I've experienced this type of "from the horse's mouth" customer advice session from Sam Lippman's ECEF in the past, and they've been really useful. So I had high hopes for a similar session I went to today, where Bob Priest-Heck of Freeman interviewed panelists Nancy Niepp, Cisco, and Jeff Singsaas, Microsoft, to find out what makes them want to buy into being a sponsor or exhibitor at a third-party event (both panelists also put on plenty of their own events). I wasn't disappointed.
Among their key points:
* The audience demographics have to be what they're looking for, preferably demonstrably so (i.e, if the event is audited, which they both said is exceedingly rare).
* Are their partners going to be there? The competition?
* Are the conference's themes consistent with the corporate mission and goals?
* How did the show perform for the company in the past?
* Will the show organizer provide company names/titles/city/state/zip codes the potential sponsor/exhibitor can use to get their regional salespeople interested in being there?
* Will the show organizer engage with us early in the process (something both said is exceedingly rare)?
* Does the show organizer have a basic knowledge of the company's business (again, much too rare)?
* Can the salesperson have a dialog about how the show will benefit the company, ask about their needs first and then try to find ways to meet those needs instead of just selling space (again, dodo bird rare)?
* Can you offer ways to engage with attendees off the show floor?
* Does the show have a virtual/digital component? ("It would be a show stopper for us if there wasn't a digital component," said Jeff.) Can you provide the equipment to live-stream from the show so the exhibitor doesn't have to schlepp all the stuff to the show location?
One thing Jeff said that kind of rocked me, and should rock you, is that shows like SouthXSouthwest and Maker Faire that come together in an organic way, with attendees doing much of the organizing, are going to be the future of conferences. Think on that a bit, my friends.
So much more to say about today, but I must head out to the "urban convergence" reception in the Gaslamp Quarter. They were already starting to set up already at 6:30 this morning when I was out wandering around, and I can't wait to see what they've come up with since then!