The other day a friend asked me to review a sponsorship proposal he drafted, geared towards a big- name spirits brand. He undoubtedly regretted this, as it earned him a semi-rant on what NOT to do. Which reminded me of all the event sponsorship and trade show gripes I’ve accumulated over the years. Perfect for a follow up to my previous Booze Bin post!

All jokes aside, when deciding how to allocate precious client funds and product (whether it’s for someone else’s event or a trade show), we’re always looking for maximized returns and amplified opportunities. Few (work-related) things feel as great as putting together a client recap with results that exceed what was promised.

In Part 1 of this post, I discussed selecting the right events and shows, how to avoid paying sticker price and how to get the most bang for your buck. This is still less than half the battle. I’m back to tell you how to work backwards to ensure an end-result that knocks it out of the park for your client and the event producers too.

The writer at one of 5000 trade shows!

Be the belle of the ball: Although technically  you are the event producer’s client, it behooves everyone if you make them look great by being one of the best exhibitors at their show. After all, this will help negotiate better pricing and benefits in later years (and you never know where these same producers may wind up working in the future). This means working hard to get consistent foot traffic to your table by strategically selecting where you are placed on the floor (most producers won’t offer this, but you can ask for a specific place). Consider who you want your neighbors to be (or NOT be), proximity to other important areas and avoid deadzones far from the main action. Visualize ways to make your booth appealing by offering something special such as signed winemaker materials, large-format bottles, fun giveaways or simply hiring great local people to help you pour wine. There’s a reason why clusters of people spontaneously pop up around some event and trade show exhibitors while others have no traffic at all. You can improve this with something as simple as tall signage so people can see you from across the room.

Make the event team’s job easier by giving them a pre-event checklist of what you expect and need, and when it should happen. Even better, set up a brief call a few days before the event. This avoids issues like losing one of your wine pourers for 30 minutes while they look for ice buckets. Get all your questions answered ahead of time so you won’t have to chase down any key event people while they are crazed with a million other details. Check your inventories early (a day ahead if possible) to be sure everything you shipped made it, especially wine samples and collateral. Don’t wait until the morning-of if you can help it, at that point there isn’t much you can do about anything.

Maximize your time and presence: Find a local wine shop to partner with who will provide a discount for the wines you are pouring. In exchange, you can direct traffic to this retailer when people inquire about purchasing what they tasted. This extends the ripple effect of your participation in an event or trade show for days to come and secures new customers for someone who supports your client’s brands. Create a card to handout with a discount code and better yet, hire one of the shop’s staff to help you pour. They will do a great job of making sure anyone who stops by your table gets a memorable wine experience. Lastly, don’t just come to town and leave. Set up drinks with local media who don’t get much love from NYC-based PR people, call on local buyers and visit their stores, and have lunch at an up-and-coming sommelier’s place of business. You should leave town with at least three new friends.

Event sponsorships and trade shows can be pricey and consume a great deal of energy. These tips will help create a more worthwhile experience.