Sponsorship is an emotional marketing play that is designed to improve a brand’s perception within a specific target market. Moving the emotional needle is difficult to measure, but is considered the most powerful investment a sophisticated marketer can make. Most conference organizers use one or more of these methods to arrive at a sponsorship’s price:
Expense Recovery In-kind or cash investments that otherwise would be out-of-pocket costs.
Cost Plus Cost to deliver benefits + cost of sales + cost of servicing] x 3. These should never be discounted by more than 30 percent. To calculate labor, multiply the adjusted net hourly wage by two to cover benefits, taxes, overhead, etc.
Market-Based Based on intelligence gained from competitive research (i.e., what the market will bear).
Value-Based The Holy Grail of sponsorship pricing. Sponsor seekers usually can achieve this only with a combination of exclusivity and strong alignment with the sponsor’s target market.
Beyond these four methods, sponsor seekers get creative by bundling various properties and assets. Some offer discounts to first-year sponsors to get them in the door.
Of course, conference-sponsorship programs are not all created equal. Here are seven key attributes that must be part of a thriving program:
1. Fewer investors, bigger investments
Get rid of micro-sponsorships. They rarely have high attendee value, and are the highest area of churn.
2. Benefits beyond eyeballs and logos
If sponsors’ methods of delivering their message don’t have high attendee mattering (see Breakout, at right), replace them with something that does.
3. Activation plans that span 90-plus days
The conference dates are the pinnacle. Pre- and post-conference amplification adds great value and touches more people.
4. If attendees don’t win, nobody wins
Never sell your attendees out!
5. Good concentration of an elite or elusive attendee segment(s)
Show me an underperforming sponsorship program and I guarantee it has an audience problem.
6. Leadership participation in sponsorship-strategy discussions
Executives need to open doors and match power with power. Big investors expect a seat at the table.
7. An account-management strategy based on a single relationship owner
Major investors don’t want multiple team members or vendors trying to sell different visibility options.