Certified Unofficial Lotusphere Tee-shirt
Once again it is time to sign up sponsors for the annual C.U.L.T. As always, we’re running late. Rocky will be posting this year’s top-10 poll soon, meanwhile I need to start setting aside sponsorships and planning for the number of shirts.
One of this year’s goals is to create a fun shirt that people will want to wear – The design will be something a little bit less gaudy but still fun. This year’s theme isn’t a secret (though of course the final top ten list will be). The theme this year is:
“The Pirates of Collaboration”
The other goal is to produce as many shirts as we can afford. The more sponsors we have, the better the pricing break we get on the shirts, and the most shirts each sponsor gets.
If you want to be a sponsor, read further.
Who can sponsor?
Nearly anyone who wants to sponsor can. In the past, this was more limited but both Rocky and I feel this should be open to the whole Lotus Domino community. The only caveat I will add, however, is that Rocky and I have final veto power on any sponsorship, artwork, or copy that goes on the shirt. If we feel for any reason that a sponsor or the artwork from any sponsor doesn’t fit in harmony with the theme, spirit, intent, or other sponsors we reserve the right to decline that sponsorship.
Three kinds of sponsorships
Primary Sponsors $1200
Shirts will be distributed in bundles. Each bundle will have 25 or 30 shirts in it depending on how the costs break out and the number of sponsors. Each bundle will have a fixed number of each size shirt, and a set of colored rubber bands meant to wrap each shirt. The colors correspond to sizes, which makes distribution much easier when you’re walking around with a bag full. You get to wrap your shirts with the bands yourself. You are welcome to include a business card or flyer when you do that.
Secondary Sponsors $1000
Primary sponsors get their logo and url on the shirt and either a booth number, phone number, or slogan. They also get at least 4 bundles of shirts. If there are enough bundles based on pricing, they will get a 5th but I can’t promise that.
Multiple Sponsorships or Extra Shirts
You can sponsor two or more times, or you can just order more shirts.
Secondary sponsors also get 4 bundles of shirts. Instead of a full logo, they get a one line text entry showing their company name and url or phone number. The size and location will be determined once the shirt is designed based on layout and the number of sponsors, but we’ll make sure it can be read.
C.U.L.T. Supporter Sponsors $300
For those who just want to pass out shirts but don’t need any text or logo on the shirt, support sponsors will get one bundle of shirts – 25-30 shirts depending on how it breaks out.
What will the shirts look like?
If you are a sponsor and just want more shirts, you can get the same number of shirts as a sponsor gets at 20% less. So if sponsorship is $1200 and each sponsor ends up with 120 shirts, you can buy additional blocks of 120 shirts at $1000. It’s cheaper because it’s good for the shirt that way. We have room for another sponsor logo, and thus we can buy more total shirts and reduce the cost (and thus buy even more shirts).
While the theme of this year’s shirt isn’t a secret, the final design is. That’s in part because it hasn’t been created yet. Generally speaking it will not be as loud as recent years, and is being planned with a bit more of an eye toward being wearable even around non geeks.
Can I pick my own sizes?
Anyone who sponsors WILL get a chance to see the design and back out. We'll do that once we receive a check or credit card but before we process the payment. That gives truly committed sponsors a chance to back out if they really hate it. We think you'll like it - we do. If you REALLY must see the shirt design first, ask me or Rocky nicely and we'll think about it. We may ask you to swear a blood oath or perhaps sign an NDA and leave a DNA sample.
Can you ship them to me instead of to Lotusphere?
No, absolutely not. Not unless you pay me (personally, and under the table) a ton of money. It just makes things much more difficult for us. We have a sizing formula that we adjust a little bit each year which splits each batch of shirts into a single bag with a set number of each size. Generally, this is heavily "weighted" to Large and Extra Large, but always there are some small and medium and a few double x. Rocky and I also order a small number of super-human sized shirts for a few special requests.
What are the deadlines for sponsorship?
Decision & Payment
Sure, but it won't be cheap -- probably about $300 more for the full sponsors and about $100 for the secondary sponsors. I don't recommend this at all. Its really a pain for me to do it.
All sponsorship is limited by who commits first. I’ll take the first ones to commit and put them on the list, and put others on a waiting list. Anyone I haven’t gotten a check from by December 9th will be dropped from the committed list and the next person on the waiting list will get their shot. By December 16th anyone I don’t have payment from in full isn’t going to be a primary or secondary sponsor. There will be no exceptions. We also can handle credit cards, but checks are better because there's no fee to us which means more shirts get made.
I need artwork as soon as I can get it. If you’ve sponsored before and your logo is the same, you don’t need to send it again. If not, then by the end of November I really need to have it. I’d rather have it last week.
What kind of artwork do I have to send you as a sponsor?
Your logo should meet the following criteria:
Sponsor artwork has been a personal nightmare for me in the past. Two years ago, someone kept promising me over and over they’d have it then when I finally got it the format wasn’t even close to useable.
If you don’t have a logo in the format described below, just tell me. I’ve gotten fairly good at recreating them to match. If it is a simple logo, and you give me plenty of time to do it, I won’t charge you for it.
If your logo requires significant reworking I may ask you to pay for that time. The earlier you get me the artwork, the more likely we’ll have time to be flexible.
A. It must be 100% VECTOR GRAPHICS. That means it was probably done in Adobe Illustrator or something similar. If you don't know what this means, you probably don't have it. Just because it is in Illustrator format, doesn’t mean it is pure vector graphics. If there is any raster artwork at all, I’ve got to redraw it. GIF, JPG, and PNG are all raster formats.
B. It should look good printed in moderately low resolution (kids, it's a t-shirt and ink) so avoid small fonts and tiny details. These things tend to be about 2.5" x 2.5" or smaller (we fit them in the space we have available). Look at last year's shirts for examples.
C. Don't try too hard with contact information or such. Maybe a simple URL, phone, or booth number, but that's it -- not all three either. Look, nobody is going to call you just because you sponsor this t-shirt. It doesn't work that way. If you expect it to, you'll be disappointed. It is FUN and it is a bit of name recognition. It is a conversation starter. Remember, this is not a lead generation tool, and if you have that expectation you will be disappointed.
If you have questions about this, ask me sooner than later.
Do you and Rocky make money on the shirts?
D. We'll be doing the logos in three or four colors. Black, white, yellow and IBM blue are likely. Red or orange is also possible. Remember, keep it very simple. When I get your artwork, I will apply whatever colors we are using in as close to the same way as they are used on your image as possible, but we will not be using your colors. You’ll get input into the way we lay out your logo, so don’t worry that we’ll just do whatever we want.
Since I produce the shirts here through a local vendor (and they get made at the same shop a great many of the Lotus shirts get made, as a matter of fact) I handle the finance side of it. The goal is to produce as many shirts as possible, saving out enough to cover a significant prize for the night of the party.
We haven't decided on a prize yet this year. Finances will determine. Shirt expenses go toward Shirt creation, setup fees, production, shipping, and distribution. Last year shipping was over a thousand dollars. If we ship directly to the conference it costs way more than that. Last year I shipped to a UPS depot, rented a truck, loaded the truck, returned the truck, and distributed the shirts. This year I may do that or I may even just rent a truck or trailer here and drive down.
I don't keep any significant amount of funds from the shirts. I suppose you could consider the rental van use compensation but to be honest, its more work than its worth. Trust me on that. I do not get compensated for the dozens of hours spent designing the shirts, working with the vendor, on-site approval meetings at the production facility, or accounting.
This year, as last year, I am not a sponsor so I suppose you could also consider that I keep the "left over" amount of shirts after they've divided up. This year Rocky and I will split enough shirts to make sure a few key VIP's get there's but otherwise its leftovers for us unless we sponsor as well.
One thing to note – in years past I ended up losing a bit on the whole thing. I did get my logo out there so it’s not a huge deal. Last year I didn’t push the budget quite as hard and ended up very slightly ahead. It is POSSIBLE that at the end of it all I may make a small amount on the whole thing. I seriously doubt anyone will see that as an issue. In the past I’ve strived for a zero balance at the end, and it never quite works out.
Thus far, we've had no complaints. A few years ago, UPS "lost" one of the 25 boxes of shirts -- about 66 shirts. We do everything we can to avoid this, and I think in the end everyone came out Ok. One party was compensated 1/2 a sponsorship who volunteered to give up that amount to someone else. It did take a few weeks.