Thursday, March 5, 2015

Winning Sponsors Enhance Experiences

Are the participants and spectators of your events benefitting from sponsors?  They should be!  If your sponsors simply show up and hope to sell their products and services, they're losing...losing customers, revenue and ROI on their sponsorship. So it's not a surprise that the latest trend in successful event sponsorships involves enhancing the experience for attendees. 

Rather than simply paying for naming rights and putting their logos on event websites, companies truly build brand loyalty by taking their sponsorships up a notch to benefit those participating and in attendance.

Winning companies are placing less importance on impressions and more emphasis on overall experience.

Here’s an example we experienced firsthand at the 2014 US Open Golf Championship in Pinehurst, NC.  Among the event’s many premier sponsors, American Express really stood out to us.  While walking around the course, we noticed that about 25% of the spectators were wearing American Express branded lanyards with earpieces attached.  

The promotion was simple – American Express members who showed their credit card received a lanyard and free earpiece to listen to exclusive live radio coverage of the US Open.  If you’ve ever been to a professional golf tournament, you know how frustrating it can be to hear the roar of the crowd four holes over and not know what happened.  American Express addressed and alleviated this pain point for attendees.

For those in attendance who were not card carrying members but wished to have access to the live radio coverage, American Express made signing up for an account available on-site.

Through this innovative promotion, American Express improved the US Open experience for thousands of attendees and provided a valuable perk to their customers while building an army of brand ambassadors in the process.

On our way to the American Express booth to learn more about the earpieces, we passed a luxury car sponsor that had a few vehicles parked outside their tent.  While it would seem that bringing cars to an event would capture the interest of attendees, we walked right by the booth because the set-up resembled a car showroom that we had seen many times before and the sponsor's message didn't hold our attention.

As you can see, companies are going beyond the traditional elements to get the most out of their sponsorship dollars.  By implementing creative promotions, sponsors add value to the overall event, provide a unique experience, and build brand loyalty among attendees (which is what they were after in the first place)!

You may be wondering how this concept can be implemented at your events.  First, consider your audience and determine what products or services your attendees will appreciate.  Soap at a mud run?  Water bottles at an outdoor concert?  A photo booth at a themed festival?  Encourage your sponsors to make a lasting impression on attendees by meeting these needs!

While these enhancement programs will cost sponsors additional dollars on top of your sponsorship fees, educate them that doing so improves your event and helps them achieve their marketing goals.  By companies getting more involved in the events they sponsor, attendees come away with an enjoyable experience and probably come back next year with friends, leading to a winning partnership for everyone. 

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