5 Ways to Maximize a Blog Conference Sponsorship

I’ve spent a lot of time lately researching, evaluating and managing blog conference sponsorships for brands. They offer valuable opportunities for marketers to engage with bloggers in intimate settings ideal for making lasting connections. And these ongoing relationships can reap tremendous benefits for marketing programs – credible third parties spreading your message and compelling content distributed to your target audience as well as enhanced organic search engine optimization.

So what does this mean for marketers? A blog conference sponsorship can be the starting point of many valuable partnerships that can have a lasting impact on the success of a brand’s marketing program.

Here are my five key points to ensuring a brand gets the most from its blog conference sponsorship.

1. Set goals.

Are you looking for bloggers to review your product or service? Do you want them be part of a focus group? Are you looking for longer-term integrated marketing partnerships? Be sure you know what you want your sponsorship to generate. Goals keep you focused on your marketing objectives, which likely have social media as a success metric, as well as your company’s overall business objectives. They will lead you to the right strategies – or in this case help you choose the right conference; a smart, cost-effective sponsorship; and an engaging, impactful experience for attendees. And they will ensure you can demonstrate a return on your investment when all is said and done.

2. Know your audience.

And in this case, understand how the audience at a specific blog conference likes to interact with sponsors as well as what they will be interested in sharing with their audience, likely your end customer. Every conference is different, so find out from conference organizers the demographics of attendees, what attendees have said they want to accomplish, what learning opportunities are offered by the conference and what experiences have been successful at past conferences. Having as much insight as possible is crucial to ensuring success.

3. Make an impact.

You’re fighting with other sponsors to get attention, so you must find clever ways for attendees to experience your product or service or engage with your initiative. Samsung offers a good example. At this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW), they offered Galaxy phone owners local freebies and discounts redeemable from their phone, new phone batteries via bike messengers, free pedicab rides and so much more. The activations likely made local businesses happy, were useful to attendees and provided interesting content for them to share with their readers.

4. To swag or not to swag.

That’s become the million-dollar question in the conference world. Cool giveaways can make a brand stand out amongst the rest, but lame freebies can send attendees looking for the nearest trash can. I attended the recent BlissDom ’13 and received a very handy multi-charger travel kit. This was a smart giveaway because I have the need to use it often, so I’m constantly reminded of where I got it. Brands should strive to leave attendees with something useful or valuable information that leaves a door open for future conversation and engagement.  If you think swag is the way to go for your brand, Mashable offers a good overview of how to ensure it gets used instead of tossed.

5. Follow-up is a must.

Just because the conference has ended doesn’t mean your interaction with attendees should too.  Just the opposite – your relationships are just beginning, or growing if you partnered with any attendee previously. Leave a door open at the end of the conference so you have a reason to get back in touch with the people you meet. But remember, online influencers want connections to be personal and meaningful, so make sure dialogue with them is just this and you’ll find that the relationship becomes mutually beneficial.

With a strategic approach and compelling execution, a blog conference can be a goldmine for marketers. These are the top five tips I’ve found useful in getting the biggest bang for my clients’ buck. Have any to add to the list? Share them in the comments section.

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