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As lockdowns restrictions ease and borders open again, hybrid events will become critical for event planners across the globe. In fact, a new research study from Eventsforce shows that 58% of organizers are running hybrid events in 2021 – with another 17% in 2022.
It also looks like a lot of organizers are feeling confident about the return of in-person events, as 71% say their attendees feel ready to face the on-site experience this year.
And this is good news. If organizers feel their attendees are ready, then hybrid events become an even more interesting value proposition for organizations. Not only for their planners, but for potential sponsors too.
This leads to the question of how to sell hybrid events to sponsors. Do you really need to sell hybrid events to sponsors? You can easily argue that a savvy sponsor will inherently understand that the benefits of a combination event outweigh those of an in-person or virtual-only event. So is it more about education?
To help demonstrate the value of your hybrid event and what a sponsor is likely going to want to know, we have come up with four important considerations that event planners need to bear in mind. Let’s take a look.
1) Shout About the New Opportunities
Hybrid events are good for sponsors simply because there is more opportunity available to them. They can increase their reach and engage their buyers as never before. They can reach the virtual attendees they cannot see, but also connect with the in-person delegates that they physically meet.
But as many sponsors are new to hybrid events and are unfamiliar with their potential, it is important to ensure they really understand the benefits.
Many hybrid events will attract more virtual attendees than those that attend in-person. This is because, today, people have far more choice on how to attend events than they did pre-Covid. And let’s not forget how the huge reach that webcasting provides means that it is easier to attract virtual attendees. In other words, do not let your sponsors forget that the virtual audience is significant and therefore including them makes good sense.
Another fantastic benefit to shout out to sponsors is lead generation. A hybrid environment can create even more lead generation opportunities for these important stakeholders. How? The physical on-site booth can cater to in-person attendees on the trade show floor, while the virtual booth can help them reach out to a wider international audience. This means they could get their international sales teams involved and maybe make it more personal with different languages and so on.
2) Customize Your Offer
It is of course down to you as the event planner to decide what sponsorship options you will offer. Many planners offer sponsorship packages. Packages are relatively easy for event planners to sell. The hard work is usually in creating the different packages. Once the packages have been put together, the sponsor will decide on which level of package suits them best. Regardless of the names of the packages (gold, silver, bronze etc) they tend to promote the sponsor in accordance with monies spent.
Related read: 7 key steps to successful event sponsorship
However, when it comes to hybrid events, sponsors need more than packages. They need options. And this is the crucial difference. It’s always good to understand what the sponsor is aiming to take away from the event. What will be a good outcome for them? And what are they prepared to spend money on?
And don’t forget that to maximise putting time and energy into sponsorship sales, you want to be seeking a relationship that goes beyond the event. The best way to do that is to actively listen and then you can customize an offer for them. It will take some extra work on your part, but the benefits will outweigh the effort. If, however, you only want to offer sponsor packages, you carry a higher risk of them walking away.
Remember that with a hybrid event, there are many ways in which you can give the sponsor opportunities to be promoted in the most effective way for them. For example, the sponsor may not want a big in-person exhibition stand, so they take a smaller stand. But what really appeals to them is also being able to host a virtual break-out session. This is just one example where options work better than packages. It would after all be impossible to package every option that sponsors could be interested in. Customize your offer with options and gain more sponsor business.
3) Know Your Decision Makers
Yes, hybrid events open up opportunities. They also open up questions. And the savvy event professional will need answers to satisfy their potential sponsors.
At an in-person event, a sponsor would understand that by having a presence there, they would come across decision makers or influencers that would be valuable to them. However, as a hybrid event combines in-person and virtual attendees, it is no longer obvious as to where the decision makers or influencers are likely to be found. It would be too easy and a wrong assumption to believe that they will come to the in-person element of the hybrid event.
Let’s take an example of a medical conference that has 70 in-person delegates and more than 300 virtual attendees. In that scenario, it will be tough for a sponsor to decide where to put their promotional activities. But, as the planner, you know your attendees better than anyone. You know who the key people or groups are. And you know whether they are likely to attend in-person or virtually.
This information is of massive value to a sponsor who can then make informed decisions about what they need to do. But before you can help them you need to know your decision makers and how they will engage with the event.
4) Provide Detail on the Data
Organizations today are certainly looking more closely at the benefits of hybrid event sponsorship. This is set to grow as buyers understand more clearly the strong ROI they can get from these events. And this is where the data you collect, curate and distribute to them will help.
You need to get into the detail of the data that you will provide to the sponsor. You need to be clear on how you will present data that relates to the in-person delegates and the virtual attendees. Whilst the hybrid event is the event, you will have differences in the data you source. For example, whilst a question on learning outcomes from speakers is common to both sets of attendees, a question on views on the venue will only be applicable to the in-person delegates.
Related read: How Covid is Changing the Role of Event Data
It is not only the questions that you need to consider but also the different tech you need to gather the data. And event tech platforms come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Depending on the system you use, you may not be able to provide information that sponsors are looking for. Therefore, it makes sense to be clear on what will be given and in what format before the sponsor agreements are signed.
There is an enormous amount of value that comes from event data and it would be a wasted opportunity for a sponsor not to understand how useful this would be to them.
Conclusion – It is Holistic ROI That Matters
What was the overall ROI of the hybrid event? This is the most important item that needs evaluating. Sponsors will want to know. They could sponsor your next event after all.
Whilst it may be easy to collect the virtual attendee data as to what they did during the event, it is crucial that the in-person data is put into the mix too. You need an overall assessment. And whilst you can provide this information shortly after the event, it is also advisable that you review it again in a few months time to update your sponsors.
Unfortunately, the on-demand content that is captured at the event can easily be forgotten but it shouldn’t be. With content that is made available post event it’s imperative that this is included in the next set of ROI figures. We know that people binge watch TV shows and it’s the same with on-demand event content. Attendees will watch it at a time that suits them which is often long after the hybrid event has ended.
Selling hybrid events to sponsors shouldn’t be a difficult task. Perhaps you find this to be a controversial statement. But, because hybrid offers so many different ‘customisation’ opportunities, it may just be exactly what sponsors need. And if you deliver the data so they can see the ROI, your sales should soar.
Considering hybrid events? Eventsforce offers a fully integrated technology platform that makes it easy for you to create engaging experiences for both on-site and virtual attendees – from registration and agenda management to audience engagement, live streaming, networking, contactless check-in and apps. Learn more.