Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at DG Productions‘ Annual Event Director Conference in Oklahoma City. Don Garrett and his team are long time SignMeUp customers and we welcome the opportunity to meet and greet the folks that use our online event registration service in local markets.
There were 40 event directors from as far as Colorado Springs, CO in attendance. The events represented were as large as the Memorial Marathon in OKC with more than 20,000 participants and as small as event ideas still on paper. The attendees were producing events for various purposes; for example, as part of overall wellness programs, or as fundraisers and memorials for faith-based and other organizations. In Don’s opening remarks he used the word ‘passion’ to tell the audience what it took to be an event director and quipped, “why else would you get up at 3:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday to ensure a timely start to your event?”
He went on to say “passion alone, however, will not guarantee success. The event business is the entertainment business and you had better be ready to entertain your participants.” Don challenged the audience with the goal for each of them to be able to participate in their own events. He said it was possible if they were able to delegate responsibilities to the staff or volunteers on the event committee. The presentations were based on the important jobs to delegate:
• Logistics (course, food, awards, aid stations, medical)
• Media/Marketing/Social Networks
Event revenue is driven by registration and sponsorships and those topics were covered in great detail. Although I am in the online event registration business I did not speak about registration specifically. It was clear that the audience knew that online registration and a good database is required. The segment on sponsorship was much more colorful and it was evident that event directors struggle the most with this area of their business.
Thomas Hill spoke about engaging sponsors, and I followed him with a discussion centered around leveraging those sponsors through online event registration. Thomas made a clear distinction between a “commercial venture” and a “cause venture.” Given the fact that 100% of the event directors in the room were producing an event for a cause he made four strong statements:
• Value proposition on a cost per impression basis is less important than the generosity involved in the sponsoring organization’s participation. In other words, if your organization does not have the capacity to sell a commercial sponsorship, you can still sell your cause.
• Charitable contribution is important
• Providing sponsors with an ‘event experience’ can add value
• Sponsor recap and reporting after the event is important for current year as well as opportunity for future sponsor opportunities.
These statements were a perfect segue to my presentation on using online event registration to grow registration and sponsor value. I focused on three areas:
Sponsor value is created by connecting them to the participant. Online event registration provides a channel of distribution that allows the event and the sponsor to attract qualified consumers, engage those consumers with a product, service or cause and acquire them as customers. Successful sponsor engagement will provide better returns allowing events to feed the passion!