Many events wouldn’t be possible without the help and support of sponsors. Perhaps as part of your traditional sponsorship packages, you’ve included signage placements and speaking opportunities. Maybe you’ve even included push notifications through your onsite conference app.
But what about when your event has to be taken virtual? How can you successfully sell sponsorship packages then? What kind of value can you actually give your sponsors?
Below are a few ideas for before and during your virtual event:
Before the event…
Include sponsor logos in all promotional content
This includes your website, emails, newsletter, social media posts, etc. And since most of your promotional content will likely be online (virtual promotion for a virtual event!), include a link back to the sponsor’s website, if possible and where it makes sense. (And don’t forget to tag them on social media too!)
Allow your sponsor(s) to publish a guest post on your blog
If you have a blog, use that as a tool to add sponsor value. Allow your sponsor(s) to publish a guest post, and then share that (or those, depending on how many you have) in your newsletter and on social media. (Tip: Encourage the sponsor to write a thought leadership piece based on their expertise. In other words, try to discourage an all-salesy post. A thoughtful, educational post will perform MUCH better than a sales pitch.)
Encourage and help facilitate virtual appointments
If your in-person events typically involve a vendor marketplace of any kind, try to weave that into your virtual event. Yes, having a full-blown marketplace virtually could be a little tough, but why not encourage and help facilitate one-on-one virtual appointments? Prior to your event, you could send out a one-pager introducing all of your vendors. You could then encourage attendees to make one-on-one appointments. (This could be done survey-style for the sake of simplicity. “Who would you like to meet with?” “What time slots work best for you?”) Appointments wouldn’t need to be long — 5-15 minutes max. And once you have all the meeting requests, you could then share those with your vendor partners and they could be the ones to actually set those meetings up. The real value, though, is helping your attendees and vendors chat in much the same way they would in a traditional expo hall.
During the event…
Display sponsor logos in one or several key slides
If you’re hosting a webinar-style event where attendees are actually viewing some kind of presentation, display your sponsor logos on either one or several key slides. If you have sponsorship levels, that could dictate where and how often those logos show up. For example, if you have a “Gold” or “Premier” sponsor, the company or organization that secures that spot could get “real estate” on the intro and closing slides. All others could be featured on a “Thank you to our sponsors!” slide.
Give shoutouts to your sponsors
At the beginning and end of your event (at the very least) be sure to give a shoutout to your sponsors. Just as you would likely acknowledge them at an in-person event, do the same with your virtual event. And let attendees know how they can learn more about and/or get in touch with your sponsors post-event. (If you have an “About our sponsors” landing page you can direct them to, that’s even better.)
Offer up a “commercial break”
Regardless of the length of your event, try adding in at least one “commercial break,” where your sponsor can jump on as the presenter and talk a little bit more about their company or organization. If this is a day-long event or a multiple-days event, you could have a few different commercial breaks, dividing up your lineup of sessions. But note: Even if you’re having a two-hour virtual event, you can still break it up with a short commercial break. Your attendees might actually find that break refreshing!