The second post in this “Sponsorship 101″ series on Blog Conference Newbie Guide delves into how to promote your brand at blog conferences while still adhering to personal sponsorship guidelines. (If you missed the first post in the series, go back and read Sponsorship 101: How To Get A Sponsor)
“I’ve read the personal sponsorship guidelines for the conference I am hoping to attend. It says I can’t hand out swag or brand items in official conference areas.”
The bottom line is that conferences depend on their event sponsors to help keep costs down for attendees. From what I’ve been told, the price to attend conferences without this assistance would be astronomical! Therefore, most conferences make it a mandatory guideline not to promote your personal sponsor in official conference areas. I think everyone sees the importance and reason behind this, but many bloggers are left unsure how to promote their sponsor at the actual conference.
Instead of handing out sponsor swag/promotional items, consider adding your sponsor’s name/logo/tagline to your business card. You can take it a step further and write a sentence about why you love the products from your sponsor on the back of your card – something catchy and engaging. You may be thinking “How is having their name on my business card more helpful than handing out swag?” There are a couple of reasons. Since you can’t hand out items in official conference areas, that means you will be standing somewhere removed from the event trying to give items to people passing by – you won’t be in the heart of the crowd spreading the word. Some will take it because it’s free and others will take it to be nice. But chances are the item or literature will be put aside and not investigated. If you put the sponsor’s name or info on your business card, an item that you know bloggers will be looking at once they return home, the likelihood of them remembering the conversation you had about your sponsor is greater and the chance of them checking out the brand increases as well. At the end of the day, it’s not about the free items or swag that makes people want to check out a company – it’s the description of the products and the purpose it will bring someone that makes them seek them out.
“What about wearing a branded t-shirt promoting my sponsor? That’s technically not handing out items.”
True. It’s not handing out personal sponsorship items. However, it’s still a form of personal sponsor promotion. Even wearing a t-shirt with your sponsor’s logo on it is frowned upon and not encouraged at most conferences (you’ll want to refer to the conference’s sponsorship guidelines to find out for sure if this is a guideline at the conference you’re attending). If you are going to wear clothing or other items from the brand, try to wear something that isn’t slathered in logos. Rather, wear clothing or items from the company that are colorful or cute and will spark a conversation about its style versus its logo.
You may be thinking that this is a bit strict, but let’s think about this one in terms of your goal of promoting your sponsor. Sure, wearing a t-shirt branded with your sponsor’s name is an easy way to spread the word, but once the person walks away from you, that t-shirt is no longer a promotional item. Meaning, out of sight, out of mind. Having the logo on your business card will leave a longer-lasting effect as it will be promoting your sponsor even after you leave the conference.
I sound like a broken record, but again, not in official conference areas. What does this mean? Technically, you can host a party in your hotel room or at a different location, but is this worth it though? Let’s investigate.
Having a party in your hotel room obviously limits things quite a bit: lack of space, seating, and visibility can make it hard to execute the kind of gathering you may be envisioning. If you decide to host a party off-site to promote your brand, there are also some things that may limit the success of the party that you need to give some thought to. The obvious is that people will require transportation to your party location, which will deter some people from going because they don’t want to leave the hotel or pay money for transportation. In addition, because most conferences are booked with sessions all day and official conference parties/gatherings at night, you’re competing with those for attendance. Conferences are usually jam-packed with activities. That’s not to say no one will come, but it’s important to think of the logistics before you commit to this plan with your sponsor.
“I’ve seen people run contests at conferences were they encourage people to find them to win a prize. Can I do that?”
Sure you can, but something to keep in mind here is that you don’t want to spam the conference-specific hashtag. That is interpreted as tacky and usually annoying. (As with any hashtag on Twitter, it’s frowned upon to use it just to promote yourself unless it has relevance to the hashtag). You can send out some tweets using the conference hashtag, just as you would when promoting and thanking your sponsor for helping you to attend, but just be careful not to cross the line into “spamville.”
If you are going to orchestrate something like this, be creative, but make sure to stick to personal sponsorship guidelines. If you’re bringing the item people can win to give out at the conference, have the winner come back to your room to gather it rather than using official conference space.
The next post in this series will examine ways you can use social media platforms to promote your sponsor.
What do you think about the guidelines regarding promoting sponsors at blog conferences?
What kind of promotional efforts are you listing in your sponsorship pitches?