11/19/2012 05:43 EST | Updated 01/19/2013 05:12 EST

Corporate Sponsors: Don't Show Off, Show us Something

Former President Bill Clinton speaks at the second annual Clinton Global Initiative America, Thursday, June 7, 2012, in Chicago. Clinton urged those attending the two-day event to invest in projects that will create jobs. Among the goals, he said, were to share ideas in the areas of housing recovery, education, clean energy and helping returning war veterans find employment. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

What is it about big corporate sponsors that they don't get that the hard sell just doesn't work any more and that they'd win over more customers if they just gave useful information instead of the sales pitch on how wonderful they are? Really.

I've recently attended a couple of conferences which were heavily sponsored, but, and it is a big but, there was a price to be paid for that sponsorship. Each company wanted its moment in the sun, which is only fair, but its rays should shine on the audience and provide value rather than just a sales pitch. Boring the audience does not win people over, nor does it create positive memories of the company.

I tell you there is a niche market out there for a company to go in and educate these corporations on how to win over their potential customers, particularly women, because from my perspective, they are truly missing the boat. Yes, it has to be a win-win situation but sometimes the corporations don't realize the hefty price tag they are paying by making it all about them.

The sales pitch on how wonderful they are just doesn't cut it. No, I would prefer some valuable information that is helpful to me as a woman or as a small business owner, not the rhetoric on how my business or life will be truly enhanced by buying their product or service.

So here's my tips to corporate sponsors:

• First, thank you for getting behind the organization you are sponsoring, we're truly grateful, but build on that relationship instead of killing it dead with oversell.

• Provide information that is truly helpful to the audience instead of "strutting your stuff."

• Build relationships. People do business with businesses that fit with their values and that they trust.

• Give back. Supporting favourite causes will help people see you in a different light.

• "Loot" goes a long way, we like to get free stuff.

• Send staff who want to be there, who will listen, participate and want to hear what has to be said and you will start to form meaningful relationships with your target audience.

• Be authentic, genuine and real. Our radar is strong and we can quickly cuss out the real deal, so don't try to fake it.

• Train your staff in public speaking so they come across as professional, relaxed and informed, not stuttering at the podium struggling to complete a sentence.

• Cash is king.

• Provide speakers who are informed and can share their expertise with the audience.

• Lend your space for events and offer your marketing expertise to help spread the word of the event you are sponsoring.

As someone who is always looking for sponsors for my events, I realize my comments may negate some real deals happening, but on the other hand, I am just practicing what I preach -- I am being authentic, genuine and honest.

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