Download a PDF of Foster Marketing’s Trade Shows By the Numbers infographic.
Sponsorships Won’t Work Unless You Do Your Part
It’s 8:30 p.m. and I’ve been standing in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome’s Stadium Club on the 300 Level for more than two hours. Recently renovated, Anheuser Busch has held the sponsorship rights to the room for several years. In previous years the Bud Light logo was projected on the wall but with a bevy of high-profile events on the horizon, Anheuser Busch was eager to maximize this sponsorship opportunity. Discussed is changing the fascia of the bar from its painted stripe design to the beer maker’s trademark blue condensation pattern. I silently applaud Anheuser Busch’s persistence to maximize its sponsorship dollars. Anheuser Busch knows something many potential sponsors fail to realize: You have to work your sponsorship in order to get the most out of it. When it comes to sponsorships, the rule is: If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
Sponsorships are a great way to launch a brand and to be seen as a major player in the marketplace. They are also great for community outreach and a way to boost your level of interaction through social media and dialogue within the community. Why is Bud Light so pervasive in sporting arenas? They have a strong sponsorship plan that grants them high-profile visibility in sporting facilities and aids their brand recognition efforts. If you’ve been staring at a Bud Light sign for long enough, sooner or later you’re getting up for that beer.
You can also leverage your sponsorships in your company’s advertising and social media program to engage with the marketplace, giving you reasons to reach out and post non-sales related messaging. For example, if you’re sponsoring your local sports team and you tweet about an upcoming game or recent win, you will most likely get re-tweets or more followers, boosting your visibility.
What’s the Real Return on Investment?
One of the thorns of sponsorship marketing is the difficulty to track ROI. Since sponsorship is mostly a public relations and brand awareness initiative, there are not as many tangible impressions to track or dollars/purchases to follow. So, how can one effectively track sponsorship ROI? The easiest answer is that you can’t — at least, not without room in your budget for multiple tracking surveys and other efforts — and even this could miss some gains.
If you plan to dip your toes into the world of sponsorship marketing, it would be foolish to jump in without a concrete plan to measure the effectiveness of your campaign. Setting benchmarks and using follow-up surveys ensures that you spend wisely and allows you to make informed changes to your sponsorship campaign in years to come.
Why Do I Have to Track My Return When the Sponsorship Provider is Already Watching Impressions?
Can’t I just rely on the team/sponsorship entity to track for me? Aren’t their measurements good enough? Not if your brand is relatively unknown in the market.
Say you sponsor a sign at a stadium. The team tells you that you can get 250,000 impressions per game if you sponsor the sign next to the jumbotron. More than 2 million impressions per season sounds pretty good; however, if you are not quite as established, time and work will be required to eventually see this type of impact.
For example, if you are Coca-Cola, this opportunity makes sense and hitting 2 million impressions in a season is attainable — people will see your brand and it will register in their minds from the first preseason game.
If you’re Jim Bob’s Cola with little to no brand awareness at the start of the season, the recognition will not be there right away. Your impressions will grow over time as your brand name is out there but you won’t be hitting the promised 250,000-impression impact early on.
To get a true measure of sponsorship impact, we suggest doing a benchmark survey at the start of the season or sponsorship and then a survey at the conclusion to see how much your brand recognition grew as a direct result of the sponsorship. This way you can determine if sponsorship dollars are well spent and if you should continue or upgrade your deal.
Five Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Sponsorship:
- Bigger isn’t always better: A well-placed logo on a program or scoreboard that’s often checked by patrons may increase visibility and repeated views over another location.
- Non-traditional sponsorship opportunities: Look beyond the typical sponsorship placements for unique outlets. Perhaps that large sign by the jumbotron is out of your price range but instead you can put your logo on all of the stadium’s beverage cups if you pay for the inventory
- Change the message/look or position each year: Patrons will become blind to your brand if you never move or change it. They will get used to seeing you in the same place or with the same message and they will cease to see it. If you are in a prime position, change the color or message each season/year so the patrons have something fresh to register. If you have the ability, move your messaging each season so patrons have another chance at seeing it and registering it.
- Milk it for all it’s worth: Incorporating “Proud Sponsor of:” on your advertising and engaging fans via your social media outlets and website can start a dialogue and also support your sponsorship money. If a patron sees “Proud Sponsor of:” on your ad and then goes to the game, they are more likely to recognize and register your signage.
- Take responsibility for tracking: Don’t rely on the sponsorship venue or event coordinator to give you a true impression count or ROI on your sponsorship. They often have blanket numbers and apply them across the board. The truth is Jim Bob’s Cola and Coca-Cola will not have the same rate of impressions and return on investment.
Sponsorships are a great way to boost your brand awareness in the marketplace, but you may be missing out on real gains if you aren’t working your sponsorship plan, measuring your efforts and cross promoting these efforts in your advertising, marketing and online campaigns. A few well spent dollars can bring eyeballs to your name and lend credibility to your brand.
If you’re interested in identifying potential sponsorships for your business or making the most out of your current sponsorship initiatives,Foster Marketing is here to help. Click to contact Foster MarketingAccount Executive Laurel Hess.
A Guide to Kick Start Your Community Relations Efforts
By Leah Martinez, Public Relations Account Executive for Foster Marketing
With cutting costs and bolstering the bottom line topping the agenda for most companies, the idea of launching a community relations campaign may not be greeted with a flood of enthusiasm at the corporate level. Just the mention of community relations could trigger visions of dollars flying out the door to top executives and financial types.
Mentioned in many mission statements, there is often something about making a difference or serving the community. But how do you make this goal a reality when money is tight?
Investments of the non-monetary variety can help create and maintain a mutually beneficial relationship between a company and its community. Investing time in the communities where you do business builds trust and establishes a reputation of reliability. Plus, it’s just human nature to want to work with those who are doing good things for others.
So, if you could put a price tag on the value of trust, how much would you pay for it? If you are a company that depends on relationship building to make a sale (who doesn’t — particularly in the energy sector), of course you’d pay top dollar.
How you choose to support the community, whether individually or corporately, tells your community and future customers something about the culture and values of your company. Considering this list of questions will help you pinpoint a cause and give you a starting point.
1. What is important to your employees?
Ask employees what matters to them. Choosing a cause that employees want to be a part of can help build a sense of camaraderie and jump start teamwork in the office. If the cause strikes a chord with employees, they will take a vested interest and the initiative to become actively involved.
2. What is important in your community?
Take the time to scope out your local community calendar to get familiar with what is happening around you. Take note of what’s being done and what’s not. Jumping on an already busy bandwagon often leaves other truly needy groups in the dust. Be cognizant that some charities or causes might need your help more than others.
3. How much time can you give?
Create a list of potential local charities and causes and make some calls. Determining how much time you are able to give and the demands of the schedule can help narrow the list.
4. Is this in the budget?
Even if a limited budget doesn’t allow for big donations, use your time and talents to help in the community. Remember, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Consider organizing a drive to collect school supplies, winter coats, items for soldiers or host a blood drive. Don’t rule out the possibility of partnering with other local businesses or a community group. Call your favorite local restaurant or a cooking group. They could share your desire to help and offer to cater an event. If you have a hefty budget set aside for sponsoring community events, hosting a celebrity golf tournament for a charity might be more up your alley.
No stress, just long-term gains
Don’t stress yourself out! Keep in mind why you are getting involved and just have fun! Community service is all about giving back to increase the quality of life for those around you. Investing in your community is like investing in a long-term relationship; the longer you are involved, the more history you create and trust is built.
Beyond feeling good about having an impact in your community, long-term gains in teamwork and employee morale can be realized. Working together to reach goals in a stress-free environment can do wonders for a company’s sense of teamwork.
Volunteering is contagious and volunteers tend to travel in packs. Once a core group of involved employees is in place, you can focus on making the effort enjoyable. Add an element of fun by incorporating a friendly competition. For example, who can collect the most donations or rack up the most volunteer hours? Salute the winner with recognition or a gift card to a local restaurant.
Opportunities to get involved are pretty much limitless and include supporting community cultural efforts; helping the needy; sharing your time with children; providing educational supplies; and much, much more. Now, how you will choose to impact your community?
Through the years Foster Marketing has worked with several companies and organizations to make their community relations efforts a success by providing research, planning, creative resources, event coordination and public relations support to help them succeed.
Foster Marketing employees are networked in all types of organizations, from endowing scholarships to helping kids to supporting athletic programs. The key is to get going. As someone once said, “if you’re going to hunt with the big dogs, you have to get off the porch.”
By Megan Hebert, Trade Show Coordinator for Foster Marketing
Another one in the books! For me, wrapping up another successful Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) can be compared to that feeling of liberation in school just after completing your last exam of the semester. With this year’s OTC having the highest attendance and largest exhibition since 1982 — 78,150 attendees and 603,000 square feet of exhibit space, there is no doubt the hard work of many people paid off. Yet there is little rest for the weary as the slew of international trade show events is on the horizon.
With 2011 full of large, international events — the aforementioned OTC, along with Offshore Europe, Brasil Offshore, OTC Brasil and Oil & Gas Asia…to name a few — the conscientious exhibitor is always seeking ways to ensure a successful event with measurable benefits. One group of attendees who can considerably boost a company’s ROI (but who are often overlooked) is … journalists.
Recently I stumbled across an article by Lena Valenty of EXHIBITOR Magazine in which she creatively compares exhibiting at a trade show to a blind date (stay with me here). She explains how an exhibitor has mere minutes to make a lasting first impression. An exhibitor has “carefully accessorized with graphics and key messages that accentuates its best features.” We want to appear interesting, but not overeager…confident, but not pompous, she says.
Our potential matches almost always are the most attractive customers and prospects, but Valenty encourages us not to overlook the person who may not appear to be your type on first glance…the journalist. Though perhaps not as glamorous, media representatives have the ability to spread your message in a big way. This group, tasked with delivering news and information on the industry, new products, trends and the key players, is always on the hunt for information to share with readers and viewers. Consider these steps as you aim for Press Success at your next show:
Find your audience: This legwork includes researching media representatives that will be attending the show, determining who the proper contacts are and if your products and services align properly.
Craft your message: How will you entice the journalists…and concisely? Your message should have clear positioning, product differentiation and provide compelling interest.
Book interviews: Be proactive and start booking media appointments several weeks in advance of a show…and ensure the proper executive is available to be interviewed.
Assemble your kit: Press kits are expected.
Get involved: Become involved outside of the exhibit hall. What conference components could you participate in, or what award programs could you enter? These are valuable, exhibit-marketing opportunities.
Train your staff: What role should your exhibit staff play when interacting with the media? Decide what actions they are to take, have a plan in place and share it. If they are to interact with media, there are media-training basics to follow.
Prepare your exhibit: Incorporate into your booth a quiet meeting space, if possible. Offsite meetings are often a welcomed alternative, and utilizing the press room may also be an option for conducting interviews.
Continue the conversation: Follow up with each journalist who visited your booth. Keep the conversation going and show that you are accessible. The long-term goal is to position yourself and your company as an industry expert who can serve as a source for information.
Measure the results: Hard metrics can be obtained through tracking media impressions and the number of original articles, as well as through web analytics. Also, include an overview of all media activity at the show. These reports will prove that your efforts were worth the investment.
Foster Marketing can help navigate the coordination side of your exhibit, and with our proprietary database of energy publications and established relationships, we can guide your quest for Press Success, too. Together, we can navigate through the blind dates to connect with those looking to woo us and share our company’s stories.
Let us help you improve your trade show ROI — whether you are exhibiting at a regional or international show. Email Jamie Efurd or call 281-448-3435 or 337-235-1848 to schedule a meeting with Foster Marketing to discuss how we can help integrate and enhance your marketing efforts.
READING TIME: Gain perspective on the future of the energy industry in under 2 minutes. (Part Three of a Three-Part Series on the Future.)
By George Foster, CEO of Foster Marketing
The first week in May is always reserved for the Offshore Technology Conference or OTC, the biggest event in the oil and gas industry. Unlike last year when OTC followed the Macondo disaster, this year’s show was full of enthusiasm. Attendance reached a 29-year high with more than 78,000 and the exhibition space of 603,000 square feet was sold out.
And, with oil futures passing $110 per barrel and the government now issuing permits in the Gulf of Mexico, things look promising for the energy industry.
In its latest monthly oil market report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) revised downward its forecast for the 2011 global oil product demand growth as a result of persistent high prices and weaker projections for economic growth in the developed countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. And, global events shape the future of energy. In fact, oil futures dropped immediately following the death of Osama bin Laden.
So “What is the Energy Future?” Or, maybe more importantly, “Which Energy Future?” That was the title of a presentation given by Andy Hines, lecturer and executive-in-residence for the Graduate Program in Future Studies at the University of Houston, last November.
Andy (http://www.andyhinesight.com) was the featured speaker at a meeting I hosted in Lafayette last month on “Thinking [Better] About the Future: A Hands-on Approach to Applying Foresight” (see Part Two of the Future Series).
In his energy presentation, he laid out four energy scenario archetypes: Continuation, New Equilibrium, Transformation and Collapse. Here’s an overview of the first three; don’t want to imagine the latter.
Continuation: The system moves forward along its current trajectory. This is the “official future” and usually considered most likely. Hines forecasts this is less and less likely, and uses “The Long Boom” by Peter Schwartz (http://www.amazon.com/Long-Boom-Peter-Schwartz/dp/0738200743) as a go-by, suggesting that the recession is just a blip in the 25-year boom. Assumptions:
• Recession ends and things “go back to normal”
• Developing markets are more “markets” than competitors
• Global shipping costs manageable
• Resource costs manageable
• Technology continues to advance rapidly
• Mix of modern and post-modern values
New Equilibrium: The system reaches a balance among competing forces that is significantly different from the current balance. In the “double-dip” or “our-turn” scenario, emerging markets rewrite the rules. Assumptions:
• Emerging markets lead the way out of “double dip”
• Reverse “brain drain” helps build emerging market knowledge work force
• Relations with developed world “manageable” to avoid trade wars
• Required sources can be acquired cost-effectively
• Environmental issues “tabled” until later
• Spread of modern values
Transformation: The system is discarded in favor of a new one with a new set of rules, such as the soft energy path as described by Amory Lovins in his 1977 book “Soft Energy Paths: Toward a Durable Peace” (http://www.amazon.com/Soft-Energy-Paths-Towards-Colophon/dp/0060906537/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1304354600&sr=8-1). The soft energy path describes an alternative future where energy efficiency and appropriate renewable energy sources steadily replace a centralized energy system based on fossil and nuclear fuels. Assumptions:
• Recession causes people to “re-think” their consumption
• Grassroots movements and social entrepreneurship flourish
• New measure of government success at all levels of government go beyond the “Triple Bottom Line” of becoming more sustainable
• Alternative energy investment grows and leads to significant breakthroughs
• Local products and services flourish
• Licenses to operate granted by some communities that require organizations to give back to the community
• Rise of post-modern and integral values
Implications of the Scenarios: What do these scenarios mean to those in the energy industry?
|Implications||Long Boom||Soft Path||Our Turn|
|Economic prospects||Developed world economies lead the way||More balanced economic prospects||Emerging markets lead the way|
|Globalization||Continue to increase||Globalization slows with shift to local emphasis||Potential “trade wars” as emerging markets assert power|
|Energy usage||Up steadily and globally||Significantly reduced growth||Huge growth in emerging markets|
|Energy mix||Conventional with some alternative||Alternatives gain significant share||All possible sources exploited, including nuclear push|
|Work force||Knowledgeable worker boom in developed world drives shortages||Shift in energy mix requires new skills||Improving global reach, skills and capabilities|
In conclusion, the Hines presentation provides thought-provoking situations and implications to help energy companies forecast the future. The heavy lifting comes inside the company to evaluate its own future prospects.
Let us help you plan for 2011 and beyond. Email Jamie Efurd or call 281-448-3435 or 337-235-1848 to schedule a meeting with Foster Marketing to discuss how we can help integrate and enhance your marketing efforts.
By Megan Hebert, Trade Show Coordinator for Foster Marketing Communications
Throughout our careers, we all glean tips and tricks of the trade. After several years coordinating trade shows and traveling from Calgary to Kuala Lumpur, I have learned that Velcro is a must, Pledge wipes work best for Plexiglas and that when a protester runs through an exhibit hall spray painting your video screen the day before a show you must ask for a miracle.
The moral of this story is that with trade shows, you have to be prepared for everything because anything can happen.
I have always considered myself a “planner.” My datebook is organized and filled with as many details as I can cram. So, in a way, it makes sense that I have found myself coordinating trade shows, a profession that has taken my planner habits up a few notches. With trade shows, my rule is plan early and often.
In many cases, booking a booth space for a trade show is done a year in advance – two years ahead for biennial events – and often exhibitors sign up for next year’s show before the current show has closed. The nature of this business is to plan ahead, which requires staying abreast of contract deadlines and being prepared to commit early. This, in many cases, is the only way to ensure better booth placement. And for an exhibitor, staking your claim on the high-traffic spots can mean a successful return on your trade show investment.
So, it’s no surprise that many of our clients are already knee-deep in 2011 show planning. For instance, the fortunate holders of a priority number for the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) must submit contracts for 2011 space assignment by Aug. 6. Again, I stress, plan early and often.
In addition to planning early and often, here are a few tidbits to live by from independent exhibit-management consultant Candy Adams.
• Start with the strategy, not the tactics. Plan for trade shows strategically rather than tactically – don’t simply go through the motions. Set measurable objectives, qualify attendees, choose the proper products to display and put together a plan for pre-show, at-show and post-show activities.
• Always have a Plan B. Trade shows do not run perfectly – there are too many variables involved. Your only defense is to plan for contingencies.
• Arrive at the show early. Problems arise when trying to do too much in too little time. Arrive during setup to ensure all is going according to plan and to orient yourself.
• Cultivate good relationships. As with any vendor relationship, treat them well and they’ll return the favor. Get to know the people you work with on the show floor.
• Always ask for discounts. Knowing how to get discounts is one of the keys to maximum cost savings.
• Pad your budget. Add 10 percent to your budget for contingencies that often arise.
• Build extra time into your schedule. Pad your schedule and push up your internal deadlines. With the many deadlines you’ll need to juggle, giving yourself a buffer is a very good idea.
With each show attended and every new exhibit developed, a trade show coordinator gains valuable knowledge.
To help you prepare for your next show, Foster Marketing Communications is excited to introduce its latest downloadable guide for the oil and gas industry: Trade Show & Event Marketing: Information to maximize your event potential.
Covering the processes of trade show and events planning for the oil and gas industry as well as other industries, this free guide serves as a roadmap for navigating the process – from conceptualization to post-show follow-up. Anyone who has coordinated a trade show will tell you that identifying every detail in the process is not possible because each trade show often has its own set of rules. With that in mind, this guide is designed to provide a useful overview to assist in formulating a trade show or event game plan.
As always, Foster Marketing can help you navigate these details and craft a comprehensive plan for your company for both domestic and international events. Happy planning!
By Megan Hebert, Trade Show Coordinator for Foster Marketing
At the recent EXHIBITOR Conference and Exhibition in Las Vegas, it was comforting to find myself amidst a group of professionals who understand why you need a budget for Velcro … and a storage bin for duct tape.
This annual show draws thousands of attendees who want to learn the latest trade show industry trends and collect the neatest new goodies.
When you spend days coordinating trade shows as I do, you learn the value of face-to-face marketing efforts, not just as an occupation, but also as a tried and true marketing method – one that must be kept alive among the rapid increase in email, virtual events and social media.
Some attendees were concerned about their industry, and I realized how blessed we are in the oil and gas industry because our industry understands the value of face-to-face relationship building and what it means to a company’s success.
To gauge trends across industries, EXHIBITOR Magazine recently conducted a survey asking exhibit managers to rate upper management’s support of exhibit- and event-marketing programs. The results were encouraging for those of us in the trade show business.
More than 80 percent of respondents said upper management gives average or strong support to their event programs; and nearly 84 percent indicated similar support for exhibit marketing efforts.
One respondent explained that face-to-face marketing could be growing in importance because of “an increasing desensitization to impersonal marketing methods.”
Another remarked, “As email and online symposia become more and more prevalent, face-to-face marketing will become more valued. One cannot underestimate the power of a personal relationship when it comes to building trust with clients and prospects.”
These two respondents value trade show marketing, but not at the detriment of a total mix of marketing tools to reach customers and get results.
It’s not about choosing one marketing method over the other, it’s about understanding the importance of each and, many times, ensuring they work together. The trade show floor is the optimum platform for combining the incredible technology we have at our fingertips with the opportunity to look someone in the eye and earn his or her trust.
Yes, trade shows are about the ever-important relationship. However, they also are effective for numerous other measurable objectives, all of which can be identified before the show and measured after.
Barry Siskind, president of International Training and Management Co. in Toronto, offers this short list of objectives that can be accomplished at a show in addition to lead-generation efforts.
• Obtain customer feedback. Trade shows provide an easy opportunity to gather information from customers on various topics. Perhaps you’d like to know how customers feel about the sales staff’s customer-service skills, or how they rate your new exhibit design or product demonstration. These questions can be easily answered through in-exhibit surveys, informal polls or in-booth focus groups.
• Gather competitive intelligence. No other venue is as valuable as a trade show for gathering competitive and industry intelligence. Walk the show floor, attend seminars and network with customers to assemble valuable industry data to use to your advantage.
• Introduce employees to the industry. Trade shows serve as a microcosm of an industry, making them a great venue for new employees to get their feet wet and to meet key individuals, build relationships and gain valuable knowledge.
• Meet the press. And meet them face-to-face. That isn’t something that you can do just any old time. Hosting a press event or conducting an interview within your exhibit can give a company an inside track with a trade publication.
• Find partners and form strategic alliances. Explore outside your exhibit space. Especially in the oil and gas industry, some of the best leads can be found from your fellow exhibitors.
• Provide customer service. You can provide great customer service by being prepared to answer customer questions or complaints. This goes a long way in building credibility and customer satisfaction.
• Identify potential employees. We’ve all seen them walking around the exhibit floor … the potential employee. If you have positions that need to filled, take these attendees seriously. One might just make the cut.
Trade shows can be overwhelming – in many ways. By nature, trade show planning and event coordination is a detailed, time-consuming process with countless variables. With years of experience on the trade show floor, countless events under our belt and a list of partners across the globe, Foster Marketing can provide your organization with strategic trade show and event marketing plans based on specific goals and objectives, while saving you valuable time and helping you avoid potential pitfalls.
The oil and gas industry, perhaps more than any other, has been built on relationships. Long before email, virtual events, social media and texting, the industry was fueled by face-to-face familiarity. This trend continues today making relationship building and face-to-face marketing essential.