Later today, I will deliver the opening keynote for the WSC® – Alberta Forum. The annual Western Sponsorship Congress® has been running for 14 years, and next year, it will showcase two or three such events across the country. In 2020, there will be regional WSC events from coast to coast. It is the longest running sponsorship conference in Canada. As I prepared for my 14th opening keynote at a WSC event in Alberta, I thought back over the years.
We have an amazing industry. Events like the WSC® – Alberta Forum; the Sponsorship Experience Forum; and Sponsorship Week provide great professional development for our sector. In addition, the monthly SMCC events in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver provide added topical interest support for our sector. All of these types of professional development are key to the long-term success of our industry. Each of the three longest running continuous events I noted above have evolved over the years and their “product” is different from when it started. Some have changed names and branding, others format and function. But the key for these events is that they have evolved with the times and stayed current. They each uniquely deliver a product to an audience that needs what they offer—and each is different in that way.
Over the years, our industry has evolved as well. When the SponsorshipX and WSC® started and the precursor to Sponsorship Week existed, digital and social media were not a strong part of sponsorship. For some, sponsorship was still about stock proposals and hanging banners. Today, technology, real time responses, and enhanced interaction and experience is key. Employee engagement, social responsibility, PR, GR, and IR are all important parts of the sponsorship mix for acquisition and ROI measurement, in addition to the traditional “marketing” side of sponsorship marketing. Those that have failed to adapt have suffered. (Many blame the markets, or say that others are stealing their sponsorships, or that the corporate world just doesn’t step up any more, but those that use those excuses are typically the ones that have failed to adapt and basically have created their own misfortune.)
So, as I prepared for this opening keynote, I thought about where we are and where we are going. The future is bright. My keynote will include some topics such as creating targeted experiences through better activations and better understanding of our audiences. It will also focus on relationship building which flows from the theme of The Art of Storytelling! These are three key shifting points of the audience and the industry.
In addition to my keynote, these topics around storytelling are supported by such presenters as John Windwick and Terry Andryo from ATB; Jerilynn Daniels from RBC and Christi Cruz from TELUS, who will host and moderate the 5 Minute Pitch®; Judy Haber from PSG on selling and Jim Kalogerakos from diDanalytics on big data and sponsorship prospecting.
Understand—if you don’t expand your opportunities, enhance your vision, and be a forward thinker, you will fall behind—very far behind. And events like WSC® – Alberta Forum; and others can help you see that vison for the future.
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