Just when you thought you’d cracked sponsorship for your events, the pandemic comes and suddenly, it’s time to rethink how to move this over to a virtual setting.
While the venue, kiosks, and other promotional goodies might be on hold for the time being, many traditional sponsorship offerings remain. And when you throw these into the mix with all the additional goodies that can be created in the online world, it quickly becomes apparent that there are plenty of options out there.
In this article we’re going to walk you through exactly that, explaining the different online event sponsorship offerings, how to structure them into packages, and most importantly, how to pitch this to your sponsors. Let’s get to it!
What is a sponsorship package and how does it work?
First things first, the basics. Your event sponsorship package is essentially a pitch on why potential sponsors should choose you.
This requires you to scope out the goals and objectives of your sponsors which can be anything and everything from increasing brand awareness, to connecting with employees, and promoting products. Above all, you need to be able to demonstrate the return on investment that sponsors will get from parting with their hard earned money. That’s why it’s critical that you can cater to all of their potential needs in the different offerings your event sponsorship packages have.
We’ll explore this in more detail later, but here are the two most popular ways to structure your sponsorship packages:
- Tiered: A variety of features are included in the event sponsorship package offerings, depending on the sponsorship level.
- A La Carte: Used to serve sponsors with specific needs or goals, flexibility and customization in their event sponsorship package are key here.
How is it different (or not) in the case of online events
The two main differences between a physical and online event are the timeline and the environment.
For the former, online events have no strict timeline meaning that sponsors can engage with attendees for a longer period of time, namely through on-demand content available after the event. And for the latter, without the physical venue there are none of the kiosks, programs and other merch that you’d usually expect to find.
What you can expect to see though are virtual alternatives including logo placements on the virtual stage, sponsored sessions, happy hours, online experiences, banners, videos, prizes, networking, and even food delivery.
So as you can see, there are plenty of options out there, it’s just a case of getting creative and pushing the boundaries of what can be done in an online environment.
Know your offerings
Sponsors aren’t going to part with their cash without good reason, so expect to be asked plenty of questions. Make sure you’re prepared by knowing the ins and outs of your event. Go through every intricate detail, covering everything from who your attendees are to your event brand and make sure to pay particular attention to the virtual space.
The more you know about your online event and the offerings available to sponsors, the easier it is to identify and pitch your event to the types of companies that are closely aligned with your brand. In the long run, this is going to save you valuable time and bring better results.
Identify your sponsors (old and new)
If you’ve been running physical events in the past then the first step you should take is to reach out to any previous sponsors. When you’ve invested so much time in building these relationships with your sponsors it’s only natural that they should be your first port of call.
Test the waters with them and gauge their interest. Chances are you’ll get a mixed response and this is why it’s important to have a list of potential sponsors that you’ve identified. By doing your homework and knowing your offerings, you should already have a good idea of who these brands will be.
Finally, it’s also worth considering that a good sponsor doesn’t always have to help you financially, there are plenty of sponsors that can offer planning, marketing, or other service that will enhance your online event, so be sure to have this in mind.
Prepare your pitch
The basis of a solid pitch is to communicate value and the best way of doing this is by knowing how companies will benefit from sponsoring your event. Like with any other sales pitch, it should always be about the company. That’s why it’s important to do your homework.
Think about what information you want to propose. How many attendees are you expecting? What are their demographics? Have you run an event in the past? If so, who sponsored it? And what was the ROI and ROO (return on objective)?
Then think about how you can tailor this to meet the specific needs of each of each sponsor. A compelling pitch should always be personalised and should speak volumes to the company.
As a general rule of thumb, make sure that your pitch is composed of three parts: the added value the sponsor will get, an in-depth description of your event and the different sponsor packages (both explained below).
Explain the benefits of the virtual space
Leading on from the last point, it’s vital that you’re able to explain the benefits of the virtual space. This is very much a pitch in itself because for many of your sponsors, this will be their first time delving into online events so expect a bit of uncertainty.
The best way to overcome this is by creating demo videos and a presentation that walks sponsors through each offering. That way it makes it much easier for them to envisage how everything works, and more importantly, the value that they’ll get from sponsoring your event.
Finally, always have in mind that sponsors might be expecting your event to be more like a webinar with limited branding, engagement, and sponsorship opportunities. So be sure to dedicate some time explaining to them why that’s not the case.
Provide speaker opportunities to your sponsors
Of all the online event sponsorship offerings, the chance for sponsors to speak directly with attendees is definitely the most prized. Giving the chance for a sponsor to talk about their brand, products, or services will always be much more effective than a logo or sponsored session.
Compared to all of the logos, videos, and sponsored sessions a speaker opportunity means direct contact with the attendees. As far as driving revenue, this is definitely one of the best ways of doing it so make sure that you have this on offer.
Offer a matchmaking dynamic for your sponsors
Just like with in-person events, you can offer sponsors matchmaking dynamics so they can meet with potential leads. The only difference this time is that it’s done via video conferencing and a B2B matchmaking feature that you’d get from an online events platform like Eventtia.
Beyond the brand exposure, this is a tried and tested way for sponsors to attract business and increase their bottom line. And in terms of ROI, this is usually one of the most important metrics your sponsors will be looking for. It means that sponsors can engage with prospects when the interest is high and offer the right solutions to the right people.
Structuring your sponsorship packages
To finish things up, we’re going to go back to how to approach your sponsorship packages through tiered and a la carte. For the former, it’s generally accepted to have three or more packages and for the latter, your sponsors create their own where they pick and choose which offerings they want.
To keep things simple, it’s better to go with the multi-tier pricing because it reduces confusion and everything is standardised so you don’t have to waste mental space and time to personalise your offers. However, also have in mind that a la carte packages gain more volume of sponsors and sell more sponsorship.
To give you an example, here’s how we approached our sponsorship packages for our first online event, Get Together.
For the time being, online events remain to be a new phenomenon for sponsors and that’s why it’s extremely important to demonstrate the ROI and value that they can get from your online event. Spend some time really thinking about your offerings, find the best way to pitch and present it, and you should be on to a winner.