One of my main responsibilities centered around sponsor management and communication. I mentioned a few things related to this in a previous post, but I think it deserves it’s own post because it is a lot more involved than I thought it would be. There’s a good chance I’ll miss leave out a few details in this post, but I tried to capture the biggest ones.
Sponsor Management includes the following:
- Prospectus Creation
- Sponsorship Guide
- Logo Publishing & the Twitters
- Table/Booth Placement
- Shipping Logistics
- Pitch & Raffle Coordination
I covered prospectus creation in the Dates, Venues, and Things Sponsors Ask For post, so I won’t cover it here. I’ll skip to the Sponsorship Guide.
A sponsorship FAQ is something I realized I needed after fielding multiple duplicate questions from different sponsors, and I knew it was only going to get worse as our sponsor numbers grew. I decided to create the guide as a Google Doc so that it could be updated multiple times without the need to resend the guide with every change. The guide included details ranging from venue and shipping information, to code of conduct, a high-level schedule of events, and sponsor table/booth placement.
When sponsors asked a question that wasn’t on the guide, their question and answer made it’s way on there. When sponsors asked a question that was already answered on the guide, I referenced the guide. It made information sharing very easy and very consistent.
Logo Publishing & the Twitters
After signing and receiving payment from new sponsor, 4 things needed to happen within a 24-36 hour period:
- Create a sponsor specific Trello card
- Share the sponsorship guide
- Publish their logo on https://devopsdayskc.org
- Tweet a ‘Thank You’ from @devopsdayskc
In order to publish a sponsors logo, one had to make a Pull Request on the devopsdays-web GitHub repo. I have the ability to use GitHub Enterprise at work, and I love it, so I was pretty pumped about this because it’s really the first time I had a reason to use GitHub outside of work. There wasn’t a lot to it. The folks in charge of that repo created great documentation, which made it really easy to test and contribute changes. It was really my first chance to contribute content to a project that included more than my immediate team (or even teams within my organization).
Once the logo was published, we shared our appreciation with the world by thanking our latest sponsor via Twitter. The Tweet had to at least include a ‘thank you’, the sponsor’s Twitter handle, and the level of sponsorship. Even though I don’t have any social media presence anymore (unless you count LinkedIn), I took the lead on Tweeting the ‘thank yous’. At first, I really didn’t know what to put, Tweeting wasn’t a natural thing for me to do. However, as time went on, the weirdness started to wear and I didn’t worry about whether or not I was going to say the wrong thing.
There were times when we had multiple sponsors sign-up within the same day or two, so we tried not to overlap the a ‘thank you’ Tweet within the same 24 hour period. When this occurred, setting calendar reminders for this helped me keep track of who to thank and when to thank them.
As the event came closer and new sponsors started to dwindle, I started working out the placement for each sponsor. MTH was nice enough to let us visit the venue multiple times so that we could plan out the space and talk through timelines. During the last visit, we measured out the sponsor area to try and get a feel of where each sponsor would go. Gold sponsors received their own table, Silver sponsors shared a table with another Silver sponsor, and Bronze sponsors shared a table for swag.
This task was somewhat of a challenge because requirements kept changing. Oh, we signed another sponsor? Change the layout. Sponsor A asks to be next to Sponsor B? Change the layout. Have an uptick in sales the few weeks and need to book another theater? Change the layout.
While changes in requirements can be frustrating, I honestly didn’t mind it. It’s something that I deal with on a daily basis, so I’m no stranger to it. I signed up for a trial cloud-based tool to create the (very basic) layout, which was very handy to make changes on the fly. It was the day before the conference, my trial period had just expired, and I had to change the layout again I had already printed the layouts and placed one on each table, and I wasn’t going to deal with creating a new account to update and reprint the document, so I made changes the old fashioned way with pen and paper. It didn’t look the best, but in reality, I probably didn’t need to print out the layout and place it on every table anyway.
The sponsorship guide included shipping information and instructions, but we really lacked a good feedback loop to the sponsors to let them know we actually received their material. I had asked that each sponsor send me their tracking numbers so that I could also follow along to make sure it had arrived. The tracking number will tell you if the package was received, but some sponsors still wanted to know if we had actually received the package or not. Since I don’t work at MTH or have access to visit it whenever I want, I had to contact our event coordinator at MTH to verify that packages were received. A better shipping and receiving feedback loop is something we’ll need to work on next year.
After setting up the tables based on the proposed layout, we had to take the received packages and lay them next to or on the respective sponsors tables. Most of the packages had the sponsors name on them, however some didn’t. This made it somewhat difficult to determine ownership. We tried to use the tracking numbers to decipher the owner, but if we couldn’t do that, we opened the package and figured it out that way.
Notes for next year: try to setup a better feedback loop and ask each sponsor to put their company’s name on the label.
Pitch & Raffle Coordination
I underestimated the number raffles that we would need to account for. I don’t think we had a single sponsor that didn’t have a raffle, including the ones that we as organizers had planned. Plus, we had four 1-minute(ish) slots for Gold sponsors to make their pitch to the audience.
Most sponsors wanted to wait until the 2nd day of the conference to hold their raffle, which gave us a little more time to plan how to handle everything. Most sponsors aren’t local, so we also had to plan the raffles around their flights. Instead of doing all of the raffles at once, I tried to spread them out throughout the day by having one after each talk. This made for a more eventful day, and potentially your best chance at winning a Amazon Echo (most sponsors had these, including us) in a 8 hour period!