As more organizers make the leap to virtual and hybrid events, some sponsors are (rightfully) worried about how they’ll generate value online.
Just as you have had to learn a lot in a short time, your sponsors are also unsure of how a virtual sponsorship will help them achieve their goals.
Our founder Ville Vanhala recently made a great post about why virtual sponsorships are potentially more valuable than physical sponsorships, which I invite you to read here.
However, today I will discuss something different: why organizations sponsor events, and how you can create great packages by understanding what they hope to achieve.
These are important questions, especially if you include digital opportunities in your prospectus.
Why sponsor an event?
Unsurprisingly, all the reasons why an organization would sponsor your event relate to business goals.
They can be tangible (like increased sales) or intangible (brand awareness and goodwill).
However, all these goals have one thing in common: your audience.
From generating new business to improving perception, your unique audience is your biggest draw for them.
Here are the most common reasons why organizations sponsor events.
- Targeted marketing
- Audience insights
- Efficient lead generation
- Sales goals
- Business relationships
- Consumer perception
However, the most valuable reason is certainly to drive more sales.
You can drastically improve the results of your sponsorships by ensuring you can deliver qualified leads to sponsors, not just views on ads or live streams.
And virtual events allow you to report on relevant metrics for sponsors, like booth traffic, meeting reports and more.
So who makes the decision?
Typically, you should target the marketing departments. They have the budget and are responsible for how the company is presented, especially in larger organizations.
They are also responsible for "feeding" their sales team with leads, and a CMO’s success in a large corporation is determined by how many leads they deliver to sales.
Also, a decision to sponsor isn’t always a company-wide matter. Often, the marketing team is the sole decision maker when it comes to sponsoring an event. That makes the process easier for you.
What do they need to know?
First of all, you should know that budget is not an issue (for most marketers).
The majority of marketing budgets are not shrinking, but instead shifting to more digital areas, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.
Also, they are constantly under pressure to prove actual results from their campaigns and not estimates.
So whenever possible, back up your sponsorship proposals with data and clear information on how you will get that data.
So what kind of questions should you be prepared for?
1. What is the target market for this event?
This is the most obvious, and should be the easiest to answer. It helps if you do your own research beforehand and understand the type of market they would like to approach.
So have an intimate understanding of your audience, their preferences and attributes, and you’ll be able to answer this question.
And if the market doesn’t fit, don’t worry. You want to get the right sponsors, and that starts with an audience fit.
2. What kind of exposure do I get for my investment?
This is an important question, but not for all sponsors. Some sponsors are more interested in how they appear, so they’ll want more exposure than a sponsor purely interested in quantifiable results.
So be prepared to answer what their investment gives them in terms of exposure, as well as stats (or estimates) on different exposure points.
And when offering virtual exposure, remember that you can generate continuous exposure post-event through hosting your recorded livestream (commonly called a video on demand, or VoD) and resharing of event content.
3. Can I get the same exposure without investing into this event?
This is a question that you have to answer implicitly, and the answers will come from the two questions above. Mostly, it comes down to the audience, which is your biggest draw of your event.
Sponsors love having access to a specific audience that they couldn’t access anywhere else, so make sure you emphasize that fact.
In fact, the reason why your audience is so powerful is because of their interests, but also because of their participation in your event.
Your event is like a digital marketplace, simply because more decision makers often come to events and the purchase intent is higher.
So not only can they get a similar amount of exposure as through a digital marketing campaign, for example, but they can see higher returns because the audience is more willing to listen to their message and buy because of it.
4. Do I get direct access to the audience?
With such a valuable opportunity at hand, your sponsors will be anxious to make the most of it.
There are some factors to consider when giving your sponsors direct access to the audience, and you must make the best choice depending on your audience and event.
However, one simple way to enable this in a smooth manner is to use event networking software to facilitate connections between your sponsors and attendees.
This works incredibly well because of how attendees are matched with each other. You can set up interests that help filter the relevant people, meaning your sponsors don’t need to send meeting requests wildly – they’ll know exactly who is interested in their offerings.
This is a really simple way to facilitate direct access to the audience in a smooth and gentle manner.
5. Which business goal will this investment help me complete?
Sponsors may have differing business goals, so it’s your job to understand what they hope to achieve and offer a sponsorship package relevant to them.
As mentioned, some sponsors will be more interested in exposure and positioning than actual results, while others will look solely at the return on their investment.
And don’t expect them to be happy with a 1:1 return – they’ll demand more.
By understanding which business goal they hope to achieve – commonly brand awareness or lead generation – you can provide them with a sponsorship proposal that will ensure they achieve their goals.
6. Who are previous sponsors & current sponsors?
Your other sponsors will be interested in who is there, as it will give them a glimmer into the position of your event.
And if they hear some competitors participating, that could turn a maybe into a definite yes.
In any case, they’ll want to know who has sponsored your event before and who is sponsoring it now, to understand who they may have to compete with.
It also helps to have stats on performance from your previous events, to give them a better understanding of the results former sponsors achieved.
So how can I support my sponsors’ goals?
One of the simplest ways to help support your sponsors is by giving them a solid platform to commit to virtually.
For example, our virtual event platform has many relevant features that sponsors appreciate, like:
- Data collection and traffic analysis
- Face time with qualified prospects, virtually or in-person
- Interest filters to understand who is searching for their solutions
- Matchmaking data
All this can help them achieve 2:1, 3:1 or greater return on investment (ROI).
And if you struggle with offering effective sponsorship packages to sponsors, we have a guide on monetizing virtual events.
In it are clear examples of the revenue channels for both you and your sponsors.