How to save money and the planet with multi-sponsor promotions

Canvas bags offer excellent multi-partner sponsorship opportunities for corporate meetings, events and tradeshowsHave you ever gone to an event and received no less than four tote bags? Or maybe three mugs? I have. It can happen when multiple event sponsors’ donated promotions are not coordinated and each sponsor brings whatever they want. This is such a waste of resources, both financial and environmental. And it definitely isn’t something that attendees want.

The solution to this is better communication and coordination on the part of event producers and planners. But even with improvements in these areas, it’s a challenge since sponsors want to stand out and be noticed, especially if some near competitors are also sponsoring. How can you balance these conflicting priorities?

  • Create a Wish List – Tell them what you want and need! I’ve seen so many events that just ask for amenity bag donations, with little or no guidance on what would be appropriate or what is needed. So it’s no wonder event producers end up receiving piles of duplicate or unusable items. Another related tip: Make sure you are explicit about whether marketing materials such as brochures will be accepted for inclusion or not. I’ve seen a number of events which strictly prohibit brochures and business cards and only accept promotional items of value.
  • First come, first choice – Similar to the Wish List would be to create a list of items that you want to offer to attendees and then have sponsors bid on which items they want to provide. For example, let’s say you want to offer your attendees a tote bag, travel mug, notebook, pen and T-shirt. If you had five sponsors, one would provide the bags, another mugs, and so on. First one to make a commitment for the item gets to provide it. Word of caution: I’ve seen the scenario where a sponsor committed to provide a certain item and went with the absolute cheapest, lowest quality item available. In setting up your specs, be specific about what quality or dollar value you expect the sponsored item to be. If you are leery of what will be provided, ask the sponsor for a sample.
  • Show the savings – Here’s a way to decrease the volume of promotional items floating around your conference (and in landfills), while still giving sponsors the exposure they want from their investment. Consider offering a multi-sponsored item such as a bag, binder or T-shirt that features the logos of all sponsors. This way every sponsor gets their name on a promotional giveaway for attendees. This might be a tough sell for some groups, but showing the savings may make it more attractive. If you, as event producer, handle the ordering and distribution of the item, the sponsors will save money on promotional items, shipping and the time and effort required to do their own promos.
  • Location, location, location – For groups with sponsors who have larger egos that want to make more of an impact on a multi-sponsored promotional item (as just discussed above), offer prime or bigger logo space to those that want it and want to make the investment. You could also consider offering inclusion on the multi-sponsored promotion as an option to any sponsorship package.


About the Author
Heidi Thorne is a promotional products marketing expert and speaker who has a background in the tradeshow and hospitality industries. She is also editor of the Promo With Purpose Today blog ( and author of SWAG: How to Choose and Use Promotional Products for Marketing Your Business, available through major online booksellers or at

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