*This blog was originally published on 9 May 2017. It has been republished with updates on 15 November 2021.

Sponsoring a major conference and trade show can be a fantastic opportunity to position your brand as the leaders within your market. The benefits of sponsoring an event can be really powerful. It can present your business with an opportunity to showcase your brand. However there is also a huge amount of work involved in maximising the sponsorship investment.


Start with a clear vision.   

To illustrate my point, let me take you through a great example of how Nectar worked with Redsuit Advertising a number of years ago to bring a client’s event sponsorship to life. The client, Vale Australia, had signed up to being the major sponsor of a very large international congress being held in Brisbane.  The sponsorship was primarily to support Vale build a presence in the Australian coal industry. The congress attracted over 6000 delegates from 112 countries, as a result a successful sponsorship activation at the event would be far reaching in the industry.

Being the major sponsor meant that our client had a number of entitlements at the show, including a significant footprint on the trade show floor. The risk at this stage is to jump into booth design and come up with something that looked amazing, but had little communication value for the client.

Clear sponsorship goals.

We had clearly defined goals of firstly increasing brand and Australian industry awareness and secondly attracting new recruits globally. For maximum impact, it was vital that all the touch points Vale had throughout the week long event were consistent and supported the sponsorship objectives. A single theme of ‘Transformation’ was developed as the overarching message to be communicated to all delegates.

With this clear vision articulated, we worked with Redsuit Advertising to design the full sponsorship activation plan. The corner piece of this plan was the Vale Australia booth, a two story, technologically engaging design. The Transformation theme was extrapolated into daily stories that were communicated via colours and images on the stand – meaning it looked different everyday!  It was two stories for visual impact, but also to allow a dedicated space on the top floor for recruitment conversations to take place away from the hectic show floor. To further represent the messages, we produced a large sand sculpture on the show floor, which was ‘transformed’ (rebuilt) overnight to represent the daily message.

In addition to these two key elements, we produced a ‘satellite’ stand which was an interactive reptile experience with delegate photos that fed back to the main stand. The final elements were speaking spots on the program, and hosted VIP events to enhance the message delivery to selected delegates.


Develop engagement strategies.

Taking this cohesive approach to the activation allowed us to develop engagement strategies that yielded real results for the client. By using brand ambassadors and a simple lead capture App, we were able to measure the number of interactions per day and capture the areas of interest. This allowed the client’s staff to conduct more in depth discussions with qualified leads . These meetings could be scheduled by the brand ambassadors via the App.

Vale Australia were delighted with the level of exposure, and the calibre of delegates their staff interacted with. Their recruitment agency also exceeded the number of potential new recruit conversations they had set for themselves.

Although this example focuses on a major sponsorship of a large congress, I believe the lessons can apply to any show participation.

Look beyond just your booth if you really want to have an impact at a particular show.  

If not sponsorship, ask the organisers for other ways you can get involved in the event perhaps by providing a speaker for their program, or even featuring in their marketing in some way. Consider hosting your own events alongside the show, and at a minimum ensure your stand clearly conveys your message for the delegation. Don’t start with what your booth is going to look like – start with ‘what do we want to achieve at this show’. Having a clear vision, sticking with it throughout the project planning, will set you on the best path to achieving great results!

Please get in touch with Nectar Creative Commuications if you would like more information on how we could assist you with your trade show strategy. We are passionate about ensuring our clients maximise their exhibiting investment!