The power of b-to-b road shows continues to grow with brands of all shapes and sizes reaping the benefits of on-demand tours that take products and services directly to customers and prospects.
Some tours are producing such stellar results that the brands behind them are actually selling sponsorships to their own programs. And why not? Bringing in non-competitive entities can add some extra energy to the tours while offsetting costs with sponsorship fees.
“Sponsors are typically going to be less concerned with branding and more interested in getting in front of prospects and closing business ” says Richard Norby vp-creative services at Chicago-based Live Marketing. “So you’d better be ready and willing to give access to attendees and to create plenty of value propositions that put sponsors and attendees together.”
A FEW MORE TIPS:
Be choosy. When it’s your first time out it can be tempting to fill sponsor slots with whoever is available and willing to pay. But that would be a disservice—both to your brand and to the customers or attendees coming out to the show. If the sponsor is too off the mark they’ll be out of place and no one will be happy. Perfectly on point and you might find that the sponsor is out to get mindshare from the host brand. With b-to-b road shows it’s crucial to identify the partners that are complementary but not competitors says Brad Friesen managing partner at Toronto-based Starshot.
Play fair. Evon Knuyver business solutions market manager for telecom company Telus suggests marketers consider a “vendor agnostic” approach to avoid any accusations of favoritism. What it means: “We play with everybody based on what our customers are looking for ” Knuyver says. “We go out with the different levels of sponsorships to [potential] vendors at the same time.”
Set some rules. And then there are of course contracts. The more defined rules and regulations are before the event the less likely it is that a sponsor will try to hijack your brand’s event.
“The more vague you are the more companies will push beyond reason ” Norby says. “Spell it out then enforce it. Keep an eye on things and react quickly if anything goes across the line.”
Keep ‘em coming back for more. Think like a sponsor. What would you want and expect the property to do? And measurement is key. Create a measurement component to the event so that you can go to sponsors after the tour and show them the tangible benefits of the partnership. The more you can show the objective value of the services they received the better. This is especially important if you want to try to sell these sponsors again on another event.
Think ahead. Another way to sell sponsors is by incorporating post-event value-adds into the package. It takes some of the onus off of the sponsor and shows the brand is invested in the event’s success. Friesen suggests pre-baked email and telemarketing campaigns. “It’s a way to identify the leads and go through another stage of qualification ” Friesen says. “It’s not something we start thinking about after the event. It’s built into the core strategy.”
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