Lawyers and law firms love buying tables for events. Well, maybe they do not love to buy tables but still do, nonetheless. Table sponsorships are bought for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, a table is bought to support a bar association event, or a client is being honored by a charity. Sometimes a table sponsorship is bought just because everyone else is buying one. Ah, the peer pressure of legal marketing.
So, what does the title of this blog have to do with anything? There are many law firms that seem to sponsor every event in their marketplace. It is important to be involved in your local community, but firms can overdo it in some circumstances. This approach was popular in the 1980s and 1990s, not so much anymore. Probably in the 80s and 90s, firms had a strong showing at every event. Today, at least half the seats are empty. It looks great (read: sarcasm) to have the firm’s name on the table with nobody sitting there. Lawyers are just too busy. The times have changed, many firms’ approach has not. Just because something worked in the past does not mean it will in the future.
To Sponsor or Not to Sponsor
Sponsorships can be worthwhile and are often necessary evils. However, each must be carefully vetted. There should be a measure of return on your investment. Obviously, if an important client is being honored, it is just good business to support the client – but ensure you can fill the sponsorship requirements, otherwise sending them a gift basket may be the better choice. Other times, the answer is not so obvious. We have developed a form that can help you decide if a sponsorship is worthwhile. Contact us and we would be happy to share it with you.
Okay, you have vetted a sponsorship and think that it is a good idea to go for it. Writing a check is the first step, now what?
- How many seats do you get?
- Who will fill the seats? Does it make sense to bring only firm employees and staff? Should you invite an important client or referral source?
- Who else will be there? Ask the organizer so you can make a list of who you want to meet and with whom you want to spend time. You may also invite guests who will benefit by meeting and/or spending time with other attendees.
- Do you have business cards ready?
- Does your sponsorship include an ad? If so, what will it say? How will it be designed?
- Can you promote your sponsorship? Post on your social media channels? Issue a press release?
- What is the proper attire for the event?
You are now ready to attend the event where you made an investment. Show up on time, do not drink too much alcohol, be sociable, be a good listener, and have good manners. And, have fun. Get home safely and prepare to do your post-event follow-ups in the morning.
- Who did you meet? Create a follow-up strategy for each person.
- Add them to your CRM, rolodex, mailing list or whatever you call it.
- Connect with them on social media.
- Send follow-up emails, make phone calls or send handwritten notes.
- Post event pictures on your social media channels.
- Thank the organizer. Link to their website.
These tips are a guide so that you can maximize the benefits when buying a sponsorship. Simply writing a check will not give you a maximum return on your investment. Like all other marketing and business development activities, think and act strategically. Failure to properly plan or follow-up will make your sponsorship half of what it should be. Please contact us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about this blog or need anything else.