Top 10 Corporate Sponsorship/Partnership LinkedIn Posts of 2023: 4, 5, 6

By Bruce Rosenthal Associates, LLC

How to Negotiate with Corporate Sponsors/Partners

I heard two examples this week of how associations successfully negotiated with corporate sponsors/partners:

  • After I posted a message on LinkedIn about how to work collaboratively with corporate partners, a former association executive commented, “I remember one very big $ partner that tried to get our organization to support certain legislatives policies that weren’t in our group’s best interest. We balked and the partnership continued without negative feelings.”
  • I talked with an association CEO who was negotiating a customized partnership with a large company. The VP of Marketing for the company said, “We’ll sign the agreement if you include XYZ additional benefits.” The association CEO said she’d revise the agreement, add the benefits, and increase the fee. The company’s VP of Marketing said, “include the benefits, however, don’t increase the fee.” The association balked and the company signed the original agreement.

Negotiation is about creating agreement – a win-win – for both parties. A lot can be gained when associations negotiate with corporate partners.

A Workable Way to Provide Mailing Lists to Sponsors

I often hear questions about associations providing conference attendee lists – including contact information – to sponsors.

There are legal implications, so association execs should check with their legal counsel before implementing. Some, but probably not all, of those considerations are:

  • GDPR compliance and stricter requirements if a significant number of attendees are from Europe (separating out European attendees)
  • The potentially big difference between opting-in and opting-out of receiving information from sponsors
  • Differences between opting-in/opting-out for a webinar vs. a multi-session conference
  • Usage guidelines (aka “instructions to processors”) to be given to sponsors when the association provides lists of attendees

However, there is another approach:

  • Do not provide attendee lists with contact information to sponsors.
  • And, create a strategy to fulfill sponsors’ desire to reach attendees.

The basic concept is the association becomes the go-between to send information about the sponsor to event attendees.Here is a 4-step process:

  1. Ask each top-tier sponsor what segment of your attendees the company would like to reach. Often, sponsors want to reach a segment of attendees … based on attendee demographics (title, size of company, geographic location, etc.) and/or each attendee’s interest in a topic. 
  2. Determine how you can compile a list of attendees that aligns with each sponsor’s desired segment. Demographic data might be in your association’s database. Attendee topic interest information could be derived from an “area of interest” checklist on the event registration form or based on which sessions each individual attended. (Virtual conferences provide a wealth of these data.)
  3. Work with each sponsor to develop educational information that would be useful to the target audience of attendees based on their demographics and topic interests.
  4. The association sends each sponsor’s information to the segment of attendees identified by each sponsor.

This strategy is a win-win-win:

  • Members receive information they can use (vs. all attendees receiving information that many of them don’t need or want).
  • Sponsors benefit from brand affinity with the association and reach their target audience; this positions the company as a thought leader, provides brand differentiation, and can lead to business development.
  • The association is meeting the needs of members and sponsors (and avoiding legal entanglements, as well as, if done correctly, UBIT liability).

I compiled this post with guidance from Andrew Goldman. Please reach out to Andy or me if you have any questions.

Add Value for Younger Members by Tapping Sponsors

Are associations declining in relevance to younger generations?

Regardless of the answer to the question, interviews I have conducted with corporate sponsors reveal the importance of young professionals to many sponsor companies.

Companies often tell me they are interested in reaching students and those recently hired in trades and professions. Companies recognize these folks as future customers/clients and/or future employees.

When I present this information to associations, I often hear:

  • “we don’t have a student or young professionals membership category” or
  • “we have a membership category for students and young professionals, however, nobody on staff has responsibility for this sector and we don’t provide many benefits.”

Many corporate sponsors are ready, willing, and able to provide content to young professionals: leadership training; mentoring; how to advance in the trade and profession; DEI advice; entrepreneurship guidance; etc.

Aligning young professionals with corporate sponsors is a way for associations to add association relevance for younger generations (aka future members).

This is also a way for associations to add value for corporate sponsors. A win-win-win for young professional members, the association, and sponsors.