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How to Sell Sponsorships for Virtual Events

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Virtual events are a largely untapped opportunity for selling ad placement. As marketers feel a growing demand from management to demonstrate an ROI, sponsorship of physical events have come into question given how hard it can be to measure success. The world of virtual events solves that problem. This opens up the door to raise even more money from sponsorships and ad placements in the virtual world while providing concrete evidence on the ROI to your sponsors. Here are some tips and tricks on how to maximize the revenue you generate while selling ad placement for virtual events.

Placement and Appropriate Targeting

The first step is to assess your audience and placement opportunities. A great way to get started is to build a sponsorship package. The act of building the sponsorship package document will help you in your messaging for potential sponsors and all provide something concrete to put in the potential sponsor's inbox. Consider the reach of your audience and attendees, is it very narrow? If so, be wary of reaching too far beyond the breadth of the industry this event is serving. This does not mean less revenue, knowing that they will be able to target a very specific group of people will make sponsors more eager to work with you and sponsor this event at top dollar. Pro Tip: Reminder your sponsors about how targeted your audience is. Advertisers are used to casting a wide net and hoping that something sticks. Although this shotgun approach can work, it doesn’t build the same authentic relationship and affinity that an event can bring.If your event is reaching a more broad audience, then you can consider expanding your search. This does not mean taking money from anyone you can, try to keep sponsorships in the general realm of your conference or trade show topic. That being said, remind your sponsors that they are going to have the opportunity to market directly into your attendee's home offices, during an event they are paying to “attend”. This is akin to running ads before a movie. Keep in mind that you still want to be sensitive to your audience’s patience and willingness to get all these ads run at them. Poor placement and timing or over-saturation will lead to a negative interaction from your attendees and a bad feeling towards these sponsors and your event in general. When it comes to creating your sponsorship packages, get creative. Some of our favorite ideas include:

  • Have a sponsor who funds an Uber Eats gift card for all attendees so they can enjoy lunch during the virtual event. I don’t know about you, but this is something I would definitely remember and tell others about.
  • Allow sponsors to cover the cost of attendees' virtual tickets in exchange for access to their contact information.

Maximizing Revenue from Sponsors in the Virtual World

Consider your current sponsorship tiers and how they can be refitted to serve a virtual world. Having an actual plan to transition instead of just selling the same package will make your sponsors feel as though they are getting more bang for their buck and this event will produce some real ROI. One idea that has been gaining traction for virtual events is offering the option to the attendee to pay the normal registration fee or provide more information about themselves that would be valuable to the sponsor for free entry. Messaging like “free admission, thanks to XYZ sponsor” can be powerful. Don’t forget to utilize the space on your event landing page as well as in your confirmation emails to attendees. When using confirmation emails to deliver sponsor messaging to attendees, keep in mind that every single attendee gets this, and they get it again if you send out a reconfirmation the day before or morning of your event. This is a high-touch placement, delivered right into your attendee's inbox via an email they are not only looking for but need!

Finding Sponsors

  • Outlining your audience segments can be helpful in selling sponsorships. If you have done your event before this can be an easier task, if not look at similar conferences in your space and the makeup of the audience.
  • Speaking of looking at similar events, take a look at the sponsor page and reach out to them directly with your pitch. These sponsors are itching to get in front of the qualified audience that conferences bring in, and will love that your event is still happening instead of getting postponed!
  • Think outside the box! Let's say for example you are hosting a conference on virtual conferences, of course, Zoom would be a great sponsor, but what about Turtle Beach? They make top-notch headsets that will come in handy for virtual sessions.

In conclusion, the ball is in the event holders' court. It is a seller’s market when it comes to getting the backing your conference needs. You have the arena, you’re bringing them the specific audience, and now especially you are forging ahead with your event - allowing these sponsors to continue to do business. Therein lies your value prop and why if done right, you should be able to gain more revenue for and from sponsors this year than ever before!

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