When it comes to event sponsorships, monetizing events has long been a matching game – as in, convincing sponsors (especially new sponsors) that your event was worthy of their spend. You needed to convince them that your attendees matched their desired demographics in sufficient quantity to justify spending money.
For repeat business, you hoped that the leads you generated last time substantiated another round of investment. If not, you needed to pitch a viable plan for improved results. The next step was then getting the sponsorship opportunities aligned correctly to convert sponsor interest into the largest possible revenue numbers.
The pandemic disrupted this long-standing match game. For many events in the past year, the technology and the sale of sponsorships reflected a scramble to simply get the event done, rather than cancel. Free sponsorship opportunities were a byproduct of this commitment to simply keep going.
By moving to virtual events or hybrid events, planners were able to expand the reach and include new audiences; a great selling point in the match game of numbers. The extra value is that, while you use the influx of data to create immersive, relevant experiences for unique segments within your population, you can also use it to add value for your sponsors.
Today, with virtual experiences an expected component of events, the measures of success are more sophisticated. In addition to demographic data, you can now gather data that assesses changes in sentiment (awareness of and feelings about your sponsor’s brand) and behavioral change (how exposure to the sponsor impacts your attendee’s relationship with the sponsor/product and why).
Plus, a virtual event platform offers the opportunity to be “always on,” extending the experience to include not just the main event, but the pre-event promotion and the post-event experience as well. In this environment of greater data-driven opportunity, you can offer sponsors so much more. In many ways, you are selling a new product.
So - how do you sell sponsorships in this new environment? Keep reading to find out.
Tips for Monetizing Your Event and Selling Event Sponsorships
When it comes to monetizing your events and selling sponsorships, you need to keep the following ideas in mind:
- Change: It’s not likely that you will be able to simply replicate what you did with in-person events in the virtual event environment. What worked in the physical space will probably not work, or work in the same way, in the virtual or hybrid event space. Be open to change and take advantage of new possibilities.
- Calibrate: Much of the change we experienced in the past year or so came as a reaction, rather than a planned response, to unprecedented change in how events were offered. While the events space is still anything but settled, now is a good time to pause and recalibrate, taking what we learned and making informed choices when moving forward. Remember: Your sponsors may also be going through some upheaval. Be sure to ask whether their selling process has changed since your last event or discussion.
- Choose: To blend the in person and the virtual, you must first choose your virtual event platform. To make sure you are choosing the right platform and partner, we recommend that you:
o Experience the platform. Participant in events hosted there so that you can see, hear, feel what the platform delivers. Learn more about our award-winning virtual event platform.
o Be very clear about what you need and ask probing questions when interviewing prospective partners. Don’t just submit a checklist of features and capabilities. Ask them how they would address some of your toughest challenges.
o Make sure the platform provides a lot of data, and that it is the right data. Make sure that you—not the provider—own the data.
- Customize: Notified president Ben Chodor has a saying: “If you can customize it, you can monetize it.” Being able to use data to blend the virtual and the in person into a meaningful immersive experience for your audience creates an environment where you can also customize strategies for your sponsors. Recent research conducted by Explori indicates sponsors are 36% more likely to spend money where customization is offered.
- Consult: Sponsors may need some help in understanding where the opportunities are now. This is your chance to take a consultative approach and build a stronger relationship with your sponsors and prospects. Virtual event platforms enable a longer tail on sponsorships and the ability to test, learn and adapt. Rather than selling pre-set tiers and packages, ask them where they want their business to go and what they are looking to achieve, and build a custom strategy. Use the pre-event environment to improve outcomes at the main event; then use the longer tail to keep the interaction going, gather more data and strengthen the connection.
For the main event, check out our top 10 tips for more engaging sponsor booths.
- Contextualize: Use the data generated by your platform to provide context for the sponsor. In addition to the more familiar data points of attendance, clicks, and opens, be sure to provide the more sophisticated insights that often support sponsor goals. Did the audience become more aware of or familiar with the brand? Did the audience indicate a change in their behavior? What did the audience say in chats about the product/session that can inform outreaches or future content? Be very specific about how data from this event informs what your sponsor can do to get even more out of the next event.
Event Monetization and Sponsorship: An Eye Towards the Future
Like the big bang, the change which was ignited over the past year will continue to unfold for some time. No one can predict the future, but it is the nature of events planning to try to plan for every eventuality.
So, how do you futureproof your upcoming events?
The answer is most likely that you will need to make virtual events a permanent component to your plan. It seems the world has come to expect it, and the opportunities of scale, flexibility, and data gathering are likely to continue to support ROI.
But is there more? As we change footprint and format, what are the ways we can combine or pull apart opportunities for sponsors and attendees? Virtual event planning offers the chance to try new things, evaluate them, and see where the test takes you. Many of today’s sponsors want to know what events planners are doing that is new and innovative. Virtual gives you the opportunity to bring creativity and customization to the answer.
In a recent webinar on event ROI, Notified president Ben Chodor suggested that virtual event technology presents the opportunity to build a new pipeline where marginal prospects first experience an event on a virtual path, and because of the value it offers, attend the next in person.
“If you do a virtual event well, it should make the participant want to go in person,” says Chodor.
Virtual can become a testing ground for future in-person events before your organization commits resources and infrastructure. Testing in the virtual environment aligns well with product management, product lifecycle, margin, and rapid development, deployment, and release.
And virtual elements of an event can have an impact that reaches farther into the organization. The insights you derive from planning and monetizing your event, tapping the scalability, flexibility, and segmentation which are enabled with a virtual event platform, are valuable beyond event planning.
With such robust data gathered through direct interaction with your key audiences, you are able to bring valuable, contextualized intelligence to colleagues in product development, marketing, public relations, sales, operations, and even to your executive leadership. Where once the feedback from in-person events was either anecdotal or gathered via a post-event written survey, virtual event platforms make it possible to augment with deep, rich data that tells you not just what your audience did, but what they are still doing, what they are thinking, and why.
In addition to generating leads and revenue for your sponsors and your own organization, your events have the potential to become a vital source of strategic research and data that helps drive corporate growth and success.
What could be more powerful?
Monetizing Your Event and Selling Sponsorships: Summary
Event planners and sponsors are still learning how to blend virtual and in-person event capabilities, technology, and opportunities to achieve shared objectives. For event planners, having the right platform and partners can have a positive impact on the learning curve and the ability to attract and retain sponsors and revenue. For sponsors, an event planner able to bring end-to-end data is likely to be the partner of choice, given the value placed on customization and consultation.
The ability to use the time before, during and after the main event to build buzz, test ideas, and keep the contact going adds material value for sponsors. And the capabilities of a virtual platform enable planners and sponsors to evaluate engagement, sentiment, and behavioral change. Intelligence grows beyond booth traffic and lead generation to measuring brand awareness, perceived value, behavior changes, and other more sophisticated KPIs which are valued by sponsors.
The ability to offer sponsors more value can be the deciding factor in getting them to underwrite your event with their budgets.
Get a Demo of Our Virtual Event Platform
Whether you’re hosting virtual or hybrid events to reach customers, employees, investors, or partners, Notified is here to help bring your vision to life.
We host over 100,000 webcasts and virtual events annually on behalf of thousands of customers around the world while providing dedicated support with a focus on data.
All virtual events include:
- Dedicated project manager
- Interactive environments with live and on-demand programming
- Flexible branding and personalization options
- Accessibility – anytime, anywhere, and from any device
- Robust analytics and reporting
- And, from strategy and planning to implementation and delivery, our consulting services team supports you every step of the way.
Contact us today to set up a free demo.