Q&A with Chris Docchio
Director of Strategic Partnerships
The year 2020 has been one of change—both on a national level and within our association. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past 6 months, it’s that must adapt and grow together. So this year, as we put together our prospectus, we’ve made some significant changes. Most notable is our shift from event-based sponsorship opportunities to year-long investments. Lucky for our current and future partners, this means getting more value for your dollar for an entire year, rather than only during a conference or trade show.
To give you a better idea of what this means and why we made these changes, we sat down with our very own Director of Strategic Partnerships, Chris Docchio. Chris’ job is to build strategic alliances and corporate partnerships that increase visibility and enhance businesses.
If you’ve ever met Chris at a trade show or had a Zoom call with him, you know he’s a man of many words. But if you spoke with him, you probably also quickly realized that his words aren’t just fluff—he’s got nearly 20 years of marketing experience (10 with BPA) and it shows. So, we’ll let him do the talking. Here’s our conversation.
Q: What’s the one thing you wish people knew about BPA partners that they don’t know?
A: I would say that there’s something for everyone. If you’re a partner or sponsor, we’ve got a level that allows us to align. We can also be creative with our sponsorships; it’s not set in stone. We have six levels, so it’s not one size fits all.
I’d also like to say that a lot of people think we’re just about conferences but we’re an association now and we have so much more to offer. Everyone has a story to tell and we’d like to help you tell your story in the industry.
Q: How does membership play a role in partnerships?
A: Membership has benefits on both sides. The more members we have, the wider audience it provides to our partners. Being a partner helps to simplify the process for members on where to go for their products and services.
Q: What types of organizations usually partner with BPA?
A: We work with manufacturers, distributors, utilities, and other organizations. I would like to see us partner with more smart technology companies and renewable energy companies. We’ve got a diverse membership and I’d like our sponsors to reflect that too.
Q: How have things shifted for your role with BPA working in the new COVID environment?
A: These days, I’m getting to meet people using a different technology. There’s lots more Zoom! I actually have more face-to-face meetings, just virtually, instead of phone calls.
Also, we’ve shifted to virtual conferences so that people can still get great information just in a new way. We’re moving forward and staying flexible.
One silver lining is that because of the COVID environment, we are meeting some of our goals sooner than we would have, and virtual conferences is one of them. Back in 2015, we looked into making our regional conferences virtual but the technology wasn’t cost-effective. Now, we’re doing it. The technology has come a long way but it’s also the only way people can get together right now. It’s almost pushed us to get to some of our long-term goals faster.
Q: What do you think keeps sponsors and partners coming back to BPA year after year?
A: We’re invaluable. We’ve shown that we align with their goals and they see that reflected in their agreements with us. We work together as partners. As their needs change, we can fulfill them with our benefits. People also enjoy our conferences and our membership keeps growing.
Q: What’s changed in how you’re engaging partners now as opposed to last year, 5 years ago, and 10 years ago, when you first started at BPA?
A: The biggest thing is that when I started we weren’t an association. We were only conference-based education and tradeshows. We have grown in the industry to become an association and we have much more to offer benefit-wise for our members and the companies and organizations that want to partner with us. This is night and day from 10 years ago. We’ve got much more to offer for the dollar amount than we did 5 or 10 years ago; the cost is the same but now you get so much more.
COVID has changed the amount people can spend, but we offer smaller partner levels. We have sponsorship levels that range from $2,500 to $50,000. It used to be that you only got the benefits when you sponsored an event at the highest level, but now whenever you get in, you get benefits for 12 full months…no matter the price.
It’s not a one-off thing anymore. We can offer a full year because of the times we live in. Hopefully people will see the benefits of that.
Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?
A: Talking with people. I enjoy meeting with people and creating successful partnerships with the individuals I work with. I learn something every day. Something is always changing in the industry, whether it be a smart device or a new way that something is done. It’s a learning journey.
Q: What’s is something that people would be surprised to know about you?
A: That I can be quiet. I can be a great listener, as much as I can be a great talker.