Gaining sponsorships for events doesn’t have to be an imbalanced transaction where one party pleads for money and the other deems whether they’re worthy enough to loosen up the purse strings.

It’s time to stop thinking of sponsors as simply brands that choose to bankroll random events and start thinking of the sponsor-host interaction as a strategic partnership. A partnership in which the companies hosting events as well as the companies who happen to be injecting some cash flow into events both gain enjoyment, value, and a lasting relationship.

If you’ve been unsure about how to approach sponsorship in a way that feels genuine, follow along with this article as we cover why event sponsorship is invaluable for everyone involved and dive into 10 unique event sponsor benefits you can offer to attract the kinds of businesses with whom you’d be proud to partner.

What are event sponsor benefits?

Event sponsors are businesses or other organizations that support events through contributions, which are most often financial. By sponsoring events, companies enjoy a set of perks that typically include the following:

  • Increased brand exposure through the event itself, event advertising, and media coverage
  • In-event speaking opportunities that help boost their brand equity  
  • Direct contact with an audience full of relatively warm leads
  • Access to data about attendees and in-event interactions, which can be highly informative for product development and market research 

These perks are event sponsor benefits. However, the items on the above list are practically a given today. In these uncertain economic times for businesses — and highly competitive times for your own events as virtual, hybrid, and in-person experiences keep popping up all over the place — it’s more important than ever to think outside the box when it comes to the event sponsor benefits you put out there to wow potential sponsorship partners. Later in this article, we’ll help you do just that with a list of creative, engaging, and value-adding ideas for event sponsor benefits.

Why your business should prioritize event sponsorship

We’re eager to get to the event sponsor benefits ideas, too. However, we want to first explain why it’s so important to feature benefits that attract the best kinds of partners for your events. 

Funding for your event

Funding is probably the first thing everyone thinks of when it comes to why event managers should seek out event sponsorship. And for good reason — it’s important!

The more funding you’re able to produce for an event, the more you’re able to go above and beyond when it comes to creating awesome, engaging attendee experiences. That’s not only valuable for the attendees themselves, but it also reflects positively on your company as well as the sponsors who helped make it possible.

If you’re ever in doubt about all the work you may be putting in to find the best event partners, remember that every sponsorship dollar earned means another dollar you can drop event ticket prices, another dollar you can spend getting the word out about your event, another dollar you can put toward hiring an amazing speaker, or another dollar you can add to the fund for ground-breaking experiences that boost engagement now and generate interest in your events for years to come. In this way, smart sponsorships can help take your events from breaking even to becoming profit centers.

Build credibility through association

Sponsors that are well known in their fields can help lend credibility to events and/or companies that might not have built up as much recognition yet. Attendees are more likely to spend their money and time on events that they think are credible because they trust the experience and value provided will align with their expectations. 

Benefit from a sponsor’s advertising and publicity coverage

Just like you do as an event manager, sponsors want to promote the events in which they’re involved. When you partner with a major sponsor that puts out advertising and garners press coverage for events, each mention of your business and event raises a little more awareness among potential attendees.

Tap into the newfound appreciation for local and mission-driven businesses

In light of COVID-19, 75% of American shoppers reported an interest in shopping more often from local businesses according to Brightpearl Reports’ How We’ll Shop: Winners and Losers 2020 guide. In addition, Salesforce’s 2020 State of the Connected Customer report found that today’s consumers are considering the values and ethics of companies before they choose whether or not to shop with them. By partnering with sponsors who are local to your event and/or aligned with the values of your event and overall organization, you’ll be able to attract more of the kinds of attendees who will become loyal customers for both you and your sponsors.

Tap into the newfound appreciation for local and mission-driven businesses

10 Attention-grabbing event sponsor benefits to woo potential partners

It’s finally time — let’s get your creative juices flowing with these innovative ideas for event sponsor benefits you can offer potential partners.

1. Offer a myriad of promotional opportunities using a modern event platform

There are a ton of reasons why you should use a virtual event platform to host your next event — whether it’s in person, virtual, or a hybrid combo of the two — but for this article, we’ll focus on one main feature.

Modern event tech gives you many opportunities to promote sponsors. Think about all the opportunities — sponsored banner ads, splash screens, push notifications, virtual booths, games, and beyond. If you want to go even deeper and create more high-dollar experiences that no sponsor can resist, an end-to-end event management system like Socio has an entire suite of event sponsorship tools that empower sponsor partners to create rich profiles, link out to their websites and other important resources, connect directly with leads, host intimate conversations and demos in video breakout rooms, and more.

2. Create tiers that let potential partners “try before they buy”

Sponsorship isn’t without its risks. Most of all, brands risk not making back any of the money they put into an event. To overcome this challenge, you as an event manager can set up sponsorship tiers that allow new potential partners to dip their toes into a sponsorship deal and “try before they buy” when it comes to an ongoing relationship with your company.

You can set up sponsorship tiers in many ways. A creative approach is to think of sponsorship dollars as percentages. Say the total amount of sponsorship money you’re seeking is $50,000. Allow sponsors to choose what percentage of that amount they’d like to contribute and base the benefits they receive on that percentage. While 10% of your total amount might get their logo on the main signage for your event, a 50% contribution might include a free booth, a sponsored swag bag that your organization will put together on their behalf, and first choice on which in-event experience or session they want to put their name on. What’s better than that? A 100% contribution, which would provide a partner with all of the above plus access to all of all the valuable attendee demographic and firmographic data you collect using your virtual event management platform.

This approach benefits both the sponsor and event host when entering into a deal for the first time. For the sponsor, they get the chance to make sure supporting your event is going to help them achieve the ROI for which they’re aiming. And for an event host, this gives you a flexible way to engage with potential partners even when you aren’t sure of their budget or appetite for sponsorship. In addition, it provides you with an opportunity to diversify among several different sponsors in case any relationships don’t pan out.

3. Create unique experiences that sponsors can choose from

Unique programming is a big draw for attendees. And as such, it’s also a big draw for sponsors who want to get their name in front of those attendees at your next event. Similar to sponsorship tiers or other package options, you can assign different values to different event experiences and allow sponsors to put their names on them according to their financial contribution.

At HubSpot’s 2018 INBOUND conference, ASICS Studio sponsored a space where attendees were invited to complete active challenges, participate in fitness classes, and even enjoy complimentary massages. Attendees happily networked while working out, learned about ASICS’ newest offerings, and generated free word-of-mouth marketing for the brand using the #MoveAtINBOUND hashtag.

Wondering how you can offer the same win-win experience for both attendees and sponsors? Here are some more novel programs to consider for your next event:

In-person

  • Quiet and comfy work zones, complete with “pods” for phone calls
  • Napping areas
  • Tickets to nearby attractions (museums, aquariums, etc.) 
  • A “bar” that features only healthy, energizing snacks and juices

Virtual

  • Co-working sessions
  • Scavenger hunts revolving around household items
  • Guided stretches and breathing routines specifically designed for desk-sitters
  • Cooking classes using resources previously sent to attendees

4. Highlight your passion for a mission with sponsored donation matching

Earlier, we mentioned the renewed interest in mission-focused businesses. Enable your attendees to see which missions you and your sponsors support and increase how much you’re able to contribute to said missions using donation matching at your next event.

You can partner with your mission of choice to set up a text-to-give system that attendees can use to make donations during the event. On the last day, share how much your audience was able to raise, then your organization as well as one top sponsor can unveil your plans to match this amount.

5. Put in-event focus groups at their disposal for easy insights

One of the biggest benefits of event sponsorship for brands is getting in front of a whole new pool of people who are very likely to be in their target audience. Even if all of these people don’t make purchases on the spot, they should be able to keep the pipeline full of warm leads in the coming months. Make this opportunity even sweeter by setting up attendee focus groups where top sponsors can ask specific questions, get deeper insights from real-life potential customers, and continue the conversation with follow-up surveys.

6. Event gone virtual? Help sponsors still deliver on valuable swag

Many event sponsorship benefits can be applied seamlessly to both in-person and virtual events. And with a little work, the same can be true for swag.

Everyone expects to receive freebies when attending an event. So, as silly as it may seem, the lack of swag is a little thing that can make virtual events feel “less than” when compared to the in-person event experiences we’ve grown accustomed to. But not on our watch.

Take a page from our book at Socio and help your virtual event sponsors really shine by getting their name on valuable swag packages — then sending them out to attendees and even speakers on their behalf. For #EventHack2020, the Socio team branded and sent out comfy joggers, hand sanitizer, and other quarantine “survival” supplies to speakers. We also love the idea of using other things that have become necessary in the world of remote event attendance, such as microphones, ring lights, noise-reducing earbuds, and so on.

Event gone virtual? Help sponsors still deliver on valuable swag

7. Give sponsors the tools they need to seamlessly host engaging games

Why are games such great audience engagement tools at events? They tap into our innate human desire for entertainment and competition.

Use an event gamification app — ideally one that’s already native to your mobile event app — to host virtual challenges that sponsors can pay to put their names on. These same sponsors can even offer up free product or other awesome prizes for winners to create excitement and ongoing engagement around games and their brand as a whole.

8. Build robust, actionable profiles for sponsors

One of your key activities as an event manager is driving audiences toward the sponsors who’ve made their experiences possible. But when it comes to virtual or hybrid events, the impact of audience visits can only be fully harnessed with an actionable sponsor profile. Being able to provide an actionable profile is a hugely valuable event sponsor benefit.

An actionable sponsor profile is all about making it easy for attendees to learn more about sponsors and empowering the two to connect directly to form more personal relationships. What that means is profile features that enable great photos, detailed descriptions, video uploads, attachments to sell sheets, links to websites and other important resources, and of course call to action buttons that visitors can use to start a conversation or schedule a meeting.

Socio’s platform doesn’t just include all of the above in its robust sponsor profiles, it even includes sponsor booths and a sponsor showcase to make sure your partners are able to get all the recognition — and ROI — they deserve. 

9. Invite sponsors into exclusive continuous engagement communities

The saddest thing about events ending is that the excitement around the new relationships you formed winds down and, sometimes, even fades away completely.

Not so with communities that focus on continuous engagement well after the event is over.

Continuous engagement is a relatively new strategy that smart businesses can use to create an ongoing journey that keeps nurturing attendees after and between events. Businesses apply continuous engagement through virtual communities where they share consistently-executed content — thought leader Q&A videos, detailed how-to articles, special discounts for new releases, meet-up planning, and so on —  that adds value for members. And by adding value for members, these communities also give event organizers and special sponsors a place to foster customer retention, stay top of mind, conduct market research, and of course inspire attendance at the next event.

We know that creating infrastructure for these kinds of communities is the biggest hurdle to pulling them off successfully, so we built a community platform right into Socio’s virtual event platform to take one more thing off your plate.

10. Finally, sneak peek your secret weapon: Deep attendee data

Circling back to where we started — with the goal of winning over sponsors that are truly partners when it comes to events — here’s one final idea for offering potential partners irresistible value. Give them a sneak peek at your secret weapon: your ability to collect and dive into detailed data on event activity and audience engagement with sponsor content, specifically.

With a modern event management platform you should be able to view event metrics and analytics like video session engagement, session attendance, live stream views, attachment downloads, networking connections, chat usage, gamification participation, and so on. This data is all highly valuable for both yourself as the event host and the sponsors who would be paying to make the event possible.

However, to be overwhelmingly valuable, you also need to be able to drill down to the information that helps sponsors see whether they’ve achieved ROI through lead generation and increased brand exposure. They want to know who interacted with their sponsor content and how. With Socio’s data dashboard, you can provide this kind of information easily.

Socio enables sponsors to see things like how many times sponsored banners were clicked and viewed — and even the full profile of each attendee who did the clicking and viewing! The inclusion of contact info in these profiles makes them a dream for lead generation and understanding brand exposure. Sponsors can also use Socio to view similar metrics around interactions with sponsored push notifications and how attendees are engaging with their robust sponsor profiles.

socio metrics dashboard

We understand the fear sponsors have around supporting events right now. The success of many events is still subject to government mandates around social gatherings. And as events go virtual and hybrid to work with these mandates, another difficulty appears — tracking the success of interactions and forming lasting engagements when you can’t actually see the attendees in front of you.

That’s why it’s important you’re able to offer creative benefits that attract and continue to add value for sponsor partners who stick with you no matter how your events evolve. And the only way to make some of the best event sponsor benefits happen is, as we’ve shown time and time again above, by using a powerful virtual event platform.

Ready to see what that really looks like for yourself? It’s easy to take a personalized, stress-free test run with Socio. Just get in touch here and we’ll get you on your way to trying out the leading all-in-one virtual event management tool in no time.

Lisa Vogel
Lisa Vogel

Lisa has been in the event marketing field for over 16 years and is the Sr. Field Marketing Manager at Socio (Part of Webex). She is passionate about producing events that create engaging, unique and inclusive experiences.