In 1967, one second of air time during the Super Bowl cost an advertiser $1,333, which means that a 30-second ad that year cost just $40,000. This year, one second of advertising during Super Bowl 50 cost $160,000, so that same 30-second ad cost $4.8 million.
“So what?” you say. Ask yourself this: What is one second worth to an advertiser (which is how you should think of your exhibitors and sponsors) at your annual meeting?
Apples and oranges? Not really. Why shouldn’t you think about your annual event as a media platform that is worth a significant premium to those business partners that subsidize so much of the cost, that keep your registration fees as low as they can be, and that contribute so much to your bottom line? Like the Super Bowl, you need an event that people want to attend and watch – that’s a given. But have you considered how to make the “commercials” at your event fun, entertaining, memorable and woven into the experience in such a way that it’s as much fun as it is during the Super Bowl?
Over the past 50 years, advertisers have spent $4.5 billion in media costs alone (plus just as much to make and produce the commercials) in an effort to get our attention, build their brands and sell their stuff.
Here are a few ideas that might get the attention of your business partners and get them to spend more to get more of your audience’s attention, loyalty and business:
- What is your audience worth? What is the buying power for the products and services they buy, office supplies, technology, trucks, and the thousands of other industry-specific products and services they need to run their organizations? Trust me, the NFL knows the value, the size and the exact demographics of their audience – that is what they are selling for $160,000 per second.
- Who says a trade show booth, a gobo in a general session or a hosted breakfast is still a good way to attract the attention of an audience? There are better ways that are worth more to your audience and your business partners. Think about the best retailers at your favorite mall. How many of those stores would you walk into if they were set up, merchandised and staffed like most exhibits booths? Who will be brave enough to stop the madness and move to a new and more relevant shopping environment?
- Why not sell “air time” as the TV networks do? Why not have your sponsors produce commercials to run in prime time, lunch time, etc.? Make the commercials interactive, and give the audience a reason to connect with the business partner on-site and get a meaningful conversation started.
- Why not open up all of the other available “inventory” that is waiting to be paid for by your exhibitors and sponsors? At every event I attend, I see at least a dozen wide-open prime opportunities for the business partners that want access to your audience. Sponsored lunches and cocktail parties are not producing the ROI that most smart business partners want.
Here’s the catch: You need to work with the business partners that understand new customer acquisition costs, current customer retention costs and customer lifetime value. Without a clear picture of what a customer is worth, how can an exhibitor be expected to pay your association $200,000 for access to your audience that helps acquire or retain a $1,000,000 customer who may be worth $5,000,000 over the next five years? Start by selling your new media sales approach to the right people.
There is a bright future for the event organizers who change the game in how they commercialize their live media platform, add more value to business partners and give their audience a better experience with better advertising, commercials and value.