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Why I Don't Attend, Exhibit or Sponsor Events



Dollar Bill on FireThe following is a guest blog article by Lindsay Fultz of LoveIt. If you are interested in guest blogging for Sound n' Sight, please read my guest blogging guidelines. And if you have any thoughts, please comment. Lindsay and I both would love to hear what you have to say!


Why I don’t attend, exhibit or sponsor events. Not proud of this but the events industry shouldn’t be either.

I’m an events industry baby. I first entered the industry in 2007 and I quickly climbed the ladder at a backdrop rental company. I attended and worked trade show floors across the country, sponsored events and started speaking on social media at these conferences. During the recession when budgets were being trimmed, the trade show budget remained the same. I love the industry, attending tweetups and most importantly I love the people within the events community.

While I am no longer directly employed by an event company, I am still an active event professional, speaking at various trade shows and conferences, a member of Event Method’s Product Council and as Marketing Manager at LoveIt, I arrange tweetups and *could be in the market to attend, exhibit and sponsor events but so far have chosen not to.

Events are bigger, making the cost higher for exhibitors, attendees and sponsors so that they can cover costs. No, I don’t want to sponsor your event - Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze. No, I don’t think spending thousands of dollars to have my company name on a lanyard, cocktail table, on swag bag, on sign at entrance, step and repeat, to be the name of the social media lounge with no wifi, for a shout out over loud intercom, insert in swag bag, ½ page ad in magazine or for a small mention in an e-blast or newsletter. Yes, I know you said you are open to ideas, will work with me, and can offer a crappy ala carte version of the above. I’m not an idiot. I’ll pass.

In the events industry, bigger events have led to what I like to call “Events Desperation” meaning not only higher costs all around but also more poorly targeted attendees, exhibitors,  and sponsors; crappier spray and pray marketing; and more ridiculous sponsorship options making the event irrelevant and of little to no value to my company no matter how much you sweeten the deal if I book early.   

What would make me attend, exhibit and sponsor?

Smaller, better targeted events. I’m not saying 10-20 people. I’m just saying if you can’t properly run a small - medium size event, don’t aim THAT high Willis. Actually, I think the smaller the event, the more money events can make. Exclusivity. Focus first on providing ROE for your attendees, exhibitors and sponsors and the ROI will come. Provide opportunities for everyone to engage - don’t just hold the attendee information hostage to make a buck.

Your sponsorship packages should include social, for example:
  • Sponsored Stories on Facebook (not directing people to your site but rather your sponsors) *Promoted Tweets (again, linking back to sponsors)
  • video Skype or Google+ hangout Q&A’s/interviews
  • blog posts and guest blog posts should be included and not for additional costs.
Many event bloggers are actively looking for guest bloggers. Help connect the dots. Pay it forward. Show that you are invested in providing ROE before, during and after the event. Don’t just be consumed with “are we locally trending on Twitter” when you don’t even promote others.

Lastly, the surveys that trade shows and events put out that report attendees, exhibitors and sponsors are at an all time high and claim “this is the BEST event yet, so book early!" are bullcrap. I was there. The show floor was dead 2 hours before the 1st day wrapped. I was at the tweetups and talked with other event professionals and exhibitors - that is not what I heard. That lame tactic will only work for so long. People talk. If you listen, you will gain valuable insight.

I could go on and on but why bother because it seems the people that need to listen are just too busy talking...

Lindsay FultzLindsay Fultz is the obsessive compulsive Middle Child of Middle Child New Media and Marketing Manager at a hot tech startup called LoveIt which launched in private beta May of 2012 and to the public  in June 2012. LoveIt is a new social discovery platform where you can search, discover and visually bookmark the web. Import, organize and curate your findings. Collaborate and share in public or private. LoveIt has been featured in Mashable, Forbes, USA Today, Techli and Univision. In 2011, Lindsay was named Social Media's Rising Star in the Events Industry by Event Solutions Magazine and One of the Top 42 Most Passionate Business Women on Twitter by the Huffington Post.
(Photo by Images_of_Money)
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This is "forehead slapping" right on the money. Thank you !
Posted @ Tuesday, October 30, 2012 4:21 AM by Hal Rice
Lindsay, Jenise - this is a great, provocative post which has certainly stimulated a lot of thoughts in my buzzing brain. That these thoughts are mostly contrary to the views expressed in the post will certainly be of interest to you! I'll be back with a considered riposte!
Posted @ Wednesday, October 31, 2012 4:06 AM by Padraic Gilligan
Thank you Hal and Padraic for the comments and TY Jenise for lending me your awesome events blog as a sound off. This post was very cathartic to write. I know a number of people that use to work in high positions at eHarmony and they said that when Dr. Oz promoted eHarmony on his FB page the traffic broke from his one post broke their server. Imagine an event company/trade show/conference being able to have that stat and testimonial to lure sponsors!
Posted @ Wednesday, October 31, 2012 11:51 AM by Lindsay Fultz
Dang Lindsey! You really hit the nail on the head with this one! I love your honesty and transparency! Great post!
Posted @ Thursday, November 01, 2012 11:01 AM by Ashani Mfuko
Thanks for saying what so many are thinking. I wish there were more who would speak up for quality over quantity, though. While there are a growing number of exhibitors/sponsors who get it, all too many still just want big numbers so they can collect a ton of business cards from trick-or-treaters that they never follow up with.  
Yes, show organizers need to do a better job of offering real value, but as long as exhibitors and sponsors demand that lanyard or banner promo, show organizers will continue along the old path to keep their customers satisfied. The question is how to get both sides to wake up, now, to what truly does bring value to the event-goers and the sellers.
Posted @ Friday, November 02, 2012 12:17 PM by Sue Pelletier
I second Sue's comment. It's very, very hard to sell on quality. I sell very targeted small shows and I rarely stop hearing about the numbers. Like the idea of a sponsored tweet, thanks.
Posted @ Friday, November 02, 2012 1:01 PM by Lori Woehrle
I really love that there are no holds barred - shout it out and hope that someone is listening. There are absolutely some shows and conferences that are getting sponsorship opportunities targeted in a way that makes sense for sponsors, and many that are not. I have long believed that sponsorship is NOT about the number of times you see my logo, but how have ways for you to connect with my brand and my people and feel that we have made an individual emotional connection that makes me want to work with you been created for me. This is not getting up to add yet another layer of blah-blah at the general session, but it is about helping me find the people at the event who have a need for what I can provide, and finding small group ways perhaps to connect. This can be within the context of a much larger meeting but it needs to make sense. Maybe I am hosting a (for lack of a better word) campfire session, or a tweetup, might make more sense. I also think as we look to ways to increase sustainability, having a printed ad is not for me or the people I represent, so I want more opportunities for other mediums presented. Like I said, bring on the ideas, the ideas that will connect people to people and eventually to their brand or product - the way it works in real life, one at a time. Thanks for saying it out loud both of you.
Posted @ Friday, November 02, 2012 2:32 PM by Tahira Endean CMP
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