There are plenty of things to think about if you’re going all in on an upcoming event — especially if it’s digital. Top of the order: who can help? Turns out, there are plenty of reasons to look outside your organization and secure or get a sponsor for your next big virtual event.
Sponsorship partnerships create tons of benefits for both parties. The sponsor can get extra exposure for their brand, plus the opportunity to speak directly to an audience with aligned wants and needs.
And, as the host, bringing a sponsor into the fold can help to strengthen your business relationship with that organization. You can also add a new dimension to your content strategy and even raise money to help plan and execute a winning digital experience.
So, we know that getting a sponsor on board can boost the credibility and reach of your virtual event. But still, questions remain.
For example, how do you go about finding the right partner? Where are your potential sponsors likely to be? And how can you build an attractive sponsorship package that will make it difficult to say ‘no’ to your opportunity?
We’ll set about answering these questions and many more in this useful guide to finding and securing the right sponsor for your next virtual conference, symposium or big-ticket event.
Get Clarity on what you want to achieve from your event
You should always start by setting clear and realistic goals for your virtual experience. This is a particularly important step in the process of putting together an event sponsorship offering because the company you eventually partner with will need to share your vision and have similar objectives.
What kind of event you’re going to produce
Are you plotting a full-scale conference, or would you rather host a more intimate affair with plenty of options for Q&As? Your future sponsor will want insights into your event format to see how many opportunities they will have to promote their brand and share their expertise.
What the key takeaway will be
Do you want to give your guests a greater understanding of your products and services, or are you looking for tangible leads? Either way, you’ll need to make sure your event sponsor is aware of what they and your audiences can expect to get from the session.
How you’re going to set your event apart from other webinars, simulives or livestreams on a similar topic
Your preferred sponsor may have already been approached by another host who is planning a presentation or seminar with a related theme. What can you offer that other event organizers can’t?
For example, can you include more in-app features on the day that help to engage attendees? Will your platform enable you to collect, analyze and share the behavioral data generated from the event to prove that you’ve achieved what you set out to do?
You may also find it useful to carry out a SWOT analysis of your virtual event program to date. Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your approach can help you determine which gaps need to be filled — and, crucially, which brands might be able to fill them for you.
Reach out to the brands that you believe are the best fit
Avoid a scattergun approach. Talking to companies that don’t align with your values, or can’t enhance what you can offer, will only waste your time (and theirs).
Instead, create a shortlist of between 5 and 10 brands that will align with your message, add value to your content, and be appreciated by your audience for their skills, experience, professional achievements or overall market presence.
Remember: some of these brands may be existing customers or suppliers while others may not know of you yet.
Utilize event sponsorship tools
You may already have a good idea of your dream sponsor. You could send tailored messages to every potential partner — and there’s no harm in taking this more personalized route to start the conversation — but you can speed up the pitch process with a few tools like SponsorPitch and SponsorMyEvent.
These apps can often provide information on the other partnerships your potential sponsors are engaged in. If you don’t want to be linked with a particular brand, even at the second degree, you can immediately cross that company off your list.
Get On A Call
Email communications can work — but for the best results, get in front of your potential virtual event sponsor so you can run the opportunity past them in full. During the call, you’ll need to discuss:
- What will your agenda entail
- Which other companies or brands are involved (if this applies)
- What your sponsor’s goals might be for the partnership
- What your sponsor can expect to gain from the event – but make it clear that you’ll be open to ideas and negotiations as planning unfolds
- What you’re expecting from your sponsors in return for the exposure
- Which KPIs you both want to use to measure event success
- Any challenges your potential sponsor has faced in the past when supporting similar events – and how you will combat them
Get your prospect excited about the opportunity by encouraging an open, two-way discussion that focuses on the benefits of sponsoring your virtual event — not just what the event itself will look like.
Make sure you save enough time to answer questions and get the prospect’s feedback on your virtual event sponsorship ideas. You might even want to research your decision-maker online before the call so you can get a feel for their personality and their experience with sponsorship schemes to date.
If it’s a “no for now,” it’s onto the next.
Decide how to integrate your sponsors into your virtual event
You’ve hooked in your event sponsor, and it’s time to put together an irresistible sponsorship package.
Ultimately, your sponsors want value. You must ensure they get what they need from your partnership. Generally, brands will want to achieve three things from your event:
- Greater brand awareness
- Actionable audience insights
- Better audience engagement
Once you’ve determined which of these goals is most important to your partner, put some options on the table in an official sponsorship proposal, which should also contain information on your audience demographics.
In this proposal, you should include how many people you expect to attend the event; testimonials from past sponsors; and any statistics on the returns past sponsors have received from your events.
Need some inspiration? You could ask your sponsor to:
- Host a keynote talk or presentation
- Run a seminar
- Take part in an interview
- Take part in a Q&A round
- Host an in-event or pre-event seminar
- Promote your event in email newsletters or across their social media accounts
Film promotional or behind-the-scenes videos in the run-up to the event to generate further interest and encourage sign-ups
You may also want to:
- Create a dedicated landing page or blog post on your website to help promote your sponsor’s brand
- Include tailored, branded content from your sponsor in your event’s content hub
- Include your sponsor’s branding in your virtual event’s template
- Run an exclusive special offer for attendees on your sponsor’s behalf
- Agree to send a list of all registrants and attendees to your sponsor after the event
- Agree to send on further insights into how attendees reacted to the event
One of the best ways to get a sponsor for an event is to provide a series of tiered packages for them to choose from. For example, you can create Bronze, Silver and Gold proposals with features and benefits at different price points.
The tips listed here should help you save valuable time and resources when it comes to finding sponsorship for virtual events, not to mention help you create long-lasting relationships with the brands that matter to your organization. For more best practice guides, marketing playbooks and customer case studies, check out our Resources.