23 Sponsorship Ideas For Trade Shows

Here are some of the best ideas for trade show sponsorship to make your exhibition stand out and to offer an attractive proposition for your sponsors.

Securing sponsors for your trade show can mean more budget for the event itself as well as further marketing reach, but in order to do this you need to provide interesting and unique sponsorship opportunities to entice investment. Here are some of the best sponsorship ideas specifically suited to exhibitions, as well as some different ways you can adapt them to really make an impact.

Providing your sponsors with unique and quirky ideas will help to get their attention. With the help of our latest free sponsorship report and these suggestions you’ll be conquering trade show sponsorship in no time.

23 Sponsorship Ideas For Trade Shows
  1. Secret Previews

In the lead up to the event, exhibitors can invite attendees to book an exclusive preview with sneak peeks of their latest products when they get to the trade show. The more interesting and better the products, the more you can use this to your advantage in terms of marketing the exhibition. You could approve a special event before or after the official show opening hours or at a specific time during the show, at their booth. This creates a sense of exclusivity and can drive more attendees to booths to get a glance at what the fuss is about and what they are missing out on. Work with your exhibitors and sponsors to get the most out of this in terms of promoting the products and companies themselves, and enticing and looking after these VIP guests.

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  1. WiFi

Everyone loves good, free WiFi and you can create landing pages or even pop up messages for users from the sponsor. To access the WiFi users can be asked to submit a few details, including opting into the sponsor’s mailing list if they wish. Event internet is a must but can often be a let down, so invest in a good system, including creating extra WiFi hotspots in busy areas of the trade show. You could create branded pop up signs and posters too.

  1. VIP Areas

Bringing it back to exclusivity, sponsored VIP areas can be appealing and completely adapted to suit the show and any of the sponsors themes. For example, a gaming lounge could suit tech events while a lounge with free smoothie bar would suit the more health conscious and everything inside can be branded to the sponsors, from furniture to staff and even products.

  1. Photo Booths

With the selfie trend and attendees snapping cool experiences, the photo booth is here to stay and you can incorporate sponsorship, not only in the booth itself but by providing branded or themed props, including social media frames, head in holes, backdrop signage or printing. For higher budgets you can provide a green screen and photographer who could superimpose crazy or themed backgrounds for your attendees with a download code that they can access via a mini site after the event (which in itself also offers more sponsorship opportunities). For lower budgets you could provide a polaroid photographer who would take pictures taken against a logo heavy backdrop to add a touch of nostalgia to the event and allow them to capture candid moments from the trade show.   

  1. Souvenir Printing

This ties in nicely with the photo booths where you can provide branded print outs as keep sakes, you could also offer more intricate options such as printed t-shirts, shopping bags and keyrings that attendees can take away with them. This doesn’t have to be a picture – create an opportunity for attendees to create their design, whether using digital technology or hand crafting something. Let people’s creativity run riot!

  1. Lighting Effects

Using digital signage or lighting effects for venues that have blank walls can utilise the space without the need for fixings. For example, Gobos could be used to project a brand name or logo near the entrance or exit of the trade show or alternatively animated effects on the ceiling or floor can make an attendee stop and pay attention.

  1. Swag Segways

Branded Segways, while fun, have been done before and are starting to lose their impact as they are a favourite for higher budget trade show sponsorship. Mix this idea up and give it a refresh by using the Segways for uniformed staff to hand out goodies around the trade show floor. This could be for free samples of your latest products or ideas, voucher codes or simply branded freebies for attendees to takeaway.

This makes things more interesting and once word spreads that they are handing out swag, you will find attendees will come searching for you and your brand! You could also encourage booth attendance by letting attendees know where they can find you and offering free products or incentives when they visit the stand.

  1. Trade Show Tours

Provide a well informed member of staff to offer detailed tours to attendees with some must-visit booths, behind the scenes information and a lot of knowledge about the event. If a specific tour guide is out of budget, you could also set up “sponsored signposts” to help attendees navigate the different booths, as well as information signs that may be useful that could index the booth types and allow them to find what they need more easily.

Bear in mind however, this only works if it is done properly as a bad tour experience can reflect poorly on your brand which will work against what you are trying to achieve.

  1. Digital Scavenger Hunt

Use beacon technology or an app to create a scavenger hunt across the show floor. This can encourage attendees to visit the sponsors and important elements of the exhibition and reward different activities, such as social media activity and attending seminars, with points. Top prizes can be offered to those taking part (or taking the lead).  

  1. Live Streaming

Providing a live stream of an event can widen the audience and make it more accessible to the demographic but this can be costly so incorporating it into sponsorship can be ideal and opens up the possibilities for sponsors to provide a good service and showcase how they can help attendees with well placed content.

You could also offer unseen areas that can’t be accessed by attendees on the day, behind-the-scenes interviews with exhibitors, performers and speakers or a digital tour to increase the value of the live stream. This can then incorporate advert pop-ups, a sponsored frame on screen or a logo in the picture during the streaming.

To bring your live stream to life use a 360 degree camera.

  1. Seating/Lounges

Trade shows can be notoriously tiring, but providing small benches or “perching” areas where attendees can stop are welcoming and not as costly as providing an entire lounge. You can spruce up these areas by making the seating more interesting, providing a photo backdrop or having a pop-up food stall for snacks and light drinks to encourage them to stay longer. Plus, you will find people start to congregate in these areas, taking photos around the sponsored branding which furthers the marketing reach.

  1. Pitches

For some sponsors they are hunting for the latest and greatest as a potential investment opportunity. If this is the case set up pitches. These could be public or private and are a great way to bring together investors with innovative startups.

  1. Lockers or Bag Drop

Trade shows tend to come with a lot of swag bags, information brochures, leaflets and any items that attendees purchase which can cause them to leave early as they don’t want to carry it all. Providing free sponsored lockers or a bag drop service can allow them a place to safely leave their belongings so they can continue to explore the show.

  1. Pop-up Headshot Studio

For serious or business trade shows, providing sponsored services such as free headshots, portfolio reviews and consultations from top experts can be a popular way to securing attendees to use your services in the future. Headshots can be purchased from a mini site after the event (with discount codes/offers) which showcases the sponsor and gives potential clients exactly what they might need.

  1. Charging Stations

With smartphones continuously in use taking photos, documenting, keeping in touch with the office and even directing travel to and from the venue, battery life can be a problem at busy events. Charging stations go down a treat and not only provide an essential service but can be adapted to suit the budget. For example, larger budgets can offer a phone “valet” system where you are given a key and can leave your phone and come back to collect it later or alternatively for smaller budgets a pop-up stand with several power leads and connectors can be enough.

  1. Sponsored Workshops/Taster Sessions

Event participation can make you more memorable as a brand and offering workshops or taster sessions, particularly if sponsors are product orientated can not only allow attendees insight into the latest products you have to offer but get them involved and more committed too. You could also provide art, charity or sporting workshops depending on what the sponsor’s ethos is.

  1. Virtual Goody Bags

The swag doesn’t have to be tangible and digital offers can be an enticing and environmentally friendly option if crammed with codes, vouchers or online offerings which introduces attendees to the sponsor’s brand.

  1. Decals

These types of graphics are transfers that can be placed around the venue to bring sponsorship opportunities to the seemingly boring and unobtrusive parts of the event space and if done cleverly will bring a sponsorship idea to life. There are several decal options such as window graphics that can be translucent or full block colours depending on the size of the window and the impact that is being created and these can be preferred because they are easier to get off.

Alternatively, stair wraps and floor decals are another good option, particularly in entrance ways as these are high traffic areas that are bound to get attention and makes use of the space that is already there.

  1. Graffiti Walls

A fun idea that can be modern or old school is to provide a graffiti wall. Whether this is an actual physical wall or created digitally using technology it can be themed and grow over the duration of the event. Ask attendees to draw or write down their thoughts about the event or a wider topic area.

  1. Water Stations

Trade shows can get hot and stuffy but providing free water stations around the event can be a welcome addition. Or you could up the game by creating a juice bar where you can provide freshly squeezed juices to parched visitors.

  1. Demo Kiosks

For sponsors with new and exciting products, demo booths or kiosks can be dotted around the trade show for attendees to get their hands on. Showcasing latest developments, answering questions and allowing attendees to have a trial with up and coming products that have yet to be released gives them incentive to come and visit the booth and offers a sense of exclusivity that you only get by attending the event.

  1. Virtual Reality

Even if your product can’t be there to demo, there is the opportunity to use virtual reality to give greater insight by offering an immersive, VR product demonstration. Booth visitors with VR headsets can “try” a product or piece of equipment too large to fit inside a booth.

Alternatively use VR to transport visitors to a whole new world and wow them with innovative technology, which will certainly make them remember your brand.

  1. Smart Badges

If you are running a B2B event you could seek sponsorship for smart badges. These enable smarter matchmaking and connections and in essence help visitors to do more business. For business focused sponsors this can be a very appealing prospect.

In Conclusion

Ultimately trade shows provide lots of opportunities to attract sponsorship dollars. Whether it is mixing up an old idea with a new twist or coming up with something completely original we hope these ideas inspire your future sponsor relationships.

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Julius Solaris
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