The past year has been crazy for the entire world, especially for the world of events. Due to the current climate and most events going virtual or hybrid, nearly 60% of event profs anticipate their event budgets will be decreasing at least for the time being. But smaller budgets don’t provide an excuse for smaller impact in management’s eyes, right? Smaller event budgets mean there is now a necessity for boldly creative virtual event sponsorship opportunities.
Now, everyone should still offer the basics. We’re talking things like logos plastered all over the event page and mobile app, email blasts to the attendee list, branded registration pages, and session sponsorships. All the usual options many companies will expect regardless of the event format. While these are all critical value offers for sponsors, they usually won’t provide that WOW factor that a sponsor may require to sign on the dotted line. Especially for an upgraded or high-value sponsorship package. If you’re going to take your virtual event sponsorship up a level, you need to create opportunities for engagement between the sponsors and attendees.
What Virtual Event Sponsors Are Searching For?
Unparalleled Value & Unbeatable Connections.
Believe me, I’ve handled over $10 million in sponsorship dollars, I know what sponsors want (and I want to let you in on the secret)!
The two things virtual event sponsors are searching for?
Value and connections.
Sponsors are looking for direct access to your audience—you will hear me say this again and again because it is true and oh so important! With a virtual event sponsorship, that direct access to your audience provides them with value and the opportunity to create connections.
Many virtual event managers are struggling to foster those connections that were so simple to manifest at in-person events. But it’s time to buckle down and figure it out because those high-level sponsors want to see that return on investment come back to them tenfold. They want to glean connections at the C-Suite level, as well as the attendee level. They want to make sure their brand is seen by all attendees, not just a few. I know it can seem super daunting to check all those boxes, but where there’s a will there’s a way. I know you can do it because we’ve done it for our clients and I’m going to share our most successful virtual event sponsorship opportunities with you.
Ideas to Create Valuable Virtual Event Sponsorship Opportunities
Alright, now that we know what sponsors want, let’s talk how to give that to them! Remember, value and connections. How is each one of your virtual sponsorship opportunities going to provide that for them? Over 1/3 of event marketers found it difficult to integrate sponsors into their virtual events. But with these offers you won’t be a part of that statistic—promise!
Virtual Swag Bag
Allow one sponsor to be the sponsor for the entire swag bag. Or you can create a virtual swag bag with offers, discounts, and products from a variety of sponsors. Do you usually provide an AM or PM break on-site? Offer a Grub Hub or DoorDash gift card in your virtual sponsorship bag with a discount on tasty delivery for a break.
Pre-Event Mailing Opportunities
Provide your sponsors with the full mailing list or email list prior to the event. This way they can send a little digital or physical gift to each attendee before kickoff. Whether it’s a t-shirt that says, “I participated in XYZ company’s session at ABC Virtual Conference 2021” or a mug that they can sip some coffee from during an AM session. Then, give sponsors the opportunity to choose one grand prize winner using their gift on camera during the session. It is creating engagement and excitement for attendees and providing value for the sponsor because it’s something attendees will remember.
Ability to Host & Participate in Exclusive Events
Whether it’s a special invite-only micro experience or a larger interactive breakout session that requires registration to capture data, sponsors can lead their own sessions and events within your virtual event. Giving them the opportunity to craft an experience that will benefit them with your attendees is huge—it shows that you want this to be successful for them as well, giving them control of how they promote their business (with reasonable restrictions for your event, of course).
Virtual Scavenger Hunts & Games
Gamification is huge for virtual events! Over 30% of virtual event managers struggle to engage attendees at virtual events, but with fun options like this there is no reason to lack engagement. Allow each sponsor to “host” an area on your virtual event floor that attendees get a stamp for visiting. You can even have one sponsor the grand prize for the scavenger hunt or game winners!
Sponsor “Speed Dating” with Attendees & Execs
Now this will require some buy-in from your C-Suite but it’s oh so worth it because these types of roundtable pairings are what sponsors are going to pay the big bucks for. Networking time with your high-level execs will surely come with some restrictions, but it will also come with a big payday for your event.
Share a Meal
People love meal breaks at conferences. It’s a time to take a step back from learning and make new friends, while greeting old friends too. Use this for engagement during your virtual event and make it fun. Allow a sponsor to sponsor a lunch or dinner event, shipping a meal box or kit from a local caterer for either a pre-prepared meal to heat up and share or something fun like a cooking class experience. Participants want something different, something memorable!
Freemium Offers to Help Both Attendees & Sponsors
How many times have you sat in an airport watching the one-minute Pepsi promo to get free WiFi while you wait for your flight? We’ve all been there. And many of us have been inspired to go buy a Pepsi afterwards because we just watched their ad, right? Use this model for your events. If your event is free or donation-based (80% of virtual event registrations are free), allow attendees to register for their free attendance or upgrade their attendee level ONLY after they’ve watched a message from your sponsor.
Keynote Speaker Opportunity
Allow your headlining sponsors to take the big stage. The keynote is typically the most attended session at an event by default. It’s the final piece of the puzzle to bring it all together. How can you provide your biggest sponsors and partners a thought-leadership position in your keynote? How can you offer them the opportunity to flash their logo across the screen in front of every attendee? Figure this out and you’ll get those signatures on the dotted line, I’m sure of it.
Need Help Leveling Up Your Virtual Event Sponsor Opportunities? Eventistry by Alecia Can Help.
Are you struggling to compile a creative sponsorship media kit? Our team has compiled all our experience and know-how into our 6-Figure Sponsorship Media Kit Template. It’ll help you take out the guesswork and paired with these creative virtual event sponsorship opportunities, you’ll be signing up those big gold sponsors in no time!