A Sponsorship that Worked

Last Friday I was in New York City for the first [and hopefully annual] BlogHer Writer’s Conference–presented by Penguin Group.  Besides the actual content of the conference being phenomenal, I was struck by how well the partnership worked.

Part of the reason I trekked all the way across the country for a one-day event was the fact that Penguin was not only going to be a sponsor, but they were going to be active participants.  What every budding writer wants is the opportunity to be discovered.    The likelihood of that happening while being a room filled with people in the publishing industry is far greater than simply being online 3,000 miles away.

BlogHer Writer's Conference

Captive Audience at BlogHer Writer’s Conference

The group seems bigger than it was in the photo above [only 200 attendees].  Now I have no idea what Penguin’s investment was in this venture, so it is possible that a straight ROI would look low.  However, if they find their next big writer and are able to capitalize on a long-term revenue-generating relationship, it could more than payoff.  Though, there is some return from simply exposing themselves to a group of avid readers.  I have never really paid much attention to who publishes what book, but I took the time to see what literary franchises are a part of the Penguin family and will pay attention in the near future.

But, what was truly impressive was that they didn’t simply put money behind the event–they put people in the event.  Every session had at least two people on a moderated panel.  Plus, there were small group mentoring sessions [no more than 10 people] where you interacted with the experts and got hands-on advice about what to do next in the publishing process.

When I am working on the corporate side, I don’t think that there is a day that goes by when I am not asked about some type of sponsorship–whether it be sports, music festivals, user conferences, etc.    Taking budget out of the equation, what usually makes me say yes or no is whether or not it simply makes sense to be there.  Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is my target audience in attendance?  Are these the decision makers that can influence my sales?  Even if you put on the most spectacular concert, it is unlikely that an attendee is going to go back to the office and talk about your brand versus how cool the band was.
  2. What is the quality of interaction with attendees?  Too often venues/conferences simply want you to put your name on a bag or a reception hour without giving you the opportunity to have some time to talk to attendees.  Make sure that you are set up for success at the show.  Or in the case of sports sponsorships, are you getting the increased brand awareness that you are looking for?
  3. What do you want to get out of the sponsorship?  Again, I don’t believe that there always has to be an immediate ROI, but you need to be clear to management about what the expectations are after the sponsorship.  Is there a measurement everyone can agree on? [Leads, Follows, Downloads]

Anybody else have thoughts on what makes a sponsorship work?

Creating a Larger than Life Presence

A good brand experience often comes when you least expect it.  This weekend I was walking around an arts fair when I saw this booth for Mrs. Meyer’s soap.   Now I have heard of Meyer’s soap, but I have never used it.

Booth at Los Altos Fair

Another Look Including Sinks

Their portable presence was truly eye catching and straight on for the brand.  It presents an aspirational look for a premium brand.    Having the sinks outside the Porta Potties was an added bonus for those who dare use them.  Meyer’s also closed the loop by providing free samples of their dishwashing soap.

To create this look for a small show, however, is probably cost prohibitive for most companies.

Having done many tabletops, however, there are a few inexpensive ways to make you look bigger than you are:

  • Pull up banner.   These are so portable to travel with and can be changed out as your products or message evolves.
  • Branded tabletop drape.  If you can’t afford the banner, at least invest in one dark colored tabletop drape that can move with you from show to show.   A little investment goes along way in providing polish.
  • Uniform.   Even if it simply is a matching polo shirt from Target, try to make it clear to attendees who is working your booth and can help them.   With more formal environments that require suit and tie, try to at least have staff color coordinate–using the main company color as an accessory.
  • URL card.   Realizing that most show attendees don’t want to lug collateral back with them [and are often unwilling to give up their email], I have often provided a special show URL for them to go to and download press kits, collateral, etc.   This way you save printing and shipping costs but still provide an easy way to access information.  This card is also a great place to put your Twitter and Facebook info.

Missing from the list above is freebies.   I go back and forth on this one.  If you are working for a company with reasonably priced products, a drawing at the end of the day from business cards is always a good way to go.   Your ultimate goal is to get people to try out your product/brand/service and tell others about it.  There is so much swag that gets wasted–how many stress balls do you really need?  Think about what you are trying  to accomplish with your audience and whether or not that freebie will help.