured for event success. Don’t ask the event managers, ask the marketing managers

What have we learned this week?

1. Our new target persona is the #marketingprof

2. What’s old in #sponsorship cannot become new…sorry it’s not like wearing your grandpa’s clothes

3. Everything must be measured moving forward to provide the #sponsor with a full scope of their #value vs spend

4. Watch marketing professionals to determine the shifts they are making in order to shift your sponsorship programs

5. Digital ad spend and #contentmarketing is huge right now. Offer programs around these in order to deliver the value and gain some of the budgets from your exhibitors.

6. Year round, 365, corporate “sponsorships” are key moving forward to provide the value to marketing professionals.

7. Field Marketing #budgets are shrinking especially now because of COVID.

8. Utilize agencies and productions companies to help you deliver on Number 5. They can help expand the reach, provide metrics, and deliver value and ROI to your future sponsors.

9. Was not mentioned this week but VIDEO…come on…more #video Would love to hear feedback, thoughts, concerns?

Where do you see the industry going?