Inside SQLSaturday – Romancing your Sponsors

Romancing your Sponsors

To be honest, this seems like a no brainer, but I have noticed that in some locations the sponsors are just “there” so to speak. So these are my tips and a lot of them I have gathered from the sponsors over the last year or so.

  • Make sure your sponsor area gets good foot traffic–this is how they meet your attendees.
    • Don’t build rooms as tracks that would keep folks in 1 room or one end of a building the entire day.
  • Have lunch set up early and allow the sponsors and lunch speakers to go through so they will be ready for the lunch break. Lunch break is where they see the most traffic.
  • Did you get a gift for your speakers (SWAG type)? Give one to your sponsors, too.
    • A lot of times these folks are giving up their weekend to be at your event; doesn’t hurt to be nice to them.
  • Walk around and check on your sponsors; make sure new ones know how to scan the tickets.
    • Teach them how to enter the ones that won’t scan.
  • Name your room/tracks after the sponsors (or make this an upper-tier benefit).
    • Put their lunch session in that room.
    • Print their logo on the door sign.
  • Give sponsors plenty of notice on these items:
    • Venue details
      • Directions
      • Parking
      • Internet
    • Deadline for bag stuffing items to arrive. This year we set it for the Wednesday a week and a half before the event. This allowed us to get that task done early.
    • Will you be inviting them to the speaker dinner? Let them know.
    • How to ship items to the venue and if they are being offered return shipping.
      • Our venue doesn’t have mail services on Saturday, packages must arrive on Friday. Also no return shipping.
    • Let them know the hotel blocks you have, or where everyone might be staying.
    • Invite them to your after party, heck a lot of times they offer to buy some appetizers.
    • Give them instructions on who/how to get their scan list.
    • Let them know where the drawing will be and when you’d like them to tear down their display.
  • Thank your sponsors over and over again! You cannot say it enough times.
  • Hand write thank you notes for 1) those attending the sponsor booth and 2) the person that set up the sponsorship
  • Ask for their feedback.
  • Offer to let them use the speaker room to grab a refreshment.
  • Send them reminders about email blasts.
  • Send non-paid sponsors gentle reminders that their logos won’t show up on the site if they haven’t paid.

This year my sponsors got bags that looked just like the speaker bag. It included one of our legendary pint glasses, a hand written thank you note, their lunch tickets, custom name tag and other swag we provided to our speakers (guitar picks and candy). I didn’t hear much from them but they seemed to enjoy them. This bag operation also allowed us to set these on the empty tables and use them as place holders (each had a bright green name tag on them). Just remember one thing: not only does how they perceive your event impact if they come back next year, but you might be their first SQLSaturday experience and it might determine if they do more of them in the future.

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