Research is essential, even for a small property. As many of you know, the Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists™ is the presenting sponsor of the Western Sponsorship Congress™ (WSC). For that event (2½ days and about 250-300 delegates annually), it is important to know who attends, details about them, how they heard about the event, and specifics about products that delegates might need from existing or future sponsors. The only way to gain this information is through research.
Whether you do it yourself or engage an outside company, research is essential. No matter if you are a small conference like WSC or a pro sports team, a walk or a gala, have clients or ticketholders… you need to do research.
Let me tell you about the people who attended the WSC in 2014 (yes, we have this data for every year for the past seven years as well!).
- 62% of delegates overall were first time attendees.
- 81% of the delegates from charities were first time attendees.
- 55% of the delegates stated that professional development was the main reason and 83% stated it was one of the reasons for attending.
- Networking was the #1 reason for one quarter of all the delegates for attending and 73% as one of the reasons for attending.
- Only 7% of the delegates stated that a specific speaker or topic was the reason for attending.
- Over half of the returning delegates cited a good experience the year before as a reason for returning.
So what does all this mean? This event gets a good influx of new delegates every year, which is good for long-standing sponsors to continue to reach new prospects versus speaking to the same people every year. It also tells us that people like to return, but attend our event about once every two to three years. This is important to know from a forecasting, content, and marketing perspective. It also lets us know that charities are thirsty for sponsorship marketing knowledge and networking opportunities. We can conclude that people come to this conference because they want to learn and network, not just for drinking and parties.
So what else did we learn?
- The number of delegates that who are final decision makers or part of a joint team of decision makers increased by 4% over 2013.
- Non-sponsorship related people dropped from 18% to 10% between last year and the year before.
- There has been a decline in attendees aged 25-34 and an increase in attendees aged 55-64.
- 68% of the delegates have read the Tuesday Morning Commentary (like you) in the past six months, and almost one in 2 (41%) have read Canada’s leading monthly sponsorship publication The Sponsorship Report and 37% read Marketing Magazine.
- There is only 11% duplication (this has never been over 13%) between the WSC and the Canadian Sponsorship Forum, and only 4% (never higher than 6% over the years) duplication with the Sponsorship Toronto conference.
This tells our sponsors that the delegates are maturing and are in more decision-making roles, as well as they are getting older and more experienced, and the attendees are more focused on sponsorship marketing versus other marketing or fundraising channels. In addition, the information shows us that the Tuesday Morning Commentary reaches more delegates than any other medium, and that these people are truly engaged in sponsorship and marketing as they also read/subscribe to The Sponsorship Report and Marketing Magazine. Also, it shows sponsors that, if they are associated with either of the other two independent events in Canada, they are not duplicating but reaching a different group of people.
- 39% of the delegates will require promotional products within the next 12 months.
- One in 4 delegates will need research services as well as printing services in the next 12 months.
This information can be interpreted for us to understand that Promotional Resource Group has an opportunity to continue to grow its business, as almost 40% of the attendees can use their services before the next WSC on October 19-21 in Calgary. This is the same for REPUCOM or Enigma as sponsors. Finally, it shows the WSC team that a printing company might be a good prospect for the future as 24% of the delegates are considering printing services before October.
Your take-away this week is to understand that research is critical, even if you are small. The above information is derived from about six pages in a 49-page report. To undertake this research is not expensive or hard to do, but it yields incredible information, data, and mining opportunities. To be successful in sponsorship, I have always said you need to know your audience and what you have to sell. If you are not undertaking this level of research, what do you truly know about your audience and the opportunities that are there for your existing sponsors or prospects?