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Emerging Sponsorship Categories: Custom Publishing Comes of Age

Custompublishing Bill Chipps over at IEG recently shared the next up-and-coming trend in sponsorship: on-demand book printing.

Figure it out: if you were invited to a golf tournament, you met a ton of celebrities, and had a lot of fun -- how would you feel if you received a surprise in the mail: a hardcover coffee-table style book, filled with great pictures of that event of you and all the people you met? If you're like millions of other Americans that love seeing pictures of themselves, you'd love it!

With vendors ranging from Blurb to Lulu to Amazon's CreateSpace.com, these books typically cost between $20 and $50 per book. Bill indicated these books are useful in three ways:

  • It's an emerging category to pitch for sponsorship.
  • They become tools to create or supplement fulfillment reports and sales materials.
  • They are an excellent activation vehicle for sponsors.

Bill cited the example of Newport Harbor Corp., who last fall began using iPhoto to create custom books for sponsors like the Stop & Shop Supermarket, which sponsors Taste of Rhode Island. While the sponsors were already expecting to see reports describing traffic, the books provided a visual reminder of the event and the sponsors' participation. Interns manage the photography and design elements while the sales team writes copy. They plan on creating books this year for every sponsor paying over $10,000.

The uniqueness of this sponsorship category, combined with the familiarity of such books provides a unique opportunity for forward-thinking marketing organizations. The on-demand part is important: you don't have to have a minimum order; so whether you order 1 or 10,000 the economics are very similar. Some potential opportunities for such custom publishing include

  • Restaurants: combine photos, beloved recipes and historical documents (articles, reviews, awards, etc.) to create unique souvenirs for their most beloved customers, or distribute them to local hotels and concierges in recognition for business.
  • Hotels: celebrate employee-of-the-month programs that emphasize the service standards of the hotel, but include pictures of the employee and co-workers, personal thank-yous from management team, and copies of letters from appreciative guests.
  • Cruise lines: Create a template that includes postcards and mementos from various destinations, include maps and fun facts about destinations. When there is a multi-week cruise, take a lot of pictures of the passengers over the first few days and place them into the template. Email the template to the vendor so when the cruise winds down, passengers receive these books when they disembark.
  • Convention and Visitor Bureaus: Reward conference organizers with multi-year deals with books filled with pictures of their membership having fun. Include lots of pictures featuring local restaurants and other venues. In other words, create an emotional component that reminds them how much fun they have visiting your neighborhood.


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