As we pivot to hosting more virtual events than in-person events, smart event planners should review their standard operating procedures and make any necessary changes so that your virtual events are successful. For example, your standard sponsorship package will most likely need to change. Not only will your virtual event cost structure differ which may affect your pricing tier, but any in-person event benefits you were offering in the package will need to be amended.
The good news is that a virtual event opens a whole new world of sponsorship package options. The sponsorship package is your “pitch” to potential supporters in order to convince them to invest in your event. It should feature not only a list of benefits the sponsor will enjoy but also strategies you will take to make this proposed partnership successful.
The options to offer companies when soliciting for event sponsorships are varied. Even for digital events, sponsorships can be critical to success. And the competition for virtual event sponsors grows every day. Do not waste potential partners’ time by offering a package that is unremarkable or even downright unacceptable. It’s not as simple as throwing a sponsor’s logo on your registration site.
The framework for a good sponsorship package should include:
- Event description including format date, time, agenda, expected attendance
- Target audience personas
- Goals for a sponsor partnership
- Sponsorship details including marketing and promotion tactics
- Any marketing and promotional partnership requests
- Sponsorship benefits
- Sponsorship investment
- Event timeline with sponsorship actions highlighted
The event description section should include basics like the digital format, date, time, web address, and agenda. Include any confirmed speakers, vendors, and partners. If you have other sponsors, make sure to add in those details as well. Also add in your expected attendance numbers, ticket prices, and social media accounts. Make sure to include the unique benefits you are presenting to your attendees.
Prospective sponsors want to know who will be attending your event so that they can be assured your guests are their target audience. Incorporate your marketing personas’ demographic and behavioral details that are important to your prospective sponsors in the pitch. For example, when a women’s self- care virtual summit planner pitches a sponsorship package to a beauty brand, she should include persona details in the pitch around gender, age, income levels, and personal shopping habits. These details will help to convince the beauty brand that their target market will attend the event.
A good pitch will feature specific goals. Sponsorship is not just a transaction of funds. The best sponsorships are long-term partnerships. Each partner works together to meet common goals. Propose these goals at the start of your negotiation. They should absolutely reflect your event goals, as well as your prospective partner’s goals. For example, a good goal would be to meet and/or exceed the number of lead prospects collected based on final event attendance. Or, achieve a positive event ROI, not only for you as the event planner but also for the sponsor and their investment. Each goal should benefit both parties.
The next section is the fun section. This is where you can be creative. How will you highlight the sponsor not only during the event but also before and after? Remember the marketing plan should be primarily digital. Outline all of your proposed plans including advertising and marketing campaigns, brand activations during the event, promotion on all digital platforms and apps, public relations campaigns, and influencer campaigns. Keep the prospect’s goals and targeted audience in mind when developing this proposal. What will drive the attendee to engage with this sponsor? How can you make your sponsors shine? Be creative yet authentic and leave room for negotiation with your prospect. Offer exclusivity whenever you can. Here are some examples of proposed details that might be interesting to a prospective sponsor:
- Naming the event
- Setting aside a portion of the agenda for the sponsor CEO to highlight their product
- Takeover of a pre-event live-stream session
- Sponsorship of your event app
- Takeover of your event social media accounts
- Sponsored Early Bird ticket sale for your event
- Ad placement on ticket site
- Email content
- Ad placement on content site
- Guest blog written by the CEO
- Attendee email list
The possibilities are truly endless. Dare to be different! Just remember that the package should always drive your event goals and your bottom line.
Next, list any requests you have for the prospective sponsor to partner with you on digital marketing and promotion. Build on your detailed plan above to make these requests so that it is clear to the partner why you are asking. For example, if you are proposing that the sponsor CEO act as a speaker, ask that the sponsor promote the appearance on their social media channels and to their customers via email with a call-to-action to register for the event. Cross-promotion is key to a successful partnership. Most sponsors understand that. Be as specific as possible in this section so that there are no surprises later.
Next on the list, using your sponsorship details in the section above, list the benefits your sponsor will enjoy. Frame these benefits in relation to both the goals for the event and for your partnership. Again be as specific as possible. This is where a digital event works in your favor because analytics is easy. Include your expected reach, impressions, and engagement rates on your websites and social media accounts and in advertising and PR. Try to think of both the short-term and long-term advantages to your prospect. And always bring the benefits back to your goals for the partnership.
Now, outline the investment you are requesting. If you are proposing a tiered model, be very specific as to which benefits will apply to each tier. If you can, add an investment level for future events as well. A long term commitment is always beneficial for both parties. In this section, we would suggest tailoring your investment request to the details you’ve outlined above. A customized request is a more strategic message than a generic tiered model for most prospective sponsors. Itemize each cost and the benefit the prospect can expect for that investment.
Lastly, incorporate a complete timeline for your event partnership, detailing deadlines for confirmation and all launch dates for marketing, advertising, PR campaigns, conversions, and anything else that is pertinent. It’s important to set clear expectations as to when the work needs to be done right upfront.
This framework can be customized for your virtual event needs and for the needs of your prospective sponsors. If it makes sense to combine sections or delete sections altogether, go ahead and do so. The bottom line is that sponsorship is critical to event planning, even virtual events. We can’t just leave the process of securing sponsors up to chance or to the processes we have used in the past. Using a strategic sponsorship package framework like this one is critical to the success of our virtual events.