The North Central Region of PASS had a community meeting on January 21st to discuss the topic of sponsors from a couple different angles. Here’s the notes from the meeting.
- Some other PASS groups have put together official sponsorship plans that you might be able to use to develop your own. A Word doc with plans from FoxPASS, Orlando PASS, IndyPASS, and North Texas SQL Server User Group is available at on the SQLPASS site. http://www.sqlpass.org/Portals/0/_Community/SponsorshipExamples_Chapters.docx.
- Make sure the pricing of the sponsorship levels you support are correct for your area. Your local PASS chapter will probably be the best way for companies to reach out to a local SQL Server audience, and that definitely has a special value.
- Be sure to register your group with Microsoft Technical Communities. This is the site that you need to register on to get free eBooks, Facebook and LinkedIn ad funds, and an Office 365 subscription with 25 accounts for your group.
- Book publishers frequently have their own sites to register and be eligible for their giveaways to user groups – a few to look at are Apress, O’Reilly, and Wrox (although at the time this was authored, the Wrox link appears to be broken?). The CL Resources page also contains a section called Publisher Program that lists out some links that you can use to apply for sponsorship support.
- Pluralsight has a designated contact that was shared on the call that can help get giveaway resources for user groups. One chapter leader recommended contacting Lany Watkins for more information, but it also looks like Pluralsight maintains a webpage to apply for sponsorship.
- Consulting or staffing companies in your area might be interested in sponsoring. If someone reaches out to you to help fill an open position they have, they are a potential sponsor.
- Post a note on LinkedIn or other social media platforms and state that you’re looking for a sponsor for your next meeting.
- SQL Saturday can be a great platform to hold a large-scale sponsorship drive.
- Treat sponsors as partners at the SQL Saturday event. Consider having an identified person focusing on making sure the sponsor experience is a good one and that they can get the value they want to get out of the event.
- Did you fill up a SQL Saturday sponsorship level? Don’t turn a potential sponsor away – can you offer a user group meeting sponsorship as an alternative?
- After the event, see if any of the SQL Saturday sponsors might be interested in sponsoring a local meeting.
- Groupable – No one on the call had any personal experience with this site, but it might be an option if you take the time to explore it. If you do, please comment on your experience!
Related to the experience with sponsors are ways to save on costs on putting on your meetings. Some suggestions that the group had were:
- Find a location for your meetings that you can use for free. Locations that I’ve seen work to hold meetings with low or no costs are universities, companies that use SQL Server with large meeting rooms or shared spaces that they have access to use, and libraries.
- Everything can be negotiated or competitively shopped. For example, if you find pizza for $9/pizza, call some other pizza places and see if they’ll beat that deal. You might be surprised at what you can work out! Are you new to negotiation or need some tips?
If you are putting together a sponsorship package, you might be considering a sponsorship level that allows the sponsor organization to give a brief talk or presentation before the meeting. Here’s some tips to have successful presentations from sponsors:
- Any sponsor presentation (if they don’t also happen to be giving the “main” presentation) should be brief, or at least scheduled to a particular window of time that is communicated to the audience and the sponsor prior to the event.
- Any content presented to the meeting audience by a sponsor, in a best-case scenario, should be valuable to the audience and be provided by a person that is capable of answering at least some level of questions about what they’re presenting. This should your audience sitting through something that seems like a “commercial”.
Do you have other ideas that are missing? Add them to the comments and I’ll update this post.