Do you need to find new monetary sources for conferences, conventions and trade shows? While sponsorships have been prevalent for a long time, further information about the popularity of digital and print options might surprise you.

This blog won’t only address revenue initiatives but also cost-cutting measures.

Research Finds Sponsorships Are Still Relevant

According to a 2019 report from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) of 200 show executives and 728 exhibitors, sponsorships make up roughly 20% of B2B tradeshow revenues. Also, 83% of exhibitors have purchased at least one sponsorship from 2017-19.

Here is a breakdown of what they purchased in the print and digital arenas:

  • 36% bought an ad in the printed program
  • 35% purchased a social media ad
  • 33% sponsored an email blast to the attendee list
  • 32% underwrote printed signage
  • 31% bought an ad that went on the event or organization’s website
  • 23% supported an onsite banner
  • 22% purchased an enhanced directory listing

One of the challenges with multiple logos on printed signage or a banner is that attendees consider it logo soup. “Members tend to walk right by them,” stated Corporate Partnership and Sponsorship Consultant Bruce Rosenthal.

If you want to increase your revenue and need more, please read on.

Eight Out-of-the-box Event Income Ideas

light bulb floating about hand with clouds in background1. Record and sponsor your breakout sessions.
You can put content on a private or public YouTube channel with sponsor content at the beginning or end of the recording. This is a win-win-win; attendees and the public can view the content anytime, sponsors gain additional exposure, and you receive additional revenue.

2. Provide exclusive or a finite number of sponsorship opportunities.
For example, you may allow only one business classification for certain sponsorship levels or sell one or two in selected categories. Scarcity creates an opportunity to close the deal sooner.

3. Give attendees a deal on your next event.
Give attendees a discount code on the last day of the conference that is only good for the next 30 days. Establishing the conference fee, contracting with the venue and locking the dates will require some effort. However, your organization will earn revenue up to one year early!

4. Sell refund protection.
One of the biggest obstacles in selling an event into the future is the possibility the attendee can’t make it. By offering refund insurance at a nominal rate, you can give each person peace of mind that they’ll receive their registration fee back in the case of an emergency.

5. Provide an all-inclusive online shopping cart experience.
One of the easiest ways to kill your upsell opportunities is to make participants visit your website’s multiple locations. In one fell swoop, allow them to:

  • Register for your event
  • Book their hotel room
  • Identify any special food requirements
  • Purchase other items (VIP tour, networking event, clothing, books)
  • Commit to one or more sponsorships

6. Use organic and paid digital marketing tactics.
Ensure your website has recent blogs, videos, and podcasts highlighting your event. Optimize each for SEO. On the paid side, consider using Google Adwords, boosting Facebook and LinkedIn posts, and engaging in retargeting.

Read MoreHow Meeting Profs Can Improve Event Engagement

Yes, it will cost you money. In the end, however, you’ll reach far more prospective attendees who will hopefully become attendees. Start small on your ad spend and increase it slowly. Measure results every month at first and then every week as you get closer to the event.

7. Add a trade show.
It doesn’t have to be large and elaborate. Exhibitions can be a real money maker for your organization because all setup costs can be passed to each exhibitor.

8. Raise your registration fee.
You have 1,000 attendees who pay $500 each to attend your event. Raising your registration fee by 10 percent allows you to generate another $50,000 without doing anything different.

Three Surefire Expense Winners

man working on iPad

You can always reduce expenses to increase your profit line if all else fails. Take your magnifying glass to these ideas:

Cut out the bottom 3-5 costs.
Rank each expense in descending order. Look at the bottom ones and ask yourself a question, “would anyone miss these things?” If the answer is no, get rid of them. If yes, determine how to decrease the overall expenditure by 15-20 percent.

Identify your top expense and cut it by 10%.
Usually, your major budget items are F&B, A/V, and meeting space. For example, consider using a third-party A/V rental provider for your conference as compared to the venue’s more costly in-house service. Identify which is at the top of the heap and find ways to cut it.

Create a zero-waste meeting.
Have no more paper or plastic items. Get rid of swag bags. Posters and banners are gone. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also be doing a lot for sustainability.

Read MoreUBQ Is Turning Garbage into Events

dede mulligan posing for pictureDe-de Mulligan is the President and Chief Content Strategist for Mulligan Management Group. As a former meeting planner who has received Ohio MPI’s Planner of the Year award twice, she brings a unique perspective to these blog posts. You can find her on Twitter @DedeMulligan.