In 2016, I was tasked with event sponsorship selection for a client, a small custodial trust company launching a new payments platform. Events are great for announcing big changes, especially when you’re a small family-owned business trying to compete with banks and venture capital-funded companies in the same industry. If you’re going to compete in the financial technology space, you have to work on your presence, both digital and offline.
To get the most out of an event like Lendit, you have to be prepared. Sponsorships are an investment, and preparation will enable things to run smoothly, and on-time, which increases the benefits your organization will get from attending.
Lendit was a great fit for my client, and they went on to sponsor the following year, and the year after that. Before you decide to sponsor an event, sit down with your team to lay out company objectives and discuss how they can be turned into actionable plans before the event, during the event, and after the event.
We started with common high-level objectives meant to:
1. Raise awareness of the company and platform
2. Form strategic relationships with other companies in the industry
3. Connect with target markets
4. Maximize offline activities by extending them into the digital space
5. Create buzz before, during and after the event by utilizing our own media channels
There are instances where the most important part of an event, is not what happens in the room, but in what happens outside the room. You may not sign anyone up for your service or product on the spot, but you’ll have plenty of opportunities to reconnect if you initiate a business card exchange.
Sponsorship planning requires building buzz before, during, and after the event. Simple things can make a difference, like picking promotional items that leave attendees thinking about you, long after the show has ended. For my clients the second year at Lendit, I had attendees emailing me for months inquiring about whether we had more promotional bags. We ran out of them quickly, but throughout the show, we had a steady stream of people tracking the bags back to us. This gave us the opportunity to show off their new platform on iPad Pros we strategically placed around the booth, and we ended the conversations with a business card exchange so we could follow up after the show. Out of all the people who visited our booth that day, many went on to become my client’s customers. To this day I still talk to most of the people I’ve met at Lendit throughout the years.
The most challenging part of Lendit planning was finding a way to create and sustain buzz around the event, and use it to grow goodwill toward the brand. Fortunately, Lendit does a pretty good job of onboarding sponsors and offers plenty of support to utilize the opportunities they provide to promote sponsors. The best advice I can give new sponsors is to connect with a point of contact as quickly as possible, and most importantly, listen to them. They will provide you with every detail you need to order services, secure booth space, and meeting spaces. Lendit will also provide you with pre-made marketing materials, so you can announce and actively market your participation to your customers, colleagues, and connections through various social media channels.
If you read through the sponsorship packages they give you, connect with your liaison, and meet your deadlines, you’re more likely to have a successful onsite experience. Be prepared, make sure your team stays on the critical path to carry out objectives and work to harness the attendees’ energy.
You can find more information about Lendit sponsorship on their website.