I talk all the time about the kinds of benefits sponsors should want from an investment: Benefits that can be shared across the target market; benefits that bring you closer to your target markets, benefits that you can use to add value to your relationship with your target markets.
There is one benefit, though, that can alienate you from a target market faster than almost any other: Sponsor speeches. We’ve all been at a conference or awards or movie premiere or whatnot and been all ready for whatever was coming, only to have the momentum come to a screaming halt when one (or several) of the sponsors are introduced to make speeches.
“Thank you very much. We at blah blah blah are honoured to be the major sponsor here today. This is an integral part of our commitment to blah blah blah. We look to partner with organisations like this, whose commitment to quality rivals our own blah blah blah…”
We’ve heard it all before. We’ve also hated it all before.
So why is it that so many sponsors – particularly in the business-to-business genre – get themselves into such a tizzy over speaking slots? They don’t add to the experience for the target market. They don’t generate content that can be shared across a larger target market. They just bore the arse off everyone in attendance, smack of corporate ego, and showcase how out-of-touch your company is with the target markets you’re trying to reach!
At least as bad are the sponsors who take up conference time, purporting to be facilitating an educational session, but in reality, doing nothing by holding people captive for a 45 minute ad. And don’t get me started on corporate show-reels.
“From humble beginnings in the barn behind Hiram Lassiter’s family home in Dayton, Ohio…”
Ugh. Kill me now.
Sponsors, if you’re going to take up time in the middle of a festive, entertaining event, for god’s sake, be festive or entertaining. Do something interesting. If you aren’t that interesting, hire someone who is to speak in your stead, or hire a writer who is, or don’t do it at all. And if you’re going to speak at an educational event, squeeze in every bit of actual education you can. Don’t talk about your brands as the be-all and end-all. Instead, prove to the audience that you understand their challenges, respect their time, and are more expert than anyone else in the field. That builds trust, and trust builds business.
And you sponsorship seekers making these engagements part of your sponsorship offering, knock it off! It’s not enough to “encourage the sponsors to keep it short” or “not talk about themselves”. If you’re selling that benefit as a marketing opportunity, it is unrealistic to think they won’t use it to… you know… market themselves, as counterproductive as that may actually be.
The best answer for all involved is to take the marketing focus off the event itself and to create ways both during and outside of the event for the sponsors to add value to the experience. Work on ways to amplify the best stuff, fix the worst stuff, and share the experience beyond the bounds of whatever room you were meant to be addressing. Your audience will thank you.
Need more assistance?
For sponsors, all you need to know about best practice sponsorship selection, leverage, measurement, management, and more, you may want to get a copy of The Corporate Sponsorship Toolkit. Sponsorship seekers, you’ll find all you need to know about sponsorship sales and servicing The Sponsorship Seeker’s Toolkit 4th Edition
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