8 Tips to Putting on a Successful Conference Sponsorship
By Kara Smith, Marketing Coordinator
Booth duty is a complex task. You have to be social, professional, extremely polite and overly friendly – even in the face of strange situations.
And trust me, when you work behind the scenes on the conference circuit, you see a lot of strange situations. Take, for instance, the man who sat at our booth during a recent event with a napkin over a bleeding finger. We (politely, of course) had to ask him to leave.
I’ve come to the conclusion that these random acts of weirdness are part of the gig and can’t get in the way of what you’re ultimately there for – building mindshare, connecting with prospects and creating energy behind your brand.
As Marchex’s Marketing Coordinator, it’s my job to plan the event calendar, budget and overall execution of sponsorships/speakerships.
I am also a road warrior. I help run the booth at whatever conference we are sponsoring, wherever that may be. This means I get the rare perspective of looking under the hood to see what works and what doesn’t. I’ve learned each conference is as unique and as different as a human fingerprint, but all share common elements.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts I’ve put together on corporate event planning and how to thrive behind the booth:
- Smile. Be approachable and engaged in conversations.
- Pair speakerships with sponsorships. This works especially well when you have people at the company who are great at presenting and luckily we have a few of these talented individuals. The speakership/sponsorship combo gives your brand the most coverage and gets attendees interested in your products, which ultimately leads to more meaningful connections.
- Enlist a couple skilled sales reps to run the booth with you at certain times during the conference (networking breaks are the most valuable). Sales teams have an immense understanding of products and are able to go more in-depth with potential clients.
- Attend happy hours and social events sponsored by the conference. These are crucial to networking. You can’t be an introvert in this job.
- Bring unique and useful swag. These little freebies hook the wanderers in the exhibit hall and get your brand out on unique items that people will see every day (if you choose the right type of swag). This year, Marchex handed out iPhone car chargers and they were a huge hit.
- Read or text excessively at the booth. This is very off-putting and makes you look uninterested in the conference and people around you.
- Ignore people who stop by your booth. Try to include every person who comes by in a conversation about what his/her job is. That will help you determine whether this person could be a good sales leads for your team.
- Leave your booth empty. It looks unprofessional. It’s important to be there even if most people are attending a session. There are always a handful of people who choose to explore the hall during slower hours, and specifically want to learn more about the exhibitors.
The moral of the story is: Be present. Be engaged. Be excited about the story you’re telling.
I’m always looking at new ways for Marchex to get the most mileage out of conferences. After a little over a year and half in this position, I’m happy to say that we are making huge strides in our event strategy. We look forward to what 2014 will bring for us!