We’re all getting pretty tired of hearing how the COVID-19 pandemic changed, well… everything. For those of us in the events industry, this message should continue to resonate as an opportunity to make some needed changes and reinvent the event space. This means more than mastering the evolving art of hybrid events.
We’re talking about taking real action to strengthen your sponsor’s ROI. Events need sponsors but the interruption to in-person events, thanks to the pandemic, gave sponsors a chance to reevaluate what really matters, which translates to where, when, why, and how people really want to spend their budgets.
As Albert Einstein put it best, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” but if there’s some good to come from two years of interruptions, it’s the opportunity to try new tactics. Strengthening sponsor ROI requires making new and meaningful changes, especially when it comes to supporting sponsors of hybrid events.
Hybrid Events: An Opportunity to Make Sponsorship Meaningful
The key word here is meaningful. In order to create meaningful value, there must be opportunities for sponsors to make real connections with hybrid event attendees. These connections are where sponsors will recognize real ROI.
How can you, as a hybrid event host, facilitate this?
According to Andrea Lechner-Becker, CMO at LeadMD, featured in Nasdaq’s In-Person Events Are Starting Back Up. Now’s Our Chance to Make Them Better:
In order to provide meaning to both attendees and event sponsors, event hosts must hold true their responsibility to connect attendees with sponsors who can help them achieve an objective. To do this, hosts must understand attendees and what their attendance at the event aims to achieve. Hosts must further acknowledge their responsibility to share this information with sponsors to facilitate a more meaningful experience for attendees.
Failure to make bridge meaningful connections between attendees and sponsors could detract from your event’s sponsored support.
Writing for Nasdaq, Latané Conant, Chief Market Officer of 6sense cautions, “If events don’t start to provide predictable ROI, we’re not going to resume sponsoring them.”
Once again, event planners can thank the COVID-19 pandemic for the break in routine scheduling that allowed sponsors to reflect and reevaluate on what event sponsorship means and why it matters.
Dedicate time and effort to get to know your sponsors and share important attendee information with them, specifically focused on why they are attending your hybrid event in the first place and what they hope to gain from their event attendance.
The Case for Making ROI a Real Thing for Sponsors
Helen Baptist, Chief Operating Officer at PathFactory, also profiled by Nasdaq, suggests that event hosts should provide sponsors with an ROI calculator that details what the sponsor really came away with, not just during but before and after the event: “We need a complete, end-to-end solution to ensure our investment pays off.”
Collaboration between event hosts and sponsors is critical for this reason. After all, it takes 86% of B2B organizations 7 months to realize positive ROI from their hybrid event, following the event date. This is why planning and following up are so important to a successful hybrid event, especially when it comes to tracking sponsorship ROI.
Whether with an ROI calculator or some other analysis, event hosts must evidence a sponsors ROI if they hope to gain repeat sponsorship and/or attract new sponsors, who can feel confident that their investment in the hybrid event will, in fact, pay off.
Spoiler Alert: Sponsors Are More than Monetary Support
Event hosts who are savvy about soliciting sponsors know that the sponsor must provide value to the event attendees — and, ultimately, vice-versa. So, it’s important to look beyond a sponsor’s marketing budget and evaluate them for the expertise they bring to the event table.
In fact, independent marketing strategist, Christina Del Villar suggests creating “an advisory board that event producers could come to for help in developing and defining the events and helping to decide on speakers, themes, and topics.”
Think of the value such a board could offer the launch of your next hybrid event.
Even without an established advisory board for event hosts and event planners, it’s critical to approach potential sponsors ever mindful of what they have to offer, aside from financial backing. Rather than secure a sponsor and breathe a sigh of relief that your hybrid event is in the black, take the time to connect with them and see what else they might offer in the way of industry knowledge and experience. And then make that value clear to your attendees in order to attempt to establish a mutually beneficial relationship between them and the sponsor. Both will thank you!
Value your sponsors for their expertise and experience, not just their event sponsorship budgets. By doing so, everyone, including sponsors, hosts, and attendees will benefit from that industry knowledge and awareness.
To that End: Shine the Spotlight on Your Sponsors
This means more than a logo on marketing collateral. Consult with your sponsors well ahead of the event and present them with the opportunity to take the stage — whether in-person or virtually — to share their knowledge via a speech, demonstration, lecture, workshop, roundtable discussion, whatever format best delivers their message. Be sure to allow enough time for your audience to ask questions, either with a raised hand or via a chat function.
Let your sponsors speak and share their knowledge directly with event attendees. Give those attendees the chance to ask their own questions directly to your sponsor while you celebrate meaningful interactions that build authentic connections.
Empower Your Sponsors by Divulging Data About Your Audience
As the event host it is your job to provide your sponsors with important insights about the event attendees. That means sharing data — the more detailed the better — concerning the brands they like, why they are in attendance, their personal demographics, where they are located, what they look for as consumers, etc. And you should absolutely take the time to ask your sponsors what they would like to know about the attendees because their answers might provide additional clarity that everyone can benefit from.
We know knowledge is power, which is why event hosts owe it to their sponsors to empower them with relevant data about the attendees, which includes asking them what, specifically, they as sponsors would love to know in order to make stronger connections.
Equip Your Sponsors with Game Changing Technology
Conant’s analysis of the opportunities event hosts now have to strengthen sponsorship includes a request for good technology. She writes, “Events of the future really need to up their app game so that we can share content onsite, schedule meetings easily, and foster connections between attendees and sponsors.”
Oh, we’ve got this!
And this is why you should, too. We hate to brag, but check out why Pathable is #1 on the list of the Top 10 Best Mobile Event Apps for Your Hybrid Event. It might have a little something to do with our client happiness manager, whose only job is to make sure you and your team are happy, and stay that way…happy!
Pathable’s hybrid event platform features everything you need to ensure your hybrid event is a success. Simply click here to check out our overview video, join a live demo, or book a 1:1 meeting here to access all the details.
Make life easier on all involved, including yourself, by investing in hybrid event technology that not only saves you time and money, but also builds better connections and nurtures networks before, during, and after the event.
In the meantime…
When All Else Fails — Phone a Friend!
By phone a friend, we mean seek out experts who know how to elevate hybrid event planning and make an effort to think outside the box when it comes to making things happen for your hybrid event sponsors — and attendees!
For instance, take a look at The Sponsorship Collective, which offers unique sponsorship activation ideas, designed to help you better promote your sponsors before, during, and after the event.
Don’t suffer overwhelm by the hybrid event evolution. Instead, leverage the tools and resources available to you to stay ahead of the curve and keep on the cutting edge of this exciting journey.
Want to learn more?
There is no better time to start to think about how to optimize your sponsors ROI for their next event.
For more information on Pathable’s end-to-end event management software, including their mobile event app, book your free demo today.