In light of COVID-19 and the enormous effects it has had on the events industry we decided for the fourth session of Hire Space's virtual event we would discuss 'Partnerships & Collaborations: Your Opportunity To Diversify And Future Proof Your Business?'.
Joining this session was Kieran Morris, Sponsorship Director at Slingshot Sponsorship, and Max Elliott, Head of Client Services at FullCircle. The session was moderated by Jennifer Jenkins, Director at Worldspan.
You can watch the video below, or read on for our key takeaways of the session.
Table of Contents
Nurture existing partnerships
Kieran suggests that rather than approaching new brands to broker brand new partnerships, there's a lot of value to be added to current partners, providing you can figure out what their business objectives are in the current situation and can support them in reaching those objectives. He notes that sponsorship isn't solely focused on bringing in straight revenue, it's about meeting business objectives across the board. He also advises engaging with current partners to figure out what their pain points are: if you can solve those through your existing assets, such as digital access to content creation, then it will be useful in the short-term and may be to your advantage in the long-term.
When approaching current partners, it can make a huge difference to pick up the phone, see how they are and if there is anything you can do to help keep their brand front and centre before their audience. Be open and transparent.
Be more authentic
Max suggest at times like these it can be easier to initiate partnership conversations as we are all experiencing the same uncertainty and are not putting up a front. We are starting to realise that the only way to come out stronger the other side is by working together.
He points out that whilst commerciality is always going to be front and centre, if you can be authentic with people and push the value of your personal self rather than pounds and pence, that will be so much more transparent in these times, and will hopefully be more advantageous in the long-term.
Times of stress reveal true colours, so by refraining from driving a hard sell and instead genuinely nurturing the relationship and asking if someone is doing okay on a personal level, there's actually more common ground and opportunity to build more meaningful partnership relationships at this time.
The changing landscape of commercial models
Kieran believes that there will be a change in the models that underpin partnerships, and that there will be a bigger emphasis on commercial assets that can be provided outside of event integration. Events can provide a lot of value to a partner that goes outside the realms of branding or a speaker slot, and it will be more about developing a wider campaign between the brand and the event owner as to how they can achieve their business objectives together.
The focus will always be on event integration, but we can provide more value outside of the event which will create more innovative events and out-of-the-box thinking in terms of an event owner's approach to their partners.
Take some breathing space
Max warns that we need to be careful in how we approach the new events landscape. It's important not to lose sight of the fact that our industry celebrates the power of physical events. Despite all events being taken virtual currently, it is important to remember the positive aspects of live events and perhaps prepare for a combination of live and virtual going forward.
He recommends taking some breathing space, working out what you're good at as a business and your true values, and then thinking about how you push that value long-term, rather than changing tact so easily.
What special sponsorship opportunities are there for brands during the crisis?
Kieran states that content is key - we're all working from home non-stop and are paying more attention to emails, newsletters and other digital mediums. This gives partners a great opportunity to integrate into that content, if it's providing value to their audience. It's important to pitch it carefully however, so it doesn't seem like partners are capitalising or taking advantage.
How can I effectively sell sponsorships for my virtual events?
There's no denying it's a tough sell at the moment. Kieran notes that it's going to be really difficult to not come across like you're just trying to capitalise and make revenue off the back of the situation we're in. His advice is: whatever your event was going to be, that is now being put online, really think about if certain brands could increase engagement or enhance the event. If so, then you should approach them and work on a collaboration, but it's not going to be appropriate to ask for paid sponsorship of your event, so it's important to remember that it's more about sharing content and valuing time.
With the whole industry in the same boat & not much actual "business" able to take place - what sort of partnerships specifically can the panel advise?
Max suggests to focus on building the relationship, transparency and trust. Work out when they will need you again and how you can support them during their quiet times. As a business, we have also done some work with feedback - asking venues where we are on their PSL - what can we improve on and do to make their lives easier?
Kieran Morris, Sponsorship Director, Slingshot Sponsorship
Kieran heads up Slingshot Sponsorship’s portfolio of client accounts, from commercial strategy and sponsorship sales, to the management of delivery and sponsorship activation. Prior to Slingshot Sponsorship, Kieran started his career at Worcester Warriors before breaking into the agency world at Simbiotik, developing growth and partnerships across multiple brand accounts. It’s with this passion that he’s able to offer fresh insight on how to think like a sponsor and how to diversify your offerings.
Max Elliott, Head of Client Services, Full Circle
Max is Head of Client Services at FullCircle, a multi-disciplined design led agency supplying services to the creative events world across Production Theming and Entertainment. With over 14 years of experience, he strives to build long term competitive advantage driving revenue growth through content creation, venue and event expertise, passion and personality. Max believes in connections within the events world, opening doors of opportunity for his clients. He curates that desirable ‘one point of contact’ between various businesses and key contacts.
We hope you enjoyed reading the key points from the fourth session of our virtual event. We will be releasing takeaways of the last two sessions in the coming days, so keep your eyes peeled! You can read about the other sessions here.
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