Association Non-Dues Revenue

3 Easy Ways To Monetize Your Virtual Happy Hours

By Association Non-Dues Revenue, Sponsorship Sales No Comments

Chances are you’ve attended at least one virtual “happy hour” over the last six months. Perhaps it was a “virtual lunch” or “virtual breakfast” instead.

As with everything in our lives, COVID-19 has (temporarily) put an end to traditional networking, instead leaving us to connect with colleagues and clients via apps like Zoom and Run the World. Not only should your organization be taking advantage of these virtual networking opportunities, but they should also be making every attempt possible to monetize them.

Here are our suggestions for making the most out of your next virtual Happy Hour:


  • Have an ongoing series of “lunch and learns” showcasing your members. Simple enough, right? The benefits to this are two-fold: Your members can introduce a new program/service/product to other interested parties within your industry, and by charging a small fee you can make some money off the event. We suggest holding the sessions on a regular basis so that as many of your member groups can partake as possible. (You can also hold them in a “demo day” format, as we did with ASAE this past summer).


  • Send out sponsored swag bags (virtual or physical). Who doesn’t love a good swag bag? If you have the RSVP list for an upcoming event locked down far enough in advance, you may want to consider some type of swag bag to attendees to make them feel like they are truly part of the action. Virtual swag bags are great for sponsors who don’t mind sharing electronic content (i.e. videos, PDFs, image files). Physical swag bags, on the other hand, are a bit more costly because they need to be shipped to the attendees — but they can be filled with traditional swag options like koozies and fidget spinners. This is a great option for an event with multiple sponsors; you can have each sponsor pitch in for an item (or two) so they get promotional value long after the event is over.


  • Mix up your next networking event through sponsored door prizes and other fun & games. Virtual happy hours may not be the same as in-person ones, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them a fun experience for all by adding structure, format, and fun! We recently sponsored a “Virtual Wine & Tasting Happy Hour”, in which participants received bottles of wine paired with specialty nuts, spreads, and crackers to enjoy during the event. You can also get a sponsor to pay for a hosted conversational game like “The Very Interesting Game” to make the event interactive and get players or views laughing? It can be shaped into a lightly competitive format, and even divided into teams depending on the number of participants in your event. If activities aren’t your thing, try having sponsors provide door prizes and/or discounted services that can be raffled off to attendees. Not only will people be more likely to attend — and participate in the event — but the likelihood that they’ll come to future happy hours (and bring a friend or two along) will increase as well!


Want to learn more about how your association or non-profit can benefit from sponsored happy hours, webinars, and other virtual events?  We’d be happy to have a conversation to share what we have seen work for other events and markets.  Email us today to set up a free consultation.

Targeted Digital Advertising: The New Frontier for Association Event Sales

By Association Non-Dues Revenue, Expo Sales, Sponsorship Sales No Comments

Odds are you’re probably already using some form of targeted digital advertising to promote your association. You may have even spent some money on Facebook or Google to drive up registration sales for a past event or two.

But have you ever tried to use digital advertising to find new sponsors and exhibitors for conferences – both in-person and virtual? It’s a lot more effective than you think!


Facebook Targeting

Effective Facebook ad campaigns are such because they were able to match creative content with the right audience. In the case of association sales marketing, the trick is to make sure you’re reaching the right set of prospects for your upcoming show.

To start, make sure your Facebook Pixel is up and running on all of your website pages (for more information on the Facebook Pixel, click here). You’ll use this Pixel to create an audience based on traffic from your association’s website and event registration portal. If you’d like, you can also create Lookalike Audiences based on these pages to further your reach.

Next, you’ll want to create a list of sponsors and exhibitors that have participated at your conference over the last few years. It’s likely that many of them – especially if they are large corporations – will have Facebook pages that you can use for targeting purposes to reach out directly to those individuals. You can also create an additional lookalike audience based on people who have interests in these types of companies or organizations.

You can also take your current prospect list – as well as any in-house mailing lists you may have – and create a Customer List Audience as another way to reach out.

Make sure to pair these audiences with some ad creative that explains the benefits of sponsoring/exhibiting at your upcoming event, and watch your sales grow before your eyes!


Google Ads 

Depending on your industry, Google Ads can be a really great prospecting tool for event and sponsorship sales. In most cases, however, they are best reserved for remarketing efforts.

If your association is registered as a 501(c)3 nonprofit, it would benefit you to look into your eligibility for Google for Nonprofits. Not only does Google’s nonprofits program give you access to a ton of awesome digital programs for free, but you’ll be eligible for upwards of $10,000 per month in paid keyword search ads – bonus money that you can put towards your non-dues revenue marketing efforts.

As you did with the Facebook ads, you’ll want to set up conversion tracking for Google as well. The easiest way to accomplish this is by using Google Tag Manager, which will allow your organization to create website tags without code. You’ll want to build out remarketing and conversion tags tracking traffic to both your website in general (all page views) and for your event’s landing page (to focus on remarketing efforts) – and then connect these tags to your Google Ads account.

You’ll likely want to spend some money as well on display ads running on both Google’s native channels and the Google Display Network. Not only will you want to set up these ads using the same remarketing audiences you created for the search ads, but you can also take advantage of Google’s custom intent and affinity audiences to further target your prospecting efforts.


Still unsure about how targeted digital advertising can help your association boost its event sponsorship and exhibit sales?  We’d be happy to have a conversation to share what we have seen work for other events and markets.  Email us today to set up a free consultation.

PAI Case Study: Emerging Stronger by Navigating Whitewater in an Uncertain Time

By Association Non-Dues Revenue, Expo Sales, Sponsorship Sales No Comments

In business, and in life, there is a saying people use “when things get back to normal, back to the way things were…” and the image of calm waters and clear sailing come to mind. Bringing forward the vision of a rowing crew all in line, all rowing in unison. At the same time, what if we are living in the new normal? More whitewater rapids, challenging us as teams and individuals to maneuver differently, quickly responding to the rocks and fast water swirling around us?

It has been over four months since we started operating in this brave new world. For the PAI sales team, this journey has taken us through quite a few rapids and challenging twists – especially during March and April. In the earliest phases, there was a prevailing feeling of emergency, as if taking on whitewater, and operating in a reactive/crisis management mode. We kept moving forward and making headway, taking it one day at a time.


In the early phase, we were guided by our instincts and principles which said to double-down on the people – to focus on the relationships and to listen intently to all stakeholders.


It was a deeply personal phase. Instead of focusing on specific outcomes and results, we found our mission was stewardship. Care and empathy heightened in all encounters, having a positive human interaction was the payoff – on a one-by-one and daily basis.

We’re not sure exactly when, but one week in late April we rounded our latest bend only to find that we were stronger, wiser, and filled with a vision that was fast taking shape. It did not occur all at once, but our collective experience with fellow industry members, clients, and their constituents became the very fuel that provided clarity in how best to embrace the new reality.


We emerged with a clearer purpose, leadership in thinking, and a proactive approach to delivering for our clients. By being “on the water,” we gained conviction along with a proof of concept.


Several members of our sales team were actually out in Las Vegas attending North America’s largest trade show the week that the World Health Organization declared the novel Coronavirus to be a pandemic. Meanwhile, another client was scheduled for two of their own in-person tradeshows five weeks later, to be held in Dallas. PAI had all but completed their selling cycles, with more than $1 million in revenue sold and in the bank. Immediately we were in emergency calls with the client’s executive team and planning committee. The events were initially postponed before ultimately being cancelled.

Our client looked to us for guidance as to how to handle payments from both attendees and exhibitors/sponsors — including whether or not to issue refunds or credits. Instead, we suggested a different take.


“Pay It Forward” Vs “Refund”

Our solution was to adopt a “pay it forward” approach, allowing sponsors and exhibitors to use the money they were planning on spending at the April conferences towards the association’s events either in the fall or 2021. We crafted a position statement that allowed us to both to be in lock-step alignment with our client but to also be able to use a credit policy and position in all communication. It included an “appeal to spirit” to support the association during an unprecedented time.

For the canceled events, we had already executed a 15-month sales program. We swung into action and immersed in a new campaign, calling each and every sponsor and exhibitor. We tracked every single engagement, “selling the association” and its shows all over again, starting with the largest supporters. We implemented new processes for the new cycle.

Weekly updates were shared, trends were ascertained. We encountered companies that insisted that they must have a refund, yet we dealt with all with grace and latitude, becoming optimistic that a majority of companies would accept a credit option.


Retained 70% of Events Support Revenue

Ultimately, we were able to help our client retain approximately 70% of their support revenue. By serving as goodwill ambassadors for our client association, we also strengthened our trust and relationships with the more than 200 companies involved in the shows. Moreover, as a service provider, we gained invaluable insight and expertise about ways to take control on the water and navigate the currents successfully.


Keep Your Head Above Water

As a result of this experience, we learned the following:

  • Don’t panic, keep paddling – when your organization hits rough water and challenges its always best to keep moving forward and it the right direction.
  • Have a team that can be trusted and fully on-board before you hit the water – by working with key support people and teams before hitting whitewater you increase your likely hood of making it through and onward no matter the challenge. Having them on your team before the challenging times helps you respond quickly.
  • Navigate based on a direction – Sometimes the first response might not be the best one. Take a moment to know the direction and the plan you are hoping to follow. Pulling over to the side for a moment to plan out the next few miles in a challenging time can allow you to not waste effort or time. Refunds seem like the right response when you are in the middle of the being bombarded by calls, but with a little planning and working with a trusted advisor you can come up with a better way to support the mission and not drain the needed financial resources.

Our experiences from early in the pandemic continue to guide us proactively as we shape and deliver solutions during these “new normal” times.

PAI Case Study: ASAE & The Virtual Event Market in 2020

By Association Non-Dues Revenue No Comments

In late May, The Profitable Association was asked by the American Society of Association Executives what were we hearing about virtual event platforms. The answer: “A lot!” Emails, invitations to webinars, demos, Zoom calls.

Since we provide advertising and media sales for ASAE in the technology sector, and we also deliver solutions for other associations’ events and publications, we had been observing the increasing chatter about virtual platforms (while also using some platforms ourselves).

A formal market analysis we conducted internally showed that well over twenty-five companies who were at that point in at least a new emphasis, if not a full-blown pivot. And, they were coming at it from many directions and legacy positions: from AMS, LMS, EMS, Marketing Automation, Community, Event Planning, and other places. It was and is clear: solution providers are moving quickly to address the needs of associations whose live events are canceled and may never be the same.


The Eureka for PAI and ASAE:

The need to serve and educate the association market and ASAE members quickly, to provide an up-close look at solutions so associations can be equipped to address taking events from in-person to virtual (or hybrid) now.


The Concept and Event: ASAE’s Demo Days for Virtual Events.


The Challenge:

Like many associations, ASAE has long-established programs, events, departments, and a large staff. Demo Days had to be planned, sold, promoted, and delivered on a fast-track schedule (in fact, in about 3 weeks from the drawing board to going live). Being nimble, responsive, and creative while executing a new type of event AND delivering with high value was the challenge. It was anticipated to be a one-day event including 8 solution sponsors, each having their opportunity to present to hundreds of association professionals.


The Solution:

  • Our team took the lead in crafting packages, benefits, and deliverables (the value proposition), as well as conducting market outreach and sales engagement.
  • We seamlessly joined with the small ASAE client team who would develop and host the program, while promoting and handling registrations.
  • We developed and applied a process that included both external and internal communications for collecting and sharing all sponsor deliverables and assets.
  • While in fast-motion collaboration, we checkpointed often to assess any gaps that needed to be filled.
  • We served as the voice of ASAE, conveying all instructions to the sponsors’ teams, so they would be prepared and ready for presenting.


The Results:

  • Based on early sales results and popular demand, ASAE expanded the Demo Day program to 1.5 Days, with a line-up that included 12 presenting sponsors.
  • Turnout greatly exceeded expectations: well over 1,000 registrants, a majority averaging over 5.5 hours of attendance.
  • Feedback from attendees and sponsors – it was an overwhelming success!
  • With such a lean operation, it was a financial success for ASAE.
  • See the line-up, and view an archive/replay of ASAE’s Demo Days for Virtual Events.


Key Takeaways for Associations:

  1. Think differently right now. The world as we knew it has changed quickly.
  2. Think entrepreneurially. Set aside politics, sacred cows, and long-established status quos. You can be nimble, agile, responsive, and strategic.
  3. You can not only survive, you can thrive. Leverage your association’s strengths and unique position.
  4. It’s the perfect time to go on offense. Be the leader that you are – as an executive, as an innovator, and as an industry association.
  5. Seize opportunities for Success. If you find a formula that works well in this “brave new world” – why not make it the basis of a new business model?


The ‘New Normal’: 3 Tips for Resuming In-Person Events in a Post-COVID19 World

By Association Non-Dues Revenue, Expo Sales, Sponsorship Sales No Comments

It’s no secret that the novel Coronavirus has changed the face of the event marketing industry both in 2020 and, potentially, for years to come.

But as with many other facets of our daily life, the industry’s future success hinges on how well it adapts to the “new normal” created by the pandemic. The appetite still exists for in-person events; a recent study by TradeShowLogic found that just 14% of respondents do not see themselves attending and/or exhibiting at one or more in-person trade shows or conferences over the next year.

So with that in mind, how can your association best plan for its remaining 2020 (and upcoming 2021) in-person conferences so they both create revenue and protect the health and safety of all those involved? Below are some suggestions we’re using with our clients to help them prepare for their upcoming in-person events.


Bigger is Better

Given the CDC’s recommendation for six-foot spacing, one of the easiest ways to adapt is by increasing the amount of open space throughout your conference. In exhibit halls, this can be as simple as widening the aisles between booths, as well as setting up a one-way traffic flow to keep people as distanced as possible. Some clients are even limiting the number of people allowed in each room by reducing the number of entrances/exits and using tally counters.

Should you find yourself needing to redesign your exhibit hall’s floorplan to accommodate for better social distancing measures, there are several tools you can use (including this one from Allseated) that account for local and state guidelines.


Additional Sponsorship Opportunities

While the removal of exhibit booths to comply with social distancing measures may impact your overall profit margins, opportunities exist for you to make up a sizeable amount of that revenue through one-off sponsorship opportunities related to the pandemic.

Why not let sponsors pay for cloth facemasks that can be distributed at the start of the conference to all attendees? You can have either a single sponsor foot the bill for the masks, or have multiple vendors chip in, with the size of their logos on the mask determined by that company’s contribution amount. Sponsors can also pay for travel-sized bottles of hand sanitizer or facial tissues to be distributed on-site, as well as stand-alone hand sanitizer and water stations.

You can also have sponsors pay for the additional signage needed to enforce the additional safety measures, provided their logo appears prominently on the signs.


Increased Digital Presence

These days, most major conferences use an online platform like eShow or Cvent to help manage the logistics of their event. Many of these programs already offer solutions that can help minimize the need for contact at conferences and trade shows, including but not limited to:

  • QR codes on conference badges: By printing a QR code that links to the attendee’s profile from your event’s main database on every conference badge, exhibitors and attendees alike can easily trade information with one another without making contact with one another. As an added bonus, exhibitors can use the QR codes to enter attendees into raffles or send follow-up emails with brochures and other information about their products and services – making the event paperless and environmentally friendly.
  • RFID tag in conference badges: If you’re worried about crowd control at your event, consider adding a RFID tag to your conference badges. While costly, the tags will allow you to track your attendees – making it easier to focus on crowd control efforts.
  • Virtual Swag Bags: Rather than distribute collateral on-site, why not send all of your attendees a “virtual swag bag” filled with sponsor-provided content. This can be a video demonstration of their product or service, PDF brochures about their company, or even coupons for future purchases. Plus, by having sponsors pay for the content inside the bag, the cost to you is minimal.


What is your association doing to adapt to the changes created by the coronavirus pandemic? Have any of the above solutions worked for you? Do you have any suggestions you’d like to add? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.  

graduated pricing strategy for sponsorship sales

A Graduated Pricing Strategy Drives Exhibit and Sponsorship Sales

By Association Non-Dues Revenue, Expo Sales, Sponsorship Sales No Comments

When looking at your sales cycle for your annual event, an entire year can seem like a long time.  A graduated pricing strategy will drive exhibit and sponsorship sales and help you maintain revenue momentum throughout the year.  Associations who are strategic with their pricing strategy can create the conditions for a seller’s market well in advance of their event.

A graduated pricing strategy is achieved by increasing rates at set dates throughout the year as the timeline moves closer to the event.  For most associations, this means starting with an onsite rate and then progressing to an early bird rate, and then the full price.  Publishing all three pricing tiers from the very beginning of promotion makes a compelling visual for prospects and incentivizes them to not delay.

Graduated Pricing Strategy

How do you come up with the exact dates around which you want to drive action with price increases?

Internally, the dates may be completely arbitrary but if you have client-facing deadlines, it drives urgency for them. Maybe each market and event cycle could be a little different.  The key is to know your marketplace and your industry calendar.

Here are a few questions that can help you determine your price increase dates:

  • What are your natural slow periods? Holidays, the early stage of the cycle, etc.?
  • What is the fiscal cycle of your customers?
  • What are your customers used to in terms of a renewal period?
  • What/when are your big competing events and complimentary events?

Example Scenario

If your event is in November, you want to offer the lowest rate of the year for exhibitors and sponsors that signup onsite for the following year. This part of the sales cycle is absolutely critical.  Pre-selling for the next year allows you to have spaces reserved and blocked out on the floor plan so you are not starting sales in the next stage of your cycle with a completely empty floor plan.  Having a few spaces already blocked out is much more visually compelling and drives urgency when sharing the floor plan with other prospects.

exhibit sales strategy

Considering that your event is in November, you probably will not do a lot of sales in December and January when most people are out on holiday.  It may be wise to run your early bird rates during those slow months with a scheduled increase on March 1st.  Based on this deadline, you want to have a big marketing push for the entire month of February leading up to the March 1st deadline.

Then, maybe you increase to full price right around June.  This is when prices will increase to the full amount and remain there until the event. In June, you are still 6 months out from a November event.  Your ‘sweet spot’ for the entire year, when you will be doing the most sales will likely be the months of April, May, and June.

By this deadline you will now have created scarcity on the floor plan and you have now turned it into a seller’s market and will be fully justified in selling at full price.

Remember that these dates can always be a bit elastic.  If communication is still hot, you may choose to extend the deadline by a week or less in order to keep momentum and allow more time for prospects who are working on getting internal buy-in or working through legal red tape.  Don’t give prospects too much extra time or you will lose the sense of urgency and lose sales.  No more than a 72-hour extension is recommended.

Tried and Proven Strategy

One strategy that has been incredibly successful for us to sell out floor plans for our clients is to post deadlines that land shortly after competing or complimentary events.

Here is how this might play out.  If you are going to a big industry event where you know you will see a lot of your prospects and customers, you may want to put a deadline right after that event.  When you are talking to prospects at the event you may offer them a special for signing up for your event while there on-the-spot or very shortly after.

If you have a deadline that is real and within 1-2 weeks of this event, and it is coupled with a strong price incentive, prospects now have to think of your event in real, practical action terms.  You have a call to action right then and there.  Having this price incentive and deadline now moves the conversation from theoretical to actionable with a sense of urgency.

Still unsure of how a graduated pricing structure could work for your association and event?  We’d be happy to have a conversation to share what we have seen work for other events and markets.  Contact us to set up a free consultation.

Association Non-Dues Revenue

Association Event Sponsorship Sales: 3 Tips for Success in 2019

By Association Non-Dues Revenue, Expo Sales, Sponsorship Sales No Comments

Here are 3 tips for association event sponsorship sales success in 2019.  This new year marks over 20 years of delivering solutions for associations here at The Profitable Association.  While the tools of the trade have changed over the years, there are some enduring sales principles that stand the test of time.  Here’s how to keep it fresh while staying true to proven sales strategy.

Keep the sponsorship menu concise and easy to digest

Too many options can confuse buyers and delay the sales decision.  Focus on quality over quantity.  Consider offering a fewer number of sponsorships and then over-deliver on the activation.  Treat your sponsors like VIPs to increase renewals and multi-year commitments.

Remember.  It is a supply-and-demand market, so scarcity will drive action.  You can add more supply to your marketplace by adding additional sponsorship opportunities later.

Get the leadership team to participate in the sales process 

Ask your leadership team to prime a select number of high-value targets to get them excited about exclusive VIP opportunities.  Leadership can make valuable introductions to the sales team which can set the stage to build a consultative relationship to everyone’s benefit.

Possible VIPs for you to consider are your incoming association board members.  It may be a big year for them and their company and they may want to invest in the additional spotlight.

Provide activation for sponsors before and after the event, not just the during the event

Find creative ways to include sponsorship recognition throughout the promotion and recap stages of the event.  For example, is attendance promotion one of your challenges?  Consider getting a sponsor to help underwrite some of those expenses. Maybe you could produce a sponsored social media ad campaign.  Sponsors will love the recognition and your association will benefit from greater attendance promotion.

What are some of your key strategies for association event sponsorship sales in 2019?  Please comment below.

Give us a call if you’d like additional support in increasing non-dues revenue for your association. We’re here to help in the areas of exhibit sales, sponsorship sales, advertising sales, and more.

Sell Sponsorships as You Would Play a Golf Hole

By Association Non-Dues Revenue, Expo Sales, Sponsorship Sales No Comments

After 20+ years in association exhibit and sponsorship sales, it strikes me how many parallels there are between golf shots and the sales cycle. Whether you play like Tiger Woods, Lexi Thompson, or Brooks Koepka or slap it around for an occasional weekend round, the goal is the same – to shoot a low score by getting the ball into each hole in a minimum number of shots.

Effective association sales professionals know that it takes the right “shots” at the right time to close a deal. “Grip it and rip it” may work. But many sales cycles can be like an unforgiving golf course where the pros often play like the rest of us –

  • Treacherously long, penalizing rough: How to get in the door and make a great first impression?
  • Daunting, unforgiving hazards: Pigeonholed with a non-decision maker?
  • Lightning-fast greens: Overselling, or speaking when you should be listening? Getting the proper read?

Converting a cold lead or a lukewarm prospect to a customer isn’t easy, but if you think in terms of playing smartly, one shot at a time, avoiding trouble, knowing how to recover, taking what the situation gives you, trusting your instincts, and calmly executing, then you can successfully reduce the number of shots (or calls) it takes to close an account!

Tee Shot/New Prospect

  1. Define your goal and plan your call before you smile and dial.
  2. Do your pre-call research.
  3. Know the person and the company and what you are going to ask/say before you begin.
  4. Use the tools available at your disposal (LinkedIn, Google, industry publications, their company website)
  • You must know the hole and the best landing areas before your tee shot.
  • Select the right club and visualize where you see the ball landing: in the fairway.
  • Straight and medium is much better than long and wrong.
  • Get off to a good start and in good position for your next shot.

Lay-up or Approach Shot/Warm Prospect

  1. With an honest assessment, evaluate your position and what needs to be done.
  2. Will one presentation alone get you closer to the sale, or do you envision multiple steps to gain credibility and buy-in?
  3. Are you asking questions and truly learning about what matters to them?
  4. Are you creating desire and a sense of urgency for taking action?
  5. Objections: do you recognize, acknowledge, and explore first, before responding?
  • Take dead aim.
  • Avoid trouble by erring on the safe side.
  • Factor in the wind and your lie. Club selection is critical.
  • If you can’t reach, then lay-up.
  • If in trouble: know how to recover. It may cost one stroke, but smart shots here will avoid a “big number”.

Pitch Shot or Chip Shot/Hot Prospect

  1. As you get closer to agreement, determine the shortest path to yes for your prospect: what can you do to make it easy for them?
  2. Realize that perhaps blessing is needed from above.
  3. Use positive forward-looking language, projecting them as having already gained their benefits in the future.
  4. Be natural, be yourself. Use humor when appropriate. Make it fun, creative, and memorable!
  • You need skilled finesse shots, like chips, pitches, and sand shots to get on the green and close to the hole. Practice. Lots of practice.
  • Know your own game and what’s in your bag.
  • Select the right club with the best loft for the situation: judge how much to fly versus to roll.
  • Give yourself a chance to “get up and down”.

Lag Putt/“Verbal”

  1. Be an active listener, and be responsive to subtleties and loose ends that might matter.
  2. The relationship and trust you’ve built may be the thing that solidifies the sale.
  3. Be a charming “guest”, so that “check-ins” are comfortable. Keep the door open.
  4. Ask tough questions if necessary. Then shut-up and listen.
  5. Be patient, calm, and reasonable. Smile: The sale matters, but not that much.
  • If on the green but far from the hole, deftly yet assertively lag to within an imaginary four-foot circle around the hole. (The hole is only 4.25 inches in diameter.)
  • Don’t overcook it or undercook it lest you have extra shots coming back.
  • Try to make it, but if you don’t, now you are left with what should be an easy tap-in.
  • Who knows, it might even go in!

In the hole!/A New Customer!

Fist pump, celebrate, congratulations!

Setting Goals for Event Revenue

By Association Non-Dues Revenue, Expo Sales, Sponsorship Sales No Comments

Association professionals might have more challenges, in the beginning, to gain focus for long-range planning and shorter-term deliverables when it comes to executing a non-dues revenue-generating event. How can associations share in the excitement about continued growth?  PAI Sales provides guidance and expertise to association staff to deliver and sell events.

Keep it about the Goals

Whether the challenge is getting a new event off the ground, maintaining a growth trajectory, or getting key team members on the same page, we follow this blueprint to get everyone marching together. Here is an overview of the process with six simple steps:

  1. Create a shared Vision of what the event will look like in the future.
  2. From the vision, make a future Plan, and make the plan about Goals.
  3. Establish a Longer-range Focus on the event as an evolving business (key term is evolving business.)
  4. Establish, communicate and share the goals – for long-term and for each event – will the full team and key member committees.
  5. Plan together as a team, including Quantitative and Qualitative goals blended into one business plan that is flexible for adjustments.
  6. Look backward for Lessons Learned and to build on prior success, and look forward for Improvement and Growth.

Qualitative Goals

  • Develop and set goals for both attendee and sponsor/exhibitor satisfaction. Collect feedback and make adjustments accordingly.
  • Develop and set goals for Service Level, Responsiveness, and Business Practices.
  • Develop other goals for attendee Experience, program/content QualityEngagement, and other key items including the incorporation of any creative, memorable, or “wow” factors.

Quantitative Goals

For each event, set goals for:

  • Total Revenue
  • Attendee/registration Revenue
  • Sponsor/Exhibitor Revenue
  • Net Revenue
  • Number of total attendees
  • Number of paid attendees
  • Number of paid sponsors
  • Establish and share the goals by a specific date each year for the following year.

The quantitative goals will involve related “time and space” goals with hard calendar deadlines. Create a document so that everyone is sharing in the goal-driven deadlines with related steps and tasks.

Team Sharing, Communicating and Planning

  • Establish a monthly meeting to exchange updates and to track progress.
  • Set a twice-yearly meeting to revisit and make adjustments to the future plan.

 Just remember… Have fun as a team, root for and celebrate success!

association sales philosophy

The 40/40/20 Sales Philosophy

By Association Non-Dues Revenue, Expo Sales, Sponsorship Sales No Comments

Where do you start with any new sales project? Let’s say that the project is selling exhibit space and sponsorships that will drive revenue to support a conference. Do you have your own basic formula or sales philosophy?

If you are in a business-to-business sales role then start by asking yourself – what is your philosophy? I like to sum up mine as the “40/40/20 Approach

The “40/40/20 Approach” to Sales and Marketing Campaigns

I like to start with this basic philosophy, thinking in terms of three very “general variables” and keeping in mind which ones you can control and which ones you cannot.

  • The List
  • The Offer
  • The Look
association sales

The “List” = 40% emphasis

Start with a variable that you can control, and can grow and improve over time. If you are building a sales program for an event, make it a priority to establish, then to methodically grow and build a prospect database. Don’t rely on disparate, random, old, or disconnected lists. Perform extensive analysis of the greater market universe, and “gold-mine” contacts that you can code by source, industry niche or category, and eventually, by contact history, prospect “grade” and call notes. Acquire contacts by attending industry events and tradeshows, researching print and online directories, and culling from publications that contain advertising. Build on whatever legacy and internal lists are available. Refine and cleanse as you go.

A long-term concerted focus on developing and growing a database of prospects is an asset that will insulate you against the normal market and economic fluctuations that otherwise may impact an event. Rather than start over each year, build your list, know your prospects, and let the numbers work in your favor.

The “Offer” = 40% emphasis

You can control this variable best of all. It is an essential intangible package, and requires focus and strategic thinking. Simply put, this is your event’s selling value proposition and all of its specifics, varied or tailored for the purpose of getting your target prospects to take action as soon as possible. It needs to be thought out and formalized, and adaptable for print and electronic media, for in-person situations and phone calls.

Take the strategic and “long view” with an empathetic mindset. It may be incorporated into how you think of and structure your rates, packages, and timing, your floor plan design and may include a rewards program.  Tailor the offer and the key parts of the value proposition and call to action to match the target list. You will have great results if you match a customized niche offer with a corresponding niche target market segment that is coded and pulled from your list.

The “Look” = 20% emphasis

If it’s not part of the value proposition, (if you can see it or touch it), then it falls into the “Look” general category. The Look is the element with the most hard costs, so it is critical that it is weighted correctly.  Many associations place too much emphasis on the branding (the font and color palette, the esoteric theme, the weight or gloss of the brochure, and the overall design of the website, etc) and NOT enough on the value proposition to buyers (the offer). The prettiest or most creatively designed brochure will only move the needle by a few points if it is mailed to a good List. But if it reaches too few (or the wrong) targets, or if it does not contain a compelling offer plus a call and mechanism for action, it could be a wasted investment.

I’m not saying that “The Look” is not important at all. Budget allowing, a mailed hardcopy prospectus can still be the single most effective element of an integrated, multi-pronged marketing campaign. Keep it lightweight, fewer in pages, and mail to more of the best targets.  Budgeting to hit a larger quantity of quality targets with the right offer will yield a far greater return in leads (and sales) than creating an expensive work of art.

The benefit of having a philosophy is that it provides your team and clients with consistency in your approach and expectations, which engenders trust, leading to higher levels of commitment and performance.

I’d love to hear what you think about the “40/40/20” Philosophy, and to learn about your own Sales Philosophy.