How to Pivot Sponsors from In-Person to Virtual Events

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many event brands are taking steps to move online.

But how do you keep sponsors satisfied during the virtual transition?

Establish an E-mail Marketing Campaign
E-mail is one of the most powerful ways to communicate with attendees, regardless the circumstances. Offer sponsors an e-newsletter bundle with featured content that’s sent to attendees. Include sponsors and links to their websites and social media channels.

Prior to deployment, make sure e-mails are both informative and newsworthy. Otherwise, they could be viewed as spam.

Promote on Social Media
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are all key social media platforms for sponsorship promotion. But before posting, consider which channels’ audience best aligns with your attendee demographics.

Leverage Facebook events and groups for sponsorship engagement. Activations can include exclusive giveaways leading up to an event or a sponsored recap afterward.

Create a LinkedIn group for your virtual event, too. Post sponsor content and encourage attendees to ‘mark’ they’re attending on the event page. This will help create desirability for the event, as well as provide a platform for sponsors to reach out and set up meetings with interested parties.

Video is a popular way to present information, especially in a short format. Use it as a tease on Instagram or Twitter to promote a sponsor’s role in your upcoming virtual event.

Regardless of social media platform, go beyond simply calling out sponsors in posts. Provide context — insert their content and include website links.

Also, encourage team members to repost or share sponsor content. Wide dissemination is key.

Develop an Exclusive Web Page
Adding a logo to your website isn’t enough to retain sponsor interest. Instead, customize it to strengthen relationships and retain revenue for the long haul.

Create a dedicated sponsor page with a short write-up for each. Details about what is being sponsored, a website link and contact information should be included. If a speaker is sponsored, this should be noted in their bio and properly linked.

Develop a downloadable white paper based on the sponsor’s area of expertise. This is a great lead generation tool, particularly if contact information is requested in order to download.

Consider a digital event bag. It’s essentially a landing page with special offers from sponsors. These may range from a discounted video to a prize or e-book. Attendees must fill out a form to access the digital event bag. This, in turn, generates valuable data and performance metrics for your sponsors. Be sure to promote the link through all social media channels both before and after the event.

One of the most overlooked website sponsorship opportunities is the utilization of event sign-up questions. Consider adding job title, company name, location and interests to your sign-up form. This way, when pitching sponsors, you can provide specific information about attendees, which will help close the deal.

Acknowledge After the Event
Keep the conversation going with video once your virtual event is over. Send the recorded ‘broadcast’ either as a video file or link to attendees and sponsors as a gesture of thanks. Be sure to mention key sponsors in either the intro or extro of the recording. If your web platform allows, include logos.

Take the best video segments and repackage for distribution at a future date or re-purpose for white papers and e-newsletters. Provide the opportunity for top sponsors to utilize content in which they participated.

It’s important to collect data before, during and after an event to create a performance summary for sponsors. Include pertinent information like attendance numbers, social media buzz, click-through rates and related content downloads. Set up a video call to present the results. Send the summary report beforehand and then review together.

Soon after, survey sponsors to find out what worked for them and how the event could be improved. Information gleaned will help with pitching your next virtual event.

While this is a time of unprecedented change in the events industry, virtual events have a much broader reach than in-person ones. Barriers to attending are few and the potential opportunities to impress sponsors are endless.

Larry Weil is a nationally recognized sponsorship expert and founder of The Sponsorship Guy, a sponsorship marketing agency. His mission is to increase the value and effectiveness of sponsorship for event producers, sponsors and attendees. He can be reached at [email protected].


Venue & Supplier Profiles