Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sponsoring Inclusive or Exclusive Events

My firm is the title sponsor of an upcoming industry event hosted by a non-profit professional association. The vast majority of their events are educational and offered to "members-only". The event I am sponsoring is a first for them, an annual awards gala to raise funds for their charitable foundation and awareness of a specific profession. For a bit they actually considered keeping to their trend of exclusiveness by only allowing association members to be honored or attend. In a marketplace with so-so membership and huge potential we (the sponsors) were able to convince them to be inclusive and open the door on creating real buzz.

There are great reasons to be either "inclusive" or "exclusive" when creating events. Here are a couple of things to think about.

Inclusive (open to everyone within a target demographic):
  • Used for creating broad market awareness about a specific cause or organization.
  • Allows access to a broad base of VIPs.
  • Great for annual gala's, awards, and philanthropic causes -- and for small seminars or gatherings to promote a practice.
  • Typically is broadly promoted with paid media, public relations, and electronic campaigns.
Exclusive (by invitation only):
  • Used to gather a specific set of VIPs or "members".
  • Absolutely excludes many people.
  • Increases the aura of stature to all attendees.
  • Focuses attention on immediate relationships.
  • Creates allure to others that would like to be "part of the club".
  • Great for peer group building, and being included in the peer group.
  • Typical events include education sessions, golf outings and other boon-dongles, private dinners, peer group meetings, and spouse inclusive activities.
Another thing to consider. Typically inclusive events are great for promoting your firm as a whole -- exclusive events do more for promoting an individual or some smaller subset of your firm.