Do you want more business sponsors for your association’s online events?
Associations that host online events like webinars, workshops and conferences often generate more revenue from sponsorships than from registrations. In fact, sponsorship dollars make up a critical revenue stream for developing the event. However, finding and securing event sponsors is no easy task.
Why is it so challenging to secure sponsors for online events?
Minimal return on investment.
In a recent iCohere Academy training, we shared how associations can grow sponsorship revenue by improving the return on investment for sponsors and to do by this tying sponsorship opportunities to the sponsor’s marketing dollars.
Why would we want to tie our sponsorship programs to marketing dollars?
The businesses you want to sponsor your events have marketing budgets, and within those budgets, they’ve allocated some funding toward event sponsorships. As a result, a company’s marketing budget far exceeds its event sponsorship budget. By creating event sponsorships that support the goals of the company’s overall marketing plan, you open your association up to more sponsorship dollars and stronger sponsorship partnerships.
What Return on Investment do event sponsors expect?
Think like a marketer!
From a marketing perspective, we need to consider tactics that are measurable and impactful. Our goals should be to provide businesses the opportunity to:
- Generate qualified leads with a high potential for conversion.
- Interact with ideal prospects to build relationships.
- Demonstrate their product or service to a target market.
- Strengthen brand awareness about the company, and place them top-of-mind with a target audience.
- And most importantly, impact sales revenue.
Keys to developing successful event sponsorship opportunities
Even though we have identified the top measurable and meaningful benefits our sponsorship package should provide, it’s important to remember that each sponsor will also have marketing goals specific to their business. This is why sponsorship levels and benefits should not be a one-size-fits-all. In the one-size-fits-all scenario, your organization could be missing out, because prospective sponsors may review your promotional benefits and find that none fit their marketing or business goals.
Here’s where it goes terribly wrong…
Most often, associations mistakenly develop sponsor packages and levels to fit their own revenue goals. Instead, the levels should be designed to fit the goals of the sponsor’s business. To be successful, your sponsorship sales strategy should vary for each prospective sponsor. During your discussions with sponsors, think about designing sponsorship levels that meet the following criteria:
Long-term – Consider opportunities that connect sponsors with your audience for the year, not just the event.
Flexibility and customization – Customize packages to fit sponsor needs and pricing.
Proof of ROI – Prove the value of sponsorship dollars using analytics and data.
So what are the key marketing tactics we should consider?
Using a strategic marketing approach called Engagement Marketing, we can help sponsors generate high-converting leads, interact with prospects, demonstrate their products, and impact sales revenue.
Engagement Marketing is a strategy that directly engages the event attendees to invite and encourage them to participate in the sponsor’s brand experience. When you incorporate engagement marketing into your sponsorship benefits, you’re speaking their marketing language!
Because much of the content used in Engagement Marketing is developed and provided by the sponsor, it demonstrates the expertise of the sponsor, and shows the event attendees the benefits they will receive from attending the event.
Modern ideas for sponsor-driven engagement marketing
As you determine what engagement marketing opportunities your business can offer, remember to look for ways that help your sponsors reach their marketing goals.
Here is a look at the top forms of engagement marketing for an online event:
- Event Welcome – Sponsors can serve as facilitators for the Event Welcome, providing attendees with assistance, and on-topic content like eBooks, guides, and videos.
- Virtual Event Bag – Event bags have a high open rate of 70-75% on average. People naturally want to see what’s in there. This tactic provides the best opportunity for sponsors to demonstrate their product or service.
- Exhibit Hall – The exhibit hall can be set up as a gateway for the online event and drive visitors to the sponsor’s virtual exhibit.
- Content Marketing – Content marketing that is developed by sponsors serves as a bridge to bring event attendees straight to the sponsor’s product or service.
- Experiential Marketing – Sponsors can make deep connections with the audience when they can provide opportunities for attendees to immerse themselves in the event. This might be through a test-drive of the sponsor’s product or service, free subscription to an online community or microsite, or the event’s mobile App.
- Event Facilitation – Sponsors can quickly establish connections with attendees by serving as event moderators, chat facilitators, help desk volunteers, or registration volunteers. These roles put sponsors in contact with the greatest number of attendees.
Find more ideas in this article featuring tips from fundraising experts.
The tools you need to grow online event sponsorships
If you like the idea of Engagement Marketing, here’s some good news. The iCohere Academy is adding a Marketing Toolkit for Online Events to its Meetings Without Walls course. The kit is free to registrants and includes step-by-step instructions, marketing templates, a content calendar, and a planning timeline for marketing online events. We are also including a section dedicated to securing event sponsors with a focus on engagement marketing. Plus, a customizable sponsorship media kit to reach your ideal sponsors.
Whether you are planning your first event or looking to expand your online offerings, the Meetings Without Walls course provides all the training and resources you need. Grow your program from webinars, to online courses, to 100% virtual conferences. Earn both CAE and CMP hours and your Certified Virtual Events Producer™ (CVEP) certificate. Learn more about the online course here.
Spring Semester Student Testimonial:
“The idea of hybrid conferences didn’t really cross my mind before participating in this series. So much great info to work into our upcoming conferences!”