19 Oct The How’s and Why’s of User Conference Sponsorship
What do Band-Aid®, Xerox® and Kleenex® all have in common? They are household names. You do not ask someone if they happen to have a sterile adhesive bandage (or maybe you do. Who are we to judge?). More than likely, you’ll ask, “Do you have a bandaid?” The brand has become synonymous with the item itself.
Chances are that your brand does not yet have the name recognition of Band-Aid®, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t ready for a user conference. And since you probably don’t have the same budget as Band-Aid®, finding a few sponsorships to help to defray conference costs is a necessity.
The following information will help you determine when you are ready for a user conference, why companies might want to sponsor your conference, and how you can attract appropriate partners for your event.
When are you ready?
While many conferences occur around a common theme such as technology, medicine or art, any company that has a large enough following could benefit from a user conference.
If your company manufactures left-handed widgets, you might want to educate your users regarding proper widget use. If you are considering branching out into also manufacturing right-handed widgets, your user conference would be the perfect platform to debut your new idea. A user conference is the ideal setting for your company’s key consumers to gather, talk about your product and exchange ideas for its use.
If your customers are asking you to host a user conference, you are ready to host one. What they are really requesting is more one-on-one time with your company and other users, which is mutually beneficial on many levels. Time to embrace the challenge head-on!
Why pursue user conference sponsorship?
As mentioned earlier, hosting a user conference can be expensive. Unless you have the marketing budget of a corporate giant, you will want to do all that you can to help to defray that cost.
Corporations sponsor company events for a variety of reasons but always with an eye on the return on their investment. If you are lucky enough to have a client base that includes well-established companies, those clients may sponsor a breakfast or a coffee break.
More than anything, your sponsors want access to your clients. That access can take the form of an exhibit area where each sponsor can set up an informational table and have dedicated time with your clients. A corporation sponsoring a meal may want to place its literature or other collateral at each place setting. Depending on the length of your event and your corporate culture, a company might offer to sponsor a cocktail hour with branded cups and drink napkins.
As a general rule of thumb, the larger the contribution, the greater the company exposure. You could choose different levels of sponsorship, such as a small advertisement in your conference materials for a small contribution. A greater contribution may entitle the sponsor to an advertisement and an exhibit table, or something comparable. The highest level of sponsorship usually includes time on the agenda as well as the advertisement and exhibit table.
How do you choose appropriate sponsors?
You choose sponsors for many of the same reasons that a sponsor chooses your event. Compatibility, though, rather than exposure is your key metric.
When deciding on sponsors for your event, think about which peripherals would go well with your product. Perhaps one company makes cup holders that perfectly fit your left-handed widget. If their product works well with yours, they would probably enjoy the exposure to your current clients.
A second type of sponsor is one that supports your cause. Is your left-handed widget an eco-friendly alternative to older, outdated equipment? In that case, affected environmental groups may want to sponsor a portion of your conference.
Another reason a corporation might sponsor your event is that it benefits the community. Most manufacturers are a vital part of their communities’ life blood, increasing wages and providing great economic value. As such, community organizations are likely supporters of your facility, your product and your presence. While community organizations do not usually have a large marketing budget, they may be able to purchase sponsorship at the lower level. Enough lower-tier sponsors add up to enough money to hold your event.
How do I pull everything together?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed as to where to start to plan and executive a successful user conference, you’re not alone. Just on the surface, you need to determine the interest level for your event, schedule the internal agenda, find sponsors and perform your normal job duties—a daunting task.
That’s where we come in! User conferences are the bread and butter of ESG—the very base upon which our company was founded almost 20 years ago. We’re seasoned veterans in the world of logistics, conference layout, attendance, execution, and, of course, sponsorship in user conferences. We love what we do, and you’ll love us too. Contact us today to get started.