It’s already the third week of August, time to say goodbye to summer break and get back to business. For many, that means diving into the weeds of a virtual event or virtual conference program. If you’re working on a virtual event that involves sponsors or partners, we thought it might be a great time to talk about how to make those sponsorships a little richer.
Since the typical sponsorship includes a virtual booth, let’s focus there. We’re trying to rethink the traditional virtual booth a bit, tweaking the model or the package in order to help our clients offer more value to their clients. We’re also evaluating how to better integrate sponsors into the overall virtual program.
Here are six ideas that may help with your own virtual event planning – six more coming next week, so stay tuned.
1 – All booth space isn’t the same. Like on the physical show floor, try to provide your sponsors with real estate appropriate to their sponsor level. At a large physical conference, platinum sponsor booths are not only front and center but also filled with prominent signage. Bronze sponsors have little signage, and a much smaller footprint. In the virtual event world, think along the same lines. We have new virtual booth layouts that include large signage and prominent brand exposure at the high end, and simple “table top” exhibits at the low end.
2 – While booth space may vary, don’t limit sponsor content. I’ve seen a lot of sponsor packages that limit the specific number of content items per booth. While number of items may impact service level or build time, your sponsors should be able to cram in as much content as they want. If I have a table top on the outskirts of Moscone, I can stack data sheets to my heart’s content – if that means overwhelming stacks of paper, that’s my choice. Likewise, if I have just one area to list all my content in my virtual booth, allow me to stuff that area full, or to be sparing and selective. In other words, let your virtual event sponsors manage their own content strategy. (a side benefit – one less item for you to track and manage across sponsors).
3 – Enable live activity in every virtual event booth. Allow your smaller sponsors to host an open public chat and your largest sponsors to schedule moderated expert chat sessions, live demos or even live webcasts. Of course attendees may still shy away from virtual exhibits, fearing a hard sell, so be sure to coach your sponsors on offering value – exclusive access to experts or executive, sneak peeks at new products, consultative strategies for deployments, or relevant case studies – anything that’s NOT a product pitch is more likely to gain attendee interest.
4 – Schedule, schedule, schedule. When you plan your virtual event program agenda, include your sponsors. In addition to specific breaks for “virtual exhibit hall networking” be sure to included your sponsor’s live virtual booth activity (per above) into your program agenda. Your sponsors will gain additional exposure as attendees plan their time, and they are more likely to pick up visitors if their (valuable) live activity is seen as part of the overall agenda.
5 – Everyone likes a freebie. What can your sponsors offer attendees? An hour of time with a consultant? An exclusive whitepaper? A free hour of wireless on their next plane ride? A pair of movie tickets? Encourage your virtual event sponsors to offer something in their virtual booth. Each attendee’s time is valuable; so offer something in return for engaging in a chat or downloading collateral.
6 – Everyone likes to win. Consider using a leaderboard or other gamification strategy to drive attendees through the booths. Offer points for not only entering a both but also engaging with reps, downloading assets, attending sessions. Prizes are a great draw – and don’t have to be expensive – but do keep in mind that sometimes being at the top of the leaderboard is enough – seeing where you rank among your peers can often drive exactly the engagement your sponsors want.
Hopefully something in this list resonates. Do you have other virtual event ideas? What’s working in your virtual events? Stay tuned for some additional thoughts next week…