September 21, 2015
As association professionals, we are often in the role of the event organizer… inviting other groups to exhibit and sponsor at our own events. But what happens when the roles are reversed? While it may seem straightforward, with a limited budget, it isn’t always easy making a big impact as an exhibitor.
In addition to hosting its own annual meeting, the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) also exhibits at the BIO International Convention, a large industry trade show that attracts more than 15,000 attendees and 1,700 exhibitors. The show plays a key role in achieving AUTM’s goals of engaging a broader audience, increasing awareness and connecting with industry leaders.
Those goals could easily go unmet and AUTM’s message go unheard if the association simply relied on its modest exhibit space, especially when surrounded by deep-pocketed neighbors with elaborate displays and baristas. If AUTM was going to make an impact, it needed to look beyond the exhibit booth and develop a long-term, value-adding relationship with the BIO organizers.
An Unconventional Relationship
AUTM and BIO have developed a strong, trusted relationship outside the once-a-year convention. Both have taken on volunteer roles within each other’s organization and actively seek partnership opportunities in areas of shared interest, such as advocacy efforts on upcoming legislation.
Making the most of the convention’s robust marketing toolkit enables AUTM to more efficiently craft marketing messages and reach the convention’s audience. This includes video interviews with BIO’s roving reporters which can be repurposed by the organization throughout the year.
BIO has recognized AUTM as one of the convention’s top tweeters. Using the BIO convention’s hashtags in social media campaigns has increased awareness and engagement among a new, larger audience.
Events Within the Event
AUTM augments limited resources and amplifies its message by collaborating with other like-minded organizations to host meetups and other social events for convention attendees. Creating an event within the convention also makes it easier for attendees to reserve time on their calendars and ensures association and industry leadership are available for networking.
Convention Value Beyond Exhibit Booth
AUTM and BIO continuously explore synergistic initiatives that benefit both organizations. One example of this is education. BIO realized it could offer additional value to convention goers through professional development courses. They partnered with AUTM to provide the knowledge and expertise, helping the organization to strengthening its reputation as the go-to resource within the technology transfer industry.
Exhibiting at another organization’s event offers opportunities to make an impact and develop relationships that go beyond the exhibit booth. Do you exhibit or sponsor conferences of other associations? How do you measure your impact as an exhibitor or sponsor?