Your event is a revolving ecosystem. In order to get everything to run smoothly and work together you need to have a plan in place. Thinking back to our last post on how to court a sponsor, we learned how to get sponsors to invest by showing them a mutually beneficial relationship. The same can be said for vendors.
In order to make sure that your event is going to be a success you need to have the correct vendors in place. Vendors are the people and companies that make your events stand out, so it’s important to have a good rapport with them. Most people never take their relationship with vendors any further than just using their goods for an event. What if you thought about engaging your vendors to help with the promotion for your event? After all, their products and services are on display as well so why would they not want to promote?
Here are a few tips to get the conversation started with vendors about promotion.
Start by finding the perfect vendors for your event
When it comes to finding the F&B, hotel, Wi-Fi, furniture or any other vendor for your event you need to know what their reputation is in the industry. Look to your industry peers for suggestions. Ask around for the best and worst vendors that they have used. See if any of the vendors were willing to work with the event planner to communicate about the event.
Once you have a list of vendors from your peers start doing your own research on companies. Going with a vendor that everyone else uses means you will have a reliable company, but what about being a little bit adventurous? Reach out to new and young companies that have good reviews and a great company model. Also, companies that are new to the industry will probably be more willing to promote as it will help them get more visibility and business.
Approach these companies with a list of questions and information that you need to make your decision. Do they have a good track record with rave reviews from past clients? What does their service cost? Do they have insurance coverage?
Talk to them about cross promotion
You want your vendors to be on your team, so show them that this is not a one way street. You are willing to promote them, if they are willing to promote your event. Talk about using social media to get the word out for both parties. The promotion will not only help you get a bigger reach for your event, but it will also help to get your vendors name out there. Show your audience that you are proud to work with this company. This may even lead to your vendors getting new leads. Go further than social media as well. Talk about putting promotion on your website and having them put your event on theirs. Just think about the impact of growing your audience this way!
Give vendors creative ways to promote their products/services on site
Okay, so you talked to them about cross promotion online, but what about during the event? Find different ways for them to get the word out about what they do.
During registration if you have an app or registration partner that you are using give them the chance to set up a table adjacent to you. There attendees can go for any questions that they may have. Think about adding high tables to your reception or lunch area where vendors can set up information about what they do. A time for attendees to come up to them, that won’t take away from your general sessions.
What about allowing your vendor providers to come with branded clothing? Something that will let the attendees know who the Wi-Fi company is if they have questions or who the people are that provided the great furniture. Even giving your tech vendors the opportunity to create a specific product to pitch just for your event or giving them the space to show what they can do.
These little things will go a long way for you because the vendors will get excited about the opportunity for free promotion, and in turn communicate about your event to their followers.
Include it in your contract
All this talk is great, but these days your word doesn’t mean much. Make sure to get your promotion plans in writing. When negotiating your contract with vendors, add in a small clause about what both parties plan to do. Say how many tweets or posts that you are willing to do in a month. Specify if promotion will go on the website. Mention if you are going to allow them to do something special at your event. Now, it is in a binding contract and it even makes it a little easier to spend the money knowing you are getting promotion as well.
Creating a successful vendor relationship and promotion plan will take some extra work on your part, but if you are successful it is definitely worth the time. If your vendors are happy with the way your event ran and the promotion that they received they can become a great asset to you. Possibly creating new opportunities and maybe even get you a better deal for your next event!
A version of this post was originally posted on Social Table's blog.