10 Ways to Win and Retain Sponsors for Your Virtual Event

Gayatri Poswal
• June 22, 2020
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O

ne of the key ingredients to a successful event is most definitely a great sponsor. You’d agree when we say, sponsorship is a strategic partnership. It offers the monetary support needed by the organisers while providing exposure to the sponsors’ brand very effectively. It’s a win for organisers and sponsors.

Corporate managers constantly seek innovative ways to attract and retain virtual event sponsors.

Today, technology is progressing fast and offers new opportunities and numerous ways for organisers, sponsors, and attendees to virtually interact. Sponsors no longer want mere exposure and hospitality bonuses but are now partnering with organisers to find interactive ways to connect with their attendees.

sponsorhip benefits
Image source - Classy.org

Table of Contents

Steps to win and retain sponsors

Here is a check list to guide you on finding sponsors online, winning sponsorships, and creating long-lasting relationships with them.

Craft an ‘Unique Selling Proposition’

Prepare: the virtual event sponsorship proposition like selling a product or service because the underlying idea is the same. Draft a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) to the potential sponsors, which is a concise statement that outlines:

It might feel overwhelming at first, but ideally, this USP should be short and should be the initial communication with potential sponsors.

Find the virtual event sponsorship proposal template here

Showcase a professional and clean brand image

The sponsors will evaluate you first by checking your website, reviews, and social media presence, to know if you are legitimate and popular, so be prepared for it. Check your website thoroughly for any broken links, page errors, redirections, etc. 

Think from their perspective, what would they want you to have because they will be aligning their brand image with yours. It’s worth it to spend some money and time to make your brand look professional before you reach out to sponsors.

Identify and enumerate the offerings that would interest potential sponsors

As you progress and get more clarity, start to define the specific things you can offer to the sponsors by providing more details like:

  • The size and the kind of audience
  • Stats and engagement analytics from your previous events
  • Live presentation opportunities
  • Logo placements on standees, signage, brochure, etc.
  • Online marketing (Website, Email, Social media marketing)
  • Offerings to sponsors – Explore digital swag alternatives instead of traditional ones. Think of some templates, GIFs, and other valuable takeaways.

 

Choose a platform that offers a format to effectively showcase your sponsors, offer exhibitor booths, venue customisations and get sponsorships easily.

Read more about the Airmeet pricing and plans here

Create a list of targeted prospects that align with your USP

Create categories of prospective sponsors and specific industries interested, based on verticals, demographics or products. Prepare an excel or CRM to manage the researched information.

Image source - Classy.org

Initially connect through email and social media, not calls

You might think a call is more personal and effective, but most sponsors prefer that the first contact be online so they can do their homework before talking about it. Many corporate planners reach out to potential sponsors via social media because it is more casual and less intrusive.

Make your approach personal, direct, and concise

Make your approach personal, and let the business know why you chose to reach out to them specifically. If you spend time crafting a message specifically for the company, they will also spend time evaluating your request. When you contact a potential sponsor, be direct, concise, and provide them with the requisite information. 

Read How to Write a Winning Event Sponsorship Proposal

Convince the sponsor of your marketing campaign and know their interest

Once the conversation begins, focus on KPIs that resonate with the prospect. Try to get a clear idea of what the sponsors are expecting from the event and tell them how their investment will pay off by giving them more information about the audience and their influence. 

Communicate to potential online sponsors details about the event’s marketing campaign like pay-per-click ads, search engine optimisation, magazine ads, and online banner campaigns. Show them, instead of telling them. 

Also, incorporate social media channels for live streaming of your event like Airmeet offers live streaming on platforms like YouTube and Facebook to reach a wider audience. 

Read Create a killer marketing plan for your event

Customize online event sponsorship packages

You may customise your pitch and negotiate based on each event sponsor’s particular needs. One size fits all doesn’t work. Find out how you can relate it to their line of business, and check out their plans. Once the agreement is done, prepare a detailed document so that there are no disagreements later. Clarify how they will be featured or promoted during the event, on social media, and through links from your website or event signage.

Virtual event sponsorship package example - Credit www.constructionleadersclub.com

Maintain a relationship with the sponsor

Keep your promises and commitment detailed in your online sponsorship agreement. Make sure sponsors are involved and apprised throughout the process. They are your clients as well as your partners because a successful event benefits you both. Share hard ROI data after the event. 

There are various ways to measure return-on-investment (ROI) for every virtual event. These can include the headcount, influencer attendance/outreach, social media mentions, attendee survey data (based on satisfaction, pre/post awareness, etc.), new/old website visitors, revenues generated, donations, leads, sales, and many more.

Post-event: appreciate their online event sponsorship

Upload your sessions to a video management platform embedding the links on your website, and share them with your sponsors. Consider gating this content to continue driving leads even after your virtual event is over. Appreciate their participation and connect with them for any questions or feedback. 

The key to retaining event sponsors is to deliver what you have promised and foster an ongoing relationship even after the event is over.

Effective Virtual Event Sponsorship Package Examples

If you are looking for some inspiration, here are some creative sponsorship package examples that were done right –

Railsconf  :

 It is a flagship event of the Ruby on Rails community and the place for product launches, announcements, and networking. It is held annually, and this year it was hosted virtually.

Railsconf

Here is something interesting that their sponsorship prospectus included-

Railsconf benefits
Image source - railsconf.com

Take a look at their tiered package and benefits, which even offers recruitment opportunities for the sponsors. 

sponsor levels and benefits
Image source - railsconf.com

AWS Public Sector Summit Online 2021  :

As per their website, “AWS Public Sector Summit Online (PSSO) is a virtual event that brings the cloud computing community together to connect, collaborate, and learn about AWS. “Our Summit attracts leading technologists from Government, Healthcare and Education who want to discover how AWS can help them innovate quickly and deliver flexible, reliable solutions at scale.”

Take a look at their event USP here-

AWS Cloud
awscloud.com

They have also shared their sponsorship package details, offering excellent opportunities like “Lead Generation” and “Speaking opportunity” to win sponsors. 

Image source - awscloud.com

The detailed event webpage also highlights the “what you need to know before sponsoring” and “Steps to become an AWS Summit Sponsor”, which leaves no question unanswered.

Alliance Virtual 2021:

The virtual conference, held in March 2021, allowed learning and networking with experts and innovators from higher ed and public sector communities globally.

Its highest sponsorship package was a complete sell-out, which offered –

alliance virtual
Image source - https://www.alliance-conference.com/

It also offered an opportunity for add-ons to the sponsors, which we thought is a great way to offer more value at additional cost.

Virtual event sponsorship ideas

There are valuable sponsorship revenue opportunities for virtual events available, for pre, during and post-event. Everybody loves swag and gifts. You can send out branded swags to your attendees prior to the event. You can even advertise your sponsors on your social media, feature guest blog posts on your event page and even offer a free demo of the sponsor’s service/ product to the registrants.

Read Virtual event gift ideas to make your next virtual event a success

During the event, you can offer branding opportunities to your sponsors. A few virtual event sponsorship ideas include adding their logo in the networking or waiting lounge. You can play recorded video before sessions.

You can offer virtual booths to your sponsors, which they can completely customise as per their branding requirements. A few poll questions related to your sponsor and session moderator from the sponsors are ideas that always work. You can also sell banner space on your live stream presentation to your sponsors.

Post the event, don’t overlook your sponsors. You want to regularly engage them in order to retain them for the long haul. Give them a shoutout in the post-event success videos and feature them in articles.

FAQ

The first step to get sponsors is to understand why a company might be interested in virtual event sponsorship and list down its benefits. As the next step, you should define the sponsorship criteria to ensure a match between your partner and your event vision. To find virtual event sponsorship companies, you should research companies that have sponsored similar events in the past. Also, use online tools like SponsorMyEvent and SponsorPitch to connect with potential partners.

Here are some valuable ideas to win sponsors –

  • Exhibition booth
  • Banner ads
  • Sponsored sessions
  • Featured guest blog posts
  • Social media marketing
  • Swag bags
  • Email marketing
  • Networking lounge or breakout session branding
A few of the benefits of online event sponsorship include –
  • Direct audience insights and interaction
  • Lead generation
  • Brand building
  • ROI
  • Increase market share
  • Networking

To provide value to your sponsors, you should offer different event sponsorship levels, with each tier offering a different set of benefits. Then think creatively to provide distinct sponsorship opportunities like branded swag and sponsored sessions.
Here is an example to trigger your creativity –

sponsorship package checklist

The common types of online event sponsorship types include-

  • Financial sponsors
  • In-kind sponsors
  • Media sponsors
  • Promotional sponsors
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