If you’ve noticed a trend in the uptick in partner summits over the past few years, you’re not alone. As teams and leagues have looked to create more value for their brand partners, these summits have become a way to create touchpoints with the brands, showcase new opportunities, and deliver targeted networking opportunities for the decision makers in the room.
This year, the 2018 Minor League Baseball Partner Summit was held in conjunction with Triple-A All-Star Game, providing for a unique setting and backdrop for an event that brought 70-plus individuals representing 20 unique brands and agencies together for two days of conversation, education, and learning.
“We set out to create a partner inspired event that played true to MiLB’s brand in an environment designed to solicit discussion and business driving opportunities,” said David Wright, MiLB’s Chief Marketing & Commercial Officer. “In the end, the Triple-A All-Star Game hosted by the Columbus Clippers proved to be an incredible showcase for MiLB and natural environment to host the 2018 MiLB Partner Summit.”
What is quickly becoming a must-attend event, the summit, led by MiLB’s Partnership Marketing team and their partners at 4Front, was looking to up the ante when it came to experiences. To do this, MiLB and 4Front put together an entire day of interactive engagement for the partners in attendance, starting with the opportunity to sign a one-day “professional” player contract.
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Brain Gainor, vice president of innovation at 4Front, credits the All-Star Game backdrop as the tone-setter for the two days.
“As a way to celebrate our ‘All-Star’ partners, we created an unexpected, unique experience allowing participants to sign a one-day player contract, receive a personalized jersey, have their photo taken with baseball legend Carlos Baerga, and take a group photo on the field at the Triple-A All-Star Game in Columbus.”
The league’s mantra for its partners is that “It’s Fun to Be a Partner” — and that was evident from the moment attendees walked into the event.
Whether it was the dinner the night before the summit that featured casual networking over drinks and then a raffle prize that saw the winner take home two tickets to the MLB All-Star Game, Gainor and the crew saw the opportunity to do things differently.
“The Minor League Baseball Partner Summit Experience was designed to ‘show vs. tell’ how MiLB truly values, celebrates and treats its corporate partners as ‘All-Stars.’ We wanted to create value for our strategic partners who are committed to Minor League Baseball’s long-term growth. It’s ‘Fun to Be a Partner’ with MiLB and we set out to showcase this by delivering an incredible, unexpected All-Star Partner Summit Experience that created a lasting, memorable impact.”
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While the activities were plentiful, so to was the learning as constituents in attendance were treated to an afternoon of panels covering everything from multicultural fan engagement to a panel of how GMs are building winning teams off the field.
In a conference or summit setting, it’s not unusual to see people Tweeting, emailing, texting, or even taking calls, but for Bill Sutton, founder of Bill Sutton Associates and the founding director of the Sport and Entertainment Management MBA Program at University of South Florida, this summit was different in creating a new level of engagement during the sessions.
“What I thought was the most unique part of the event was the level of participation,” Sutton said. “People were staying in the room and not having their own discussions or leaving the area to make phone calls.”
This engagement helped drive the conversation, an aspect that is critical to the success of a partner summit in the eyes of Sutton
Although the partners were there to learn from Minor League Baseball, the opportunity allowed for them to learn from each other as well.
When talking about the extra value that partners were able to walk away with, Gainor said, “MiLB Partner Summits provide a great opportunity to tell the story of Minor League Baseball from a business perspective, facilitate B2B networking opportunities, share activation best practices, learn from league, team, and industry stakeholders, and make a truly memorable impression.”