Not to start on a “grim” note, but let’s get this straight, and we don’t mean it in a bad way—the event industry will never be the same. It is forever changed after the year and a half we’ve just collectively experienced. The industry we love has been propelled into a digital transformation that may not have happened otherwise. And honestly, while the pandemic was terrible in so many ways, it has helped the event industry take it to the next level. With virtual and hybrid remaining a mainstay for the foreseeable future, if not forever, in-person is taking a backseat and you have to think about how that impacts your event goals and pivot accordingly. Part of this is considering what you need to do to land hybrid event sponsors. A lot of people are struggling to figure out what the balance is and how to leverage event sponsorships in a way that makes money for the increased costs associated with producing a hybrid event.
There are a few things you need to do to ensure you’re landing the hybrid event sponsorships you need to ensure your events are profitable:
Step 1: Listen, Don’t Sell
Don’t tell your sponsors what they need.
ASK them what they need.
And then LISTEN.
Everyone’s business is different. While on the outside you may think you know what they want out of their events, not every company has the same goals. Maybe they want to create 5 meaningful C-Suite connections, and you’re pitching them a sponsorship that’s going to increase their reach on social media. Maybe their goal is to grow their email list by 10,000 subscribers, and you’re pitching them a virtual speaking opportunity with an intimate group. By pitching generic sponsorship ideas without knowing what a sponsor wants, you’re inevitably going to lose them, and lose their investment in your event. So, when you send your killer pitch emails to cold sponsors, ask for a call to have a conversation. Do not try to sell them. If you do, you’re leaving money on the table.
Step 2: Ask the Right Questions
Now, once you have their attention and snag that call (CONGRATS!), this is where the real work begins. Before you hop on the call, prepare! Going into your conversation with your sponsor you need to intimately know their company. You need to know WHY you’re going after them – not just that you want their money. Understand their target audience and how you can connect with them, have a high-level understanding of what they do, have some tidbits of info to pull out that can show you’ve done your research. Then, prep your questions.
The key to cultivating a sponsorship that’s going to be meaningful is asking the right questions in this call. You want to uncover a few things:
- Why they sponsor events – now and historically
- What their goals are when they sponsor an event
- When they typically make sponsorship investment decisions
- What their most successful sponsorship was in the past and why
“WHEN”, “WHAT”, “HOW” & “WHY” Questions
Start with “WHEN”, “WHAT”, “HOW” & “WHY” questions to uncover the historic details you need to close the sale.
To learn when you need to approach them for greater chance of success:
- When do you plan your sponsorship budgets for the year?
To learn what they’re looking for in an opportunity and start brainstorming your offer:
- What was the absolute best activation you’ve participated in, in your opinion, and why?
- What does ROI look for you—is it different when you’re talking virtual activations vs. live activations?
- Why did you decide to sign on with your last large sponsor opportunity?
- What does your mix of live/ virtual sponsorship activations right now, what % are you doing each?
To learn how they connect with their audience and how that relates to what you can offer:
- How does your audience usually engage with your brand?
- What activations do you think would speak to your target audience best based upon where you’ve seen the greatest results in the past?
- What do you want your audience to take away from your virtual or physical space when sponsoring an event?
Start with “IF” to uncover EXACTLY what they want now & in the future.
- If budget and resources weren’t a concern, what would your ideal sponsorship partnership look like?
- If you had to choose between virtual or in-person activations, which would you go for and why—both?
- Or, if there were no limits on technology and creativity, what kind of activation would you create for your brand?
This will help you create a custom, meaningful sponsorship proposal to close the deal.
Step 3: Provide Personalized Memorable Opportunities & Meaningful Connections
So, what types of activations are you going to include to make it meaningful? Here are a few ideas to start with. But we could write a few more blogs on this topic alone! There is so much room for creativity with technology these days. Today, we’re just going to give ideas, subscribe to the blog for more detail in future posts!
In-Person Activation Ideas for Hybrid Events:
- QR Codes
- Interactive Floor Displays
- Gesture-Based Engagements
- C-Suite Cocktail Hours
- One-on-One Media Round Robins
- Facility Tours with CEOs Off-Site
Virtual Activation Ideas for Both Virtual & Hybrid Events
- Branded Promo Emails Sent FROM Event Organizers
- Branded Catering Delivered for Mealtime Participation
- Virtual One-on-One Product Demos
Full Hybrid Activation Ideas for Hybrid Events
- Mixed Reality Holograms & 3-D Projections
- Smartphone-Based Augmented Reality
- Giveaways & Branded Custom Gifting
- Small Hybrid Customer Focus Groups with Virtual & Live Attendees
- Education Delivered Live & Streamed Virtually Simultaneously
- One-on-One 15-Minute Sessions with Prospects
- Keynote Participation
- Sponsored Session Opportunities with Featured Speakers
- Sponsored Training Opportunities
- Product Demonstrations on the Show Floor
Go through this list and pinpoint ideas that you can include in your hybrid sponsorship kit. Then, after your conversation with sponsor prospects, personalize them for results!
Ready to Land Some Hybrid Event Sponsors?
Hybrid is the future of events. And while you need to design your events for attendees separately—sponsorship is different. Your hybrid event sponsorship strategy must be integrated and offer the best of both worlds for sponsors. Selling is officially out. Building meaningful relationships and opportunities is in.
- Sponsors want actionable activations that create connections based upon their unique target audience and business goals
- Static displays are very much ineffective and won’t get you anywhere!
- It’s all about listening and asking the right questions. Then customizing accordingly.
- High-tech activations, touchless opportunities, multimedia engagement is the way to go.
- You need an effective follow-up plan to keep your sponsors engaged year-round.
Keep these points in mind, and you’ll be signing up sponsors for your hybrid event in no time! Want help? Our team is skilled in cultivating six-figure sponsorships, let’s chat.