It seems that directives and recommendations on how to operate in the coming weeks to help contain the spread of COVID-19 are changing daily. The latest developments mean even more meetings will likely be canceling, re-scheduling, or moving to a virtual solution in the coming weeks. This leaves meeting planners looking for new ways to not only deliver educational content to attendees but to also deliver value to their exhibitors and sponsors.
In fact, this topic is currently being discussed in the ASAE Collaborate forum (note: ASAE members only). From our own point of view as an event sponsor and exhibitor, know that just because your conference changes (or cancels altogether), it doesn’t mean there’s no longer value for your partners. In fact, this could be an opportunity to provide more meaningful opportunities that better align with sponsor and exhibitor objectives. The first step is to reach out to your partners and have a dialogue about what their goals are, so you can best support them while also developing ideas that can serve as a win-win for both your organizations.
Event Sponsorship Goals
Sponsors are always looking for more than just logo exposure. Of course, they want to increase awareness of and demand for their products and services. But more than that, they’re also trying to establish meaningful relationships with your members that will take some time to nurture. At Omnipress, we love opportunities that allow us to be seen and known as people, not as a company or vendor alone. We also want to build trust, which makes our content (as opposed to just our product messaging) and an important part of the equation.
Given these goals, here are some ways your organization could offer a company like ours enough value to justify retaining our investment:
1. Content Distribution
Provide opportunities to distribute sponsor and exhibitor content (thought-leadership whitepapers, articles, etc.) to your members and attendees. This can be done through your newsletter, blog, on your social media channels, and through dedicated emails.
2. Virtual Sessions, Webinars, and Webcasts
Provide opportunities to your partners to present the same content mentioned above in a virtual session format, such as a webinar or webcast, with live Q&A if possible. If the content can meet continuing education requirements, it becomes a true win-win-win for your partners, your members, and your team.
3. Video Ads
Instead of featuring a list of logos on a page, work with your exhibitors to record a short intro video. Attendees browse the tradeshow floor to get a quick sense of what a vendor offers. The same can be done through short, pre-recorded videos.
4. Virtual Appointments
Many attendees actively look to the tradeshow floor for new ideas and solutions. Find ways to facilitate a quick introduction between these true “shoppers” and your exhibitors. Consider sending a survey to your attendees to determine which products or services they are most interested in, and pair them up with an appropriate vendor or sponsor, setting up 5-to-15-minute virtual meetings.
The opportunities you can provide to your sponsors and exhibitors will vary depending upon the platform you use and any industry rules and standards that may apply. Regardless, the takeaway for meeting planners is that your meeting or tradeshow can still provide value even without the physical event. And most of your partners will be happy to work with you on a mutual solution.