We have been through many ups and downs with sponsorship these past two years. Virtual events have provided a way to deliver many of our event objectives to your audience regardless of physical location. The technology continues to improve, and we are all learning more about how to put on successful digital events in 2022.
Virtual event producers are still struggling with finding sponsorship opportunities. Luckily, there are plenty of new features in the virtual event platforms. However, the key is not always new features, the key is rethinking how you deliver sponsors’ value. The shift to virtual events opens up new opportunities for title sponsorship, brand sponsorship, corporate sponsorship, and more.
Here’s what NOT to do:
On behalf of your sponsors, please stop jamming all of their benefits into the conference date(s). It just isn’t a good plan to spend months developing the kind of content that will attract viewers of your virtual events (formerly known as attendees), only to jam the sponsor benefits into the same timeframe. There is too much going on at the same time, especially if you have multiple tracks.
How is a sponsor supposed to compete with a keynote? The value of simple branding continues to diminish as the CPM for digital branding gets lower. The vast majority of sponsors need measurable lead generation, a way to prove the value of the investment. So, we throw a virtual trade show floor into the mix, give them some space for a profile or content, a way to try to contact attendees, and maybe even a spot on a panel discussion.
But it is simply too much for one day, especially now that your viewer doesn’t have to walk through the trade show floor on the way back to their hotel room.
Here’s what you can do instead:
Utilize the months of your marketing campaign promoting your event to promote your sponsors. Then continue to promote them after the conference. As a sponsor, would you be more interested in benefits that allow you the opportunity to engage potential new business for one or two days, or two to three months? You have put together a campaign to market your event to your target audience, why not let the sponsors come along for the ride? Not only do they get 20 to 30 times more days of benefits, but they also get to reach your entire audience of attendee prospects, not just the folks who actually view the conference.
Sponsors are growing reluctant to commit to investing way out front of your event. Attendees are waiting longer to sign up because they don’t have to plan travel and accommodations. When you are 2 weeks out and are sitting at 1/3 of your projected attendees, you could already be six weeks into the promo campaign from which the sponsors have been already harvesting new business.
Then when the day of the event comes around, there is a good chance they are already happy, and you have less pressure to perform for sponsors and can instead focus on your event operations.
So, what’s the catch? The only catch is you have to start earlier. You have to have your marketing campaign planned out to share with the sponsor as part of their sponsorship package. You have no way of guaranteeing the attendance at your event, but you can guarantee the marketing outreach. In a time where there are so many unknowns you can give your sponsors a campaign they can count on. Think of your entire event from marketing to follow up as a media property; use all of it.
P.S. This works equally well for in-person or hybrid events.
Have questions about securing sponsors for your upcoming virtual event? Feel free to contact me to schedule a consultation.