Mabel's Labels Non Contest | Setting the Standard for Conference Sponsorships

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I'm sure I don't have to tell you that the buzz for this year's BlogHer conference has already started. Lots of us look forward to this all year. As the conference gets closer, companies are going to start offering various sponsorship opportunities from full conference attendance to money to offset the expenses.

Typically, companies have created an application process that includes submitting all your stats, writing an essay on your site as to why you want to attend, asking others to vote for your entry, changing your avatar, posting on every social media channel you have and linking back to their site using a specific phrase. Now, I get the reasoning behind it. I really do. But I don't like it.

Back in 2009 I participated in one such contest and made it to the finals. I was excited to have been chosen because I like (and use) Mabel's Labels and appreciate the way they've handled their social media and blogger outreach. But, and I'm being honest, by the end of the process I felt a little dirty. Not because of anything Mabel's Labels did. I just didn't like who I turned into in my attempt to win. I didn't like feeling that I was "against" the other finalists or the idea that any one person "deserved" to go more than the other. That's not what this community is supposed to be about.

That was the last time I entered for any type of conference contest. For me, I couldn't keep writing the same post over and over. My reasons for wanting to go to these things haven't changed, so the posts themselves wouldn't be that much different than one another. Writing one post for each company who offered would have been just too much. I decided to think a bit more outside the box and save up all my revenue. And that's what I did. 

I know companies think the posts/voting method is the best way to approach these things and increase their profile and SEO. But I look at it this way: when celebrities offer to make a donation to a charity or cause once they reach a certain number of Twitter followers it's a total turn off. Just make the donation without the conditions. I know that gesture would sit much better with me and my opinion of them would go up. It's rare that people do something for nothing. But those are the people who stand out, and in my opinion, inspire loyalty.

Mabel's Labels is offering a full ride to BlogHer again this year but with a huge twist. If you want to attend, fill out an entry form. That's it. No turning your blog, RSS feed, Twitter stream and Facebook page into a billboard. I hope they can hear my standing ovation.

Again, I understand wanting to be visible and create buzz. But the other methods really only seem to generate buzz about the event, not the company offering up the sponsorship other than a "thank you" for the opportunity.  Mabel's has completely embraced the KISS principle with their sponsorship. Even the name, Mabel's Labels Non Contest, is perfect execution. 

Congratulations to the team at Mabel's for, what I think, has set a new standard in social media outreach and blogger engagement. Well done! 

What do you think about brands and conference sponsorships? What would you like to tell the brands about effective ways to leverage their presence at conferences? 
If you were a company, how would you execute your sponsorship?

*Not a sponsored post. I'm not affiliated with Mabel's Labels, just totally impressed.


  1. Mel, Thank you so very much for all your kind words about our BlogHer Non-Contest. It is important that companies listen to feedback on contests and adjust them where needed. We kept reading & hearing about "voting fatigue" and people not seeing the value in "do this, this & this for a chance to win" & I think this years BlogHer contest reflects that nicely (This is my 3rd year working the ML BlogHer Contest). I was totally giddy when I saw your tweet about this post. Taking the time to listen, read and really get to know your audience, customers, fans & friends truly does pay off - another KISS example :)

    Caitlin Madden - Social Media Coordinator for Mabel's Labels

  2. @Caitlin - You hit the nail on the head: listen and know your audience.

  3. I totally agree with you, I just recently opened up my blog to PR after taking off all the google ads. I was hoping to interest some wedding companies. But they don't just come to you, you have to go find them! But I just feel.. as you said.. "dirty" for going around and pimping my blog out.

  4. @Sarah - You should definitely pimp your own site! Consider it like applying for a job. The type of blog contests I was referring to really don't benefit you or your site in the long run.

  5. Thanks for posting this. I just entered. I'm looking for a Sponsor for BlogHer and I don't want to pimp my blog out for a sponsor. I love when brands want to see their bloggers have a good time. They see the value in a relationship, not who can hoop and holla, and annoy the heck out of their communities the most.

  6. I agree with you completely! I entered for a site sponsorship last year (not Mabel's Labels) and it was tough to deal with. I hated the tweets. But the more other people tweeted about it, the more I felt I had to tweet too. I got so wrapped up in trying to win. I actually put a lot of time into the application which was a video. It was emotionally draining when I found out I was not one of the winners.

    Thanks for the post and kuddos to Mabel's Labels!

  7. Bravo! I'm so over the voting popularity contests.

  8. Great post! You said it perfectly, and I feel the same way. Either sponsor me or don't. I'm not jumping through hoops and lowering the integrity of my blog for you. Now, once sponsored I will sing your praises. Until then? No hoop jumping for me.

  9. Adding my here, here! to this one. Kudos for Mabel's Labels but also for you for pointing out your thoughts. I'm seeing a lot more courage coming from the blogging world. We know it can be done differently, but can we figure out where to draw all the lines and what makes the most sense for both the brands AND the bloggers??


Thank you for visiting and letting me know your thoughts!

copyright melanie sheridan 2009 template design by Studio Mommy (© copyright 2015)