This post originally appeared on neilpatel.com
With most events going online, you need to find strategies to find and attract online event sponsors.
Hosting an event, even online, is expensive. And ticket sales alone probably won’t cover all your costs.
This is where event sponsors come in.
What is Event Sponsorship?
Event sponsorship is an agreement between an external brand (event sponsor) and an event organizer. In this agreement, the sponsor provides funding or in-kind donations to your event in exchange for something from your brand—usually exposure.
In exchange for brand exposure, they can underwrite your event costs and potentially leave you with a decent profit.
But how do you get online event sponsors?
10 Strategies for Finding a Sponsor for Your Online Events or Conferences
Getting sponsorship for a live event is challenging. But getting event sponsorship for online events takes challenging to a whole new level.
Many brands aren’t sure they’ll get a good return on their investment.
That’s why you must develop a strategy for finding event sponsors for your online events. Here are ten strategies that may help you secure event sponsors.
1. Find Event Sponsors Who Share Your Company Values
One of the most important steps to getting sponsors for your online event is finding brands sharing your company’s values.
Looking for shared values can narrow your search—meaning less time communicating with brands that may be bad fits—and potentially help you find common ground to negotiate.
As a bonus, shared values may mean shared consumers, even if you sell different products or services. For instance, if you and your event sponsors focus on environmentalism, environmentalist consumers may be interested in learning more about each of you.
Sharing your event sponsors’ same values helps you create a better experience for your attendees because their messaging and advertisements will seamlessly fit your event.
2. Find Event Sponsors Who Work in a Related Field
An advantage to finding sponsors in related fields is that you and your event sponsors appeal to the same target audience. If you sell similar products and services, people may be there to shop around, listen to speakers on the same topics, and so forth.
Having sponsors who work in unrelated fields could do your event more harm than good. Seeing brands and ads that are unrelated to your brand and your event’s theme may disorient your attendees or even contradict your messages.
3. Offer Something of Value to Your Online Event Sponsors
Sponsorship is not a donation. It’s a give-and-take relationship.
This means you must offer something of value to your potential event sponsors. The truth of the matter is sponsorship is an investment for them.
To do this, create an enticing virtual event sponsorship package. A sponsorship package is a collection of benefits your sponsors will get for helping underwrite your event.
Examples of incentives you can offer include:
- Opportunities for collaboration: This includes opportunities to be interviewed or to be part of a special panel. Collaboration affords your event sponsors maximum visibility.
- Virtual environments: You could create virtual environments where event sponsors and attendees can interact.
- Social media exposure: You should develop special hashtags for event sponsors to include in posts event attendees share. You can also add links to their websites in social media posts during your event.
- Branded waiting rooms: Most online events have a 15-30-minute waiting period before the event begins. Leverage this time by creating branded waiting rooms. You can display your sponsors’ logos during or show short ads during these times.
These are just a few incentives you can offer your event sponsors. Create packages that will give your sponsors exposure or opportunities to generate leads, and they’ll likely jump at the opportunity to partner with you.
4. Run a Paid Campaign to Find Event Sponsors and Attendees
Paid ads on social media, search engines, and other platforms could help you get sponsors for your online event.
One of the main things you must do is conduct keyword research to make your paid ads hyper-targeted. Using a keyword research tool to research phrases your potential sponsors use and use them yourself. If you’re targeting different types of potential sponsors, create separate campaigns for them.
Paid advertising may help kill two birds with one stone. You can use paid ads to reach and attract both event sponsors and event attendees.
5. Reach Out to Potential Sponsors on Social Media
With close to four billion active users, social media has gone beyond just connecting people on a social level. It has become a powerful business and marketing tool.
A few ways you can do this are:
1. Create a Public Post
Share a post on your timeline calling for event sponsors. Don’t be afraid to ask your followers to help spread the word, too. You can also increase your reach by paying to boost your post.
2. Post in Groups
If you’re active in relevant social media groups, let them know that you’re looking for sponsors for your next event.
3. Reach Out Privately
Besides posting on your timeline, you can also send direct messages (DMs) to your prospects. For this strategy to work, make sure to:
- Target decision-makers: Research the brands you’d like to partner with for your event and find the decision-makers. These are the people you must reach out to.
- Personalize your messages: This requires you to study your prospects and tailor your message to appeal to them.
- Clearly outline the benefits of sponsorship: Introduce your brand and the event, then spell out the benefits of partnering with you.
- Keep it short: Get to the point. Your prospects are busy. Besides, they receive many DMs and don’t have the time to read through a long pitch.
Don’t underestimate the power of social media in getting your sponsors for your online event. Used well, it could help you generate a good number of leads.
6. Create, Advertise, and Update Your Online Event Agenda
Before people commit to anything, they want to know what they’re getting into. That’s why one of the strategies you must use to get sponsors for your online event is to create and advertise your agenda for the event.
Make sure your agenda includes all the essential details such as the speakers, topics, and breakout sessions. Doing so lets sponsors preview what to expect from your event.
Design an epic event page and share it on as many platforms as possible. You can also create digital brochures and distribute them on social media and your email list.
7. Use Tools to Find Event Sponsors for Your Online Event
Thanks to technology, finding event sponsors has become easier through the use of tools. These are platforms that help connect event organizers and event sponsors. Because most act like a match-making service, you’ll likely get good results if you use these tools. A couple of examples of such platforms include:
SponsorMyEvent is a platform designed to make it easy for event marketers to find sponsors. One cool feature of this tool is the homepage featuring current events looking for sponsors. It also allows you to set a minimum price for your event sponsorship packages.
SponsorMyEvent can be used as a complete sponsorship management tool. You could use it to sell event tickets, organize your data, and a whole lot more.
SponsorPitch goes beyond facilitating quick connections between event organizers and event sponsors. The brand gives you access to their extensive database of sponsors and allows you to use their CRM.
You also get detailed analytics and data for both event organizers and sponsors, making it easier to choose who to work with.
8. Create Case Studies and Get Testimonials From Previous Sponsors
Because sponsorship is an investment for your event sponsors, new potential sponsors want to see proof your events will benefit them.
This is where social proof comes in. It helps give event sponsors the confidence they need to partner with you.
You can ask past event sponsors to give testimonials of their experiences with being part of your previous events. Their testimonials should highlight what they gained from sponsoring your events. With video being one of the most preferred content formats, it’s advisable to get video testimonials if possible.
Another great form of social proof is creating case studies of past events. Ask previous event sponsors if they can document their journey of being a part of your online event and its impact on their business.
These case studies and testimonials make for excellent marketing material as well. You can post them on social media or distribute them via your other marketing strategies.
9. Offer Different Online Event Sponsorship Levels
Create and offer tiered sponsorship packages with different benefits. For example, a higher-tiered sponsorship package could include collaboration opportunities, which wouldn’t be available for lower-tiered packages. Creating tiers allows sponsors to choose the package that best suits their needs.
Offering different event sponsorships is also a great way to open up to potential event sponsors of all sizes. The diversity in the size of sponsors doesn’t just benefit your event financially but also helps create a vibrant atmosphere.
10. Contact Sponsors From Similar Events
One of the best strategies to get online event sponsors is to research events similar to yours and reach out to their sponsors.
This often works well because these sponsors understand and appreciate the value of marketing their brands through event sponsorship. As a result, they may be more likely to be interested in sponsoring your event.
Another reason to contact sponsors from similar events is that your audience is likely to be relevant to them, which may make your event more appealing to sponsor.
Getting event sponsors for an online event has its challenges. But if you can leverage the strategies outlined in this post, you could get better response rates for your pitches.
To better improve your chances of success, you must know your way around digital marketing.
Better still, partner with an agency that can take care of tricky aspects of event marketing, like paid advertising, social media marketing, and SEO. Getting these right will also help you get sponsors for your next online event.
What other online event sponsorships strategies have worked for you?