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How can I implement contra deals into my events?

Jan 30, 2013

A contra deal is when you exchange good or services without any cash being transferred. Sponsorship is where a company pays money to be a sponsor and in return they receive promotion and exposure.

Contra deals don't have to be large or scary, let's break it down...

Question to ask yourself:

1.    Who is going to be attending your event? The types of people, companies?

2.    Who wants to see to these people?

3.    Are any of the companies listed in the above point competitors? Yes/No

If no then they could be perfect contra candidates

4.    What product or service do you provide that could be valuable to other businesses?

For example:

You may be exhibiting at an upcoming trade show and would like some promotional item to give away to guests who visit your stand. You could approach a promotional product supplier and ask if they would like to co brand some items with you. I recently had some compendiums made to give out at a recent trade show, the promotional supplier provided the compendiums at no charge as we had both their logo and our logo on the note pads.

They were happy to do this as we were placing their brand in-front of corporate event planners who were their target audience. They ended up receiving a $10,000 order as a result plus a number of other referrals and bookings.

Framework to writing a contra proposal

My advice is to tailor each contra proposal it gives a personal touch and lets the company you are approaching know that you have hand selected them to work with. This will help increase your chances of gaining a partnership. You don't want to be perceived as money hungry, approaching everyone and taking whatever you can get. Remember this is a partnership and it has to have a positive outcome for both parties.

I use a simple framework to writing a contra proposal, I would suggest tailoring the proposal and expanding on this framework where necessary. My below example is tailored towards approaching a venue to partner with on an upcoming event.

Event Background

Write about your event. Has it been held before, why are you holding the event, who will be attending? Write about the purpose of your event and give the reader an overview of the bigger picture.

The Audience

Who will be in the room? Get specific, including the type of industry and position within their company.

Previous Events

Do you have any data on previous events held and the type of response you gained from them? Build the credibility of your event, show it was successful.

Event Details

This is where you get specific on the timing and overall event format. Include items like Event Date, Event Timing, Event Set-up, Catering, Audio Visual and anything else your event requires.

Event Tip:

With the above information get as specific as your event requires. The more specific you are the better equipped the venue is to assist with your event needs.

Proposed Event Partnership            

This is where you 'go for gold' ask for your best case scenario, contra of all or most of the event. This provides a great starting point for discussion, in most cases you may not get your entire event covered with a contra deal but it is certainly worth asking the question to help reduce even some of your event costs.

In return we would be happy to provide the following:

In this section you talk about the things that you can provide in exchange for contra of your event. Some examples to get you thinking about the value of your event are:

  • Complete contact details of each guest in the room
  • Formal acknowledgement as a sponsor on the day
  • Provide each guest with your brochure in the event show bags
  • Opportunity to make a five minute presentation on stage about your company and the service you provide
  • Your logo on all event stationary including event invitations, event website, confirmation and reminder emails
  • Your logo on the main screen on the day as an event sponsor
  • The opportunity to have 300 business owners experience your venue and service
  • Space available for you organisation to have a manned display booth to further interact with and engage delegates on the day
  • Explore opportunities of a free trial, subscription, coupon or another gift offering from your organisation to gain buy in and generate interest from the delegates at the event

The possibilities are endless! As long as you tailor the offering to your event, ensuring you can deliver on these promises.

Finish off with your contact details and diarise a time to call the organisation back, I suggest no more than 3 days later. Gain their feedback and enter down the exciting path of contra partnerships.

Event Tip:

If you are looking to form contra partnerships for your event, ensure you have plenty of time up your sleeve. Contra partnerships will always take longer as there is usually a management meeting and decision based around the partnership.

Remember: Great contra deals don't just happen, they are created after the long term building of relationships and only work when there is a win win and value for each party.

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