May 24, 2022
As the sales-oriented alternative to the main sessions, sponsor booths are essentially the “commercial break” of your virtual event. And nobody goes out of their way to watch the commercials — unless there’s something in it for them.
So to pull attendees (and convert them!), sponsor booth programming needs to provide upfront value to attendees. Instead of pitching and selling, they need to engage with attendees in a more conversational, organic way. Think interactional, not transactional.
It’s not always a hard sales pitch, but rather a connection point to potential customers and clients. Get started with some of our tips below:
“Cool idea, but if I knew how to create cool sponsorship activations, I wouldn’t be here,” you say. Good news, we’ve got some examples to get your wheels turning. Some successful sponsorship activations we’ve seen this year include:
But let’s be real: Nobody logs into a virtual event for the sponsor offerings. So if your event architecture and programming doesn’t actively nudge attendees toward the sponsor and exhibitor booths, they probably won’t go there. Unless your sponsors have a compelling giveaway, product demo or workshop to offer, that is.
One of the easiest ways to guide attendees toward sponsor booths is through pop-up push notifications. Deployed at strategic times, they’re incredibly effective at driving traffic that otherwise would have stayed put.
But if your guests feel like they’re getting sold, they won’t take you or your event seriously. So employ sponsored pop-ups selectively — only promote your biggest two or three sponsors over a 3-day period.
Also space them out evenly among the rest of your push notifications. So if you’re using a push notification to drive traffic to your keynote session, don’t pump up the sponsors 30 minutes later. Instead, wait until midday, when attendees are more likely looking for something to do, to start promoting your sponsors. On BigMarker, pop-ups can be pre-scheduled and customized to send to certain segments of your audience at key times.
They can also be customized with your own copy and branding. In the pop-up itself, strike a balance between educational and promotional, stressing the sponsor’s value to attendees alongside the salesy language. Example: “Learn how to amplify your 2021 at ACME Company’s newest software demo!“ v. “Visit ACME Company in our sponsor booth!”
Basketball is, at its most basic, is a bunch of people throwing a ball into a hoop. Boring, until you pin two teams against each other with a trophy and some major cash at stake. Now all of a sudden, it’s an intensely entertaining multi-billion dollar industry.
Competition injects intrigue into previously neutral things. Gamification applies that logic to encourage attendees to visit sponsor booths.
Gamification is essentially an event-wide challenge in which attendees can earn prizes by engaging in a series of desired engagement behaviors. On BigMarker, hosts can employ gamification in a few different ways.
In prize pack challenges, attendees participate in event sessions and modules to win prize pack, which are essentially product bundles donated by sponsors. While this requires sponsors to comp a small amount of free product, these challenges give sponsors new “foot traffic” they wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and thus more opportunities to show demos, schedule meetings and collect lead data.
And by gifting their product to the “winners,” sponsors are giving their most engaged guests a chance to move further along the sales funnel, all with minimal effort.
Hosts can also create an event-wide leaderboard that ranks attendees for their overall participation in the event. On the BigMarker platform, hosts can assign points for any desired engagement actions (like attending a sponsor booth), then offer prizes for attendees with the highest point totals. Some prize ideas include mailed swag boxes, access to exclusive networking opportunities, a free trial or discounted service or comped entries to future events.
The point of sponsorships is exposure — not just the brand’s name and logo, but what they do, what they produce, who they work for. So why should sponsors stop at telling people how valuable they are? Through demos, they can show, not tell, attendees why their product or service matters.
That soft-touch approach can also attract more attendees, namely the ones that don’t feel like engaging in a drawn out conversation with a sales rep.
Just in the last few years, product demos have evolved from a one-way, two-dimensional video to a 3-D, conversational experience in which the prospective customer can explore every aspect of the product on their own.
For example, on BigMarker, sponsors can conduct demos using pre-scheduled videos and/or live screen sharing, all while interacting with guests through chat messages, Q&As, poll questions and more. To follow up, they can schedule meetings within the platform, or push their leads’ contact information to their chosen CRM/MAS through integrations.
To really level up your attendees were able to virtually manipulate, rotate and flip a projection of a coffee maker to see how it appeared from all angles, then ask a stand-by sponsor representative about each of its functionalities. Sponsors can essentially replicate the IRL shopping experience for attendees — and complement it with additional videos and online resources.
As an event host, you need to align your sponsor’s need for lead generation with your attendees’ need for tangible resources and takeaways. By hosting sponsored workshops, you can meet both those needs at once. Your sponsors get coveted face time and lead generation with attendees while your audience leaves with useful insights — not a hard sell.
Promote workshops ahead of time, alongside your agenda sessions, so your sponsor can reap the marketing benefits. Then in the workshop itself, you can incorporate additional ads and collateral to ensure your sponsor receives recognition for their involvement in the workshop.
Keeping with the importance of engagement, give your sponsor as much hands-on involvement as possible the execution of the workshop. Your sponsor could introduce the speaker or panel, or be integrated into the follow up. After the event, they can host a Q&A with attendees and/or follow up through emails collected via registration.
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