Thoughts and learnings in my journey through all things technology. Developer operations, software development, server administration and anything else that I decide should be written.


Why Should I Sponsor a Conference?

31st October 2017

This is the very question several companies ask themselves. It generally starts out all the same. Why would I, why should I and what is the benefit? Being on the board of Midwest PHP conference as well as speaking at many conferences over the years provides me a great understanding of the value here. It is not something that is talked about much and I wanted to provide insight to it.

Let's start by addressing the easy answers to the questions.

The Easy Answers

The easiest answers to these questions are:

  • You have a product that is attractive the target market.
  • You are hiring people from the target market.
  • You're working on building up your brand strength within the target market.

However, it goes far deeper than meets the eye. There are additional areas that a company might miss such as:

  • Investing in your current staff
  • Investing in your company culture
  • Social responsibility

Let us take a moment and dive deeper into all of these various vantage points.

Driving Product and Services

If you have a product or service in that target market, the main strategy is driving awareness, putting the project in the hands of the users and allowing them to really bring that product to their organization. Promoting your product and/or services at an event and gauging your target markets reaction can be pure gold. Several larger companies started off this way in the technology sector honing their pitch and getting customer feedback immediately.

There is simply no more efficient way in marketing your product and services than putting it in the hands of people that are your target market. You will not get the feedback you'll get at a conference nor will you be able to have the attention in a digital marketing campaign.

You're Hiring

Hiring is often a major subject, you're seeing people that are investing in their careers by going to a conference. They're building up a strong network, learning new techniques and overall a companies presence at a conference shows that they're invested in their staff and culture. We take notice, we really do! This is just the people side, we haven't even touched on the numbers.

Let's say you hire an outside recruiting firm, you will be paying between 10-20% of that first year salary. If you find even 1 new hire at a conference, you've more than payed for that sponsorship. Not only that, you have built out a new channel of leads. People may not leave immediately, however, you have primed the pump and have been noticed by hundreds of potential future employees. Can you afford to lose that type of visibility?

While we are on this subject, your employees should also be attending the conference and networking amongst their peers. Having your booth is one thing but employees talking to other attendees and learning about your technology stack can be exciting!

Brand Building

Let's face it, people love working for a brand that everyone knows. They want to have that prestige factor amongst their peers. Brand building works in a multitude of ways. First, you want everyone to know your name (queue up the beginning of Cheers). You want recognition of your brand, when you're there you want people to understand who you are and what you do and that you're a company that everyone should know, want to work for and lastly utilize your products and/or services. Secondly, this affects the first two points of driving product / services and hiring. People want to work for a brand that they know, that their friends know and that their peers know.

Brands spend millions of dollars a year driving their name, determining feelings on their brand and by doing so driving sales, hiring and culture.

Staff and Culture

This is often a missed point by several companies. Your staff and company culture is what drives results. Investing in your staff and culture can mean sending them all to attend a conference or sponsoring a conference and sending your employees.

What better way to show off your staff and your culture than to sponsor a conference and have them attending the conference? This way, they are networking with others in their field, building lasting friendships and learning and sharing ways of doing their job better. The amount of stories and abilities for us people to network and help each other out is indispensable. In the programming sector, we often share stories of techniques, failed approaches and ways of simply working better that you cannot easily get anywhere else. This is not reading an article online, this is having a front-row experience in changing the way we work, bettering our work and building out new ideas to help us drive our company forward.

Your culture becomes better when you invest in your staff and bring them to conferences. They value this time, they value the ability to network and share stories, the value the learning experiences they will gain to come back to work energized to tackle the next large project.

Social Responsibility

The last point is social responsibility. Your company may not have existed with the technology that several people have invested their free time to promote, teach and build a local community around. Have you been tapping that market? Social responsibility comes into play in that you've benefitted from the blood, sweat and tears that people have individually put so much time to promote. Giving back and sponsoring helps recognize that community, the work they are doing and the people that head those efforts up validation that you appreciate them and the community they've helped to build. You might be able to see how this affects all of the above items. Social responsibility is a cost and it's the do-gooder cost.

Ready to Commit?

If your products, services or hiring needs target developers, managers or executives, Midwest PHP Conference is March 9th and 10th of 2018. We are currently in our call for papers and are seeking sponsorship to ensure that the conference is a success. Not only that, we are a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization with all volunteer board and employees. Learn more about our conference and view our prospectus for our sponsorship opportunities!

I am a VP of engineering for a small start up. I have over a decade of experience in engineering, database administration, server administration and management.

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