While all of us Dreamforce attendees are back to our daily routines, the lessons learned and the good times are still fresh in our heads. Remember that free beer on the expo floor? It was paid for by sponsors. Your conference pass–was it $3,000? Of course not, and that’s because sponsors subsidized the cost to get attendees in the door. The free t-shirts that were bursting our luggage on the way home? Sponsors! Dreamforce bag? You guessed it….sponsors paid for it.
Prior to this year’s Dreamforce, I always thought of event sponsors as a necessary evil. Hundreds of brand names surrounding me and the feeling that I, as an attendee, was being targeted and “sold to” by companies that I had no interest in talking to. I was used to seeing advertisements and “brought to you by…” messages plastered everywhere.
Then something changed. I became one. For the first time, Red Argyle co-sponsored the Brew-off this year, along with several other companies. The experience of being a sponsor, on that side, suddenly makes a lot of sense. We didn’t sponsor the Brew-off to get leads and business cards (although that never hurts); we sponsored the Brew-off because it’s a fun event that we’ve attended for years and wanted to help support. I think the same holds true for the big sponsors who have experienced gains from Dreamforce in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
Also consider the way that sponsorships are portrayed. A sponsorship is different than an ad. An advertisement always has a call to action. “For awesome Salesforce Service, go to www.redargyle.com and fill out our web-to-lead form today!” Now look on the back of your Dreamforce backpack. Are there any calls to action? Nope, just some logos. Much less intrusive.
These companies have chosen to make an investment in the trade show that you’ve chosen to attend, and you’re benefitting from it. The revenue from sponsorships enhances the trade show experience and makes more fun stuff possible. So here’s my challenge to you: The next time you attend a trade show, pay attention to who sponsored the show, and let them know that you appreciate it. You will most certainly make some new friends, learn a few things, and undoubtedly enjoy their generosity in the form of a subsidized ticket, free beer, or other perk that is part of any trade show. So yeah, go out there and hug a sponsor today. They need to know that we appreciate them!