Northeastern Wisconsin Chapter’s Successful Sponsor Night Program
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Posted by: Ron Mathis, Past President NE Wis Chapter
(Editor's note: Attracting sponsors to chapter meetings is one way to add value to the chapter meeting experience. Below is a technique used by the Northeastern Wisconsin Chapter. AITP encourages other chapters to tell Information Executive how they attract sponsors or other techniques they employ to add value to their chapter meetings. Just write to IEeditor@aitp.org.)
One of the many advantages of being a Sponsor for an AITP chapter is exposure within the local IT community. One of our more popular methods of achieving that objective is the Northeastern Wisconsin Chapter annual Sponsor Appreciation Night. Our Chapter designates one month a year (we've chosen the April meeting) to have "Sponsor Appreciation Night” as the theme, and we gear the meetings towards giving attention to our sponsors.
The normal format of our meetings is:
4:15 pm - Education (1-3 break-out sessions in Management, Infrastructure, and/or Applications Dev)
5:15 pm - Social Hour
6:00 pm - Dinner
6:45 pm - Business Meeting
7:15 pm - After-dinner Speaker
For Sponsor Appreciation night, however, we slightly alter our format to specifically highlight our Sponsors. First, we invite our Sponsors to supply speakers and topics for the educational programs, obviously to showcase their talents and abilities in certain areas. Then, we make one of our break-out sessions the Sponsor Event itself. We set up banquet tables in the dining room around the outer walls, each Sponsor being given a booth, and we create an Expo atmosphere. We encourage the Sponsors to have drawings (mutual benefits to the Sponsors receiving business cards) for door prizes, and to hand out "SWAG”.
To encourage a lot of member participation and mingling, we have the hotel (our standard meeting location) set up a cash bar within the same area, to keep people from wandering away. We're not sure about the rest of the Chapters, but, whether we schedule it or not, certain members seem to always create an impromptu "Educational Session” in the Hotel Bar, so, diverting them to the banquet room seems to help participation.
Our members love the Expo feel, and several Sponsors seem to always bring those give-away carry bags so that our members can pick up their "freebies”, walk around, and talk to the Sponsors. And Sponsors certainly love having their logoed products on member's desks!
Then, when we all gather and sit down for our meal and formal meeting, the booths make a great backdrop for the rest of the evening. We take time either before the formal meeting, or just after, to recognize each Sponsor separately, say "thank you” for their sponsorship, and allow them to say a few quick words (they are usually respectful) and give away door prizes by drawing business cards from their fishbowls.
Our members certainly love the atmosphere that the event creates, and clearly, our Sponsors love the touch points with our members.
We have found our annual Sponsor Appreciation Night to be a HUGE and consistent success!
Thank you to all our Sponsors:
Heartland Business Systems, Infinity Technology, Time-Warner Cable Business Class, Alta Resources, Automated Records Management Systems (A.R.M.S.), Contingency Planning Solutions, Inc. (C.P.S.I.), and Concurrency.
If you have questions about Sponsor Night, attracting sponsors, or just how we run our chapter, feel free to contact the appropriate Board member via: http://new.aitp.org/contact-us. Any of us will be glad to assist!.
Ron Mathis, Northeastern Wisconsin Chapter, AITP, Past President, 2013
Photography supplied by Iga Watorek, Chapter Member, and member of Social Media Committee