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What sponsors want – and don’t want – from virtual conferences

by | Sep 7, 2020 | Events management

Many associations are missing the mark – and missing revenue potential – when it comes to their conference sponsorship offerings, according to the findings in our new white paper, “The New Sponsorship Model for Virtual Events.”

While publishing and education have been digitized, marketing and communications shifted to the Internet, and sponsor goods evolved from products into services, many sponsor packages still focus on age-old event logo placements and branded activities.

What Sponsors Don’t Want

In this era of carefully measured sales and marketing activities, the traditional in-person event sponsorships offered by many associations do little to fulfill the business goals of companies. Our white paper provides examples of these marginal-value benefits include:

  • Logo Placements
  • Exhibit Space
  • Advertisements
  • Tickets and Registration
  • Refreshment Recognition
  • Introductory Address
  • Materials Distribution

While event sponsorships have changed little, companies have discovered ways to access prospect data via their own digital advertising efforts and social media. 

Furthermore, the pressures on many companies as a result of the pandemic have exacerbated the divide between associations and their event sponsors.

What Sponsors Do Want

Companies use their marketing dollars for sponsorships. Therefore, companies need to justify each sponsorship expenditure. Companies generally need to fulfill some combination of these objectives:

  • Grow awareness
  • Position as a thought leader
  • Connect with a segment
  • Differentiate perception
  • Generate sales leads
  • Demonstrate corporate social responsibility
  • Sell a product or service

Virtual Events to the Rescue

While some associations and sponsors think virtual events can’t match the impact of in-person events, our white paper explains how virtual events are unique experiences with a wide range of new opportunities for sponsors. Each of the sponsor “wants” described above can be fulfilled in spades at virtual events.

There are many ways associations can leverage sponsorships of virtual conferences to create new value propositions for sponsors, provide additional revenue for the association, and produce educational content for members. This is a true win-win situation.

“The New Sponsorship Model for Virtual Events” provides more examples, a sample sponsor prospectus and is available for free download.

Chris Gloede, Chief Consultant with Ricochet, transforms the membership and marketing functions at associations. Bruce Rosenthal, Principal with Bruce Rosenthal Associates, helps associations increase revenue and member value from their sponsorship programs.

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Chris Gloede

Chris Gloede is the Chief Consultant for Ricochet Advice, a firm helping associations transform their marketing and membership through modern lead generation, marketing automation, technology, and analytics. Chris helped pioneer live virtual events as the CMO of the American Bar Association where he created its monthly free continuing education program. At the time, it was the world’s largest recurring educational virtual event. Chris now brings similar innovations to his clients in this changing world.

Bruce Rosenthal

Bruce Rosenthal is a strategic advisor and consultant to associations and not-for-profit organizations, creating successful corporate partnership programs that increase revenue and add member/constituent value.

Previously, he held senior-level positions with associations and not-for-profit organizations. He understands the “ins and outs” of association structures, governance, member services, advocacy, education, revenue streams, and conferences.

He directed a successful corporate partnership program for a national association, launching the program in 2009 and revamping it twice to keep pace with changes in the economy and the evolving needs of corporate partners. He demonstrates leadership in identifying and fostering corporate partnership and sponsorship best practices, opportunities, and solutions as convener of the DC-Area Partnership Professionals Network.

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