Sponsors bring gifts but take compromises. In effect, you’re selling (or renting) them your audience. Who wins?
When attendees cover the costs, you know who you’re serving. You have much more flexibility, though less money.
A Word From Our SponsorSponsors want attention. That might mean the likes of
- mentions on PowerPoint slides that loop during breaks
- mentions at the microphone by the host
- mentions on the handouts, signage and event promotional material
- a few minutes at the microphone for an infomercial
Attendees pay a much higher price if a sponsor gets a speaking spot. The speaker and content might be good. but now you’ve lost an opportunity for great.
Self-censorshipSponsors influence the topics presented. For instance, would a bank support a talk about the pitfalls in mortgage life insurance or other products they sell? A subtle form of self-censorship takes place when you make your event sponsor-friendly. You might not even realize that you’re compromising. The result is less for your attendees, which may reduce the audience size and satisfaction.
PrudenceWhen attendees fund the costs, you need to be more careful about expenses to keep ticket prices low. That’s good. Constraints encourage creativity which helps set you apart. For example, maybe you reduce the catering costs by picking a venue which allows you to bring in your own refreshments.
SpeedWithout sponsors, you make decisions faster since you don’t need their approval. You get to focus on what's best for your attendees rather than on what the sponsors want for their investment.
Stand OutRecently, I saw an event model that looked interesting. You attend for free and donate what you think the event is worth to pre-selected charities. That looks fair, even worthy. A closer review showed three catches for attendees:
- Lots of sponsors
- Sponsors as speakers
- Presentations promoting what the sponsors sold
How often do you see events without sponsors? You stand out if you don’t have any and say why.
- Should you get a sponsor for your event?
- Are your events free or pay-at-the-door?
- How to find a free venue for your event
- Four clever ways to slash no-shows at your free event
- image courtesy of Paul Moore