Case Study

New Show Launch/Sponsorship Growth Strategy & Execution

PAI became familiar with the BIMForum while working with an association who is involved with it. It struck founder Pat Wilson that BIMForum represented a unique and potentially valuable market that could be well supported, and could also serve the industry by developing a show. And, there was no dominant show in the industry that addressed the significant niche of solution providers that would potentially support such a show. Roughly three years ago, he made a concept pitch to the association that organizes the events.

From Resistance to Green Light

Initially, the organizers and the committee resisted the idea. They had a great program and a small, but loyal following, and determined that their position as thought leaders might be diluted if they “sold out” and opened up their events to a for-profit collection of exhibitors.

Pat continued to check in periodically and found that they were experiencing ups and downs with attendance and their related budget. He kept them abreast of potential competition from other start-up events. PAI proposed different ways for its contact to present to his committee, emphasizing tangible business projections and key reasons why a paradigm shift for the BIMForum would benefit the stakeholders involved, financially and otherwise. With the vision created, they gave it the green light, enlisting PAI to help them grow their event with a small tradeshow.


There was a BIMForum during April in Miami, so it gave PAI the chance to see the event in person and use it as the kickoff for sales for the October event in Denver.

In the two weeks leading up to the Miami event, PAI worked quickly to–

  • Develop a budget, a marketing plan and an action calendar.
  • Create sponsorship packages with several tiers and options.
  • With the meeting planner, draw up a Denver floor plan and order a large size version sign-mounted.
  • Create forms for Denver and simple marketing collateral
  • Announce the Denver opportunities via emails to attendees, inviting them to visit the “Denver table” just before the Miami event

Then, in person in Miami, attendees and several sponsors were engaged and a few initial sales were made.

Achieving Lift-Off!

The plan included implementation of an online event platform that incorporated the following features:

  • Marketing pages and sales collateral
  • Online forms
  • An interactive floor plan
  • Sales tracking and reporting tools
  • Tools for exhibitor services and communications.

New Heights with New Programs

  • PAI attended industry events to develop prospects in person
  • PAI quickly cultivated a database of target contacts
  • PAI performed an integrated multi-touch outreach campaign including prospectus mailings, a timed email campaign and outbound sales calls.

PAI met regularly with the BIMForum planning team to keep them apprised of the progress, and work through questions and any issues as they came up.  Its key contact was equipped with great news to report to the committee, and everyone could view the steadily filling floor plan online.

To optimize the support potential from sponsorships, raise the level of excitement, and enhance the program itself, PAI received buy-in to implement two new sponsored events that it sold at the premium level.

  • A themed, enhanced opening night reception with product demo stations; and
  • An “After Party” on night two.

Both involved a high degree of collaboration between PAI, the planning team and the sponsors themselves. The sponsors were willing pioneers, understanding there were risks with investing in something new, but trusted PAI to deliver and hoped for great recognition and reward.

The layout itself was going to be cozy. It was a quirky, column-laden foyer; however, it was just outside the ballroom where all the BIMForum sessions were to be held, therefore conducive to a great networking flow. During the sales cycle, PAI only showed one portion at a time, and progressively expanded it on the online floor plan in order to elicit action and a sense of urgency.  It worked! For a first-time show and a fairly short cycle, the floor expanded three times and eventually maxed out a few weeks before the show!

Success on Many Levels

  • Record sponsorship support, and a maxed-out exhibit floor for a first-time show.
  • Record attendance: The previous high had been 390 and the BIMForum in Miami earlier in the year was just over 300. There were 530 in Denver, or a new record by 35%! In addition to all the outreach that was done to find sponsors, PAI invited local chapters from various A/E/C industry associations and they helped promote on a local level. More of the market was covered, and the sponsor/exhibitors spread the word too.
  • The exhibit area was packed, dense with attendees and solution providers interacting. There was an electricity and excitement throughout.
  • Both new sponsored events went off without a hitch and were jam-packed. The “After Party” started at 9 pm on what had previously been an open evening. The party suite was so crowded that attendees spilled into the adjoining hallway, and stayed partying and networking until long after it had officially ended.

Feedback from all stakeholders was excellent:

  • The planning team and PAI’s key contact were very happy and they looked good to their committee and bosses.
  • Key sponsors were ecstatic with their level of exposure and the ability to make a splash with exciting new events.
  • The many new companies who exhibited were thrilled to be part of such a growth event. Many of them had never heard of the BIMForum just a few months ago.
  • The Committee members, even previous skeptics, were filled with pride that their little event had such a buzz and energy, and was now firmly on the industry map.
  • The Chairman, who had wanted to maintain the sanctity of the program, was the most excited of all. He received compliments from long-time attendees and fellow organizers. He pulled Pat aside at the After-Party, and thanked him for helping kick the BIMForum up to a new level!
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