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Monday, March 05, 2007

Tempting, isn't it? You're researching an upcoming trade show and you see that for only $5,000 you can have special signage for your booth... an advertisement in the conference newsletter, and a sign at the Internet cafe with you name on it. Is it worth it?

This is the very question that most marketers find themselves asking when evaluating sponsorship opportunities at shows. And of course you inevitably have to deal with someone saying, "Well, what if our #1 competitor takes the sponsorship and we don't?. This is our once chance to show our market that we want their business."

I'm here to tell you that the idea of a sponsorship is a good one. However, unless you can generate a positive return, a sponsorship is just that, a good idea - and nothing more. When evaluating a trade show or sponsorship, you have to ask yourself a couple of questions.

1. If my entire marketing budget was only $10,000, would I spend it on this show? this sponsorship?
2. If yes, what do I expect to get out of it? If no, what else would I rather spend this money on and what do I expect to get from that?

It's all about trade offs. Just like any other marketing medium. Your trade show participation must be based on a more scientific approach. I hear individuals talking about branding all the time when it comes to trade shows, "We don't really sell a lot about the show but everybody sees our name". Listen, if you're not selling at the show or generating conversations after the show from trade show attendees, then you're not spending your dollars wisely.

Consider different methods for getting the sales you're looking for. Sponsor a breakfast, have a special event for your top prospects, or do a targeted mailing... but don't participate in a sponsorship that never has an opportunity to generate a favorable return.


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