Nov 24, 2009 at 02:00 PM
written by Ron Seaver

Where Were the Sponsors?

Last week in my blog posting I wrote about how I just got back from speaking at the 2009 Glazer-Kennedy InfoSUMMIT in Atlanta. It was a great opportunity and I certainly had a blast.

And I was glad to see, while there, that the GKIC folks had sold sponsorships to the InfoSUMMIT – as well they should. It was a great opportunity, a "natural" ... and no doubt a handsome revenue stream for GKIC.

But what I thought was interesting was ... here I was, the only speaker on the entire 3-day program that was addressing the topic of sponsorship. And at one point during my presentation I gave a "shout out" to the conference's sponsors ... asking them to kindly stand up and take a bow. And you know ... not ONE representative from any of the event's sponsors was in the room. There must've been 500 people in that ballroom and not one of 'em was a sponsor.

I don't know – I find that odd.

Here they were – five companies that had, no doubt, invested a lot of money to sponsor this conference, and not one of them turned up to learn more about how to best take advantage of sponsorship. (Even if just for curiosity-sake, I think I would've been there...)

Which is a "lesson" for any of our "BtyB.." blog readers that sponsor events. If you're going to do it ... do it! Don’t just write a check. To get the maximum return on your investment, roll up your sleeves and get involved. Participate, attend, learn ... don't just hang out at your booth or up in your room returning e-mails. (I would've understood if all the sponsors were networking out in their booths during my presentation; however, the Trade Show was closed ... so I truly have no idea where they were.)

We see this happen annually at our late-January/early-February conference, the National Sports Forum. Not with sponsors usually --- but with our trade show exhibitors. Here they pay all this money to be there and have a space at our show --- yet during the hours when the trade show is closed and all of our attendees are in breakout sessions --- instead of picking out a session to sit in on in order to learn about their client's problems (..problems by the way where they, the vendors, might have solutions for..), they're instead sitting in their booths reading USA Today or perched in a lounge chair returning e-mails or phone messages.

I just don't get it. We've had exhibitors over the years that attended our NSF breakouts literally thank us for allowing them access to the agenda programs. They said that sitting in and listening to their clients & prospects discuss their businesses (..and their problems/needs) was like, "…shooting fish in a barrel!".

So the lesson is: If you’re going to go to all of the trouble to be there ... be there!