Virtual sponsorships are a huge topic for associations right now and we’re on fire about it! So, over the next couple of posts, we’re going to cover the pros and cons of virtual events and sponsorships, discuss how to build your virtual sponsorship strategy, building a program, and lastly pricing and selling your new inventory.
The first thing I would like for you to do is to connect with your meeting planning team to understand the virtual event platform, the event agenda, and other pertinent information. You will need to know your limitations and what is possible. Then, take a look at one year of sponsorship data that includes past participation, amount of money they spent, and the types of sponsorship that they opted into. Then evaluate what is possible in terms of pricing, what your partners wanted in the past in terms of deliverables and more.
You’re going to have to adapt your sponsorship inventory and pricing to better fit a virtual event.
The next step is to conduct internal and external team interviews to discuss barriers and opportunities for virtual event sponsorships. If their focus and worry is content delivery, they may not be able to give you the bandwidth to deliver sponsor related promises and you need to know that now. Then, have conversations with your sponsors to learn about the value and the expected return on investment that they may have for your virtual offerings, including what data they interested in.
Data is one of the major benefits of virtual event sponsorship programs that can be delivered to sponsors in larger numbers and the data is better than what they have received in the past walking around or meeting people at a reception.
This is the time to establish expectations for your sponsorship program because it will not be the same as your previous ones.
Gross revenue is going to be smaller, however, the margins may be really good.
Sponsors are going to have a different experience. They’re not going to have the type of face-to-face interaction that they’re used to, however, in many cases the interaction may be better.
To compare a live event to a virtual one is really unfair to both; they each have strengths and weaknesses.
Get ready to go throw your net wider and attract a larger volume of sponsorships and virtual exhibits.
The barrier to entry is much lower. Potential partners can sign up online and “set up” their virtual booth. The ability to attract new partners enables you to broaden your reach. I’m hearing from association executives that they are pulling in folks to their virtual platforms to participate and advertise that they were unable to get previously. Your current and potential partners recognize that there’s more flexibility in a virtual exhibit hall. They don’t have to travel and put up a 10 by 10 booth anymore. They can upload collateral, information, case studies, and video chat sessions and track who visits. No more awkward name tag scanners! This kind of upfront assessment of the platform, its capabilities, and the ability to implement it all in collaboration with your meetings team.
Finally, it is absolutely essential to make sure you’re meeting the expectations of your existing sponsors and that you can deliver what you promise.
I hope this is helpful for you. I think it’s an incredible opportunity. Don’t apologize and say that it’s not going to be as good as your previous in-person events. It’s going to be different and it might be better.