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5 reasons you're not generating more sponsorship revenue

Virtual and hybrid events have become the new norm. Yet, despite the wide-ranging benefits they bring to bear, conveying the value they add for sponsors can be difficult. This makes attracting sponsors, and thus generating revenue, a challenge.

Although the ROI for virtual and hybrid events looks a bit different than for those that are in-person, demonstrating their value is, in fact, easier to do. With more data to rely on, quantifying the return on investment for sponsors is more straightforward. So if sponsors are looking for ROI and you have the data to prove you can provide it, wherein lies the problem?

It comes down to your ability to communicate the true value proposition of your event — not to mention, misalignment between your value proposition and what prospective sponsors are looking for. 

Preventing sponsorship opportunities from becoming “closed-lost” means taking a more thoughtful, nuanced approach to sponsorship proposals. Securing more “closed-won” opportunities means thinking about where the value you add and sponsors’ needs and wants intersect. Often, missed sponsorship opportunities are the result of the same common mistakes.

Being aware of and avoiding these five blunders will help you add more value for sponsors — and get you to “yes” faster. 

1) Not aligning prospective sponsors’ needs with your offering from the start

There is nothing that will break your event sales engine like not understanding what your ideal sponsors’ priorities — their needs, wants and goals — are. Developing a deep understanding of your ideal sponsor profile allows you to tailor your proposal in a way that aligns with their priorities. This helps you demonstrate your event value proposition so that your pitch becomes a no-brainer for them. 


Another common mistake to avoid is focusing on what you would want from an event. By making the proposal about sponsors’ wants and needs from the beginning, you are sending a message that it’s not just about you or your event. It’s about helping them achieve their marketing goals. You are telling them that you want them — not just anyone — as a sponsor. Who wouldn’t want that kind of service?


To gain in-depth knowledge of your ideal sponsor, here are the questions you should be thinking about and asking:


 ➜ What are their quarterly and yearly goals? How will this event help them get closer to achieving those?

➜ What challenges do they face toward achieving their goals? How could this event – and a virtual or hybrid event specifically – help them overcome those?

➜ Who is their target audience? How will this event help them reach that audience?

➜ What are their objections to your proposal likely to be? How can you avoid or negate those?

➜ How can I prove my ROI? 


2) Focusing on specs and features, instead of value

It can be easy to confuse event features with value. While the time, place, speakers, and other details are important, when it comes to attracting and securing sponsors, that information is secondary. 


Instead, focus on the benefits your event will provide them, such as data-driven information on audience engagement, access to an expanded audience, and more insight into their ideal audience – all at a lower cost than in-person events. You may have the best speakers and the most advanced features, but they won’t get you any closer to “closed-won.” At the end of the day, people buy the honey, not the bee.


3) Forgetting about the full scope of the event journey

The ROI you and your event provide goes beyond its kickoff and conclusion. So, it’s important to offer opportunities for sponsors to have visibility before and after an event, in addition to during — and to convey those in sponsorship proposals. 


Social media content, free downloadables, smaller pre-launch events, and AMA/pre-recorded content are avenues for providing visibility before and after an event. 


Be sure to also highlight the many ways in which sponsors can gain additional visibility during the event. Offer opportunities for branding anywhere they would like, depending on their level of sponsorship. This could include brand colors, logo placement, a dedicated booth, video placement before a session, the ability to sponsor special sessions or to lead their own. You could even offer the opportunity for gamification, or provide incentives (i.e., attendees would receive points for doing things like visiting a sponsor’s booth or website or speaking with a representative). 


By focusing on the entire event journey and offering varying levels of sponsorship, you are able to provide added value for sponsors, as well as an additional level of control over where, how, and how much they show up. 


4) Not using real-time data to its full potential

Another common mistake that detracts from the value added by your event is not taking advantage of real-time data. One of the biggest benefits of virtual and hybrid events is the ability to track metrics in real-time. This allows sponsors to see when someone is interacting with their brand and to start a conversation with them while they are actively engaged — rather than waiting till after the event, when the lead may have gone cold. 


Depending on the metrics available to you, you could also share with sponsors real-time information on how their team is performing. Through this insight, sponsors can see what is and isn’t working, whether or not they are doing enough and where they could improve to get more traction. 


Using real-time data such as this is essential for demonstrating the ROI for sponsors. When they are aware of how they are performing, they can react and adjust accordingly, improving their effectiveness. 

5) Sticking only to paper promises

The above deliverables and the value they add is important, but don’t stop there. To truly build long-term partnerships and stand out from your competitors, go above and beyond what you have promised on paper. 


This is where having a clear understanding of your ideal sponsors’ needs and goals is especially helpful. No more guessing at what will impress them. Use what you already know, but also get to know the person you are working with on a personal level. What makes them tick? Do they have a favorite book or food? Show them you’ve been listening — and that they are more than a number to you. 


Let’s face it, we are all focused on our bottom line. Just like you, sponsors are looking to use their budget in the most effective way. They want to know they will get the best ROI for their money when they sponsor your event. Make it easy for them to say “yes” by avoiding these common mistakes, taking a thoughtful approach to developing proposals, and conveying the unique value-added by sponsoring your event.

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