How to Create Exhibitor & Sponsor Value In Virtual or Hybrid Events
The value of your event revolves around creating an organic environment (virtual or hybrid) where exhibitors and sponsors can meet prospective clients, and attendees can find insights, discover opportunities, build relationships, and acquire solutions for their businesses.
To make this happen, you have to create immersive learning experiences, fun activities, and networking opportunities for online attendees. In doing this, you’ll also create avenues for your exhibitors and sponsors to pass across their message and showcase their offerings to attendees. This gives sponsors maximum brand awareness and moves the attendees to take specific actions.
Consider the following to create real value for exhibitors and sponsors in your virtual or hybrid events:
- Create maximum brand awareness before, during, and after the event
- Enhance lead generation opportunities for exhibitors and sponsors
- Provide substantial access to data insights
Create Maximum Brand Awareness at All Event Stages
Your exhibitors and sponsors are partners to your event success and one of their main considerations when contemplating sponsorship is brand awareness. You can create value for your partners by incorporating a substantial amount of brand awareness in your event design. This can be included at different points in the timeline of your event.
Before the Event
Activities leading up to your event can be used as an opportunity for brand awareness for exhibitors and sponsors. Here are some ideas:
Logo Placement: Place the logos of your sponsors on your event registration site, and use them in your marketing and pre-event follow-up emails.
Social Media Mentions and Shoutouts: When generating buzz and anticipation about your upcoming event on social media, include your partners in the conversation. Mention and tag them in your posts or place their logo in the collection of graphics you share to promote the event.
Competitive Giveaways Powered by Sponsors: Partner with your sponsors to create pre-event competitions with giveaways provided by sponsors. This is also an opportunity to display their logo and mention them to your audience. Prizes can also be sponsor branded items.
Sponsor’s Speaker Promotion: Get a speaker from your partner’s company to facilitate a thought leadership session or participate in a panel discussion. Make specific announcements about this in your email communications and on social media.
Push Notifications: When sending push notifications to your audience, you can include the logo or a mention of your partners in the message.
During the Event
You can place brand content and ads from your exhibitors and sponsors in strategic locations for the audience to see on your virtual platform or mobile event app. Consider the following suggestions:
Sponsors Listings: Create a sponsor section where you list all your event exhibitors and sponsors; each having their logo, short company description, and company URL well displayed.
Event’s Homepage Logo or Banner Placement: Feature the sponsors’ logo or banner on the homepage or login page of your virtual event platform or mobile event app.
Branded Video Showcase: Apart from the sponsor listing page, create a section for video showcases for each sponsor or exhibitor. Request a short video showcase of their offerings and solutions and place them on the event platform. The videos can also be an external resource with links and previews available on your platform.
Downloadable Resources: Place downloadable handouts from your sponsors and exhibitors on your platform.
Ads in-between Sessions: Create slots in-between educational sessions to play ads from your sponsors. However, in order to maintain the attention of the audience, the ads should not be created as commercials. Instead, create ad content that contributes to the learning or fun experience of the attendees.
Use Live Polls for Brand Awareness: Display the logo of your partners on the result pages of live polls. You can also feature sponsored polls during the event to gather audience insight.
Gamification and Incentivization: Fun activities are interesting ways to capture the attention of attendees. Use interactive themed gaming and integrate sponsored branding into the game software. Sponsors can offer winners some incentives.
Use Breakout Channels for Brand Awareness: As you create breakout channels on your virtual or hybrid platform, display messages, banners, logos, or signage from partners in the channel. You can also create sponsored breakout channels where much attention can be given to discussions centered around offerings from a particular sponsor. You can use beacons or push messaging to send prompts to attendees to drive traffic to such special channels.
After the Event
Brand awareness doesn’t have to end when the event does. As you continue to communicate with your attendees after the event, use logos and branded messages from your sponsors in your communication. In addition, since activities can continue on the virtual or hybrid platform, you can also retain sponsors’ branded items and content. Here are some additional ideas:
Post-Event Thank You Email: When sending a post-event “thank you” email to your attendees, mention your sponsors or include their logo in the email footer.
Post-Event Social Media Shoutouts: Make a shoutout to your sponsors when posting post-event appreciation messages on your social media pages.
There’s a lot to be learnt from non-profits in here. The Nature Conservancy got their employees to make a short video to thank their sponsors:
Post-event Surveys: When sending out post-event surveys, include the logos of your sponsors in the survey home and completion pages. You can also send out surveys on behalf of sponsors to your attendees directly.
Additional Content: Create on-demand content that can be sponsored by your partners. Such content can be made available to view or download. Of course, the content will embed some sponsored promotional content.
Push Notifications: Send out push notifications via mobile event app to make announcements or give updates. You can mention a sponsor or include their logo in the message.
Enhance Lead Generation Opportunities for Exhibitors and Sponsors
Apart from brand awareness, you should also create substantial opportunities for increased lead generation for exhibitors and sponsors. Achieve this by providing different channels for lead generation on your event platform. Consider implementing the following ideas:
A virtual booth allows attendees to have one-on-one meetings with the sponsor’s staff to see what they have to offer. A virtual booth, when properly set up, can be a great opportunity to pitch to many attendees. Virtual booth meetings can be pre-scheduled using the mobile event app. It can also be a scroll-through virtual exhibition hall where attendees can get prompts (beacons) to check-in to an available booth to meet with a representative.
Using matchmaking algorithms based on user data and activities on the app, the event platform can intelligently suggest prospects to sponsors based on their shared business interests. The staff of the sponsor can then send a direct message to the qualified lead to initiate conversation (video chat or text) with them.
Provide Substantial Access To Data Insights
Access to data insights is invaluable for exhibitors and sponsors. It helps them when making important decisions regarding their sponsorship and also helps them to follow up with attendees after an event. The following are some important data to make available to your event partners during or after your event:
Access to Live Event Analytics
While you may plan to release the event analytics after the event, also give your partners live access. They will be delighted to know how the attendees are interacting with their banners, ads, polls, and content. Their representatives might also be able to make some quick decisions based on live trends.
As part of your reporting, show your sponsors how many people attended your event and whether the attendees represented their target market. The demographic data should include age, gender, location, education, employment sector, job title, income level, etc. It should also include attendees’ contact information such as email addresses and phone numbers.
Provide year-over-year data on event registration and ticket sales. This will show sponsors how you are attracting more attendees with each successive event.
Apart from event analytics, track and report how people are talking about your event online and on social media. Track mentions on websites, blogs, social networks, etc. You can use Facebook Audience Insight, Google Alerts, and your event platform for this reporting and analysis.
Share the results of your live polls and post-event surveys with your partners. You can also deliberately poll your audience on sponsor-oriented questions such as brand preference and loyalty, product preference, organization size, industry trends, business spending, etc.
Send post-event surveys to sponsors to know how much revenue was generated through your event. When you collate the data, you can share with all sponsors so that they can have data on the event’s ROI. You can also use such data to sell more event sponsorship for your next event.
You can attract more event sponsorship and partnership when you create appreciable value for your current event sponsors. Virtual and hybrid events offer multiple opportunities that you can tap to create maximum brand awareness as well as lead generation and retrieval.
This is a guest post from Jordan Schwartz
Jordan Schwartz is president and co-founder of Pathable, an event app and website platform for conferences and tradeshows. He left academic psychology for the lure of software building, and spent 10 years at Microsoft leading the development of consumer-facing software. Frustrated with the conferences he attended there, he left Microsoft in 2007 with the goal of delivering more value and better networking opportunities through a next-generation conference app. Jordan moonlights as a digital nomad, returning often to his hometown of Seattle to tend his bee hives.