While driving home on the same busy route I take home every evening, and I couldn’t help but notice a man dressed in a gorilla costume. He was waving a “car wash” sign. The obvious way the gorilla stood out from the collage of posters and billboards led me to a conspicuous conclusion. All impressions are not created equal. And that’s an important consideration when thinking about sponsorships for your event.
Sponsorship Research International (SRI) estimates that we are bombarded daily with more than 5,000 promotional messages. Successful event marketers must cut through the promotional clutter to effectively deliver their marketing messages and engage their target audiences. And meeting planners must increasingly partner with exhibitors and event marketers to offer sponsorships that provide real value.
Traditionally, impressions have been the standard metric in meetings and the trade show industry. As a result, impression metrics have driven sponsorship pricing and decision-making. This model seems simplistic and outdated since so many static impressions fail to impress anyone in this age of media saturation. Sponsors seek higher quality impressions and are willing to pay more for sponsorships involving and engaging target attendees. Thus, savvy meeting planners are increasingly incorporating interactive and experiential marketing sponsorships into their programs.
The Hanging Banner is Dead
The hanging banner has been a staple in sponsorship programs. Indeed, a flag in a superb location garners many impressions, but not necessarily interesting and memorable ones. It’s no longer just about “how many people saw it.” Instead, it’s about which people saw it and how long they viewed or interacted with it. Did it deliver an experience memorable enough to influence purchasing decisions? Simply put, the value of a millisecond glance has given way to the importance of creating an “experience,” which results in stronger and longer-lasting impressions. Interactive and experiential sponsorships involve attendees with brands, products, and marketing messages.
Medium is the Message
Many new interactive and dynamic displays are now available within our industry. One example: General Motors drew crowds at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show with a waterfall display and light show that spelled out its name and marketing message. Innovative sponsorship opportunities are available at all budget levels, not just the high-end of the market.
For a moment, let’s think outside the box or exhibit booth as the case may be. Think about what an experiential “Innovation Zone” at your event’s front entrance communicates to your audience. Think about how your sponsors could benefit by truly entertainingly engaging their target audience. After all, exhibitors and sponsors utilize events to introduce their newest innovations. Shouldn’t they innovatively present them? Increasingly, the medium is the message.