Finding New Revenue: A Collaborative Effort

Tablet Displaying Revenue Chart

New revenue is a key requirement for the sustainability of an organization’s event. As you are probably all too aware, it is extremely rare to find an exhibitor and sponsorship revenue renewal rate of 100%. As a result, filling the revenue gap between the retention revenue and the budget is always difficult.

At SmithBucklin, my team and I have found this revenue gap is easier to fill when we involve and collaborate with past exhibitor sponsors, past attendees, the events team and the marketing team in developing our tactical plan. This is why on a regular basis it is so important to dig a little deeper to uncover new ideas for enhancing the product we are selling for those exhibitor sponsors that have been sitting on the sidelines and to find new potential exhibitor sponsors that have never been involved with the event.

Here’s a brief outline of the collaborative approach we take to secure a successful event:

  • The past exhibitor sponsors can provide their feedback from a return on investment perspective. Working with a core group of past exhibitors allows us to understand how they are defining their return on spend so we can then address this through changes in the floor plan, exhibit hours, programming, pricing and attendee profile. We also ask them who they want to see at the event.
  • Past attendees can provide direct feedback on their experience. We ask them who they would like to see at the event since every attendee has a primary supply chain of vendors they do business with. They will also readily share some of the latest and greatest engagement ideas they have experienced at other events and these can be raised with our events team for consideration, given enough time to implement.
  • The events team can shed light on what worked and what didn’t from an overall event experience perspective and develop new ideas to drive attendee engagement with exhibitor sponsors. This is valuable information to bring to dormant and new exhibitor sponsors as they may have heard negative or neutral feedback from recent exhibitor sponsors. The events team can also provide the sales team with competitive events that are a good source of new exhibitor sponsors to reach out to.
  • Ultimately, addressing all of the insights gathered above will translate into new messages and communications with a fresh group of suspect companies or individuals. This is where the marketing team makes a huge contribution. They help the sales team develop the messaging for these new suspect dialogs. Sales reps know how to sell, but we are not marketers. Sure, we can craft our own messages and conduct dialog, but the extra expertise and polish provided by marketing professionals into communications strategies, social media outreach, verbal outlines and prospectus make the product we are selling “new and improved”!  With their help, we look more professional and our sales communications are more compelling.

Through collaboration you will find what one of my colleagues calls “the hidden treasure”; new suspects, new prospects and new revenue.

One last point: Don’t wait until the end of your selling cycle to begin collaborating to find new revenue. Trust me; you will always need new revenue. Starting early will make the last six weeks of selling a little less hectic.

Tom Myers is vice president of Sales Services at SmithBucklin, an association management and services company. He is responsible for leading a dynamic sales force that is accountable for growing client organization revenue through the sale of sponsorships, exhibits, advertising, Web properties and other association assets. With his team, he also creates systems to enhance current exhibit and sponsorship efforts. Tom can be reached via email at

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