Recently, our clients Joy Davis and Erik Burns from AAPS joined us to provide a webinar on getting good programs (and great money) out of partners. When we say partners, we’re talking about your exhibitors and sponsors. Whether in-person or virtual, these partners are important, although they are not all created equal (and they probably feel that way about the conferences they exhibit at and sponsor!). While Joy and Erik go into much more detail here, we’ve put together a short recap for you below.
Many exhibitors and sponsors might feel like the conference needs them and their sponsorship dollars. While that may be true in many cases, that doesn’t mean that those putting on the conference like any of the following types of people. Have you ever been guilty of one (or many) of the below?
- Exhibitors who complain about not getting enough leads when all they do is stand in their booths
- Exhibitors who spam the exhibit hall with flyers
- Vendors who put their logo on every slid
- Salespeople who will not talk about anything but their product
- Sales team that scrape the member directory for addresses
- Exhibitors who wait until the last minute to turn in their materials
And here is a news flash for you! Attendees hate them too!
BUT, the above is certainly not everyone. Some partners:
- Solve members’ day-to-day problems
- Have wide-ranging, specialized experience in particular areas
- Are Thought Leaders in their industry
- Know more potential members than you do
- Are actually your members
- Their job is to be innovators – they may be bring new audiences to your members
Conference organizers and meeting planners can even have what Joy and Erik call their Dream Partners. These partners are made up of a variety of the following:
- Developed a program especially for our members
- Thinks being on stage is extremely valuable
- Promotes their presence at your event to everyone they know
- Sends their employees to our education program
- Thinks about long-term engagement via expertise
- Understands the difference between Value vs. Cost vs. Investment
- Solutions… NOT sales
- Seek to influence through Thought Leadership
- Clear KPIs
So how do you get the partners you want? Work with your business development team on a strategy.
- Leverage your partner expertise
- Coach partners on how to work with your members
- Build personas for your partners. These could be Recruiters, Sales/Booth People, Decision Makers, and Influencers/Educators like AAPS uses.
- Think Year-Round – set metrics that relate to relationship-building. Elongate your partners’ definition of their ROI – you should want as many opportunities as possible to succeed with your partner!
- Consider a No Booth strategy. Instead think of packages with external engagement opportunities and thought leadership content
What has worked for you to get you the exhibitor and sponsor partners you want?