I can’t stress this enough...timing is everything and there really is no down time when it comes to sponsorship outreach. You need to be in contact with your sponsors and exhibitors year-round. Forward an article that they may find thought-provoking that’s specific to your industry. This kind of thought leadership sends a reminder you are focused on them and their company. This simple form of engagement may be the stimulus to strike up a timely conversation.
That being said, you should have an established communication plan which includes a scheduled email campaign, followed up by phone calls to review their plans for your event. There’s a window for selling sponsorships, and it opens and closes at any time of the year, which means you really need to be selling all of the time. Budget calendars can vary and do not always run from January to December. They can just as easily happen from July to June. Understanding your customer’s budgeting calendar lets you know the appropriate time to contact them. Discuss ways to ensure that your next event is included within their proposed event marketing budget before it is finalized.
In addition, it’s important to always strive for ways to increase your database of prospects. If you conduct an on-site re-sign at your current event for next year, and the event is doing well retaining sponsors and exhibitors from the previous year, you’re off to a great start. However, you should always be looking to increase your database of prospects and utilizing any down time, because that’s the perfect time for a conversation.
There are three strategies to accomplish this:
- Very simple…your event website. Make sure your prospects can easily find contact information to learn more about participating within your event.
- Provide a link to your full sales prospectus and contract.
- Ask them to fill in the blanks on an info request form
- Post your contact information including email and phone for them to reach out to you.
I’m not a big fan of offering the prospectus online because your prospects can review it and make their own decisions without your input on why they should exhibit. Additionally, you won’t gain their contact information to add them into your database and honestly, isn’t the goal to enhance your prospect database? So, my recommendation is to either include an information request form or post your contact info. This way you’ll be able to add the inquiring prospect into your database for future email and phone outreach.
- The second way to expand your database is to attend a competitive event.
By attending, you have the added advantage of possibly meeting the appropriate decision maker from a large number of new prospects face-to-face while simultaneously acquiring their name and contact information. Do your research before going to the event and take advantage of this tremendous opportunity to meet several targets and new prospects in one location in a couple days. Review the sponsor/exhibitor list on the event website prior to attending. Schedule meetings before the event with those already in your database and on your target hit list. Drop by the ones not in your database with the singular intention of gaining the right contact information. Introduce yourself and your show and let them know, you understand they are here to do business and you’re not here to sell them on your event, simply to gain the right contact to follow up with afterwards. Make sure to send your follow up prospect email at the beginning of the following week. Don’t let too much time go by allowing them to possibly forget about you or your event.
- The third strategy to increase your prospect database requires a little more work.
Research your current sponsors and exhibitors for their competitors. Your current sponsors and exhibitors have decided to invest in your event and their competitors may be good targets as well. Now, of course, once you have the company names, you’ll have to reach out to each company by phone to gain the event marketing decision maker. In the world of automated phone systems, this process can be frustrating and time-consuming. But by utilizing all three of these strategies, you’ll be continuously expanding your prospect database and thereby consequently escalating your revenue potential.