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Sponsorship Sales

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.

Advice From a CEO: Engaging Expo Traffic

By | Association Non-Dues Revenue, Expo Sales, Sponsorship Sales | No Comments
Andrew Hamra is CEO of RUNNUR Mobile Tech Gear. He recently had a great show at the 2018 Associated General Contractors of America Convention in New Orleans.  Our team could not help but notice Andrew’s fresh and effective approach to engaging expo traffic and c-level decision makers.  We asked and he was willing to share some of the secrets to his success.
Q: Tell us about your strategy to engage expo traffic.  What questions/tactics did you use?
A: Our strategy to engage expo traffic has developed over several shows. Since we have a physical product, we use highly visible orange painted torso mannequins to display our Tablet Tool Belt and Tablet SlingMount, and ask one simple questions to everyone who walks by the booth. The question we ask is “Are you carrying tablets in the Field?” Once the question sinks in and they realize they do (about 8 in 10 at BIM an AGC), they take a quick look at the booth display where our product is easily identifiable and walk over saying “Yes, we do!”
Q: Did you take advantage of any after-hours events that AGC set up?  Were meaningful connections made? 
A: Absolutely! One of the other exhibiting companies at the show, Procore, saw our product and upon recognizing a potential synergy invited us up to their after-hours party announcing their partnership with Apple. Once there, and after filling my belly with some amazing food, I began to network. I approached a group of cheery folks and was quickly asked what I do. As I was wearing my product at the time, I pulled the Tablet from my belt and said: “I do this!” One of the guys turned his head and locked onto the product and said: “That’s a great design!” Turns out he was the speaker from Apple and we have been in contact several times since the event! 
Q: How key is the General Contractor and Virtual Construction market to your company?
A: Both the General Contractor and Virtual Construction markets have become our prime focus over the last year. What we have found to be the best indicator of our success at trade shows is the number of software companies exhibiting. The fact that three of AGC’s biggest sponsors were all tech companies (Procore, PlanGrid, and AutoDesk) proved to be extremely telling of an industry where tech and Tablet adaption is exceedingly common and where our product solves major problems.
Q: Who are some of the ideal connections you have made in these markets?

A: Beyond the c-level and owner/operator contacts we met attending the shows, we have been able to connect and partner with several software companies who also exhibit at these events. Since software is dependent on the use of hardware (Tablets), and Tablets must be carried, there is an immediate recognition of our value within the marketplace and ecosystem. These partnerships have proved to be an invaluable asset as software companies are often the first point of contact for companies looking to go mobile and can further provide added value to their customers through our partnership.

Q: Does your future revenue growth plan include the AGC and/or BIMForum events? 
A: After exhibiting at both AGC and BIMForum we feel that AGC will provide us with the best opportunity for future growth. If we were a software company it would likely be both, but since we make the hardware for end users, AGC provides us with greater access to the decision makers and professionals who are out in the field. The AGC show in Denver next year is now our main event for 2019!

Andrew Hamra – RUNNUR

RUNNUR- Universal Tablet & iPad Holsters, Shoulder Slings and Mobile Organizers

RUNNUR designs and makes Tablet & iPad Holsters, Shoulder Slings, and Mobile Organizers to carry devices, and “tools of the trade,” safely and securely. RUNNUR’s innovative products have been developed to be Tough, Lightweight, Fashionable and Ergonomic.

Association Venue Recommendation: Mardi Gras World- New Orleans, LA

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

For associations looking to provide a memorable experience at your annual convention or milestone celebration, look no further than Mardi Gras World in New Orleans, LA.  We recently joined the Associated General Contractors of America and 3,000 revelers for their party culminating their 2018 Annual Convention and commemorating their 100th Anniversary.  Mardi Gras World delivered a night of fun among mystical floats, rich creole food, and a backdrop of jazz and zydeco music.

Experience

Featured on the Discovery, History, and the Travel Channels, you are guaranteed to “wow” your membership with this venue!  Guests enter through the Float Den where there are ample photo opportunities and a true risk of sensory overload!  From there, guests are ushered down a short stroll along the Mississippi Riverfront and then into the main venue where the discovery continues as each consecutive room expresses a different theme on New Orleans culture.

Location

Mardi Gras World is located directly on the banks of the Mississippi River in the Central Business District.  It is convenient to the French Quarter and the Convention Center. Free shuttle transportation is offered during the day for tours. Quick and convenient options are available for evening affairs.

Service

Our staff and clients were pleasantly surprised by the friendliness and responsiveness of the staff at Mardi Gras World.  True Southern Hospitality was felt from every contact point with staff.  With over 230,000 square feet of possibilities, your association can offer the experience that fits your members’ needs.  Whether you fancy an intimate setting for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the riverfront or want to host a blow-out party like the AGC, it is all in the realm of possibility.

How to Research New Prospects for Non-Dues Revenue

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

Researching prospects efficiently and effectively is vital for your association to build a strong non-dues revenue stream. Converting a cold lead or a lukewarm prospect to a customer isn’t easy, but by doing a bit of homework you can successfully reduce the number of calls it takes to close an account.

In a perfect world, you would have ample time for research in advance of meetings with prospects. However, if the reality of deadlines and competing responsibilities leaves you crunched for time, here are 3 suggestions of what to look for in order to find the most important information in less than 15 minutes.

Use LinkedIn to learn more about the decision maker

You may not have time to stalk their profile in detail but be sure to note things like:

  • Common connections- Common connections can instantly turn your cold call into a trusted introduction.
  • Their job description- Doing a quick scan of their responsibilities can give you a good idea of how far their decision-making power extends and if others should be included in the sales process.
  • Their alma mater(s)- This can be a great way to connect personally and perhaps uncover more common connections.

Leverage news sources to identify ‘trigger events’

Are there any notable changes that would make the prospect a great fit for your association’s trade show or publication?

Examples of trigger events are the recent awarding of funding, a new product launch, or an announcement of a merger or partnership.  If you use a CRM like Salesforce, customer headlines can quickly be found on your home screen.

You can also reference:

  • Google Alerts– This free tool from Google will send important news updates about the companies you select to your inbox in real time.
  • Their blog- Anything newsworthy will be shown on the company blog. Checking the blog will not only give you trigger events but it can give you a great sense of the issues and topics that the company cares about.

Mine your own CRM for insider information

  • Have other colleagues had interactions with this company? – Picking up the phone quickly to get them to elaborate on their notes could be helpful.
  • Who are at least 2-3 similar customers that you have helped with solutions? – Being able to spout off about 2-3 names goes a long way in building confidence.
  • Is your current prospect different than the contact name that you have in your CRM? – A new person in a decision-making position could open new doors for your products/services.

The bottom line is that researching prospects is simultaneously one of the most valuable and the most time-consuming sales activities.  Knowing your ‘go-to’ resources can help you to avoid going down the rabbit hole and allow you to get the information that you need to affect the outcome in your favor and the prospect’s favor.

If you are interested in learning more strategies to boost your non-dues revenue, please contact our team to schedule a complimentary “Non-Dues Revenue Check-Up”.

Questions?  202-810-4126 Or Solutions@Paisales.Com.

The #1 Sales Philosophy for Non-dues Revenue

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

Our team just returned from assisting a client at a successful building and construction association event. By the final day of this year’s event, over 75% of the expo hall was already under contract and reserved for next year’s event.  Can you imagine the non-dues revenue and time savings that this scenario could have for your association?

This is only possible with the realization that selling is never complete and the customer experience is as much a part of the sale as the close.  A sale doesn’t end with the exchange of money.  Sure, it’s great when you’ve closed a deal, whether it’s five dollars or five million, but your selling doesn’t end there. In fact, it simply can’t.

Gillin and Gianforte write in their book, Attack of the Customers, ‘…they may never consider a vendor because of a negative reference from a trusted source or even from someone they’ve never met’ and ‘A 2012 survey by ClickFox found that 33% of consumers said providing exceptional customer service was the best way to build loyalty.’

Associations looking to increase their non-dues revenue must make certain that the client continues to receive a positive ‘sales’ experience, for the organization’s sake as well as your own.  In order to sell out your expo hall every year, it is paramount to be aware of ALL client interactions with customer service  to include accounts receivable, accounts payable, shipping, production, and more.

Some potential pitfalls during the client experience are:

  1. Difficulty finding needed information on the website or a complicated payment procedure.
  2. Being tardy delivering the service manual or pre-event information.
  3. Requiring customers to go to multiple different people and channels due to a fractured service delivery model.
  4. Not having enough customer service representatives to handle on-site troubleshooting at the event.
  5. Failing to ask for feedback immediately after the event and incorporating it into future strategy.

Our team has 20+ years of experience selling out expo halls and increasing non-dues revenue for associations.  Our strategy is to work alongside you in partnership to grow your event.  If you are ready to power up your revenue please contact us to schedule a free consultation.

You may also be interested in some of the other success stories we have cultivated for our clients.

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