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Over a number of conferences I have been at lately, one of the hallmarks of all of them was what could I do for them rather than what I would learn from the conference. Once the marketing folks realized that I would not provide them with anything, it is like we no longer exist. Reminder to marketing folks – there is always next year and I have budget control.
The worst mistakes that I have seen with conference marketing folks is that as long as they think they can get something from you, they want to be your best friend. When the reality sets in that I really can’t sponsor the conference this year and I am lucky to attend because times are tough and I paid my own way to your conference that these same marketing people seem to forget all about you. I have standing invites to meet with marketing folks from two different conferences now that we have budgeted to help sponsor next year, but try to get them on via e-mail, social networking, or even carrier pigeon, POTS, or anything else it is like we just simply do not exist anymore.
Marketing and especially conference organizers need to be cultivating contacts in the local community, and just because a sponsor cannot make it one year does not meant that they will not make it the next year. Budget cycles are long and uncertain, if you want to make sure that the sponsorship will at least be budgeted for, and then you have to keep the contacts fresh and snappy. That means being available and answering questions, expectations, and what the message should be between the sponsor and the conference organizer.
This is a massive Fail on the part of two conferences that we were planning on sponsoring. This is what makes those personal contacts so important; if you do not keep them up to date then they go away. Conferences especially need to keep the long horizon open and keep up with people who could and can sponsor the conference to ensure that the money is budgeted and available when the conference happens.
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(Cross-posted @ TechWag)