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Yes, its that time again. Its past that time actually. Way, way, way past that time. Rocky and I have been banging our heads together trying to come up with a theme and an image worthy of burning in to the minds of all the attendees at Lotusphere this year. I am immeasurably pleased (and relieved) to say that we've settled on a design and are ready to solicit sponsorships!
For this year's TOP TEN list announcement, see Rocky's Blog...
Sponsorship is a little different this year, so even if you've been down this road before, please read this carefully.
1. Who can sponsor?
In the past, we were very selective about sponsors. The vast majority were Penumbra members and only one or two others were invited. We're doing things a bit differently this year. Partly because Rocky's not a Penumbra member any longer, now that he's a grown up and works for IBM, but mostly because we want to open the shirt sponsorship to others in our community. The traditional sponsor has always been a small to medium sized IBM Business Partner with a product or service to sell. This year, we're also inviting larger organizations and a more diverse mix to the table. If you've always wanted to sponsor and never were asked, contact me.**
**Please note, however, that Rocky and I do reserve the right to select sponsors for our own entirely arbitrary reasons. If you work for Forbes, for example, I personally would not recommend applying since hell will freeze over before I'll do anything but veto. Previous sponsors will have a slight leg-up.
New this year, we are soliciting a secondary level sponsorship as well. This is a less expensive way to be part of the fun. Almost anyone can join in as a secondary sponsor.
2. What is the difference between a primary sponsor and a secondary sponsor?
Primary sponsors get more shirts to pass out and get their logo printed on the shirt back. Secondary sponsors do not get a custom logo, but do get shirts to hand out and can include a business card or flier with them. All sponsors get their shirts at Lotusphere just prior to the opening day. Typically, we are able to pass out the shirts to all sponsors on Saturday before the event. Each sponsor gets a predetermined package of shirts along with colored rubber bands which can be used wrap the shirts for easier carrying and distribution. The rubber band colors indicate the size of the shirt. Many sponsors add a flier or business card with the rolled up shirt.
3. What does it cost, and what do I get?
Primary sponsorships (and we have room for only 10) cost $1000 - the same price as years past. With that, you get a logo on the back of the shirt at least 100 shirts. Last year, each sponsor got 120 shirts. Our cost to produce the shirts is slightly higher this year, but we do not expect the number of shirts we get to be substantially lower. You also get a package of rubber bands with enough of each color to wrap them. Please keep in mind, this are good quality shirts which are professionally printed with several color images on four locations.
The new Secondary sponsorships are $250. For this you get at least 20-25 shirts to pass out along with rubber bands and our heartfelt thanks. You can sponsor as many times as you like if you want more shirts. Our goal is to get as many out there as possible.
4. What will the shirts look like?
This year's shirt is, of course, still secret. 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. One thing I will tell you, is that they're all the same shirt color this year.
5. Can I pick my own sizes?
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.
6. Can you ship them to me instead of to Lotusphere?
Sure, but it won't be cheap -- probably about $200 more for the full sponsors and about $100 for the secondary sponsors. I don't recommend this at all.
7. What are the deadlines for sponsorship?
Secondary sponsors must have a final decision to by 12/15 and a check no later than 12/17. We also can handle credit cards, but checks are better because there's no fee to us which means more shirts get made. Primary sponsors also must have a final decision by 12/15 and check no later than 12/17, but also must have finished artwork to my by 12/17. Please see my note below about what constitutes finished artwork.
8. What kind of artwork do I have to send you as a sponsor?
Your logo should meet the following criteria:
*** 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. If you do not have your artwork in this format, PLEASE contact me ASAP. I can probably reproduce it but it takes anywhere from an hour to a day. I'll tell you how long it will take me, and if I have to charge you to do it I'll let you know how much. I've gotten fairly good at this.
*** 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 3" x 3" or smaller (we fit them in the space we have available). Look at last year's shirts for examples.
*** 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. Its FUN and its a bit of name recognition. Its a conversation starter. It is not a lead generation tool.
*** We'll be doing these in three or four colors. Black, white, yellow and IBM blue are likely. Red or orange is also possible. Remember, keep it very simple.
If you have questions about this, ask me sooner than later.
9. Do you and Rocky make money on the shirts?
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. Last year we gave away a Creative Zen MP3 player. We haven't decided on a prize yet this year. Finances will determine. Shirt expenses go toward the following:
1. Shirt creation, setup fees, and production
2. Shipping to Orlando - We've so far avoided the huge cost of shipping directly to the show hotel
3. Rental Van - by agreement, I'll be again renting a van to pick up an distribute the shirts. It takes a BIG van.
4. Prize - as mentioned above.
I don't keep any significant amount of funds from the shirts. The benefit to Rocky and I is our logo on the sleeves. 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 will not be 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.
Thus far, we've had no complaints. Last year, 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 volunteer to give up that amount to someone else. It did take a few weeks.
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