11 tips to get the best ROI on your event sponsorships
With SaaStr Annual 2018 now just 61 days away, we’re getting a lot of questions from sponsors wanting to know how to get the best ROI from their sponsorship package. So we reached out to a few of our returning sponsors who absolutely crushed it at the ‘15, ‘16, and ’17 Annuals to learn what worked for them. Give their advice a shot and watch your pipeline grow!
Know your goals & communicate them to your team.
1. Understand upfront how you’ll measure the success of your sponsorship. Will it be scans at the booth? Number of meetings set with prospects? Dinners or events held outside of the venue? Once you have a shared vision for the metrics that matter most, you can rally the team and build your event plan accordingly.
2. If you’re taking your team with you, do a daily morning meeting. Have the team go around and each state their biggest highlight from the week before and what they plan to accomplish today. Prepare a 2 minute rallying cry message to get the team on point for the rest of the day. Intentional is always better than winging it.
Get laser-focused on the meetings you want to schedule.
3. Set a goal for amount of meetings that you want to schedule by the end of the event. Then start browsing the list of sponsors on the site and look to social media channels, leveraging the event hashtag to figure out who’s talking about the event and kickstart the conversation. Be intentional about the meetings set before you arrive on opening day.
4. Make a commitment to scheduling post-event meetings during the conversation. It’s worthless having a conversation and leaving with a business card and the promise of follow-up the week after. Grab your phone, open your calendar and set the meeting right then and there.
5. Consider making 1-2 dinner reservations just in case you meet prospects or customers who don’t have dinner plans post-happy hour. You will already have a dinner reservation and a game plan to invite them to a small dinner where you can not only invest in them; listen to their experiences with your company/product, but learn about some of their recent challenges.
6. For early stage founders and sellers, pre-schedule at least four meetings with folks who you normally wouldn’t connect with. Don’t know who is coming? BS. Every speaker and sponsor is listed.
Tactical tip: send an email to the speaker you want to meet most. Tell them you’ll be at the event and have a question for them. When Q&A comes around, be the first to ask the question and then shake their hand after. State your value prop with a small request. Most should appreciate the hustle.
7. Spend some time reviewing the agenda and the list of speakers. Dive into their topics and make a list of the sessions that resonate well with your field of interest and line of work. Share on social the top sessions you will be attending and why. Get to the sessions early and sit at the front to engage with the speaker during the session; ask meaningful questions and be intentional about engaging with the speaker after the session.
Booth duty done right…
8. If you’re giving out swag, don’t have it be focused on yourself. Make it focused on your customer and prospect heroes. Salesloft went a long way when they switched out the t-shirts which said “SalesLoft” with the ones that said “Rainmaker” & “Sales Nerd”. Customers want to represent their best selves, not yours.
9. Don’t just wear a t-shirt at the event. That’s great on a random Monday night or at TechStars and YC, but this is SaaS. The game is changed in enterprise software. Level things up with your wardrobe and some of that professionalism will bleed over into your business. If you’re on stage, wear a coat. Distinguishing is in.
10. Make sure to build out & enrich lists of your fellow sponsors. Often your best prospects, future partners, and contacts are right across the floor!
Don’t blow it on the follow up!
11. Personalize your conference emails and make them timely. Post-event outreach is often left in the hands of SDRs or regulated to generic blasts. At SaaStr last year, LeadGenius found success sending emails toward the end of the 1st day combined with personalizing the email with universal environmental context. For example: last year it was sweltering on the 2nd floor, so in their follow-up, they talked about the braving the heat to chat. Their emails stood out because of the context.
And a bonus tip for both sponsors and attendees:
12. SaaStr is perhaps the world’s densest concentration of SaaS entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. You literally never know who is standing next to you at Starbucks or riding beside you in the hotel elevator. Leave yourself open to happenstance.
A huge thanks to those who submitted their learnings for this guide; most of the above tips are direct quotes, and we couldn’t have created the guide without you! Be sure to look for our contributing sponsors on Feb 6-8 at the ‘18 Annual — they’ll all be on site again this year.