Meeting Mentor Magazine

September 2020

Don’t-Miss (Virtually) Limitless Sponsorship Opps

The meetings industry may be getting pretty good at turning an on-site meeting into a virtual one on a dime these days, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of concern over how to also flip those live sponsorships — and their associated revenues — into virtual facsimiles.

In fact, 83% of respondents to a Meeting Professionals International flash survey said they expected the coronavirus pandemic to have a significant effect on their revenues over the next 12 months, and that was held almost a month ago, before the full extent of the crisis to date became apparent. And 81% of those who voted in a survey during PSAV’s Global Virtual Events Day  (GVED), held April 2, said they plan to produce more virtual events moving forward.

So the need to turn on-site dollars into virtual ones is going to be key to many organizations’ survival through this crisis period and potentially beyond, as virtual meetings continue to move into the mainstream.

That’s why one of the eight sessions PSAV and its affiliates included in GVED — along with help in understanding the various virtual meeting platforms and audience-engagement strategies — focused on how to unlock the value of virtual sponsorships. The session was led by PSAV’s Roy Benear, vice president, exhibits and specialty events, and Mike Potter, group creative director.

Don’t Worry, Virtual Opportunities Have Value, Too
Benear was quick to say that virtual events offer at least as much value as on-site events in terms of enabling sponsors to showcase their products and expertise and to connect with attendees.

A true sponsorship means that each partner is getting value from the engagement they have with the event, he said. “In the virtual world, it’s no different. If anything, it opens you up to broader capabilities to engage your attendees.” Potter added that, since people spend about a quarter of their day engaging with content on screens already, they are predisposed to interacting online.

How to Showcase Your Virtual Event’s Value
• Know your audience. To know the value of your event, you have to be able to explain who is in your audience and what value they bring for sponsors. How many decision-makers will participate? How many will be influencers who can sway buying decisions? How many are users of the sponsor’s product? “It’s important to be able to tell the story of who your attendees are, as well as the buying power they bring to the table,” said Benear.

Showcase your ongoing virtual relationship with your audience. Potter said that it’s important to know, and be able to show, where and how you are engaging with your participants online already. “If you can show a vibrant online community where there is interaction and trust placed between the people interacting, that is extremely valuable to sponsors. The better and more vibrant your online community, the more attractive it is and the more sponsors will want to be involved.”

• Be able to articulate your organization’s mission and vision. Where are you taking the organization, and how does that dovetail with the potential sponsor’s vision and mission?

Monetizing a Virtual Event
So, what should you charge for a virtual event sponsorship? Benear suggested creating a spreadsheet that lists all your assets, figure out which assets you can bundle together, and check competitors’ prospectuses to see what they’re charging for similar activations. Some things to consider:

• How involved do you want to be? Are you just renting real estate, or do you plan to become an engaging partner in the sponsor’s presentations? When you co-brand or otherwise participate with your sponsor, you are showing that you trust that sponsor, which makes the audience more likely to trust them as well. When you are communicating the value of bringing your audience together in this virtual world, “have as much quantifiable data as you can,” from how many will attend to who they are, said Benear. “Data is important to everyone.”

• Identify your targeted sponsors — both your dependable bellwethers who are always going to go for the platinum package and new sponsors who could add value to the meeting but might need a more à la carte approach, as well as more personalized messaging. Don’t be afraid to customize packaging based on the sponsor’s goals and objectives and to show how those line up with what you’re doing, he said.

• Understand your virtual event’s landscape. Each platform may offer some different opportunities, but most will offer multiple sponsorship options, said Benear. These include banners, registration, promotions, displays, microsites and navigation. If you have an idea not covered in the standard, out-of-the-box options that you think will be valuable to your audience and your sponsors, don’t be afraid to try something new, said Potter.

And don’t be afraid to spread the sponsorship opportunity out over time. If placement on your event landing page isn’t appealing enough, you can offer to include them in your social media marketing, post-event surveys and future email campaigns. “You can create a conversation that starts with registration and could go all the way to your next event,” he said.

Note: If you need to take a meeting virtual, ConferenceDirect can be your resource. See this video for highlights of CD’s videoconferencing capabilities; click here for a full list of ConferenceDirect’s preferred virtual meeting suppliers.

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates. www.conferencedirect.com

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually. www.meetingmentormag.com

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