Having spoken with and worked alongside hundreds of associations over the years, one thing is very clear to us: covid has been transformative for them just as it has been for many industries.
For many associations that rely on revenue driven by events and sponsorships - income has been slashed compared to years past.
While things are looking up lately, associations have spent years struggling with Covid to maintain membership, provide value, and also figure out how they can generate that all-important non-dues revenue.
More and more associations are now trying to look past the effects of Covid and understand what the landscape will look like for providing value to Sponsors in the near future, and beyond. Despite pressure on sponsorship budgets, many still want to support associations and most are open to new ways in which to engage.
This is where events come back in the picture. At first, it may have been easy to build excitement about reconnecting. After months or years without seeing friends and colleagues, it was easy to delight people in person!
But it’s not quite as simple as that anymore. At least, if it is, it won't be for long. And that's even more true for sponsors and their return on investment with sponsorships.
With sponsors out there looking to get the most ‘bang for their buck’ on restricted budgets, associations have to get creative with how they sell packages.
That's where Map D can come in.
Take the Colorado Association of Libraries, for instance, who recently held CALCON with us. We recently wrote about how they used Map D to raise ten times the cost of hosting their virtual conference and set new event benchmarks along the way.
So without further ado, let’s look at five things associations ought to do to generate revenue from sponsors when selling sponsorship packages for events.
Enhanced Audience For Sponsorship Packages
We’ve said many times before that one of the biggest benefits of event management software is the fact that information does not have to be “location dependent.” You can open your exhibitor listings to different (brand new!) audiences around the world.
Having a broader range of attendees in an event who may never have attended originally - even without Covid restrictions - is very attractive to sponsors. Especially when you factor in multiple locations for sponsors to advertise themselves during the event, and not to mention the rich data that can be supplied - far more than any event ever could without the service!
The most important aspect of any conference or trade show is community engagement. You see, it’s not enough to gather a large audience to label an event successful; the key to hosting successful virtual events is creating experiences that keep attendees on their toes throughout the entire event and encourage active participation instead of passive content consumption.
Maintaining attendee engagement is an ongoing challenge in the event industry and it certainly has dampened sponsors’ willingness to invest in virtual trade shows or expos. After all, who wants to spend money on ads that’ll never convert?
For this reason, look for event software that comes equipped with interactive tools to help you increase audience participation (and receptiveness to in-event ads). For example—at Map D we created the Community Engagement Program, empowering you to offer sponsors prime visibility and schedule display times that are based on the event’s schedule and content for maximum attendee engagement. The program also allows us to find sponsors for the event organizers (such as yourself) ensuring an additional stream of revenue without them lifting a finger.
Pre & Post Event Marketing
One great way to attract revenue from sponsors is to offer them a package that includes coverage in your pre and post-event marketing activities.
Ask yourself: What do sponsors want?
At a very basic level, they want exposure to people - specifically the right people - for multiple reasons from brand awareness to making sales both short and long term.
Offering your sponsors a place in your marketing activities on either side of your event is a great value add - whether it’s in your email newsletters, social media campaigns, website, or a good old-fashioned direct mail campaign.
As an added bonus for you - always ask them to share across their marketing campaigns as well. The more the merrier!
Floor Plans, Auditoriums & Virtual Booths
Arguably the most solid and dependable way to attract sponsors (and therefore revenue) is to sell space in your event. Consider this: the bulk of the main action of events happens here. This is almost always where the majority of “eyeballs” are from attendees. This is 100% where your sponsors need to be.
Typically where it all starts is the floorplan.
Your attendees want to know where they’re going and where they can engage with content that interests them. And you can get super creative with floor plans. Just check out this example from the Chi Omega Christmas Market, who made their virtual floorplan look like a present with different colors representing different categories of exhibitor.
How about some prime visibility for sponsors on the floorplan itself? You can (and ought to) push hard for these premium locations when using trade show management software.
In-Event Interactivity & Gamification
One of the things we have seen in events is the high level of engagement and interactivity especially if there is a level of gamification involved. Remember when we asked above what sponsors want? To be in front of people. Especially if those people are actively taking part and engaging within the event itself.
Associations can use this to their advantage when selling sponsorship packages. Imagine being able to offer potential sponsors additional recognition with features that are reserved exclusively for them.
That could be as simple as prime profile features such as videos, photos, team profiles, testimonials, or chat as a premium to really digging into the interactivity and gameplay of sponsored prizes, virtual scavenger hunts, raffles or exhibitor bingo.
There are so many options for you to showcase sponsors in person, and online with event management software. In fact, there are so many ways to generate revenue by selling sponsorships that it can actually make you *more* money than the cost of the service. If this sounds right for you and you're ready to learn more, we’re here to help.