Measuring ROI on Conference Sponsorships

We often recommend conference sponsorships to clients in order to increase thought-leadership and reach new audiences. And, as with any marketing tactic, sponsorships should be measured to determine return-on-investment (ROI) so a company can objectively decide whether it was successful and whether they should sponsor again.

Recently, a medical practice client Dr. Randolph’s Ageless & Wellness Medical Center sponsored a women’s leadership conference, Generation W, and its CEO Genie James served as a speaker for one of the conference breakout sessions. The practice specializes in women’s health, so the ability to connect with more than 750 professional and executive women in attendance at the conference seemed a natural fit.

The practice was one of 30 sponsors, with its level of sponsorship providing several benefits such as an on-site display table, item in the attendee gift bag, advertisement in the conference program, listing on the website, and inclusion in pre-event publicity in local magazines.

Dr. Randolph’s Ageless & Wellness Medical Center took advantage of all these options, and used the conference to launch Genie James’s new book The Fountain of Truth. To maximize its presence, the practice also:

  • http://www.geniejames.com/books/Offered a drawing for a free consultation
  • Gave away natural chocolates
  • Sold Genie James’s latest book, in addition to three books previously released

There are several ways this practice can (and should) measure the success of this conference sponsorship.

Audience Reach

The practice can obtain some actual numbers from its own efforts and from conference organizers:

  • Final number of attendees, not just projected or registered
  • Number of attendees at the breakout session
  • Number of entries (business cards) to receive a free consultation
  • Number of books sold on-site
  • Circulation and impressions achieved by magazines containing pre-conference articles and advertisements
  • Open rates and click-throughs on pre-event emails distributed by conference organizers to its database

Many of these audience numbers may be duplicative, so it would be beneficial to “weigh” them based on activity and importance. For example, a person who purchased a book was more connected to the practice’s message (or worth more) than someone who just attended the conference and may or may not have stopped by the table.

Leads / Patients / Partnerships

A little harder to measure or track, but possibly even more important is the impact of participation:

  • How many names did you add to the practice’s database for future outreach?
  • Were you able to distribute email or direct mail to the wider conference database? Do you have permanent access to those names?
  • Did any new patients say they heard about the practice from the conference? Did you add that as an option to the “how did you hear about us” questionnaire?
  • Did you meet other companies with which you might form a future partnership?
  • Have other speaking requests resulted from the breakout groups?
  • How important is this audience to your practice? Would there have been other ways to get in front of this particular audience?
  • Where are the conference attendees from? Local, regional, national?

All of the abovementioned items have some value to the practice.

Costs Incurred

The costs are not just the sponsorship dollars spent, but also the marketing materials and staff time. For example, with Dr. Randolph’s sponsorship the following costs should be considered:

  • Sponsorship dollar amount
  • Hourly wages to set-up, staff and break-down the display table
  • Percentage of costs for marketing materials developed for the display (consider what can be used for future sponsorships though)
  • Gift bag item and giveaways
  • Advertisement design and production

However, don’t forget to consider off setting these costs with any potential income or revenue. Profit from on-site book sales, what it would have cost to advertise in the media that covered the conference, etc.

Once you have the reach and the costs, you can determine how much was spent to reach each person and decide whether that is a satisfactory for the practice’s brand recognition. As well, if a goal is to increase your patient-base a monetary value for each new patient should be developed. Is each new patient worth $2,000 in revenue to the practice? Knowing this amount will provide a very general idea of the minimum number of new patients the practice should hope to gain to “break even.”

Each sponsorship may have a different goals and measurement values – increasing brand recognition, reaching a new audience, maintaining thought-leadership, or gaining new patients. Knowing what these are for each opportunity will ensure strategic sponsorships that are an efficient use of resources and positively impact business.