Trade show sponsorship
It’s a question we all find ourselves asking in the trade show world that everyone seems to have an opinion on: To sponsor or not to sponsor? When is the booth not enough and how does sponsorship boost visibility?
We don’t have the answer for you either (we’re not psychics, ya know!) but we do have some pretty solid tips for making the decision that’s best for your business…

  1. Target your audience
    If you’re already exhibiting at a trade show, your business has likely done the homework of who’s going to be there. But consider targeting your audience even further. Ask yourself: Is there a need to set yourself apart from the crowd? If you’re at a show outside of your industry or region, or a show that draws smaller numbers of attendees from your target audience, sponsorship is probably not the route to go.
  2. Consider the cost
    Consider the cost of sponsorship as a percentage of your total exhibiting expense. Experts say that if the sponsorship is equivalent to more than 50% of your overall exhibiting budget, step back and think: Is this the best way to invest my money? Would my purposes be better served by a larger exhibit or even exhibiting at an additional show?
  3. Know who else is sponsoring
    Make sure you know how many other companies will be sponsoring and whether or not they are sponsoring the show at the same level your business is considering.
  4. Inquire about organizer support
    Anyone can sell sponsorship opportunities—but not everyone can make them valuable. Consider the show management. How well do they promote the show? How well do they work with the media? What will they do to ensure that sponsors are mentioned often, prominently placed, and kept in the public eye? Organizers play a pivotal role in show success. If you find an organizer who understands your goals and objectives, sponsorship can more than pay for itself. On the other hand, if a show organizer is not behind their sponsors, save your money.

If your business or organization asks these questions to find that there is indeed added value to pursuing sponsorship opportunities at the next show, be sure to have tactics in place to make the most out of it. For instance…

Offer added value to attendees by giving them something extra—provide the tote bag or bottles of water or expand sponsorship to include support of specific workshops or break out sessions.

Leverage the sponsorship to drive booth traffic by sending an announcement to attendees that your business is a sponsor of the upcoming show and where your booth can be found. Get bonus points (and measure the impact of your efforts) by offering special giveaways, like travel mugs or Caramel Truffle Tins, to attendees who stop by and redeem the mailing at your booth.

And lastly, consider cooperating with companies who are in the same industry, although not your direct competitors, to sponsor an event at a greater level than you could manage alone. Collaborate on promotional products to tie your businesses together. For example, your booth’s swag could include a towel while a partnering sponsor could offer beach balls.

By asking the right questions, sponsorship can help get the biggest bang for your trade show buck when explored in addition to exhibitor booths.

Friedmann, Susan. “Trade Show Sponsorships: How To Assess Sponsorship Opportunities by Susan Friedmann: The Sideroad.” The Sideroad: Your Road to Expert Advice. Published by Blue Boulder. Web. 25 Jan. 2011.

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