With the growing importance of non-dues revenue to an organization’s bottom line, association managers must work harder than ever before to maximize sponsorship dollars. Yet keeping sponsors satisfied can be a tall task when generating member value is a top priority.
The solution? Harness your sponsors’ expertise by inviting them to provide valuable, noncommercial programming at workshops and conferences.
For instance, you may wish to ask a sponsor to facilitate an educational workshop on best practices in their field. Or if you are planning on holding a forum on emerging industry trends or challenges, invite a sponsor to sit on a panel of experts to field questions at the end of the presentation. In both cases, your members will receive crucial information on the latest developments and innovations in the industry while your sponsors build their reputation as thought leaders.
Another way to take advantage of your sponsor’s expertise is to invite them to introduce a conference speaker and/or moderate the question and answer session at the end of the presentation. By doing so, the sponsor will not only receive an opportunity to introduce themselves to the entire membership, but they can also position themselves as an authority in the field. You may even wish to invite the CEO of one of your top sponsors to give a presentation on the state of the industry, how to foster leadership within a corporation, or another topic of interest—just be sure to vet their presentation for overtly commercial content prior to the event.
Another way to provide a sponsor with opportunities to foster relationships with potential customers while adding value for your members is to ask each of your sponsors to submit a short, funny video about their business, and then air the films during breaks or between sessions. Members are much more likely to absorb and enjoy sponsored material if it’s delivered as entertainment, and such videos can provide an excellent talking piece with which to spark productive conversations. Finally, you may wish to consider hosting a banquet or breakfast where members can enjoy a free meal while watching sponsor presentations on the latest industry innovations. The free food and beverage should drive up attendance, giving your sponsors a sizable (and satisfied) audience with which to engage.
By providing your sponsors the opportunity to be educators and thought leaders, attendees walk away with crucial industry information and sponsors with a polished reputation and new leads. By generating value for all, this sponsorship model can encourage repeat conference attendance as well as a steady stream of non-dues revenue.