Last week on our program, 6 Degrees of Association, we had the opportunity to speak with Lewis Flax of Flax Associates about how associations should be thinking through their event sponsorship strategy going forward and his advice got us thinking! To recap his three key recommendations, they are:
1 Do not lead with your event in conversations with your partners.
2 Think about what can be offered beyond your event.
3 Focus on your top sponsors.
Whoa. If ever there was a wake-up call, COVID-19 has certainly been one for most organizations but this particular triple threat advice got us almost being thankful for it. The bright lights, big city thinking that came out of this for us…if it takes a global pandemic for your organization to realize you’ve not only been on autopilot with your event strategy but that, in fact, your event is your unique value proposition, Houston we have a problem.
So why are we thinking this is something to be grateful for? Well you are being hit with a problem that may have come up sooner or later around innovation within your organization or industry as a whole, but luckily so is everyone else. You’ll be able to save face in public if you make this pivot correctly but don’t lose the opportunity to do some real soul searching internally.
This is the time to look around your organization and take true stock of your talent and assets. Who on your team is best suited to glide right into content with your partners to create some genuine thought leadership in your industry? What about advocacy as Lewis mentioned, are there untapped issues within the industry that warrant a deeper look and a fresh spin to get people thinking about? What about your data and analytics folks, if you are hurting for ways to reach your audience, you can bet your members are too. Is there an opportunity to explore providing resources within your organization to help your members create meaningful content that helps them in turn promote their business?
In the past these may have been items you threw in on top of a large sponsorship package but now they may very well be the main event. Your expertise in serving the industry you represent is now a real unique value proposition, instead of being the curator of all experts in the industry, take stock of the experts you have on staff and make them available to your members and sponsors.
Bottom line, no one feels comfortable in the unknown, cases are on the rise, election day is right around the corner, virtual events seem to be sticking around for a bit. Take this unique time to remember what makes you uniquely positioned to help your members and sponsors in their time of crisis. Who knows what avenues this will open up for you when the world goes back to live events and how this may help you retain the value of various non-dues revenue streams for you, and your partners.