And How to Avoid Sourcing Sponsors that Miss the Mark
Hybrid events are trending upwards and they’re most likely going to stay en vogue for the foreseeable future. Virtual was the game-changing strategy that kept businesses afloat and coworkers communicative while everyone stayed socially distant and masked.
As we approach a return to “normal” life, the ongoing challenge for event planners is to curate scenarios in which everyone is comfortable. The most effective solution is hosting a hybrid event with options for those able and willing to attend in person, but those who cannot do the in-person event, don’t miss out.
The bottom line is hybrid events are still happening regularly and they will continue to be scheduled as we negotiate our way out of this pandemic, hopefully for good. The question now isn’t how to host a hybrid event, but rather, how to monetize your next hybrid event. Because, let’s face it, the effort to host hybrid far outweighs what’s required of strictly in person or virtual events.
Striking the balance is tricky, time-consuming and, often, costly. Which is where smart sponsorship comes into play; however finding the right sponsors for your hybrid event that will help monetize your efforts is sometimes easier said than done.
Now, perhaps more than ever, the challenge of hosting a successful hybrid event requires careful attention to audience data.
That’s why our Pathable team wants to share some insider tips, regarding smart sponsorship to help monetize your hybrid event for maximum ROI.
Seek Out Smart Sponsorships
Wait, aren’t all sponsorships smart? Shouldn’t we solicit any willing sponsors to support our event?
While it’s easy to be lured into the financial promise associated with big name sponsors, you want to think strategically about who your audience cares about. What sponsors will they respect, listen to, and ultimately feel inspired to support via ticket purchase to your event? Try to think less about the bottom line and more about the big picture.
This means really homing in on why you’re hosting this hybrid event in the first place and being really clear on what you can provide your attendees.
In order to articulate your value, you need to know your audience and what they’re looking for. Maybe you already think you do, which is why it’s often helpful to explain how to do something by sharing an anecdote of what not to do…
When Sponsors Seem… Strange
This is a perfect example of a brand being lured by a big sponsor but failing to connect the dots between what the sponsor stands and what the actual event represents.
Let’s put it this way: When you think of NASCAR does your mind quickly conjure the image of Spongebob Squarepants?
No, of course it doesn’t. Which then begs the question, why would NASCAR decide, back in 2015, to rename its Sprint Cup Series as the Spongebob Squarepants 400?
Well, in short, the kid’s broadcasting network, Nickelodeon, had recently partnered with NASCAR, so the Spongebob scenario made sense.
Except it didn’t.
Consider that the average age of a NASCAR fan is 58 years old, and it’s only rational to wonder why NASCAR would ever choose Spongebob. Is there a huge number of men and women in the almost-60 age brackettuning into the silly antics of Spongebob Squarepants? Probably not. so, we clearly have larger issues at hand…
However, this is a great example of an organization securing a fantastic sponsor but failing to celebrate that sponsorship in a way that the audience would recognize and connect with.
Pro-tip: Do your homework when it comes to understanding your audience. As soon as you isolate what matters to them, you can make that information work for your next hybrid event.
A Simple Strategy to Help You Solicit the Right Sponsor
Once you have a simple strategy cemented in your mind, make sure your team is on the same page. Then, and only then, should you start soliciting sponsors. Imagine you’re an attendee: Do the sponsors align with your values and professional ambitions? Did they inspire you to register and attend? Would you come back based on your first impress of the selected sponsors for this event?
Seek out the sponsors who represent those ideals and it will be a win-win for you and everyone in attendance — sponsors included.
Specify Sponsorships Based on Your Audience
It sounds like an obvious strategy but, as illustrated by the Nickelodeon / NASCAR example, it’s just as easy to miss the mark when it comes to making a match between sponsors and event attendee expectations.
That’s why analyzing audience data is key.
What worked well in the past might not resonate well with consumers today, so it’s critical to be hypervigilant of current events
McDonald’s, for example, has been a sponsor of the Olympicssince 1976. Fast forward to 2012 and the brand was once again poised to sponsor the Olympic games in London. They faced two major issues: The first was a health crisis because in 1997 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared obesity a global epidemic.
This led critics of McDonald’s Olympic sponsorship to accuse the brand of glorifying obesity — a charge unlikely to make headlines in the 1970s because obesity was not recognized as the public health issue it is today.
While this ultimately didn’t stand in the way of McDonald’s Olympic sponsorship, it wasn’t met with the enthusiasm of years past. The lesson for brands today is to prioritize understanding and identifying with your intended audience.
If a major brand like McDonald’s can face scrutiny over event sponsorship, what’s a safer alternative? The answer might surprise you.
Look Locally for Sponsors
Looking for sponsors at the local level is a particularly smart move for hybrid events. You’ve got more people on the ground who can be on-hand to support the physical aspect of your event. And by ensuring these local sponsors have a virtual presence, you’re returning the favor by introducing them to a larger audience than they’re normally accustomed to. This is a great incentive for local brands to support your event.
Another benefit to soliciting sponsorships from local businesses is that it shows your association cares about supporting small businesses and the community surrounding them. In addition, local sponsors can, arguably, offer more unique and memorable charm than big box sponsors.
The name of the game is still budget, so a blend of various sized sponsors is a great way to ensure you stay in the black while boosting small business and their staff.
Regardless of Sponsor Size, Capitalize on Content
“Content is king,” as they say. When it comes to increasing the ROI on your hybrid event, make that message your mantra. Creating engaging content before your event will help increase registration. Your attendees will certainly expect compelling content throughout the event itself, so revving up your content plan is a must.
The real key to hybrid event ROI is to ensure that your content keeps working for you, AFTER the event. Curating a library of downloadable content that attendees can access (for a fee) gives your event another income stream.
What kind of content?
Video is huge right now, so offering video recordings of speakers, lectures, breakout sessions, event highlights, Q&As, interviews, etc. is a smart strategy. This will require the right hybrid event platform to ensure your messaging and content is delivered consistently and in high quality formats.
The Pathable team is ready to support your next hybrid event with our award winning, end-to-end hybrid event solutions.