When we conducted our study – Beyond the Booth: A Report on Exhibitors’ Viewpoints and Attitudes Toward Sponsorship Opportunities – it provided some actionable insights into the exhibitor experience and their relationship with event sponsorships.
We discovered three main attitudinal segments within the group, which we categorized as Enthusiastic, Struggling, and Discriminating. While they do share some characteristics, each segment has some unique attitudes about events in general and sponsorships specifically.
We wanted to take a deeper dive into one of these groups – the Enthusiastic Segment – to see what makes them tick, what they are looking for from event sponsorships, and how organizations can tap into the energy of this segment to build on their sponsorship portfolio.
How Do They View Events?
Events are still on the rebound after Covid, and are continuing their rapid recovery. The Enthusiastic Segment LOVE events! No big surprise there. But what is surprising is the level of confidence they have in how important those events are. Enthusiastic respondents believe that events are foundational to their company’s success. They view event participation like a numbers game—the more events their company attends, the better the ROI.
Enthusiastic respondents say conferences or trade shows are the best way to gain access to key decision-makers. They recognize the importance of the fact that upwards of 80% of attendees are decision-makers and that they are all in one place for a brief period of time. They also believe that the best way to get the attention of ideal prospects is new technology to present their brand, and combining different technology, sponsorships and marketing efforts.
Enthusiastic respondents are more likely to prioritize a list of companies attending and whether the conference is large and well-known over whether their prospects and customers will attend. Their priority is reputation. They are also interested in the cost of advertising space options, availability of new and interesting ad space, and advertising space outside the venue. Because they place high value on events as a way to build brand awareness and reach new audiences, they are interested in anything that they can do to enhance their presence at the event.
How Do They Feel About Sponsorship Opportunities?
There are many reasons exhibitors choose to take sponsorships at trade shows and conferences – whether it’s brand awareness, lead generation, establishing thought leadership, or networking. They place different values on the opportunity and expect different results.
The Enthusiastic Segment sees increased exposure as the biggest benefit of sponsorship by a significant margin. Other benefits of sponsoring events include enhanced brand reputation, increased relationship building, and improved brand perception. Interestingly, lead generation is outside of the top three benefits. It’s not just about direct revenue generation; it’s also about brand building.
These respondents are about twice as likely as the other attitudinal segments to believe strongly in the power of sponsorship opportunities. Not only do they believe sponsorship opportunities are the most effective way to get an ROI from events, but they also believe they’re more important than ever since the start of COVID-19. They strongly believe that sponsorship opportunities are the best way for the company to stand out at conferences or trade shows and to access the best real estate in the event space.
What Do They Want From Sponsorship Opportunities?
This segment is characterized by the desire to do as much as possible, in as many places as possible, and to gain exposure with as many potential people as possible. They are focused on novelty and enthusiastically embrace new technology, new media, and new ways of exhibiting.
While they have a strong focus on awareness, the Enthusiastic Segment categorizes events, and they have different goals associated with them. Depending on the size of the event, how well established they are, and any special considerations like product launches will affect how they approach their plan.
“Name recognition or introduction is most beneficial for audiences we are new to, whereas product showcases or opportunities to showcase new product launches are more beneficial for us at shows where we are more established.”
The key characteristic of this segment is that they are constantly in motion. They want more, new, better, novel ways of enhancing their presence at events. This means that they will not only be avid early adopters to test out new sponsorship opportunities for you, they will also function as some of your best evangelists, demonstrating the power of sponsorships and the best ways to leverage them for a successful event.
How can Event Organizations Leverage Their Enthusiasm?
So, how can event organizers take advantage of this segment’s enthusiasm and leverage that to increase their non-dues revenue? The answer is simple, but not necessarily easy – Give them what they want. The Enthusiastic Segment represents over a third of exhibitors who are highly invested in maximizing their presence at your event. They are actively looking for more touchpoints to reach attendees during their stay and looking for new ways that will help them stand out. They want to do as much as possible and are willing to consider almost anything you put on the table for them.
They are also willing to take a chance and experiment. Because they do as much as possible, if one piece underperforms, they can reevaluate and move on, knowing they don’t have all their eggs in one basket.
When looking at how to service this segment’s desire for new sponsorship opportunities, there are a couple of important things to consider.
First, new sponsorships should be just that – new. This segment is looking for novelty and originality. They want to stand out. They want to be the ones to do something new. They are looking for the brand fame that comes with being first.
Second, new sponsorships aimed at this group should be high profile – look for big, bold, splashy activations that will create buzz around the exhibit hall. This plays into their desire to build awareness through high visibility.
Finally, make it easy. As much as this segment is very active, like most other exhibitors, they can be strapped for time. A common complaint among all exhibitors is that they never have enough time and resources for their event planning. By giving them sponsorships that are easy to activate, you make it more likely that they will try out something new.
What Are The Benefits?
There are a number of benefits to providing new sponsorship opportunities to this segment of your exhibitors.
The most obvious, of course, is creating additional revenue for the organization. The Enthusiastic Segment is interested in doing as much as possible, which means they are highly likely to take advantage of whatever you offer them. The result is increased non-dues revenue generated by the event. This helps the organization to support all the other work that they are doing.
It also provides a benefit to the exhibitors. Any new sponsorships that will help enhance their experience and drive whatever KPIs are most important to them will be seen as highly beneficial. It will lead to a more successful event for the exhibitor, which means they will be more likely to continue exhibiting in the future and avail themselves of sponsorship opportunities.
There is also an element of community building that comes from new sponsorship opportunities. When organizations are actively working to develop and enhance the event experience continuously, this helps to enhance their reputation with their members. The organization is seen as being invested not only in its own success but also in the success of its constituents.
Unsurprisingly, the Enthusiastic segment looks favorably on sponsorships and embraces new opportunities. They are a distinct group that we see taking advantage of as many new and different opportunities as possible to enhance their presence. The opportunity—and challenge—for organizations is to keep pace with this group’s demand.
With the size of the Struggling segment, there is a significant opportunity for organizations to enhance their sponsorship portfolio and increase revenue. By addressing some of the unique characteristics and concerns of this segment, event organizations have the opportunity to increase engagement with and revenue from sponsorship opportunities significantly.