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Use these proven strategies to attract and engage sponsors at virtual events

Tahseen Kazi
,
Published:
February 8, 2022

Don’t ask for cash from sponsors, imagine what they want.

Former South African cricketer Matt Prior’s simple, yet profound statement sums up how nonprofit organizations and associations should approach event sponsorships. As an event planner, every sponsor engagement strategy you set into motion should be based on one golden rule – “what do sponsors want?.”

Let’s look at some strategies that can help you succeed in attracting and retaining the right virtual event sponsors.

Choose a brand that aligns with your goals and values

TED’s partnership with Rolex is an excellent example of a sponsor engagement that aligns with the brand’s values and goals. Rolex invested in technology with TED, resulting in the mobile app Surprise Me. The app creates custom TED playlists for its target audience based on factors like topics, user rating, and the age of the user. Most importantly, the user can choose their video length based on exactly how much time they have to watch, playing on Rolex’s own brand promise of helping some of the busiest people in the world dependably keep time.

Through this engagement, TED delivers highly relevant content to its audience. Meanwhile, Rolex can carefully weave its own brand awareness goals with TED’s.

The key takeaway? Take the time to learn more about event exhibitors and sponsors you wish to partner with. Finding the right fit early on in the event sponsorship process will give you and your sponsor more time to maximize the benefits of your partnership for both of you.

Pro-tip

Be candid with potential sponsors while researching them.

  • Ask them what has worked for them in the past. This will help you close sponsorship deals faster. Besides, you’ll get some valuable ideas on how to have compelling conversations, with other sponsors.
  • Ask them what their concerns are. Put forward feasible solutions to those concerns.

Make sponsorships more than just a logo on a banner

association-sponsorship-attract-retain-branding

It’s true that virtual event sponsors want visibility through banner logos. However, this is just one small part of the overall experience you’ll give them.

Focus on providing an experience that provides them the opportunity to engage 1-1 with audiences, enables them to be actively involved at events, and gives them visibility beyond the virtual event platform.

You can achieve this by doing the following:

  • Help select sponsors gain maximum visibility through branded spaces on pages with the highest views, typically the registration and virtual event reception pages.  
  • Make them an active part of your event experience by giving them screen time through a sponsored presentation, including them in a panel discussion, or providing closed-group sessions with them in virtual breakout rooms.
  • Encourage meaningful engagement through sponsored exhibitor booths, branded lounge tables, and 1-1 meeting options.
  • Boost brand awareness for sponsors with contests, giveaways, and swag.
  • Promote virtual event sponsors and exhibitors beyond the event, through channels like email and social media.

Demonstrate the value you can create  

Successful event sponsorships are the ones that can show quantitative results. While the metric for success can vary from engagement, sales, leads, to membership, the basic premise remains the same. Your event sponsor has a goal and metrics show that you helped them meet that goal.

The Calm sponsorship on CNN during the 2020 US presidential elections is a fitting example in this direction. Calm was able to strategically place its logo at the bottom corner of the CNN Key Race Alerts throughout the evening, a decision that seemed to have paid off. On election night, Calm saw about 35,000 downloads, about 10,000 more than during the week prior.

Success stories like these make your sponsorship sales pitch a vivid show and tell strategy that makes you stand out. Establish further relevance by sharing more details on your audience profile and giving them details on projected event registration and attendance numbers.

Leverage the power of data and insights

association-sponsorship-attract-retain-data-analytics

If you’re wondering, how to attract event sponsors and exhibitors. hen data is the low-hanging fruit that you’re looking for. With the right virtual event platform, you can access a universe of rich data that was previously hard to obtain at in-person events.

Leverage data analytics to instill confidence in potential and existing sponsors. Show them how data can be transformed into valuable insights. Most of all, establish that investing in your event is worth it.

Examples of ways associations use Hubilo to inspire sponsors

  1. Attendees that visit a booth are divided into hot, warm, and cold leads based on their engagement. This provides sponsors with a structured way to approach attendees after an event.
  2. A meeting report is generated to provide sponsors with a list of attendees that had one-on-one meetings with them. Sponsors use this data to identify and approach high intent leads.
  3. Sponsors can also keep track of business cards that were dropped at their virtual booth for later action.

These are just some ways data can be leveraged. When you provide insights into every interaction an attendee has with a sponsor, you make partnership with your organization a valuable one that your sponsors will want to continue long-term.

Give them the required support

Customer Success Event Platform

Brands are often sponsoring multiple virtual events. This means that they are also working with multiple virtual event platforms and going through the tedious process of learning each one. They’re often stressed, tired, and short on time.

Show your sponsors you empathize with them by making this process simpler.

Help sponsors and exhibitors get comfortable with the virtual event platform you’re using. Empower them with as much relevant information as you can before the event. Work with your platform providers to give sponsors the necessary support.

Empathy in business is a highly underused tool. By providing sponsors with support, you are differentiating yourself from the competition and making a memorable impact for continued business partnerships.

Design multiple event sponsorship packages

Lastly, design various levels of sponsorship to fit into the budget requirements of each sponsor. These packages can be based on aspects such as:

  • The extent of visibility they get at your event. Will it be a banner, a session, a virtual booth, or something else?
  • The level of support you will provide them with before, during, and after the event.
  • The amount of data that they will be able to access via their dashboard or through you.

In the end, virtual event sponsorship is like the Chinese concept of guanxi, in which networks and connections are used to open doors for new business, facilitate deals, and help organizations achieve their goals. As long as you convey a mutually beneficial partnership and deliver on it, you’re sure to attract and retain virtual event sponsors.

Author
Tahseen Kazi

Tahseen is a marketer by profession, a storyteller at heart, and a tech geek by education. She has previously worked as a software developer and client partner. However, creating meaningful content is what she likes best. When she's not writing, she's reading. She's also a self-designated casting director - in her head, she casts people for characters in imaginary movies and tv series.

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