It’s that time of year again. The time of year we start to look forward to 2016 and think about how we can improve on the previous year. Trade show and expo organizers who spent 2015 building a strong community, should take it up a notch and start thinking about building relationships with their champions.
What is a champion? Well, according to Alice in Wonderland, a champion is someone who would be willing to die for you. That’s a bit dramatic for our purposes, but your champion is one who is willing to go to battle for your industry. They are people who will shout your message from the mountaintops. Champions are not just fans; champions have a deep-seated passion and enthusiasm.
Why Do You Need a Champion?
Some champions have a wide interest following while others work a very specific niche. Champions often have their own community in your industry, and that community hangs on their every word. Champions can also play an important role in the community that you have established.
Think about investing in that champion by sponsoring their blog, podcast or YouTube channel to reach their audience. Hire them to contribute to your monthly newsletter.
Champions may even be a draw for your event, so consider including them in your lineup of speakers or educators.
Why Should You Invest In a Champion?
The organizers of Graph Expo recognized one of their industry champions, PrintMediaCentr, the host of a long-standing and very popular industry Twitter Chat called #PrintChat. PrintChat generates over 4-6 million impressions each week and attracts participants from around the globe.
What organizer wouldn’t want to establish a partnership with such an influential community? PrintMediaCentr does not just reach the kind of attendees Graph Expo might want to attract, but PrintMediaCentr adds value for the show’s exhibitors as well.
What does that partnership look like? Printverse Theater, sponsored by PrintMediaCentr, is a theater right on the show floor that features educational sessions and demos. It is also a place where attendees, exhibitors and industry leaders hang out and network. It is a great example of a partnership between an event and a champion.
What Makes a Great Relationship Work?
Like any good relationship, your relationship with your champion needs to have balance. You cannot be thinking what’s in this for me. What can I gain? You should be thinking, how can I add value to my champion’s mission and community? What can I offer that will make my champion even stronger?
When you approach the relationship from that angle, you will reap rewards.
Where Do You Find Champions?
Do some digging around on online. Google a few of your industry’s keywords plus “passion” and see what you find. Search online forums. I am a bit of a hobbyist photographer, and I hang out on a Pentax forum. I have come to trust many of the experts on there. If I were going to a photography show, I would be thrilled to meet some of those experts in person.
Ask around your organization as well. Your champions are probably people who reach out to your organization quite often with unsolicited advice. They don’t do this to annoy you; they do it because they are driven by passion, and they want to see the industry they are passionate about improve.
Your champions know what your attendees are looking for, and they will go out of their way to point them in the right direction. Provide your champions with information they will want to share, and they will do much of the heavy lifting for you.