Earlier this year, I shared 7 Penny-Pinching Steps to Sponsoring a Conference, which served as a comprehensive guide to cutting expensive corners, while still having a successful—ROI positive—event sponsorship. This month we sponsored Digital Marketer’s Content & Commerce Summit 2016 and I wanted to take the opportunity to share our most recent ideas and marketing materials in the efforts to inspire more thought on fabulously creative ways to stick out within industry events.

1. Send Invites Before the Event

It’s always a good idea to make advanced appointments with key clients and even invite prospects to your booth before your event. No need to spend a heap of money printing and sending personalized snail mail invites. Come up with a short and sweet creative and send it via email!

[caption id="attachment_1804" align="aligncenter" width="710"]conference-ideas-02 What are the odds that the four best looking marketers are in the same room?[/caption]

You can also share your invites on all your social media accounts before and during the event.

[caption id="attachment_1805" align="aligncenter" width="487"]conference-ideas-01 Note: we're not models hired as a marketing ploy, we're actually that good looking.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1820" align="aligncenter" width="589"]conference-ideas-16 You had me at #PPC[/caption]


2. Get Creative with Your Booth

In my last article, I recommended coming up with an overall concept for your booth, exhibits, or trade show displays and to produce a mock up before proceeding so that you have a sense of how each piece fits together.

Our concept this year centered on providing free beer to booth patron. So, we started our conference planning with this in mind:


We decided to go with a large defining piece (attention-grabbing banner), artificial grass flooring (another unique way to stick out), smaller posters with additional information about our services, and additional furniture that encourages patrons not only to stop by but to actually stick around.



3. Unique Conference Bag Inserts

Sponsors usually have the opportunity to put branded giveaways in the attendee bags. Some of the most common corporate swag you’ve probably seen include promotional pens, notepads, brochures, and etcetera.

The truth of the matter is, most people do not read literature inserts and they don’t necessarily look at the logos on the free pens and notepads. Deciding on unique conference giveaways or swag will help you stick out and draw more attention to your logo.

As I’ve recommended in my last article, it’s best to try to aim for some congruency between materials. The more attendees see your logo and theme, the more of a connection they will draw when they see your booth—and the more likely they’ll feel inclined to stop and chat.

In harmony with our overall concept, we decided to make branded beer mugs for our bag inserts.


4. Eye-Catching Ad for Event Brochure

As a sponsor, you are usually allotted a small space in the event brochure or magazine for an advertisement about your services.

This year instead of a half page, we were allotted two full pages. Once again, we kept this in congruence with our overall theme:

[caption id="attachment_1808" align="aligncenter" width="710"]conference-ideas-07 You lose.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1809" align="aligncenter" width="710"]conference-ideas-06 You lose again.[/caption]

For those of you, like my boss, who are unfamiliar with the circle game... it's a pretty big deal... in fact, there's even an international observance week for the circle game. Don't believe me? Watch this:


And again. 

5. Marketing Materials for Your Booth

As I’ve recommended before, you’ll want to have some marketing items laid out on your booth table to give to booth patrons. I always recommend at the very least:

  • A stack of business cards
  • Literature that explains what you do and how you do it
  • A promotional gift

For the literature, we decided to make a small magazine that detailed information about our company and the services we provide.


We created the content and design in-house and researched the cheapest printing options near the event. Don’t waste money printing a copious amount—most patrons won’t take the literature and it’s never a good idea to just blindly hand them out to passerbyers because you don't want attendees to see trashcans filled to the brim with your brochures. So, keep a stack on your display table and offer your literature to interested patrons or let people grab them for themselves but don’t just pass them out to everyone that walks by.

For the promotional gift, we decided to stick with the overall theme of our booth and give out branded bottle openers.


[caption id="attachment_1810" align="aligncenter" width="710"]conference-ideas-09 Ooh la la[/caption]


6. Stay On Top of Social Media

It’s a good idea to have someone stay busy posting on your social media accounts during the event. Use the event #hashtag so that attendees are constantly hearing from you.



7. Sponsor an Ad on Facebook

It’s also not a bad idea to sponsor an ad on Facebook during the event and target people in the vicinity.

We decided to sponsor a small video that we made in-house, with the same theme as our booth. As people in the conference intermediately browsed their Facebook accounts, there we were again, not just sticking out but also proving we know how to do what we do best!


You're terrible at this game, huh?

8. Reach Out to Prospects Directly Following the Event

We recommend sending an initial email to all the leads you acquired during the event. At this point, you can simply state that it was a pleasure meeting, that you will be traveling back to your hometown, and that you will be in contact with them shortly. Remind them to visit your website to learn more about your company. It’s also a good idea to spice up the email by including a creative:



9. Re-Sale or Donate Booth Items

If you’re looking to save money, right after you purchase your booth furnishings go ahead and post them on Craig’s List or other sites for re-sale. Set the pickup date for the day you are required to breakdown your booth. This way you get most of your money back AND you don’t have to worry about transporting the furnishings offsite.

This year instead of re-selling our furniture, we decided to donate them to a local non-profit organization.

[caption id="attachment_1825" align="aligncenter" width="710"]conference-ideas-17 Ain’t no nation like a donation, ain’t no city like generosity![/caption]

Feel free to share your creatively inexpensive ideas and success stories below!

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