We are in full planning mode for our 2022 expos. What do our many clients have in common? They recognize that even if in-person meetings are now a viable option, a successful expo must contain virtual components. Remember that companies had vastly different experiences over the past 18 months. Virtual sponsorship options offer another layer of brand exposure that is attractive to companies with the resources or desire to travel to the event and those who do not.
Creatively building your sponsorship prospectus to incorporate virtual options that offer high ROI for sponsors will increase the scope and profitability of your event. This article identifies five primary virtual sponsorship opportunity categories and suggests innovative ways your organization can capitalize upon them.
In our experience with almost two-dozen virtual expos, educational sponsored content remains the most sought-after type of virtual sponsorship. Virtual sponsored sessions offer valuable brand visibility and allow sponsors to disseminate their company information to a large, captive audience. Educational sessions can include helpful Q&A, during which sponsors field questions and receive feedback about their discussion topic. For example, in the screenshot below, the sponsor’s logo is prominently displayed, and the live Q&A session facilitated a discussion about the sponsor’s product. This content was available on-demand to attendees for 90 days post-conference, adding to its value.
A few guidelines for including educational sponsored content include:
• Clearly identify sponsored educational sessions as sponsored content.
• Check with your accreditors before including educational content to ensure that it meets their requirements.
• If your conference virtual platform offers analytics, be sure to train sponsors to retrieve that information – it will increase their ROI.
I mentioned above that virtual offerings increase the scope of your event. Networking events on your virtual platform will make it possible for sponsors to connect with attendees, even if one or both cannot attend your in-person event. Networking events can include Roundtable Discussions, Meet and Greets, or sessions with a specific purpose, like the Career Fair pictured below, which was included in the schedule and had branding highlighting the sponsoring company.
The first two types of sponsorships highlight the importance of the third – brand awareness. Include branded banners on sponsored sessions and tag all mentions of a sponsor’s conference participation with their logo, including the schedule, your conference website, and on conference communications.
Not all sponsors have the ability to produce educational content. Offer them the chance to send their custom messaging to attendees via digital communication such as eblasts and sponsored messages in conference newsletters. The uptick in participation in this type of sponsorship has been exponential in the past 18 months. For one of our 2021 association clients, sales of eblasts increased twelve times versus sales for their 2019 conference. Remember that this type of sponsorship doesn’t cost much to deliver, making it attractive for both the sponsor and your organization.
PROMOTIONS / ADVERTISING
Finally, sponsors find ROI in the ability to place virtual promotions or advertising in front of attendees.
• Your Conference Platform: We prefer the Cadmium virtual conference platform, and one of the main reasons is that the available sponsored branding is highly visible and includes analytics. The image below shows just one of the many platform advertisements available on Cadmium – that tile links through to a custom URL provided by the sponsoring company. Take advantage of your virtual platform’s capabilities when you’re building your sponsorship prospectus. It’s also important to be creative. This ad on the conference login screen was accessed 32,682 times over the three-day event. The conference had 4,000 attendees, which demonstrates how often virtual attendees log out and return at a later time to consume more conference content, and each time they did so, they saw our sponsor’s ad. Here’s where creativity comes into play. This is not a designed sponsorship ad space. Our staff coded the ad in HTML to fit the page and delivering this sponsorship cost nothing.
• Commercials: Many of our clients’ sponsors have professionally produced promotional videos or the ability to generate conference-specific videos, and these have been extraordinarily successful as sponsorships. Our staff typically offers two price points, one for a 30-second video and one for a 60-second video, and the pieces are incorporated into the conference digital program as commercials. We often include a page on the conference platform with links to all of the promotional videos so that attendees may view them on-demand.
• Social Media: Association Twitter accounts are followed by members, meeting attendees, and those interested in the organization’s industry. These Twitter feeds are prime real estate for sponsors to reach their target audience. Set a limit on the number of these sold – you don’t want to saturate your feed with sponsored content.
• Online Resource Center: Most virtual meeting platforms include an “exhibit booth” space. We prefer to call this the Online Resource Center because it’s really an online library of information about sponsoring companies. While this space is less attractive than an in-person exhibit booth, you can increase ROI by offering sponsors traffic drivers. Online scavenger hunts, trivia contests, and giveaway buttons will attract attendees to sponsoring companies’ online resource centers.
If you are interested in learning more about how SB can enhance your Association meetings please email email@example.com.