Using the Power of Event Sponsorships to Market Your Brand
What if you could get your brand in front of an engaged audience; one that is already invested in your specific industry and interested in your particular products and services? That’s precisely what you get when you attend a trade show or similar exposition. While your brand may already participate or exhibit, sponsoring an event is a marketing avenue that’s been underutilized.
However, that is changing. According to recent research from the Association of National Advertisers and the Marketing Accountability Standards Board, more businesses and corporations realize the value of event sponsorships. The 2018 total for North American sponsorship spending is estimated to be $24.2 billion, an increase of 41 percent since 2010.
A big reason is that event sponsorship benefits everyone: attendees, event management, and the sponsor. Hosting an event is costly, and attendees have certain expectations. Sponsorships help event organizers afford amenities, experiential activations, and VIP speakers and presenters.
That’s how management and attendees benefit. For sponsors, there are many marketing opportunities. What you choose to sponsor and how you position your sponsorship will help determine the benefits you receive.
Boost Your Brand Image with Attendees
Sponsoring an event sends a message to attendees that your brand is interested in and supports the same things that are important to them. Whether the event is charitable or an industry function, you earn credibility through your sponsorship.
Sponsoring is unlike advertising or even exhibiting, where the intent is to persuade others to buy your products or utilize your services. With a sponsorship, your actions are directly benefitting attendees. These efforts are appreciated and naturally viewed as positive, which improves the overall perception of your brand.
Affordably Build Brand Awareness
The exposure your brand receives at the actual event is invaluable, but event sponsorship does not happen in a vacuum. Event organizers spend months promoting their event on social media and through traditional means. By securing your sponsorship early and ensuring your brand is included in these marketing efforts, you expand your brand’s reach and build consumer awareness.
By being thoughtful with the events you sponsor, you can gain extensive brand exposure and generate awareness for less than the cost of a traditional advertising campaign. Additionally, your brand is seen by the exact audience you wish to reach, as opposed to an ad campaign that is viewed by anyone. This makes event sponsorship an attractive option for small businesses and those with a limited marketing budget.
Brands can also capitalize on any media coverage that is at the event. Again, this level of exposure is usually out of reach for most companies. Yet, with event sponsorship, often your logo or brand name will be visible (or mentioned) along with the event. This is particularly effective if you have a marketing plan that’s prepared to take advantage of this exposure.
Engage with your Target Audience
Traditional advertising is a one-way conversation where a brand shouts into a void and hopes the public listens. Event sponsorship provides brands with the opportunity to directly engage consumers at the event. By establishing a booth in a prominent location (likely part of the sponsorship package), attendees can stop by to ask questions and learn more about your products and brand philosophy.
Creating an experiential activation is another engagement option, one that will generate excitement and create memories. An experiential activation delivers an experience to consumers that promotes your brand without directly pitching your products or services. When executed correctly, an experiential activation makes consumers want to participate in brand building.
Today’s consumers are increasingly difficult to reach through conventional means. Thanks to cord cutting and ad-blocking software, traditional advertising is losing its effectiveness by the minute.
Audiences want to be engaged by and feel connected to brands. That’s why event sponsorship is effective at driving sales. Not only is brand building an effective method for increasing sales, but attendee engagement can help move products as well. The greater the connection that consumers feel toward your brand, the likelier they are to make a purchase and return for more. Plus, at an event, you can offer attendees a “taste” by including samples as part of a gift bag or handouts at your booth.
Gain Audience Insights
As attendees swing by your sponsorship area, you can gather valuable data on your target market. This data gathering can be even more efficient by utilizing a badge scanner or radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. These techs dramatically shorten the time it takes to collect data, so your event team can spend more time personally engaged with attendees.
Additionally, sponsors may receive attendee data from the event’s management. These databases are an extremely valuable perk of event sponsorship, although they are not a guarantee. Speak to show management about being allowed access to mailing lists and distribution channels. The answer may be no, but organizers may be willing to distribute marketing material on your behalf.
Industry events are filled with people who are interested in your specific services or products. All of this data you acquire as an event sponsor can be utilized to discover potential leads. Make sure that every single lead receives an email or phone call from your team no later than two weeks after the event. The longer it takes for you to reach out is more time your competitors have to beat you to the sale.
Create Content Marketing
Content creation is an inevitable result of event sponsorships. Obviously, you will promote your sponsorship efforts on social media. However, that is just the beginning. Before the event, consider writing a series of blog posts explaining why you decided to sponsor this specific event. Be sure to discuss your onsite plans. Follow up with your impressions after the show. Then find ways to repurpose all of this content you created.
Also, attendees will communicate their event experiences on social media. Be sure to engage with these attendees to create conversations and retweet, repost, and share their blog posts, photos, and videos – especially when your brand is mentioned.
Expand your Reach
Again, the right sponsorship does wonders for word-of-mouth recommendations. People who had positive interactions with your brand or appreciated the fact that you sponsored this particular event will share those feelings on social media and to their colleagues and superiors. This provides your brand with increased awareness and a series of new avenues for lead generation.
Additionally, event planners will promote their efforts across multiple channels, including email, direct mail, digital, and public relations. Through your sponsorship, your brand will directly benefit from their efforts.
Measure Return on Investment and Return on Objective
Measuring the actual return on investment (ROI) of an event sponsorship can take time, primarily because leads need to be generated and nurtured, sales need to be closed, and the cycle needs to complete. Depending on the sales cycle for your specific industry, measuring ROI could take several years.
While you wait for the sales cycle to complete, you can measure the value of a sponsorship by determining the return on objective (ROO). This is an evaluation that focuses on behavioral results (as opposed to financial), such as brand awareness. Determining ROO does not use a mathematical formula. You must define your sponsorship objectives and know how to track them before the event starts.
Brands that fully embrace their role as a sponsor should see many benefits from their efforts. With the right event, sponsorships increase brand awareness, improve brand image, and give brands a leg up on their competition.