There is no group of investors behind STORY. I launched the first one with $0 and by asking tons of favors. For year two, I started with (-$10,000), asking even more favors, and flaunting a decent Flickr account.
So my sponsors mean a lot to me. And I mean a lot. I love the attendees of course, but I love the sponsors just as much. They help make the event possible. So we’re breaking some of the rules when it comes to working with sponsors. Here they are…
- We formed a dedicated team to serve our sponsors hand and foot – led by the amazing Katie Strandlund
- Katie, this team and I asked for and memorized the sponsors’ measurable goals for participating in the event and tried to help accomplish them. All of our other team leaders had their radar up to look after them as well
- We refused to offer any bad locations
- We served them lunch on the first day of the event
- We gave them a nice gift bag full of treats, including an exclusive STORY mug that no one else got
- We helped them set up and tear down their displays
- If they didn’t like their location, we offered to move them
- With no obligations to do this, I invited as many of the high-level sponsors onto the stage as I could
- If there was a good programmatic fit, we tried to make it
- We watched their twitter feeds and made “rounds” to ensure there were no unspoken frustrations. Sarah Cunningham even passed out surveys before they left.
We sold out of sponsorships at STORY 2010 and came away with some really dear friends. My goal is to exceed everything we did this past year in 2011.