Conferences and expos have long been a valuable tool in the arsenal of many marketers. Today, the world of conferences, sponsorships, booths, and beyond has grown to monumental proportions. But with so many opportunities to be involved in so many events, there is only so much budget and so little time.

In this post, we will show you how to create your own sponsorship category for less than a third of the price of a traditional sponsorship.

Before we get started, here are some simple materials you may want to round up (hopefully you have most of them lying around):

  • One 20’ inflatable blimp (with your custom message printed on it)

  • One halogen light fixture (to be inserted inside the blimp, if used for a night event)

  • 200’ of extension cords (combined weight of less than 10 lbs)

  • 200’ nylon rope

  • 600 cubic feet of helium (three of those 4’ tanks should do it)

  • One boat (preferably bigger than 20’)

  • One gas generator

  • One plastic storage container

  • One hand saw

  • 15’ PVC piping

  • Lots of duct tape

  • Four adventurous crew members and one captain

Once you have all your materials, it should look something like this:

See the step-by-step tutorial below.

  1. Find a conference you want to sponsor that is holding an event at a venue that’s at least partially surrounded by water. The venue should be open to the air and the water side should have a fence no more than 50’ tall.
  2. Load all of your materials (and crew) into the boat roughly 3 hours prior to the event.
  3. Boat to the venue. Note that time this takes may vary, adjust time allocated for boating accordingly, and check the weather.
  4. An hour or two before the event you wish to sponsor, anchor the boat at a location that balances low wall height with viewing angle.
  5. 30 minutes prior to event climax, you will need to begin setting up.
  6. If it is raining, use the saw, storage container, pvc, and duct tape to create a protective structure for your generator—it cannot get wet.
  7. Roll out your inflatable blimp and bring your oversized helium tanks to the most convenient location in the boat that will allow you to fill up with minimal hassle.
  8. Tie a good knot with the nylon rope to the blimp, and secure the other end to an easily accessible cleat. Use a bowline knot for style points.
  9. Connect the first helium tank to the blimp and begin filling. If you are executing this at night, you will need to insert the halogen light into the center of the blimp midway through filling for proper lighting effect. This can be a bit tricky, but don’t worry, just fiddle with it, believe me, it’ll fit. This is also a good time to connect the electrical cords to the halogen bulb – once the blimp is fully engorged with helium, you will have a hard time maneuvering. If raining, be careful, blimps are slippery when wet.
  10. After the light is inserted, continue inflating the blimp using the remainder of tank 1 and what you need from the other two. You should end up with a bit extra (set that aside, you will need it later). Your blimp should fill up nicely from here, and as the wrinkles disappear from its exterior, the blimp will begin to rise.
  11. Slowly let your blimp rope out, minding the boom and rigging (if you are using a sailboat). At this point your blimp should be airborne so extend enough rope to rise up above the venue wall. Be aware, you will have no control over the blimp’s orientation once it is airborne.
  12. In some cases you may notice that your blimp is losing air – this may be because you have inadvertently pulled out a release valve during ascension. If this happens, do not panic.  Simply reel the blimp back in, and use the leftover helium to refill.
  13. Secure your valves, and relaunch.

That’s it!

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