April 22, 2020
By Madison Howard

Creating an event sponsorship package and finding event sponsors is a key part of meeting and event planning. Increasing your sponsorship dollars is the quickest way to impact your bottom line. But, how does sponsorship change for virtual events? While in-person events have sponsorship down to a science, virtual events cannot rely on the same sponsorship packages. How do you create valuable virtual event sponsorship packages?

Benefits of Sponsorship at Events

Start by asking the question – what’s in it for them? Sponsorship is quid pro quo. Your sponsors need to understand and see value in what you’re offering, otherwise, they will be disinclined to give you money. Just as you have to account for every line item on the budget, so do they. When deciding what to offer sponsors, think about their goals for the events they attend. Make it interesting. Your audience is your most valuable bargaining chip. Sponsors choose events based on the leads they can gather, the connections they can make, and the brand recognition they can build. Therefore, most of your sponsorship offerings should center around connecting your audience and your sponsors.

Align with Sponsor Goals and Objectives

As always, think about your sponsors first. What do they hope to achieve? If you’re not sure, then take time to sit down with potential sponsors or past sponsors and ask them about their goals for sponsorship. Sponsorship ROI is tied to brand awareness and direct audience engagement, but not all companies hope to achieve the same thing. For top-tier sponsors, consider working with them to build a sponsorship package that meets their goals as well as yours.

Start with What You Know

What you’re able to offer sponsors for in-person, virtual, and hybrid events is not that different. These events are similar. Where they differ is in the medium. As you begin to create your virtual event sponsorship packages, start with what you know. Consider what you would offer sponsors at an in-person event and if those options still work. Event technology options such as a mobile event app will still allow you to offer sponsors the same opportunities. Virtual events don’t require a complete departure from what you normally offer.

Common sponsorship offerings that also work for virtual events:

  • Sponsored sessions
  • Email marketing opportunities
  • Sponsored posts on the activity feed
  • Event websites
  • Virtual trade show booth
  • Survey question during registration
  • Log-in screen
  • Check-in branding
  • Session background branding
  • Splash Pages
  • Banner Ads
  • Sponsored Listings & Highlighted Exhibitors
  • Surveys & Interactive Polling
  • Gamification
  • Push Notifications
  • Swag

Where In-Person Event and Virtual Event Sponsorship Varies

As you plan a virtual event, think about what you would do if it was in-person, then brainstorm. You can’t make a one-to-one change between the events. Think about time when planning. Your in-person events have a hard start and end time – this is the amount of time sponsors get their logos shared in front of attendees and get the chance to shake hands and make connections. The length of a virtual event is not as strict. Content can be available on-demand and shared out after the event. This may change the weight of different sponsorship offerings. Treat virtual events as something new. You have the framework of what you are used to doing but think outside the box and reimagine as you go.

Sponsorship Metrics

Part of sponsorship is proving impact. The data you gather during the event can prove the value of sponsorship, namely what they got for their investment in your event. Use the analytics and data from your event technology platform to show their impact.

Data to Provide Sponsors to Show Impact

  • Number of Attendees
  • Social Media Reach
  • Leads Captured
  • Brand Awareness
  • Direct Audience Engagement
  • Survey Results

11 Virtual Sponsorship Ideas

1. Utilize Virtual Environments

Virtual environments can be expensive, but they provide sponsorship opportunities that are more in line with what you are used to offering at in-person events. These environments create a video game-like computer-generated place for your attendees to “walk” around and interact. For large conferences and events, these environments add another level to your event allow you to offer sponsor signage, trade show booths, or drop-in appointments.

2. Logo Placement on Home Screen

Sponsors want attendee attention. While you can’t have a giant banner with a sponsor’s logo at a virtual event, take advantage of event technology. Some virtual events have home screens that allow attendees can flip through sponsors on the home screen. This increases brand awareness and can be tracked by site traffic and click rates.

3. Sponsored Sessions

There is prime real estate available during live or on-demand sessions. Have sponsors contribute content or choose a session to be associated with. You can include their logo at the bottom of the screen, have the speaker announce the sponsor name at the beginning and end, or have a sponsor ad play at the start of the session.

4. Prizes from Engagement and Gamification

Gamification keeps attendees engaged during the event. Send gift cards, offer free appointments or swag for those attendees that top the leaderboard.

5. Agenda Highlight

Your online agenda is the hub of your event. Offer sponsors the ability to place their logo or ads in the agenda for high visibility.

6. Happy Hours

Virtual doesn’t mean the end of networking. Have sponsors host happy hour sessions that pair attendees in small meeting rooms.

7. Office Hours

Leads are one of the greatest draws for sponsors. While it’s not as easy to capture leads, allow sponsors to host office hours or appointments for attendees, hosted through their own personal zoom link.

8. Virtual Trade Show Booth

Trade shows look different when you go virtual. While the experience is different, there are virtual event providers that allow you to create the trade show experience online. If virtual event tech isn’t in your budget, you can build out a trade show experience in your event website. Logos will act as booths. Offer sponsors different sizes of logos or group them based on sponsorship levels.

9. Email Marketing to Push Out Content

Allow sponsors an email that’s sent to all or a specific segment of attendees to share content or a message about the sponsor. Email marketing provides sponsors with a direct link to attendees and could be a vehicle to set up appointments or information about an upcoming webinar. 

10. Branded Swag

Just because your attendees are online, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a free pair of sunglasses or a t-shirt. Swag is the gift that keeps on giving. The better, more useful piece of swag, the more attendees will use it. Sponsors will get their logo out in the world via a notebook or mug, reminding attendees about their company with each use. Think beyond pens and send out food or cocktail kits.

11. Host a Cooking Class, Yoga, or Entertainment

Give top-tier sponsors a chance to host high-interest sessions. Bring in entertainers or well-known chefs for a fun break from content that can keep attendees engaged. If sponsors have a skill that attendees could learn from, have them host a session on that topic.

For more on virtual events, check out The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Events. 

Madison Layman

Madison Howard

A graduate of the College of William and Mary, my passion for writing began before I could read, with a nightly verbal diary dictation transcribed by my obliging parents.

When I'm not writing, you can find me binge-watching TV shows, baking elaborate desserts, and memorizing pop culture facts.

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