Meeting Innovation: Sharing Stories to Secure Conference Sponsorships

What's Your Story?While there's growing interest in storytelling as an effective tool to enhance learning at conferences, few ever talk about stories as they relate to sponsorships.

As the conference cycle runs its course, we're usually future-focused, gearing up for the next conference planning cycle. Sponsorship packages are reviewed and updated. Attendee demographics are refreshed to create colorful pie charts and graphs for next year's prospectus. Features, benefits, agendas, venue info, pricing and the like are all lined up on the pages, but where are the stories?

What's prompting these valued sponsors to invest in this meeting?

This missing story piece (as told by sponsors) could make a huge difference as you present sponsorship opportunities to new parties. Why not invest a little more time to circle back and interview your current sponsors? Here are a few questions you might ask:

  • What drives your organization to step up and support the XYZ Conference?
  • What are the top 2-3 things you value most in this conference?
  • How does your participation at this conference benefit your organization?
  • Can you share any stories about conference experiences or encounters that were particularly valuable?
  • What suggestions do you have to help us improve our sponsorships in the future?

Draft your list of questions and then, reach out to sponsors to request 15 minutes on their calendar to have this conversation. Send your questions in advance, so they can think about it. Leave extra time between calls so you can chat longer, if they have more to share.

Listen closely and take plenty of notes during these conversations. Then use this insight to develop your sponsor stories and testimonials. Whenever possible, capture audio or video stories, too.

Looking for more ideas? Kim Skildum-Reid is the sponsorship maestro. Her book, The Corporate Sponsorship Toolkit is a must-read for anyone looking to take their sponsorship game to the next level. Go get it - and be sure to come back and share your sponsorship success stories.

To learn more about storytelling at conferences, read Conference Learning: Case Studies vs. Storytelling and Who's Doing Color Commentary for Your Events?

(photo by Wesley Fryer via Flickr)

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