After IEG's 2014 Sponsorship Conference, Jim Andrews, the company's vice president of marketing, wrote, "'Think differently' was a mantra for many of the conference keynote sessions, which demonstrated the power of wildly creative approaches and creation of new solutions." Different doesn't have to mean flashy, however. In fact, some of the most effective advertising venues can often be the simplest. For your next event, consider selling these understated yet impactful sponsorship opportunities.
Hotel Room Key Cards
Every event attendee that spends the night at a partner hotel will have a room key card in tow at all times. Hotels can work with event organizers to have key cards specially branded. "We have a lot of customers that will have sponsors for the key cards and the key card sleeve as well," says Michael O'Connor, director of event management of Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, TN. Sponsors may use the space as a way to simply showcase their logos, or they can incorporate special messaging that directs attendees to their booths. To take advantage of key card real estate, event organizers typically work directly with the hotel's key card manufacturer. Says O'Connor, "it's a great way for groups and associations to make extra sponsorship money."
Hotel Wakeup Calls
Depending on the sponsor's needs and the capabilities of the hotel, customized wake-up calls can be implemented in one of two ways: a script read live by a hotel staff member, or a prerecorded sponsor-driven message. Cost can vary depending on how much behind-the-scenes coordination is needed to make it happen, especially if advertisers are looking to 'wow' their guests. "Here in Nashville, sponsors often have celebrities do the wake-up call, whether it’s a country music artist, an athlete or whoever," says O'Connor.
Power outlets are a coveted – and often limited – resource. Attendees are constantly connecting via their mobile devices, which can drain batteries and leave people frantically searching for available outlets. Designated charging stations can be a godsend, and they offer another viable option for sponsorship. As Lisa A. Grimaldi writes in Meetings & Conventions, "Potential sponsors will recognize the high visibility of signage on such a well-used resource." Planners and sponsors can work together to create an experience that represents the sponsor's brand but is also cohesive with the look and feel of the event.
This option may not be the sexiest of sponsorship opportunities, but urinal cakes offer a guaranteed captive audience of potential (male) customers.
"As a joke, a friend said to me 'wouldn't it be funny to put someone's face on a urinal cake?'" recalls Frank Herkimer, inventor/owner of PeePeeFace, a company that makes urinal cakes with customized images and messaging. "Since we started in 2008, we've done several large orders for advertisers," says Herkimer. This highly targeted avenue of communication is ideal for sponsors wishing to solely reach men.
Jeremy Luski, director of event operations for New York City-based Breakbulk Magazine & Events, often cuts down on expenses by having Wi-Fi connectivity covered by a sponsor. "They get the recognition by having their logo on the login page," he says.
Login info can directly reference the sponsor's name, promote a specific product, incorporate the brand's slogan and messaging, or be a combination of tactics. Damon Wee of cloud-based event management software firm GEVME explains, "The number of times conference delegates enter the ID and password would be equivalent to the number of brand impressions that they would have for the sponsor, which can easily be tracked at the backend."
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