As an experienced event organizer you’ll understand just how important it is to build and maintain a great sponsor relationship. After upgrading to the best available video conference software and onboarding to an efficient internal communication software for your team, it’s time to manage your sponsors and give them a positive experience. You never know the opportunities you might have with them in the future.

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Sponsors play a crucial part in ensuring your events are successful, so you need to foster long lasting relationships with them. That way, they’ll return year after year to make your summits and conferences keep working.

Whether you’re running a large industry festival event or hosting an eagerly anticipated product launch, you’ll need to identify ways to attract and retain sponsors who will be a great fit for your virtual gathering.

What do Sponsors do – and Why They Should Matter to You

Sponsors provide crucial financial support for events in exchange for promotional opportunities. These could be to host a presentation or workshop, or obtain free advertising at events.

Sponsors also help to boost your brand credibility. And in these competitive times, nothing is as important as getting your brand noticed for the right reasons. It may also be time to start upskilling your remote team with online courses on Udemy or other MOOCs to drum up abilities for brand exposure and marketing your future virtual events.

How to Build a Great Relationship with your Sponsor

1. Make a good first impression

In your initial talks with a prospective sponsor, work out exactly what they’re seeking to gain by partnering with you. Aim to have a discussion around their customer engagement ideas and strategies. As a result of sponsoring your event, they may be seeking to increase traffic to their social sites, boost lead generation, or win some actual purchases.

Once you know their goals, you’ll be able to pin down the aspects of the event you need to focus on – and work out how you’re going to track performance of them. If you can offer potential sponsors the prospect of hard data to show the success of your virtual event, you’ll pique their interest.

Before deciding to become a sponsor, potential partners may also evaluate your brand more broadly. So make sure you look 100% professional by eliminating any website design errors and keeping an eye on your social comments.

2. Maintain open lines of communication

As with any relationship, the key to keeping your sponsor relationship healthy is to maintain open lines of communication. Use every opportunity to initiate conversations with your sponsors, even if it’s just to check in with updates or to ask for their input. This will make your sponsor feel they’re important and that you value their opinion.

Keep your sponsor updated about any substantive changes to your event. Make sure they feel comfortable that they can always contact you. When they need clarifications or any extra resources from you, such as advanced instruction on operating your conferencing software, run them through the technicalities with online teaching tools. And if any problems should arise, make sure you get in touch with your sponsor right away.

Let your sponsor know you operate a fully connected remote team that’s on hand to deal with any queries they may have. Communications with sponsors and other partners are important to relay with other people working on the virtual event project, so it may be time to invest in screen share tools for business meetings.

3. Commit and keep your promises

Once you’ve secured a sponsor, make a checklist to ensure you keep all the promises you’ve made.

When you arrange meetings, make sure you show up on the agreed dates. Also, keep your promises during the actual event. For example, plan ahead so that they can make their intended presentation on the day.

After the event, share your data with your sponsor in terms of impressions, brand mentions, sales, and leads generated.

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4. Let your sponsor expand their network during the actual event

Virtual events can provide a great way for sponsors to connect with their target market and generate leads.

The SBC Digital Summit afforded sponsors plenty of networking opportunities

The SBC Digital Summit was a large-scale virtual betting and gaming industry event which took place from April 27 to May 1st. The organizers set out not only to give their attendees the optimum interactive experience, but to ensure that their sponsors also had plenty of opportunities to network with their target audience.

The summit’s advanced digital platform meant that attendees had access to a host of different virtual event spaces with many of the benefits of a physical exhibition.

To start with, virtual attendees ‘arrived’ in a virtual lobby which granted access to various virtual side rooms in the venue. These included an exhibition hall where attendees could visit virtual sponsorship booths, meet exhibitors, and view their products.

They also had the opportunity to visit the conference auditorium and listen to speaker’s panels and presentations given by sponsors. The networking lounge was another place where attendees could hang out with one another privately or have conversations with sponsors.

5. Acknowledge your sponsor publicly and privately

As part of their sponsorship package, sponsors will naturally want to see their messaging multiple times during any event. Declare arrangements for these ahead of time to your team, all of which you can program into task management softwares or other Trello alternatives.

How much coverage a sponsor gets will depend on their ‘tier of sponsorship’. For example, if they’re a top tier sponsor, they’ll be afforded more opportunities to get their name center stage.

Here are two examples of effective sponsorship placements:

1. Banner ads

These offer sponsors high visibility and are an opportunity for them to add hyperlinks to their site or product page. Banner ads are placements you would tend to offer to lower tier sponsors.

2. A virtual exhibit booth

These provide sponsors with the opportunity to develop highly customized content and experiences. Virtual booths are placements that you would likely offer to higher tier sponsors.

For example, at the Essence Festival – held virtually this year instead of in New Orleans – Ford’s virtual trade show booth was a runaway success.

Ford featured many ‘live’ elements, such as a photo booth, art activation, a V.I.P lounge and digital vehicle tours, plus competitions. The car company collected registration details as a prerequisite for entering the booth and carried out vehicle surveys for lead gen purposes.

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Essence Events and sponsorship manager, Jovanca Maitland, explained that Ford’s virtual booth mimicked the in-person experience that the company typically offers its attendees.

Acknowledging your sponsors

As well as giving them physical involvement in the event, you’ll want to personally acknowledge your sponsors. That means showing your gratitude for their support, both publicly and privately.

During your closing remarks, express your gratitude and appreciation by talking about how your event was only made possible because of your sponsor’s involvement. Post-event, make a personal follow-up call to the sponsor and send a newsletter via an email blast service to the participants to express your appreciation.

Conclusion

Overall, building a great sponsor relationship depends on their takeaways from the event. A dissatisfied sponsor leaves feeling used and uninspired – and they’re unlikely to sponsor another of your events. A satisfied and fulfilled sponsor will be open to supporting more summits or conferences in the future.

If you’re a good partner and really understand what your sponsor wants to do, you can help them get creative and engage with attendees. The software your remote team uses should align with your goals throughout the project.

As you move your organization into the future and embrace virtual events, you’ll need to examine how to maximize sponsorship potential.

You can achieve this by:

  • Making a good first impression and understanding your sponsor’s aims
  • Offering top notch communication
  • Keeping your promises
  • Giving your sponsor networking opportunities
  • Acknowledging their contribution to your event

The availability of secure video conferencing software has been a game changer for event organizers. But even the best planned virtual events can’t take place without the backing of sponsors. Taking the time to build a great relationship with your event sponsor creates a win-win situation for both parties.