Thursday Buzz: Is Now the Time to Rethink Conference Sponsorship?

One meetings pro says sponsoring companies are increasingly interested in ROI, not brand saturation, at events. Also: what to consider when launching a scholarship at your association.

“With all the conference sponsors vying for the same attendees’ attention, the battle just escalated. The result is a tragedy of commons.”

Velvet Chainsaw’s Jeff Hurt doesn’t think the traditional paradigm of conference sponsorship is working anymore. Brands are getting savvier, and old models emphasizing logo placement don’t pack the punch they used to, he says. Events should do more to leverage what their sponsors want now: ROI.

In his latest blog post, he breaks down exactly what’s broken and how to give exhibitors and sponsors more value for their buck.

“The longtime barriers to attendee engagement such as ‘pay to play,’ surveys, difficult social sharing technologies, and outdated ideas about logo bombardment are virtually gone,” he writes. “Brands are looking for ways to improve the attendee’s experience, provide something that matters to the attendee, increase their engagement with the attendee, and subsequently track the results.”

Are you doing enough to create something of value for your sponsors?

Talking Scholarships

For many associations, offering scholarships is a great way to encourage the next generation to take a step in the direction of their field. But it’s not easy to figure out where to start.

Meredith Taylor, an account executive for Kellen Co., an association management firm, points out some of its client associations that have had successful scholarship programs, many spanning decades.

Those without such legacies can start by building some parameters and figure out the best way to research and promote a scholarship program, she says. Of course, this raises a lot of questions.

“You need to decide who is eligible to apply,” she writes. “Should they have a certain major? Have completed a certain amount of years of college to show that they are committed to the industry? Is diversity an important factor? And based on your budget, how many scholarships are you able to award?”

If you host a scholarship program at your association, what advice would you give to those dipping their toes in? (ht @MeredithLTaylor)

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Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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