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Eight ways to energize the ROI for vendors who sponsor Speakers

Posted on February 08, 2007

By Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE

With budget constraints, many planners look to fund educational session through their vendors.  Get a clue—an announcement from the stage and a banner over the podium is not enough.  There’s not enough connection between the vendor and the speaker. There’s much more leverage you can get from a top flight professional speaker.

Consider these additions:

(1) Ask that the speaker become versed in the vendor’s product or service. If possible and appropriate, the speaker might be able to use the vendor company as an example during the presentation. For example, in addressing the administrators of law firms, I spoke about the importance of strategic alliances so the right work is done by the right people. The sponsor, Pitney Bowes, handled printing, mail room services, etc. in a manner that was be both efficient and cost-effective for the firm.  Pitney Bowes served as a great example of a strategic alliance!

(2) Use the speaker for both a keynote and a break-out.  Many speakers offer a daily fee which means you can use them for more then one session in a day.  This strategy ensures that every attendee, no matter what their schedule, will have the opportunity to see the speaker in action.

(3) Ask the speaker to write an article that can be reprinted by the vendor with the vendor logo and given away free at the booth. The speaker can be in the booth, autographing the article. Suggest that the vendor print the article in the company newsletter or magazine for those who could not attend.

(4) Ask the speaker to sign books in the vendor’s booth and greet people. If the vendor wants to draw traffic, give away the speaker’s book at the vendor booth for the first 100 people. You’ll be amazed at how much traffic will instantly show up. A variation on this theme is to split the give-away into morning and afternoon, thus generating traffic at different times of the day

(5) If possible, work with the speaker to use either her core message or the speech title as part of the background in the booth. This not only reinforces a learning point, but identifies the vendor to all attendees and not just the ones who attended the keynote session.

(6) Suggest the vendor print up a postcard with the company information AND the speaker’s key learning points.  Mail it after the trade show to everyone who attended the conference. In fact, a really classy gesture is to write a cover letter about the company and WHY you sponsored the speaker. Mail it in a hand-addressed envelope and enclose a wallet-size card with the speaker’s main points.

(7) Consider hiring the speaker to follow-up with attendees by sending out a regular article or newsletter by e-mail sponsored by your organization.  This reinforces the speaker’s message for long term results and provides additional exposure for your organization.

(8) If the fit is a good one, consider sponsoring the same speaker within the organization. So often, rank-and-file employees do not get to attend conferences. The prevailing view that “sales and marketing have all the fun” can be countered if you bring what your learned back to the corporation. And continuing education is one of the top three retention factors.

To sponsor a speaker for a one-hour session leaves value and opportunity on the table.  When you match the association’s needs with your business objectives and strategically avail yourself of whatever services a professional speaker can offer, everyone becomes a winner!


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