7 Ideas for Virtual Event Sponsorship

Provide real value and boost your event sponsor’s ROI by using these tactics at your next virtual event

Categories in News & Features, Tips, Virtual Events

The global shift to virtual events has come with a number of benefits. While event planners are working hard to recreate the magic of in-person gatherings, organizations and communities who hosted virtual events in 2020 have been able to reach wider audiences, scale down organizational costs, and gained a more nuanced understanding of their audiences through analyzing the data abundantly available in digital interactions.

The pivot to virtual also comes with many challenges, namely: keeping attendees engaged in a virtual setting; a lack of knowledge about event technology, and creating valuable sponsorship opportunities.

In this piece, we will tackle the sponsorship challenge.

As event planners you know that securing great sponsors can often mean the difference between delivering a successful event and a failure. After all, the right sponsors can both lend legitimacy to your event and give you the financial support you need to improve the participant experience.

Creating valuable sponsorship opportunities is not only a key factor for the success of an event, it will also be essential for the long term viability of virtual events. 

This is where the good news comes in! 

The virtual context has the potential to offer even more value to organizations you partner with: with virtual and hybrid events, sponsors can reach wider and bigger audiences AND have multiple touch points with participants as virtual events move into a recurring (multiple times a year) or ongoing (24/7/365 days event platform) models. 

Before we dive into how to create valuable sponsorship opportunities, we first need to define what value your event can offer to your sponsors.

What value can you offer your sponsors?

At e180, we approach all the work we do and the services we offer from a design thinking perspective. This means, our solutions are guided by the desire to first and foremost understand the end-user.

What this means: when it comes to sponsors, we start by asking the questions: What’s in it for them? What are their objectives? What value are they hoping to gain from an event?

The best sponsorship packages are ones that can be personalized to a sponsor’s unique needs. So, instead of offering a one-size-fits-all package to all your sponsors, consider hosting a brainstorming session where you and your sponsor co-create the sponsorship package.

Not only will this process help nurture your relationship with interested sponsors, it will also lead to you creating an innovative and thoughtful agreement that satisfies both your goals and objectives. 

Your sponsorship package should offer value in terms of the three most common objectives tied to sponsor ROI:

  • Brand awareness: increasing your sponsor’s reach and familiarizing your event participants with your sponsor’s brand and the services/products they offer 
  • Direct audience engagement: including points of communication and engagement between your participants and sponsors in your event program
  • Business development: helping your sponsors with their lead generation objectives or assisting them in meeting other objectives related to their business growth plans.

The ideas and tactics in the following section are a mix of great ideas that will inspire you to create a sponsorship package that both you and your  sponsors can feel excited about!

Ideas and tactics for virtual sponsorship that will drive revenue

1. Give your sponsor visibility in your event platform

Providing visibility to your sponsors is the low hanging fruit of your sponsorship package. Make this proposition sweeter by giving their brand visibility in the prime real estate of the event platform you’re using. 

Add to this value by creating a visual link and association between their brand and the high value experience you’re providing for your participants. 

In the Braindate platform, we offer sponsors several options for in-app visibility in prime platform real estate. The true value of these visibility assets goes beyond brand awareness: it positions our sponsors as true champions of knowledge learning who have made it possible for participants at the event to have valuable conversations, and form lasting relationships.

Value proposition: Brand awareness

2. Give your sponsor visibility in your event communications

A great way to give your sponsor visibility is to include their brand in key pieces of event communications. 

As part of a Braindate experience, we have regular touchpoints with our participants. These include emails that contain important information that Braindate participants need to prepare for the experience. As part of our sponsorship package, we offer our sponsors the chance to be spotlighted in these emails.

Remember, it is much more impactful to give your sponsor visibility in an email that you know participants will read than in 20 emails that will go unopened. 

Value proposition: Brand awareness

3. Position your sponsors as thought-leaders and experts

Virtual events are a great opportunity to showcase the expertise of your sponsors. There are many opportunities for your sponsors to connect with your participants by hosting panel discussions, or workshops where they can share their knowledge. 

The Braindate platform offers a truly unique unique way to position to position sponsors as thought leaders, 

Sponsors can strategically create and/or curate content, in the form of braindate topics, that highlights their team’s expertise and interests. They can use these topics to position their team as subject experts who care for their community by sharing their valuable knowledge.

By hosting braindates various members of the sponsor’s team can have valuable one-on-one and group discussions with event participants. 

Value proposition: Direct audience engagement; Business development

4. Offer your sponsors real participant insights

A big advantage of the virtual setting is event planners’ ability to understand participants and their needs on a much more granular level. 

Event technology platforms have the advantage of being able to gather valuable data on event participants. This data contains valuable insights on participant behaviour, motivation and desires. 

These insights can be of great value to your sponsors as it can help them craft more relevant, targeted and personalized sponsor messaging. Further, if your sponsor plans to organize an event, the insights you provide can help them craft a more thoughtful and engaging event experience.

As part of our sponsorship package, we offer sponsors insights on their chosen area of focus (top topics event participants want to learn about; types of connections made at the event, etc) by using our trademarked Braindate analytics.

* please note that we are not recommending sharing participant data without their consent.

Value proposition: Business development

5. Give your sponsors other value offers

What are other value offers that could help your sponsors achieve their objectives at your event?

Some ideas include: 

  • Offering tickets to your event or other relevant events to your sponsors 
  • Inviting your sponsors to VIP sessions
  • Referring leads or introducing your sponsors to members of your network who might be of interest to them
  • Offering to create a session, a workshop or a braindate topic that specifically caters to the sponsor’s learning objectives

The goal is for you to get creative, and think of out-of-the-box for ideas that could add value to your sponsorship package. 

Value proposition: Business development

6. Give your sponsor the opportunity to offer gated content through your event platform or website

At the Hybrid Revolution Summit, the organizer EventMB, created an ebook based on the event content and offered it as a downloadable PDF after the event was over. 

This was a great engagement tactic, not only because it captured knowledge from the high-value discussions that took place at the event, it was also a powerful method of collecting leads.

As part of your sponsorship package, you can give your sponsor the opportunity to post their thought leadership piece as gated content on your event website and/or platform. This will be a great way for your sponsor to collect potential leads and showcase their expertise. 

Value proposition: Direct audience engagement; Business development

7. Offer your sponsor the opportunity to give back by organizing donations

We found this great idea in Socio’s guide to virtual event sponsorship. As Corey McCarthy from Socio writes, “your virtual event has the opportunity to create an authentic moment.” She suggests that your “‘giving sponsor’ can present the organization or cause and pledge to match attendee donations.”

While there are many ways in which your sponsor can facilitate a collective experience (by sponsoring a cooking class, or a guided meditation session), it is far more impactful (for both the event organizer and their sponsor) to give your attendees the opportunity to support and give back to a cause that they feel strongly about. 

This a powerful way for your sponsor to showcase their values as a company and create an authentic moment of connection with the event participants. 

Value proposition: Brand awareness

Great sponsorship is not passive

In an article for PCMA Convene, Dave Lutz of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting writes, “sponsorship is the most powerful form of marketing. When done well, sponsorship can change participants’ attitudes and behaviors about a brand.” 

Lutz sees “effective sponsorship activations” as being active experiences that event participants can opt into, actively engage with, and ultimately find worthy of their time. 

In offering sponsorship opportunities, it is the planner’s responsibility to help their sponsors do exactly that: to create an experience that is valuable and relevant to your attendees, and ultimately link that experience with the high value of your sponsor’s products and services. 

The ideas listed above will help you create virtual event sponsorship opportunities that go beyond simply offering visibility. They are thoughtful tactics that you can use to create an agreement that both you and your sponsor can derive value from, and most importantly, get excited about! 

***

Have other great ideas? Tweet them at us at @e180!

Want to learn more about how to sponsor a Braindate event? Get in touch with us!