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conference sponsorship sales

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.

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.  

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The Prospect “Sprint” Roundup: Seeking a “Yes” or “No” – NOW!

By Expo Sales, Sponsorship Sales No Comments

We’ve all been at a stage in our sales cycle where we “cherish” names on a list.

Let’s say that our sales cycle is for an annual event that is coming up in 60-90 days. For months we have had steady closes, and we are closing in on our goal of a sell-out. Meanwhile, we’ve engaged with hundreds of targets and leads, and have cultivated an ever-growing prospect list, of perhaps dozens. Often, we have developed personal relationships with many prospects after multiple conversations and exchanges. We have our prospects listed and graded with an assessment of their likelihood to close. The list has grown, and we truly, sincerely believe – because these people have personally given us their positive indications. We trust them that they will come through. Yet they have not – yet!

It’s Time: De-personalize, Stop Cherishing, and Stop Trusting      

The best mindset at this late cycle stage is to go into full-on robot mode (de-personalize your thinking about these fast “friends”) and treat any and all Prospects the same! It is time to expect that each and every one can give you their answer now.  Whether they’ve been graded as “Verbal” or at 75%, 50%, 25%, or 10% – it is time to seek out a specific answer – now.

Sprint Week: Risk Getting a No

  1. Canvas each name on your list that is still alive. It is time to be even more direct than ever.
  2. Relationship time is over.
  3. Set your goal for Monday and Tuesday for contacting all accounts personally via email.
  4. Call Days: Call after the email has been sent, make sure to call each one, by Thursday.
  5. Leave voicemails with the same elements that are in your email.
  6. For Live conversations, stick to the direct – are you signing up today or tomorrow?

Get the No’s Now and Determine your “True Action” List

  1. Build in a Yes or No question. (Will your team be signing up this week?)
  2. Put each prospect “on notice”.
  3. Give them a deadline for action, actually several.

For an event that is less than three months out, relish getting a No! It pares down your list, and enables you to narrow your focus and activity to only deal with the Prospects who verify pending action. You are assessing reality and feasibility – theirs and yours…are they truly “actionable”?

There are multiple real-world urgent reasons why it behooves and benefits them to give you a Yes or No now. Come up with your own list…here are some samples:

  • Space is selling out; now is the last chance to guarantee a spot (or a best spot).
  • Logistics: Deadlines for their teams’ travel plans for ___(City). (This is an acid-test for their reality.)
  • Deadline to be included in the Show Directory (or Show App). Give a date.
  • Deadline for badge registration (perhaps rate increases). Give a date.
  • The Hotel room block selling out. Give a date.

A note about “Maybes” or “We don’t know”

Unless they tell you it is under review and they will have an answer by  ____(near-term date) – which you should ascertain – maybes and “I don’t know” are “hollow” at this stage and indicate that the person is not the decision maker. In that case you should kick your last chance inquiry to a higher-up or to additional contacts if you have them. Yes – risk losing your “friend” – it may actually get you a Yes or No.

Or simply move on.

By the end of your “Sprint Week” you will have a much smaller prospect list. You will have knocked off the No’s (for this year) and trimmed the dead weight. However, you will also have re-heated or driven quite a few would-be names on your list to take earlier action. You’ll be in a much better position, not only because of the resulting sales that are coming in. You will gain full control of your time and a razor-sharp focus for the final key stretch run, enabling you to optimize your late stage sales cycle.

Washington, D.C. Vintage Postcard

PAI Case Study: To Optimize Exhibitor Retention – Build a Program Early, Give Cards and Candy!

By Expo Sales, Sponsorship Sales No Comments

One of the keys for hosting a successful, growing annual conference is to keep your sponsors and exhibitors coming back year after year. After all, the cost for converting a new sponsor or exhibitor can be as high as five times that of retaining a current one.

That’s why at The Profitable Association (PAI), we’ve incorporated a comprehensive “Pre-Show Selection” initiative into events that we sell, including building a Priority-Points system for incumbents that includes an automated Space Draw program. And, we have “trained” our marketplace of customers that the process will begin early – with announcements and initial actions for Next Year beginning two months before This Year’s event.

By doing so, our best-supporting companies can be ensured they have the best opportunity to get the best space and the lowest rate. It is a win for the exhibitor/sponsors, and also a win for the association client who gains a much earlier picture of their following year’s financials. And, as the association’s Sales Partner, it enables us to maximize retention at their events, year after year.

Our “Pre-Show Selection” process works something like this:

  • We’ll start marketing the sales of sponsorships and exhibit booths for next year’s conference prior to the start of this year’s conference – all at discounted rates.
  • We build the next year’s show website, online floor plan, forms, rates, packages, priority order program, and automated Space Draw program – complete with assigned appointment algorithms and automated weekly and daily reminders.
  • We execute the Space Draw phase first.
  • We reached out personally to VIP exhibitors and sponsors to ensure they did not blink and miss the opportunity.
  • We sent out e-blasts featuring the special rates available to current exhibitors and sponsors who signed up before the start of the 2019 show.
  • Next, we continue the pre-show marketing and sales outreach – right up until the day before the show.

We recently used this process to great success on behalf of Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), where we were able to exceed $1 million in sales from sponsorships and exhibit sales for their 2019 event in Las Vegas. Serving as DBIA’s partner, as their staff focused on the final preparations for the 2019 conference, we were hard at work getting them a head start for their 2020 event in the Nation’s Capital.

The real fun got underway once we landed in Vegas. We set up a full-fledged sales operation on-site at this year’s conference, with a Sales Office where we hosted one-on-one meetings with vendors, distributing promotional materials, and more.

  • As exhibitors set up their booths, we greeted them with promotional materials for the 2020 show as well as special candy treats with an invitation to visit us.
  • Later, we left them personalized appointment cards reminding them of their onsite “Space Selection” time – cards that were printed on the back of a vintage Washington, D.C. postcard.
  • We double and tripled back throughout the show and engaged directly to ensure they were fully aware of their on-site discount and that the 2020 floor plan was filling up.
  • We also sent out daily e-reminders, reminding them of the special on-site discounts available in the Sales Office.

All of this hard work paid off. Company signups increased by 119% over the year before, while early exhibit and sponsorship revenue was up as well. And, most importantly, we were able to add a personal touch combined with an automated program, resulting in great sponsor and exhibitor retention, and a fast start for our association client’s 2020 event revenue.

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!