Some people have been organizing hybrid events since the 1990’s, and we owe these pioneers a debt of gratitude.
While hybrid events did exist pre-pandemic, 2020 onward brought drastic changes. The pandemic upended the marketing and sponsorship world, forcing everyone to adapt or suffer losses if they get left behind.
The hybrid format is evolving fast because everybody is embracing it now. Innovations happen every month. It can be quite confusing, but it can be equally exciting. Sponsorship models are changing, too.
In this blog post, we will examine the evolution of hybrid event sponsorships and provide five key tips for structuring them. You will learn the main ways to profit from these partnerships while still offering incredible value to your sponsors.
Enthusiastic Reception from Sponsors
A great way to make money from hybrid events is to negotiate good deals with sponsors. But because hybrid events are still seen as a new form of event, it is understandable to be unsure about the details.
Despite the uncertainty, many companies view hybrid event sponsorships favorably. A survey from AIM Group International showed that 72% of companies are interested in hybrid event sponsorship strategies.
Key Tips for Structuring Hybrid Event Sponsorships
1. Understand Your Event
Before you craft your hybrid event sponsorship strategy, you first need to understand what hybrid events are. A hybrid event is the combination of an in-person and virtual event. This makes it possible to sell both online and offline ads to your sponsors.
But what separates your hybrid event from any other educational or inspirational video people may find on YouTube?
The audience participation and engagement.
Your hybrid event should ensure the engagement of two types of audiences — your live, in-person audience and your virtual audience. Planning an enjoyable attendee journey for both sets of audiences will help you identify key points to where they can interact with your sponsors.
Moreover, their positive feelings about your engaging and fun event will also extend to your sponsors. An audience that is engaged in your event will be more receptive to any advertisements and sponsorship strategies you may use.
2. Consider What Can Be Sponsored at an In-Person Event
Sponsors use in-person events mainly for brand awareness.
Participants attend the event to listen to speakers or to network with peers. Meanwhile, companies use the event and exhibit space to advertise their brands. They want to get their company logo and mission into the attendees’ consciousness.
Physical ad space normally takes the form of booths, pamphlets, and brochures. If you have ever been to a trade show, you will have an accurate idea in mind. Physical ads are a time-tested method for improving brand awareness.
Meeting participants face-to-face is also a great way to connect with leads. Having conversations with them and answering their questions on the spot is a powerful approach. Sponsors have used in-person events with great success.
The downside is that tracking the ROI is tough. It is hard to know the impact that the physical ads are having. It is hard to know how many leads and sales are made from these advertisements. In short, it is hard to know if physical ads are profitable or not.
Therefore, you should focus on brand awareness when negotiating your physical ad space. Do not promise sponsors immediate sales; rather, promise to get their message out.
3. Consider What Can Be Sponsored at a Virtual Event
Virtual events are compatible with digital marketing practices. Therefore, most virtual space contains typical online ads.
Your sponsors can buy in-app banners. Participants will see the banners while they navigate the virtual event platform. Even if they don’t click on the banner, the ad is still useful for brand awareness.
Another type of digital ad to sell is a push notification. This is a small notification that pops up on a participant’s screen. It contains a quick offer and a link for more information. Sponsors can use push notifications during the event.
Interstitial ads are another type to use. Unlike the push notification, an interstitial ad will pop up and consume the entire screen. It is impossible to ignore. Sponsors can buy an interstitial ad that will pop up at a relevant time.
These types of online ads are sometimes thought of as annoying. However, a virtual event is different from just browsing the internet. Sponsors will choose your event because your audience is relevant to their business interests. In other words, the ads will be targeted properly, and they will promote relevant and interesting products to your participants.
You will also be able to profit from the principles of influencer marketing. You can get speakers to mention the brand name during the event. You can also mention the brand during both the promotion and the post event follow up.
There are multiple occasions during an event to employ influencer marketing. After all, the audience are attending because they respect the organizers of the event. This is great for influencer marketing because the audience is receptive.
You can also sell data and analytics to sponsors. However, this requires a high level of digital marketing skill.
4. Create Diverse and Custom Sponsorship Benefits Tiers
Knowing what can be sponsored in live and virtual events allows you to create diverse sponsorship benefits tiers. However, that is only half of what should be considered. You also need to know what your sponsors want in order to present them with attractive sponsorship deals.
The aforementioned AIM Group International survey also notes that sponsors want flexible and interactive events that make use of the latest technology, like 3D and augmented reality. They want to see events that can be available to another set of audiences after the actual event. Most of all, sponsors want to be able to track their reach.
You will need to consider all these when creating your sponsorship benefit tier levels or packages. For each tier, present them with a variety of options for the live and virtual events. This way, they reach both audiences.
You can also offer custom sponsorship packages where you tailor the advertising opportunities based on the companies’ goals. Ask the company you are wooing what they are looking for so you can present them with benefits that fit their needs.
If they are looking for brand exposure, you can offer naming rights on the virtual sessions, traditional print ad space, shout outs and logo advertisements during events, branded items as prizes for audience engagement, and more.
On the other hand, if your potential sponsors want to focus on collecting leads, you can offer a scavenger hunt or other event gamification strategies where the audience will need to like, follow, subscribe, or share their social media pages.
If you run annual events where traditional sponsorship may mean years of commitment, it is time to rethink this strategy. Take a look at how the Envision Virgin Racing Formula E team devised their hybrid event sponsorship strategy.
They changed their sponsorship model to focus on three areas, namely core rights, marketing, and sustainability. Now, they offer their sponsors the opportunity to co-own projects and campaigns. Sponsors now have the flexibility to change up their sponsorship benefits yearly according to what they may want to focus on that year.
5. Devise Your Hybrid Event Sponsorship Strategy
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is a company that sells pay-per-view hybrid sporting events. One of their main sponsors was Reebok.
How did they secure Reebok? While the UFC does not reveal the details of their negotiations, it is safe to say that they are not begging sponsors to do business with them. In fact, the UFC probably has many potential sponsors. They can pick and choose who to partner with. Your goal should be the same.
The UFC can choose their sponsors because their events are popular. They have leverage for negotiations. A tiny promotion with little traction won’t be able to secure the same sponsorship deals.
Applying this idea to hybrid events, you must ask yourself how to create leverage.
One of the ways is to develop your social media accounts. If you have a large following of people who are interested in your events, you can point to those followers during negotiations. In fact, if you have a large relevant following, sponsors will start approaching you.
You can cultivate your social media accounts by creating high-quality content.
In addition, if you can demonstrate a high degree of digital marketing skill, you can use this as leverage too. You can promise the sponsor valuable customer insights for a higher fee.
Finally, it is important to have recordings of previous events when talking to potential sponsors. You want to point to the high-quality video as irrefutable evidence that your hybrid events are awesome. If this video has a decent number of views, likes, and shares; this acts as powerful social proof that demonstrates how much people enjoy your events.
Moreover, almost all sponsors want shareable content. According to the AIM Group International survey, an overwhelming 99.5% of companies find available-on-demand content after the event useful for greater visibility, especially to non-attendees. This may also help improve brand name recognition of sponsors among participants.
Conclusion: If You Build It, They Will Come
If you master the hybrid event, sponsors will want to do business with you. You can make money. However, you must go about negotiations properly, demonstrating skill and popularity.
We strongly encourage you to consult with a hybrid and virtual event producer who oversees these kinds of events every day. He or she will help you understand the finer details so you can secure sponsors that make you proud.
The most important thing to remember when structuring hybrid event sponsorships is that a sponsor is a business partner. You want to help them succeed and they want you to succeed. The better your events, the better your deals.
Put the AMP Event Group team’s 17+ years of knowledge and expertise to work for you today to turn your hybrid event into a sponsorship magnet. Let’s get started!