However, some of the primary concerns I’ve heard are, “Well, we don’t pay to play” or “We don’t want to pay for commercialism.” Here are a few thoughts that might help you reframe this discussion and help to generate more valuable content, increased revenue for the association, enhance the value proposition for your members, and create a better event on their behalf.
First, identify a topic for your association that you know is critical to your membership. For example, as I know a lot of you are in manufacturing, transportation, food and things of this nature – a resonant topic would probably be “safety.”
After a topic is identified, perform research on “safety” as an issue with your members – their concerns, procedures that work well, and those that don’t. Seek out a vendor or supplier who would like to partner on conducting deep-dive research – for a price.
After the research is developed, content can be generated in the form of articles, presentations at annual events, panel discussions, and webinars – all of which the vendor will be an official partner because they’ve funded the research. Now, the “safety company” is well positioned to help you deliver this topic as a sponsor.
This strategy reframes the vendor as a “research partner” and allows you to garner the revenue from this relationship and your sponsorship programs. You’ve will have established the basis for addressing a key issue for your members, are delivering relevant content for them based on current research, and creating a thought leadership partner in your safety sponsor.
This process enables you to circumvent the “pay-to-play” sponsorship dilemma successfully. Utilize your vendors from the outset by collecting the information, conducting the research, and then delivering. And, they are supporting this effort financially. It’s a win-win.
Hope this approach works for you. Hey, if you like you talk more about it, I’m passionate about this issue in 2019, and I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for associations.