Providing ROI for exhibitors and sponsors is hard, and many feel they are not getting the same value in the virtual space. Everyone started out by trying to replicate the tradeshow floor experience, but we all quickly learned that things are not the same in a virtual world.  Yet sponsors and exhibitors have not changed their goal of reaching the right audience to sell their products or services. Education regarding how to engage in new platforms is critical for success.

Set Your Exhibitors and Sponsors Up for Success

Your sponsors and exhibitors are investing in a new virtual event world, and with that comes unfamiliar territory. By providing support and training on your platform pre-and during the event, you will be providing them the opportunity to maximize their investment.

  • Share technical requirements that will help, such as recommended browsers, equipment, and internet connectivity. Don’t assume your participants have the most up-to-date equipment and technology.
  • Document, document, document. Sit in your participant’s chair, and do not assume that just because you understand the technology, your participants do. Create training documents, videos, and share Q&A’s from your technology providers.
  • Above all, provide a technical support team pre-, during, and post-event. Set up a technical demo with videos and webinars, then provide a live helpdesk via chat during the event to ensure that any glitches that may arise can be overcome. Keep participants focused on knowledge sharing, networking, and business development – not on technical snafus.

“If we don’t teach our attendees how to engage with our exhibitors and sponsors and speakers, then it’s doing a disservice. You have to think of everyone doing this for the first time… create multiple ways to educate people, in writing and video, so it’s really clear and people can get comfortable with it.”

– John Rubsamen | Senior Director of Meetings and Events, Americans for the Arts 

Think Beyond Logos

With cyberspace as the new show floor, organizers are having to be more creative with offerings that exhibitors and sponsors find valuable. Ensure you are utilizing every part of your event to provide your partners with ample coverage. Pre-event exposure is key, as it could increase attendance from those who may not have had the funds to attend previously.

  • Pre-event, offer your partners the opportunity to have brand visibility in marketing outreach:
    • Emails, social, event apps, registration pages, pop-up ads – these digital outreach opportunities can all provide data analytics your partners have been seeking.
    • Hosted buyer programs are a great way to get the right audience in front of the right buyers.
    • Have your premier sponsors send goodie bags to VIP attendees and tier the sponsor opportunity so that other partners can get in front of more attendees.
  • During the event, utilize your digital space to the fullest. Dream BIG!
    • Place ads in front of workshops, sessions, virtual chat rooms, transition, and intro slides. Have them sponsor keynotes or intro the keynote. Have virtual swag bags with discounts and offers or prizes such as e-gift cards during the event. Virtual photo booths are a fun way a sponsor can get involved.
    • Have your partners sponsor home deliveries through Amazon, or utilize food delivery services like Uber Eats, Favor, or Door Dash to provide a specific discount to participants so they can grab some nosh during an event.
    • Allow partners to conduct mini product pitches during intermissions of the event.
  • Post-event, keep your event partners top-of-mind – don’t make them a one-hit wonder:
    • Offer inclusion in post-event emails, thank you messages, social and video wrap-ups.
    • Have them sponsor the registration outreach efforts for next year’s event.
    • Create a page that hosts thought leadership content from your partners, such as case studies, white papers, videos, etc., and leave it up for several months.

If You Exhibit, Will They Come…And Will It Pay Off?

You want your partners to be successful when exhibiting or sponsoring; getting virtual foot traffic should be a partnership between both of you. They agree to exhibit or sponsor elements of the event, and organizers, in turn, need to deliver on their promises. More than ever, organizers need to show their exhibitors and sponsors the value of their dollar spent. Virtual event platforms have many opportunities to share data analytics.

  • Have your exhibitors and sponsors schedule meetings with attendees prior to the event as part of their marketing outreach. Be sure to provide all the opportunities within their virtual space to increase foot traffic.
  • Your sponsors and exhibitors need quality leads to make their investment pay off. Organizers can explore matchmaking of sponsors/exhibitors with attendees based on pre-event discovery questions.
  • Virtual events are amazing for data-driven results. Depending on your platform, a huge advantage of a virtual event is the ability to collect detailed data on attendee movement and interactions throughout your event. Booth Engagement Metrics and Reporting – are you able to provide live event reporting daily? Booth visitors, dwell time, duration, engagement (what did they click, what did they download, play, etc.) and above all, attendee contact information and BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timing).

“Exhibitors have been telling us for a long time that they want access to data. They need that to be able to plan if their exhibit is going to be live or virtual.”

– Cathy Breden | COO, CEIR                                             

In the end, it all comes down to having conversations with sponsors to understand their goals and then customizing sponsorship packages according to their unique needs.