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How to Pivot Sponsors from In-Person to Virtual Events

Originally published by: Corporate Meetings Network

In wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many event brands are taking steps to move online.

But how do you keep sponsors satisfied during the virtual transition?

1 | Establish an E-Mail Marketing Campaign

E-mail is one of the most powerful ways to communicate with attendees, regardless the circumstances. Offer sponsors an e-newsletter bundle with featured content that’s sent to attendees. Include sponsors and links to their websites and social media channels.

Prior to deployment, make sure e-mails are both informative and newsworthy. Otherwise, they could be viewed as spam.

2 | Promote on Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are all key social media platforms for sponsorship promotion. But before posting, consider which channels’ audience best aligns with your attendee demographics.

Leverage Facebook events and groups for sponsorship engagement. Activations can include exclusive giveaways leading up to an event or a sponsored recap afterward.

Create a LinkedIn group for your virtual event, too. Post sponsor content and encourage attendees to ‘mark’ they’re attending on the event page. This will help create desirability for the event, as well as provide a platform for sponsors to reach out and set up meetings with interested parties. 

Video is a popular way to present information, especially in a short format. Use it as a tease on Instagram or Twitter to promote a sponsor’s role in your upcoming virtual event.

Regardless of social media platform, go beyond simply calling out sponsors in posts. Provide context – insert their content and include website links.

Also, encourage team members to repost or share sponsor content. Wide dissemination is key.

3 | Develop an Exclusive Web Page

Adding a logo to your website isn’t enough to retain sponsor interest. Instead, customize it to strengthen relationships and retain revenue for the long haul.

Create a dedicated sponsor page with a short write-up for each. Details about what is being sponsored, a website link and contact information should be included. If a speaker is sponsored, this should be noted in their bio and properly linked.

Develop a downloadable whitepaper based on the sponsor’s area of expertise. This is a great lead generation tool, particularly if contact information is requested in order to download.

Consider a digital event bag. It’s essentially a landing page with special offers from sponsors. These may range from a discounted video to a prize or e-book. Attendees must fill out a form to access the digital event bag. This, in turn, generates valuable data and performance metrics for your sponsors. Be sure to promote the link through all social media channels both before and after the event.

One of the most overlooked website sponsorship opportunities is the utilization of event sign-up questions. Consider adding job title, company name, location and interests to your sign-up form. This way, when pitching sponsors, you can provide specific information about attendees, which will help close the deal.

4 | Acknowledge After the Event

Keep the conversation going with video once your virtual event is over. Send the recorded ‘broadcast’ either as a video file or link to attendees and sponsors as a gesture of thanks. Be sure to mention key sponsors in either the intro or extro of the recording. If your web platform allows, include logos.

Take the best video segments and repackage for distribution at a future date or re-purpose for whitepapers and e-newsletters. Provide the opportunity for top sponsors to utilize content in which they participated.

It’s important to collect data before, during and after an event to create a performance summary for sponsors. Include pertinent information like attendance numbers, social media buzz, click-through rates and related content downloads. Set up a video call to present the results. Send the summary report beforehand and then review together.

Soon after, survey sponsors to find out what worked for them and how the event could be improved. Information gleaned will help with pitching your next virtual event.

While this is a time of unprecedented change in the events industry, virtual events have a much broader reach than in-person ones. Barriers to attending are few and the potential opportunities to impress sponsors are endless. 


Want more? Join TheSponsorshipGuy.com’s mailing list and get insights and updates every couple of weeks.

About Larry:

Larry Weil, The Sponsorship Guy

Larry Weil is a nationally recognized sponsorship expert and thought leader with over $200 million in deals to his credit. TheSponsorshipGuy.com is the leading sponsorship marketing agency for Virtual and Destination Events. Media outlets, large corporations, and entrepreneurs all seek out his insights and opinions, which have been published in print, digital and broadcast.

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PRESENTATION: Generate Sponsorship and Revenue for Online and Virtual Events

Two weeks ago I shared this brand new presentation with a small group of digital event experts. Now I am opening it up to my connections and subscribers. It is all about creating a place for the sponsors you had at your destination events and the sponsors you would like to add, as part of your virtual conferences and events. If you have any questions. Please reach out. 


Want more? Join TheSponsorshipGuy.com’s mailing list and get insights and updates every couple of weeks.

About Larry:

Larry Weil, The Sponsorship Guy

Larry Weil is a nationally recognized sponsorship expert and thought leader with over $200 million in deals to his credit. TheSponsorshipGuy.com is the leading sponsorship marketing agency for Virtual and Destination Events. Media outlets, large corporations, and entrepreneurs all seek out his insights and opinions, which have been published in print, digital and broadcast.

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Creating Sponsorship Revenue for Virtual Events

Digital Events
This post was originally published on the Eventbrite. Read the original post here

In wake of the pandemic, many event brands are taking the steps to move online. Even if you’re one of the lucky creators who can pull it off and still make a profit, you may still wonder how to recoup sponsorship revenue from your live event. 

There are plenty of sponsorship opportunities with virtual events.

And not just some throwaway logos in your newsletter. From email messaging to post-event data, here’s how to keep sponsors happy during your virtual transition.

Virtual event sponsorship activations for email

Email is one of the most powerful ways to communicate with your attendees no matter the circumstances. Just make sure the emails featuring your sponsors are informative and newsworthy. Otherwise, they could be viewed as spam.

  • Offer sponsors an email bundle where you email featured content to attendees — even to your whole email list if the messaging aligns. 
  • Include your sponsors — and links to their websites and social media — in the company newsletter. 
  • Email out a guest blog as part of your event updates. Bonus points for using your email data to target a specific audience. 

Virtual event sponsorship activation for social media

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are all key social media platforms for sponsorship promotion. Before making posts on all of them, however, make sure you are choosing the platforms with the audience that aligns best with your attendee demographics. 

  • Leverage Facebook Events and Groups for sponsorship engagement. Activations can include exclusive giveaways leading up to the event or a sponsored recap after it ends.
  • Create a LinkedIn group for your virtual event, too. Post sponsor content there and encourage attendees to mark that they are attending on the event page. This will help create desirability around your event and provide a platform for sponsors to reach out and set up meetings with interested parties. 
  • Video is a popular way to present information, especially in a short format. Use it as a tease on Instagram or Twitter to promote your sponsor’s role in your upcoming virtual event.
  • Go beyond simply calling out your sponsors in your social posts. Include links to their website, or insert their content. But be sure to give it context!

Pro tip: Encourage your team members to repost or forward the content you post on LinkedIn or Facebook. Wide dissemination is key!

Virtual event sponsorship activation for your website

Throwing on a logo isn’t enough to retain sponsor interest. Your website is endlessly customizable, so use it wisely to strengthen relationships and retain revenue for the long haul.

  • Be sure to have a sponsor page on your event website. Create short blurbs for each, details on what they are sponsoring, and a link to their websites and contact info. If you have speakers who are being sponsored individually, be sure to mention this in their bio page, once again with links. 
  • Create a whitepaper based on the sponsor’s area of expertise. In my opinion, this is one of the best lead generation tactics around. In addition, sponsors will love it if you request contact information with the download.
  • One of the most overlooked website sponsorship opportunities is making sure you utilize event sign-up questions. To your sign-up form, consider adding job title, company name, location, and interests. This way, when you are pitching sponsors, you can provide specific information about the attendees that will help you close the deal.
  • Keep in mind that with a virtual event, you can promote your sponsors for months in advance and reshare content from the event long after it concludes.

Pro tip: Consider a Digital Event Bag. This is essentially a landing page with offers from sponsors. These could include a video with a discount, a special offer, a prize, or downloadable white papers or ebooks. To get access to the landing page, attendees must fill out a form, generating valuable data and performance metrics for your sponsors. Promote the link through all channels in advance of the event and even after. 

Virtual event sponsorship activation during and after your event

Just because your event is over doesn’t mean you can call it one-and-done with your sponsors. Make a good impression by taking advantage of these essential opportunities to show your event’s impact.

  • Be sure to include key sponsor mentions. If your platform offers the function, you can include logo placements as well. 
  • Capture the broadcast and offer it for download. Send the file or link to the event attendees as a gesture of thanks, but also offer the content to your entire network — you can use it as an opportunity to exchange the content with contact information if that works for your audience. 
  • Take the best segments and continue to distribute them, or re-use them in future whitepapers, Digital Event Bags, and email newsletters. Allow top sponsors access to sections of content in which they participated. 
  • Collect data so you can send a performance summary to sponsors. How many attendees stayed for the entire event? How much social media buzz did your event generate? How many clicks on sponsored links? There are so many things you and your sponsors can learn from this data.

Pro tip: Send the performance summary to your sponsors and survey them on what worked for them and how it could be better next time. Then you will know what to focus on when you are pitching your next virtual event. 

Your checklist to keep virtual event sponsors coming back

  • Use the same best practices you use for live events
  • Prepare each sponsor a recap of their benefits and the overall performance of the event, including attendance, social media performance, click-throughs, and related content downloads.
  • Send them copies of the event recording.
  • Keep them informed of their placement in the Digital Event Bag and their social media mentions in relation to your digital event. 
  • Set up a call to present the results to them live. Send a copy right before the call, and then review together. 
  • Listen, and use their feedback for your next event. 

The keys to monetizing all these benefits is to keep them relevant. Of course, use your best judgement as to frequency and placement, but the risks may be worth the rewards.

This is a time of unprecedented change in the events industry, but remember: with virtual events, you have a much broader reach than with in-person ones. Barriers to attending are few, and the potential ways you can impress sponsors are endless. 


Want more? Join TheSponsorshipGuy.com’s mailing list and get insights and updates every couple of weeks.

About Larry:

Larry Weil, The Sponsorship Guy

Larry Weil is a nationally recognized sponsorship expert and thought leader with over $200 million in deals to his credit. TheSponsorshipGuy.com is the leading sponsorship marketing agency for Virtual and Destination Events. Media outlets, large corporations, and entrepreneurs all seek out his insights and opinions, which have been published in print, digital and broadcast.

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Full Stop! Now What?

You did what you had to do; you canceled the event. All that work down the drain.

It isn’t clear when things will return to normal. Should we reschedule for fall or wait until summer of 2021?

The shift is already happening. Conferences will go on, but not in person. They will be online. The thought of learning a new format while you are still in the middle of undoing the event you just canceled might be overwhelming.

Ask yourself: Do you want to go dark for a year or more? There is a reason that events have been growing at such a rapid pace, people want the engagement and content. They need to know what is happening in their industry. I will be the first to submit that an online conference isn’t the same on many levels, but it is much less expensive and could bring in a much bigger audience.

Many marketers have already started down this path. Solutions are popping up everywhere. There are dozens of webinars about how to create an online conference and just as many platforms. I looked at one webinar and when I went to sign up, it was sold out with 500 attendees’ days before it is scheduled. I have been approached by several of these platforms to help them help their customers find sponsors. In the coming days I will be publishing new content on how to attract sponsors to your online event.

Here are some of the benefits of holding your event or conference online.

1 | The barriers to attendance are low. No travel, no hotel and usually no cost to attend.

2 | The cost to put the event online will be a fraction of the cost of the on the ground event.

3 | You can still use the speakers you had to cancel. They should be open on the date you originally planned.

4 | There is no venue to check with for availability. Have the event when it works for your audience.

5 | You can still have all the panels, keynotes and breakout sessions you planned. You can rebroadcast as much as you want and make the event available on demand.

6 | You can still get sponsors to support your online event.

7 | You can use the same ticketing system and promotional plan.

Here are the benefits to your business.

1 | Keep your customers and prospects engaged while we are all figuring things out.

2 | You keep moving forward. Sharing innovation and the creativity that is certain to mark this time in our history. Don’t be left behind.

3 | You are going to learn more and different information about your marketplace and prospects. You are going to have to shorten the length of the event, which will force you to focus on only the most important topics. You can also increase the frequency of your event and specialize your topics for certain business segments.

4 | Most of all, when events return, you will be an even better event marketer with another asset to offer.

I’m repositioning my business to these realities. We have all seen the emerging dominance of digital advertising and marketing. Now is your chance to use it to save your event marketing.


About Larry:

Larry Weil, The Sponsorship Guy

Larry Weil is a nationally recognized sponsorship expert and thought leader with over $200 million in deals to his credit. TheSponsorshipGuy.com is the leading sponsorship marketing agency for Virtual and Destination Events. Media outlets, large corporations, and entrepreneurs all seek out his insights and opinions, which have been published in print, digital and broadcast.

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Want more? Join TheSponsorshipGuy.com’s mailing list and get insights and updates every couple of weeks.

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Publishers put Virtual Events to the Test as In-Person Gatherings Disappear

This post was originally published on the DigiDay and was written by Kayleigh Barber. Read the original post here

As coronavirus continues to threaten publishers’ events business, many publishers are turning to virtual events as an alternative.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s 2020 NewFronts moved to streaming-only presentations, several media companies have canceled their upfronts and industry conferences, such as SXSW and Collision, have been postponed or gone digital. And several publishers, including Protocol and the Texas Tribune, have converted planned in-person events to virtual events, with an eye toward doing more of them long-term in order to supplement their live events portfolios.

Virtual events can, in theory, offer solutions to publishers who have lost experiential revenue to canceled events. But they also have key deficiencies. Many industry-focused events depend on networking as a value proposition. That’s awkward in a virtual environment. On the consumer side, experiential events depend on product sampling, live entertainment and other real-life activities that are hard to replicate digitally.

For all those reasons, a virtual event will likely bring in one-third to one-half the revenue of a physical event, said Larry Weil, an events sponsorship consultant.

“I don’t believe you can take a three-day conference and put it online,” Weil said. “Sponsorship is definitely going to take a hit. But those who have a digital strategy, and can scramble, can defer a lot of that loss.”

Depending on the type of event, a virtual version will require different types of technology; the easiest options are YouTube Live or Google Hangouts, said Ashley Friedlein, CEO of business messaging service Guild. However, the skills typically required for operating an in-person event, such as operating registration and customer experience, can be very different from what’s required to run a virtual event since they are very technology heavy, which can pose a problem for publishers.

For that reason, some publishers’ virtual forays are being kept simple. Protocol, which just launched a month ago, has announced a series of events called Protocol Virtual Meetups, which it will host through video conference platform Zoom. The events are scheduled for next four Thursdays starting March 19 and will feature interviews with Protocol journalists as well as tech industry executives.

Protocol president Tammy Wincup said her team had gotten a lot of advertiser interest in virtual events before the coronavirus outbreak, though Protocol hasn’t announced sponsors yet. She said that Protocol’s sales team is looking to sell virtual events in a package with its live events and other products.

Media companies and creators have found that manually managing their Facebook videos’ mid-roll ad placements has not helped — and in some cases, hurt — their revenue.

Others are hoping to leverage their events capability to further diversify revenue.Questex, a business-to-business publisher that generates 70% of its revenue from events, began thinking about ways to integrate virtual events into its business model after industry events started getting canceled, such as the Mobile World Congress, where the company was supposed to host a breakfast.

Questex CEO Paul Miller said his team wanted to still reach the audience that was supposed to be there, so the company launched a digital communications platform in February called The QBusiness Continuity Center, which would allow the events team to put on virtual events more efficiently. Using that, it created the 5G Blitz Week for the Mobile World Congress audience, a week of panels and fireside chats starting March 23 that viewers can consume during their work day. Miller said that the virtual event already has 200 registrations and one sponsor.

For the Texas Tribune, which announced it was suspending its live events for several weeks due to coronavirus, CEO Evan Smith said that moving to virtual events was a natural next step because the publisher has been incorporating live streaming elements into its live events already.

Smith said that in 2013, the Tribune crowd sourced enough money to buy live stream backpacks, which his team has regularly used since then to not only cover live news, but the paper’s own events. He estimated that 20% of Texas Tribune’s revenue comes from events and last year they brought in more than $2 million.

“We’ve seen no disruption in revenue to this point,” Smith said. “It’s early, so I’m not foreclosing on the option for disruption, but it’s looking good.”

Regardless of the steps publishers have taken to incorporate the virtual elements, the deal-making impact of an in-person event is almost impossible to replicate.

Miller said that for IHIF, for instance, the draw of the event is that it’s a playground for “lots of transactions” to take place. “Hotels are bought and sold at the event so if the sellers or the buyers aren’t there, it just doesn’t make sense.”

“The event is only part of the process — we’ll still be working with media partners to deliver great deals for our clients, whether that process kicks off on a stage or a computer screen,” said Catherine Sullivan, chief investment officer at Omnicom Media Group North America.

About Larry:

Larry Weil, The Sponsorship Guy

Larry Weil is a nationally recognized sponsorship expert and thought leader with over $200 million in deals to his credit. TheSponsorshipGuy.com is the leading sponsorship marketing agency for Virtual and Destination Events. Media outlets, large corporations, and entrepreneurs all seek out his insights and opinions, which have been published in print, digital and broadcast.

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Guest Blog: The Five Stages of Sponsorship Sales

This is the first time I have ever posted a colleague’s content on TSG. Chris Baylis of sponsorshipcollective.com has created a remarkable post. It gets right to the core building blocks. This is a must watch.


Want more? Join TheSponsorshipGuy.com’s mailing list and get insights and updates every couple of weeks.

About Larry:

Larry Weil, The Sponsorship Guy

Larry Weil is a nationally recognized sponsorship expert and thought leader with over $200 million in deals to his credit. TheSponsorshipGuy.com is the leading sponsorship marketing agency for Virtual and Destination Events. Media outlets, large corporations, and entrepreneurs all seek out his insights and opinions, which have been published in print, digital and broadcast.

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Marketing for Your Future – BluHorn Interview

This post was originally published on the BluHorn. Read the original post here.

Checkout my interview on Marketing for Your Future with Joe Stelma and Mike White, BluHorn.

About Larry:

Larry Weil, The Sponsorship Guy

Larry Weil is a nationally recognized sponsorship expert and thought leader with over $200 million in deals to his credit. TheSponsorshipGuy.com is the leading sponsorship marketing agency for Virtual and Destination Events. Media outlets, large corporations, and entrepreneurs all seek out his insights and opinions, which have been published in print, digital and broadcast.

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Talking Super Bowl Advertising with SB Nation’s The Big E

SB Nation Radio Interview

A couple of days before the big game we got together to talk about insights and the history of Super Bowl advertising. Check out my interview with Elissa Walker Campbell on The Big E Sports Show.


Want more? Join TheSponsorshipGuy.com’s mailing list and get insights and updates every couple of weeks.

About Larry:

Larry Weil, The Sponsorship Guy

Larry Weil is a nationally recognized sponsorship expert and thought leader with over $200 million in deals to his credit. TheSponsorshipGuy.com is the leading sponsorship marketing agency for Virtual and Destination Events. Media outlets, large corporations, and entrepreneurs all seek out his insights and opinions, which have been published in print, digital and broadcast.

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Pro Tips: Who is Your Sponsor Prospect?

The Sponsorship Guy’s Pro Tips for Effective Outreach

During a conversation with a colleague recently, she brought up a point that I hadn’t heard considered before. That sponsors mostly don’t think of themselves as a “sponsor”. Their goal isn’t to sponsor something. Their goal is to find new customers, promote or sell their products, educate prospects and existing customers, create a buzz and many other objectives.

As a result, their frame of mind and very likely their job doesn’t have sponsorship in the title. They are sales leaders, marketing executives, business owners, event producers, and a variety of specialties from each of those categories.  So, when they think about your event or property their goal of frame of reference isn’t with the objective to be a sponsor, it’s to achieve and objective and ROI that relates to their responsibilities.

In order to meet their needs, you should consider reframing your point of view to better understand theirs. You can turn this into a better and more aligned value proposition and focus on the aspect of your offering that will get them where they want to go. You will want to use that insight to customize your outreach and your proposals so that they appeal to the way the prospect thinks.

If your outreach assumes that there is such a thing as a sponsor persona, your messaging is going to be off target a significant percentage of the time. Here are some job titles I have covered in a previous blog  as prospects that don’t have sponsorship in their job title and how you may want to frame your outreach:

  • Field Marketing | This team is likely to be directly engaged with events and properties. Their job is to find the best event for their product or services. Focus on how well your event aligns for them.
  • Event or Events | Managers and marketers with Event or Events in their titles are often the ones who are looking for you. Many businesses invest in events as a marketing channel. They will be looking for a predetermined event profile.
  • Brand Manager| The brand is their baby. The right event can raise the profile, target their known consumers or align brand values. They also know where the money is for the brand. Your objective is to create a wow moment where the realize you can raise their profile at scale and create buzz and viral social engagement.
  • Sales | You must nail down exactly how they can convert your attendees into customers.
  • Marketing Communications | Marcom is in the middle of everything. A good event is a tool in their box. These folks know the brand message, align with it.
  • Consumer Engagement | If activation is a strong suit of your property, this is a good place to start. Every company wants more customers, show them your audience contains their ideal consumers.
  • Marketing and Activation | Think lead generation and conversion. If your event has an audience that matches the prospect’s needs, they may want to influence, educate and sell them.
  • Promotions | Sampling, engagement and awareness of well aligned audiences needs a place to happen. Promote how you do this better and at scale.
  • Business Development | If your property or event can help open an important channel, this is a great connection to make especially for conferences that align. This prospect is only interested in who is attending and how they will connect with them. You should call out companies and high-profile attendees that they want.

If you only do one thing to revise your approach, be sure it is to talk about them not you. Most events make the mistake of creating a ton of info that isn’t relevant including details like who the president of your company is and how great you are. Your prospects only care about what helps them meet their objectives. Prove that you are better positioned that the competition to give them what they want and need.

Photo by Brad Helmink on Unsplash

Want more? Join TheSponsorshipGuy.com’s mailing list and get insights and updates every couple of weeks.

About Larry:

Larry Weil, The Sponsorship Guy

Larry Weil is a nationally recognized sponsorship expert and thought leader with over $200 million in deals to his credit. TheSponsorshipGuy.com is the leading sponsorship marketing agency for Virtual and Destination Events. Media outlets, large corporations, and entrepreneurs all seek out his insights and opinions, which have been published in print, digital and broadcast.

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2-Min Video: The Top Tip for Sponsor Seekers

In this excerpt from Larry’s interview at Eventbrite headquarters in San Francisco, he shares what he believes is the most important tactic of all. 


Want more? Join TheSponsorshipGuy.com’s mailing list and get insights and updates every couple of weeks.

About Larry:

Larry Weil, The Sponsorship Guy

Larry Weil is a nationally recognized sponsorship expert and thought leader with over $200 million in deals to his credit. TheSponsorshipGuy.com is the leading sponsorship marketing agency for Virtual and Destination Events. Media outlets, large corporations, and entrepreneurs all seek out his insights and opinions, which have been published in print, digital and broadcast.

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