Ben Scheim, co-founder of Crowdcentric and advisor and former Global Director of Social Media Week, shares his experiences in the event industry with us, his challenges and the reason why he believes EverThere is the perfect addition to your sponsorship package in order to prove REAL event ROI to your event sponsors.
“Enter EverThere: when I first heard about it and how it worked, I suddenly realized — wow, THIS is exactly what we’ve always needed” Ben Scheim
Q1: Tell us a little about your background in the event industry. What was your position/ what were you in charge of in your event?
I have spent most of my professional life working in the event industry. Starting in The Paley Center for Media (formerly the Museum of TV & Radio) in New York City, initially starting as a low-level assistant event producer and then ultimately rising to oversee their most prestigious event, a destination-style CEO-level media conference.
After 5 years of fascinating experiences, in 2010 I left to start my own experiential marketing agency with my friend Toby Daniels, centered around the Social Media Week conference. Our agency is called Crowdcentric and we took his idea for the SMW conference in NYC and grew it into one of the world’s largest multi-city conferences, with events happening in 25+ cities around the world.
Q2: What were the main difficulties and challenges you had from your time as head of event sponsorship and partners?
I began first working with sponsors at the Paley Center, where I wasn’t in charge of finding sponsors, but I did handle account management and work with our team to ensure event sponsors had their hands held and felt as if their contributions were valued.
I soon learned though that we were doing very little to provide any kind of ROI for these sponsors other than providing facetime to other important people;
At Social Media Week, I was then in a position of being entirely responsible for all of our event partners and put an emphasis in the beginning on coming up with a sponsorship package that would attempt to deliver real ROI to whoever provided financial support for our events. Easier said than done, of course–my 5 years of working on SMW was a learning experience in and of itself, and though we got better and better each year at helping provide sponsors a justifiable return for their contributions, it was always a challenge and there were certain things that I felt we just never quite did well enough.
Our sponsorship challenges ultimately boiled down to the following:
a) finding new sponsors: a long and tiresome process to constantly generate new pipelines of valid prospective partners, tracking down appropriate contacts, and then pitching the sponsorship package and negotiation processes that often stretched months before closing a specific prospect (or sometimes not at all)
b) providing REAL ROI for signed sponsors: once they were on-board, ensuring that appropriate terms were set on both sides and that we’d done our jobs finding out what the sponsor ROI goals were, and THEN actually helping them get that ROI (and having the right sorts of tools to report back to them).
c) re-signing past sponsors for new deals: the old adage in business says that it’s a lot easier to keep a past customer than find a new one, but again, being able to demonstrate ROI to the event sponsors (or not) would play a huge role in our ability to re-sign them.
Q3: How difficult did you find extracting your sponsor’s goals was? and why.
The big challenge was that so many event sponsors just wouldn’t know how to spell out the ROI they needed to get. You would hear: “Listen, I have $___ annual marketing budget for events and I decide to sponsor a particular event because i’m looking to get ____ out of it,”
We needed to attempt to extract those goals at the point of closing the deal, not after, and be aggressive about going back to the decision maker to get answers. But even knowing this, it would sometimes be difficult — especially when dealing with huge global consumer brands.
Q4: What did you find the main goals were of the sponsors you worked with?
Generalizing of goals for event sponsors typically would break down into categories of the types of companies they were.
1. Huge consumer brands – brand awareness (in association with a cool idea), or else the promotion of specific new product or campaign they were running, in which case press would be one of the key ROI points.
2. B2B companies, service companies and others – lead generation is the number one goal they expect to get our of their sponsorship package.
Q5: Once you secured the event sponsorship how did you demonstrate/ prove the ROI of that sponsorship to your partners? Did you find it difficult/challenging to prove? in what way?
Our attitude was that this always needed to be a consultative process with the brand to ensure we had a sense of what they actually wanted to achieve. Failing to do so upfront would frequently lead to an event sponsor not signing on again, and still wouldn’t ensure that we’d hit the goals. Provided we were all on the same page though and the goals were realistic, we’d follow-up post event with a lengthy media-filled report showing both the success of the event, the importance of their role in the event, and some stats and figures outlining exactly how they’d achieved success.
Of course, the worst thing would be hearing from a sponsor a week after the event with an ROI goal they hadn’t shared in advance to the effect that what he or she really wanted was “300 good leads, but all we did was collect 50 business cards and it just didn’t do it for us”.
Q6: What key benefits did you find EverThere provided?
A lot of our sponsors were B2B/services brands who were looking to generate leads above all else, and one of the challenges I always felt we faced was when a brand would say, “yeah, we’re looking for qualified leads–hard to put an exact number on it, but we’re looking for say 250-300 good ones from this sponsorship.” My team would then get to work on figuring out how we’d get them this list — either by driving attendees to a booth they had on site, sharing an attendee list for their session, or helping them organize a private event or party which would generate its own list of attendees. However, many sponsors didn’t have booths, and attendees of an event may be going to the event for reasons other than an interest in the sponsors’ products or services, so getting that list was often easier said than done.
Enter EverThere: when i first heard about it and how it worked, I suddenly realized — wow, THIS is exactly what we’ve always needed. The way that EVerThere can help an event organizer generate self-selected lists of qualified leads for sponsors is just incredible, and my job would have been a lot easier for the past 5 years if i’d been able to say in advance to a sponsor that I could more or less promise them ____ number of leads based on past EverThere bag results.
This is all important because, again, if you put so much work into finding a brand, pitching them on your sponsorship package, closing a deal and then executing well, how sad is it to ultimately not get them to sign back on simply because post-event you either couldn’t or didn’t know how to show them that you’d helped them hit their ROI? This is the constant challenge/frustration event organizers face, and I’m convinced that EverThere provides a huge tool to be any event organizer’s hero at their next event.
Proudly, Social Media Week will be using EverThere this fall on their conferences for the very first time–we’re very excited to see how pleased our sponsors will be post-event!
Ben Scheim is now working with EverThere as a strategic and business development consultant.
A short Interview with Ben Scheim and Toby Daniels on Social Media: