Virtual Expo sponsor

How to Plan Your Virtual Expo with Sponsorships

While virtual events have taken on a life of their own, organizers are still experimenting with ways to generate the same kind of revenue they did with live events. Finding top-notch sponsors to help fund your virtual expo is crucial for optimizing ROI, as well as your participants’ experience. But how do you adapt sponsorship opportunities for virtual events?

Sponsorship opportunities

Related: Producing the Perfect Hybrid Event

Benefits of Sponsorship at Events

To win over top-tier sponsors, you need to figure out what they need and value most. Often, sponsors are looking for brand exposure, networking, and lead generation. But many sponsors are seeking benefits beyond generating leads or sales, such as gathering important feedback about the products or services they are currently developing.

Start by asking yourself what your ideal sponsors are aiming to achieve by investing in your event? Better yet, ask them. Then brainstorm all the ways you could create opportunities before, during, and after your event that would most benefit your sponsors and curate your packages accordingly. 

 7 Tips for Creating Sponsorships

Creating packages that will benefit your sponsors in a virtual environment requires strategic and holistic thinking. Here are 7 tips for attracting the best sponsorships for your virtual event.

  1. What Do You Want to Achieve with Sponsorships? 

First, you want to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve with sponsorships to know what type of packages you will need. Consider whether your approach is aimed at building long-term partnerships with your sponsors or if your priority is more about creating a lucrative funding stream for your upcoming event.  Your goal may be both, and you will build packages accordingly, for example, 3-year sponsorship opportunities that significantly discount your upcoming event.

  1. Match Sponsorship and Marketing Goals   

Your next step is to make sure your sponsorship goals are aligned with your overall marketing objectives. Some questions to consider: Do your potential sponsors represent your brand and values? Is their participation going to attract your target audience? Will their products and services enhance your participants’ experience?

  1. Identify Branding Opportunities  

You want to identify opportunities throughout your event that will maximize exposure and audience engagement for your sponsors. Here are few ideas you can present to your sponsors that we will unpack further shortly:

  • Add sponsor logo in event promotion materials
  • Reference sponsors in email communications
  • Mention and tag in social media content 
  • Include in a splash page on your event website
  • Create branded breakout rooms & polling result pages
  • Add unique opportunities to appear on promo gear mailed to virtual attendees
  1. Create Packages for Virtual Events   

Present sponsors with a virtual exhibition package that offers a virtual space where sponsors can connect with participants one-on-one to generate leads and promote their products and services. Your package could include access to the event’s attendee directory as well as a designated place where sponsors can showcase their digital marketing resources and anything else that best showcases their brand. 

  1. Use Flexible Pricing  

You want to offer a range of pricing options for local or up-and-coming brands that might not have the budget spend of their larger competitors. Consider using a tiered system consisting of silver, gold, and platinum packages, for example, that provide different branding opportunities to match the value of each tier.

  1. Offer Collaborative Opportunities  

Ideally, your partnerships will prove to be mutually beneficial on various levels- offering your sponsors plenty of branding and growth opportunities while you benefit from monetary support and direct contributions that help enhance your event. Sponsors could contribute directly to the event by presenting an informational session, facilitating a panel discussion, or hosting a virtual happy hour or networking activity.

  1. Create Special Packages for Your Mobile Event App  

Nuance your sponsorship options by creating a package that targets mobile audiences. Incorporate digital banners, pop-up and video ads, push messages, and other promo content strategically placed where mobile users can best see them. For an upgrade, create a virtual swag room where sponsors can display their products and services for attendees to peruse using exclusive codes sent to their devices. 

Related: Event Planning Guide

Virtual Event Sponsorship Ideas

Increasing ROI with sponsorships

Sponsorships are equally important for optimizing ROI and the overall success for both your live and virtual events. However, sponsorship packages for your virtual partners will not look the same. Here are proven tactics for creating the best value, price, and experience for your virtual sponsors.

  1. See Non-Traditional Partnership

A virtual change in scenery could be the perfect time to shake up your partner base as well. Instead of limiting sponsorship opportunities to your industry, broaden your focus to include partners that are still relevant to your brand and target audience but might be further removed from your immediate environment.

  1. Sponsored Entertainment Breaks

Sponsored live entertainment between sessions adds a spark of energy to your event and provides your sponsors with valuable time in the spotlight. Set the virtual stage with your sponsor’s branding front and center and create a performance hashtag your audience can share to increase reach and exposure for everyone involved. 

Create a contest where every social media mention the attendee posts enters them into a drawing by using the event hashtag and tagging the brand page. There’s hashtag contest software that will make this easier to track and support.

  1. Branded Waiting Rooms

You can get your sponsors in on the action even before the event officially begins. Include their logo, messaging, and video content in the virtual room where participants gather and wait for the event to start. This transforms idol time into prime time for introducing your sponsors, giving them concentrated exposure right out the gate. 

  1. Sponsored Gifts for Attendees

Sending branded gifts to participants before a virtual event is one of the most effective ways for sponsors to connect with attendees. Whether you offer swag bags or contest prizes, including sponsors’ logos, gift cards, and products and services are excellent ways to keep their brands and your event top of mind for your participants.

This also helps make remote attendees feel included. You can be clever and have sponsored bags or boxes inside your event kit, enabling your sponsors to provide fun materials to your attendees.  Send a flight of small bottles of wine for wine tasting or send signs with Yes and No where audience members hold them up when the presenter asks questions. You can really get creative with your partners to make sure you have a fun home kit that aids in engagement and branding.

  1. Pre-Event Messaging

Another way to jumpstart your sponsor’s exposure and engagement is by featuring their logo and content links in your pre-event promo social and email content. Your landing and registration pages’ area is also prime real estate for sponsorship messaging since each participant will view this at least once prior to the event.  

  1. Sponsored Games

Increase attendee engagement amongst Sponsors by inviting them to host a virtual game or contest. Games and contests provide a fun break for everyone and are highly effective for increasing engagement. Sponsors can use the opportunity to promote and gift their products to winning contestants. Wins all the way around, really. 

  1. Utilize Virtual Environments  

Virtual environments create a unique experience for your sponsors and attendees to explore and interact with each other in a way they most likely won’t forget. These digital landscapes provide sponsors with a dedicated space to set up a virtual stand, display their signage, and schedule one-on-one appointments with event participants. 

  1. Logo Placement on Screen

The more exposure you offer your sponsors, the better, and screen time is no exception. In fact, virtual technology can be far more impactful than just displaying a banner at a live event. You can even design your home screen so participants can scroll through sponsors, which is great for increasing brand awareness and tracking click rates.

  1. Sponsored Sessions

In line with sponsored entertainment, partners can also underwrite a programmed session as well, which can offer deeper engagement with participants and the event itself. Sponsors could opt to contribute content directly to enhance the session. Or they could engage from behind the scenes by running a promo ad or simply displaying their logos in a prominent place on the screen.

Related: Hybrid Events vs. Virtual Events

The Bottom Line

Connecting and working with sponsorships

Increasing sponsorship dollars for your event is the quickest way to impact your bottom line. But if you want to create an experience that exceeds expectations, you need to think beyond revenue generation. Use these tips to guide you in creating the most value for your virtual sponsors and the best overall experience for you and your participants. 

Want to get the most out of your sponsorships? Get in touch with Van Wagner to develop the best engagement and presentation strategy for a successful virtual event!

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