April 18, 2022
Build sponsorship booths that showcase the best of your business.
The rise of virtual events has unlocked new possibilities for corporate sponsors looking to broaden their reach and book sales. Through virtual events, sponsors can not only participate in more events at a lower cost, but they can tap into new audiences that otherwise would've been inaccessible.
But sponsors can just easily squander those opportunities if they have subpar virtual booths. From blurry branding and poor engagement to disjointed lead gen strategies, companies can lose ROI — and hurt their brand reputation — at virtual events.
Want to create virtual sponsorship booths that excite your audience and drive revenue? Read on for tips from our team of event producers:
To really take advantage of the virtual format, sponsors need to look beyond the standard sponsorship booth to consider other aspects of the event space, says Elizabeth Schaul, a Senior Account Executive at BigMarker. Because the more that sponsors can connect one-on-one with attendees, the more likely it is that they'll resonate with customers and convert them.
"We’ve been accustomed to hosting onsite sponsorships. But in the virtual realm, we have not just booths, which everyone thinks of as the sponsor space, but we’re also thinking across the virtual event space. Maybe your top sponsors can host an agenda session or a networking area. Maybe they can host a more intimate video networking for a select group of high-intent buyers.”
Hybrid models provide even more options. Hosts would be remiss not to consider those possibilities, Schaul says.
“We then also have the hybrid option," Schaul continues. "So if you have some exhibitors or some sponsors with a physical presence, they might also have a virtual presence. That lends to itself not just having virtual swag — something that’s emailed to someone or that they can download — but also having something they can physically take home with them. That provides a little more creativity and opportunity in terms of ‘What do we want to provide to different tiers of sponsors?’”
Building a sponsor booth requires a substantial outlay of time, energy and resources. So to maximize your ROI (and keep your sales team happy), you need to select the right events and audiences for your goals. This way, your sponsorship efforts will garner an audience that’s likely to buy — and your sales team will be better able to convert them into long-term customers.
But you already knew that. The challenge isn’t what to do, but how to do it.
Start by deciding the goals of your sponsorship, since that will drive your attendee engagement and content strategies throughout the event.
Businesses use sponsorships to advance one of three main objectives:
a. Brand awareness: Buzz doesn’t pay the bills, but it can put you in a position to network, generate future business and even secure investors. Businesses use their content and product demos to entice viewers to visit their virtual booths. From there, they incentivize guests to click through their visual content, links, and/or subscribe to their marketing mailing.
b.Thought leadership: While some businesses use sponsorships to spread the word, others use them to establish credibility in their space. That’s especially true for companies in highly technical fields (think: SpaceX).
c. Lead generation: Demand generation’s the name of the game in marketing — and the most common goal among corporate sponsors. Sponsor reps create strategies for contacting and following up with leads, increasing traffic to their booths, and articulating their product’s advantages to attendees.
From there, consult with your sales team to identify your most promising leads and demographics, then target events and companies that appeal to those groups. If you don’t know where to look, lurk through industry LinkedIn groups or even the comments of related posts. There, you can see what your targets are talking about today – and what events they’re most likely to attend.
While you’re scouting events, also research the virtual event platforms they’re using to stream their events. Different virtual event platforms come with different sponsorship amenities, ad placements, branding opportunities and multimedia capabilities, some of which the event host can’t change.
So before signing the dotted line, make sure that your virtual event platform provides the customization and custom dev services you need to bring your biggest vision to life.
Once you’ve secured your sponsorship, you’ll need to submit various visual assets to the event’s producers, so they can build out your booth in the virtual event platform and expo hall.
Simple enough, but event builds take 6-8 weeks. And when you’re already busy producing content and creating a follow-up strategy, deadlines can creep up very very quickly (Just ask our event producers!).
So during the negotiation process, ask your host for a list of all the required graphics, as well as the format type and specifications. This way, your project managers and graphic design team will have enough lead time to generate those visual assets and make edits as needed.
Now that you've started building your booth, your next step is filling it with content. This usually includes videos, chats, polls, handouts, surveys, etc., all of which serve to promote your product or service. Your content team will need to generate all of those assets in advance of your event. That can get overwhelming fast, unless you can refer back to an overarching goal for your sponsorship.
So refer back to your goals, then work backward to create content that’ll move you closer to those benchmarks. For instance:
a. If your goal is brand awareness, consider creating a video that speaks broadly to your mission and expertise in your field. Be sure to include links to your social media feeds, website and/or sales contacts to ease follow-up. You also may need to create a video to inform what your product is or what it does.
Product walkthrough videos are an evergreen piece of content that you may already have and are a great asset to any marketing toolkit and you probably already have it!
b. But if you’re going for lead gen, get more specific. Identify the products, then highlight a few of them in your video content. Accompany it with a clear call-to-action and response form, so your team can collect lead data from interested viewers.
c. If you’re looking to establish credibility, publish thought leadership content, like an interview with one of your company’s leaders or a new research report with analysis that viewers can’t find anywhere else. (This will be especially successful if you’re sponsoring a media company.)
From there, produce any print content and product demos you’ll be rolling in your virtual booth. We also recommend pre-recording your video content, as well as any high-stakes sales collateral for your virtual booth. Not only does this reduce the risk of error on event day, but it gives your team more time to talk to attendees on event day.
Using automation, you can program that pre-recorded content to begin rolling as soon as an attendee enters the virtual booth, so it still looks and feels like a live presentation. Your team members will also be able to field questions from guests and distribute offers in real-time, so you won’t sacrifice interactivity for convenience.
Once attendees enter your booth, trigger pop-up surveys to identify your audience’s biggest knowledge gaps. You can check the results in real-time, so you can easily adapt your strategy and provide different content in response to your audience’s needs.
You can also field questions from attendees via the booth’s Q&A tool. Attendees can upvote questions as they’re submitted, so you can quickly see the most popular questions and address them within your session.
To save yourself some breath, create a PDF covering frequently asked questions, then link to it periodically so guests can download and peruse it on their own time. On BigMarker, you can also upload it to the platform in the form of a handout — this way, you can see who downloaded it in your post-event report.
Chats, survey, Q&A and handout activity are all positive signs for sponsors. They signal that audiences are interested in engaging with your content and learning more about your service.
But after tuning into a full day of virtual programming — and dealing with various real-life tasks that pop up — attendees won’t retain everything they’ve taken in throughout the event. That’s especially true for sponsored content, which most attendees will visit between the main sessions they’ve had circled on their calendars.
So how can you translate booth visits into sales meetings and closed deals? Give them an offer while they’re still in the booth.
On BigMarker, hosts can trigger pop-up offers that link to the company website or another external site. Distribute them to interested attendees as they start asking questions - not only will they get a link to the site of your choice, but you’ll also receive their contact information.
An excited attendee comes into your booth with thoughtful questions about your product. Why send them to email sales, trade meeting times, then talk to another person when you could give them the information they need, right in your booth?
Add a meeting room to your sponsor booth so you can have direct 1:1 conversations with attendees. You can schedule post-event calls with our Calendly integration. (Learn more about our integrations here!).
Now that you’ve built a beautiful booth, it’d be a real shame if your team didn’t know how to use it to actually talk to attendees. You can allay most of these issues by familiarizing yourself with your virtual booth in advance.
Two weeks out, perform a dress rehearsal of your event, including as much of your sponsorship team as possible to most closely approximate the flow of the event. This includes testing links and A/V capabilities, making sure that your booth is displaying the correct logos and videos, confirming that your pop-up offers are redirecting guests to the right place, and double-checking that the user experience is smooth.
This buys your team another week to resolve any technical issues, learn the platform, or revise any visual assets and content that are missing or need updates.
Note: Also ensure that you have a technical support contact (either from the host team or the virtual event platform itself), then provide their information to everyone on your team.
After the event wraps up, deliver on your investment by quickly following up with attendees. You can do this by obtaining your event’s analytics reports, which will provide the individual names, emails, and engagement activity of each person who visited your booth.
What does “engagement activity” measure? It tells you when and for how long each of your guests watched your videos. Did they switch tabs at the 5-minute mark? Did they click off the video once the sales pitch started? Both of those questions should drive your post-event sales strategy. (e.g., Maybe don’t send 6 lead nurturing emails to the people who clicked out of the booth after 30 seconds.)
From these reports, you can also learn which attendees clicked which pop-up offer, what questions they asked in the Q&A, and what handouts they downloaded. So if your team takes the time to analyze each of these reports, you can glean serious insights about your audience’s preferences. What kinds of messaging resonates with them — and what turns them off? What questions do they have about your product — and what possibilities do they see in the future?
If you integrate your CRM/MAS with your virtual event platform, your sales team will get this information automatically. Theoretically, they could reach out to leads — and book sales — by the end of the day.
With this data, you’re not just getting a few hot leads for this quarter. You’re putting yourself in a position to engage them over months and years.
Want to learn more about delivering ROI for your event and your partners? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a demo and get started!