As the world continues to grow more comfortable and more confident in the digital event space, one of the most challenging experiences to reimagine is the expo hall. How do you take what was a buzzing room, full of energizing tactical experiences and face to face connections, and reimagine it in a digital space? We’ve had the opportunity to be a part of the evolution of the digital expo concept for the last few months and have learned some things about how to help you and your sponsors continue to meet their event objectives.
So if it’s not callings dibs on prime spots on the expo floor, building out booths, and ordering carpet…where do you start?
GET DOWN TO BASICS
Like with any event, you want to determine new or shift existing objectives. Clear objectives will help set you on the path to create the most impactful digital experience for your sponsors and attendees. Things to noodle on:
YOUR SPONSORSHIP GOALS- Many are falling into the trap of exhausting their efforts in translating their physical event sponsor goals into a digital space. However, we’ve learned that a digital experience means rethinking your goals, and not simply translating them. Be realistic about your sponsor goals based on your network of partners.
WHAT YOUR SPONSORS VALUE– Networking and face to face conversations in an Expo Hall were the bread and butter of live events. Rethinking sponsorship doesn‘t mean sacrificing what your sponsors value most! Connect with your sponsors and learn what their marketing goals are for sponsoring your event and tailor an experience to ensure those goals are met. Once you know the why, in your sponsors engagement, these values will be your northern star in creating your sponsor packages.
METRICS THAT MAKE SENSE– Think ahead and determine what metrics you can provide your sponsors that make sense. Providing detail on what they will receive during and after the digital event that will give them real time data insights on their return on investment.
YOUR EVENT PORTFOLIO- Think big picture and long term. What are the goals for your overall event portfolio across the company, and do your sponsor objectives align to them? Can you create an opportunity for a longer-term sponsor agreement to not only sponsor all your digital events, but webinars, social meet ups, and eventually live events again that provide not only revenue, but mutually exclusive brand awareness and opportunity.
GIVE EM WHAT THEY WANT
Ensuring that your sponsors get the most out of their investment is crucial to sustaining any sponsorship sales model, but what are some creative ways that you can enhance their return of investment digitally? This is where things start to get fun! The goals that are top of mind for sponsors can fall under four main pillars that create opportunities for creativity and innovation within your event. Below are those four pillars and some ideas we’ve seen success in!
als that are top of mind for sponsors can fall under four main pillars that create opportunities for creativity and innovation within your event. Below are those four pillars and some ideas we’ve seen success in!
- VIRTUAL SPONSOR BOOTHS– Create a sense of place. Whether you are utilizing a virtual expo floor or a simple directory, create custom landing pages that let your attendees know they’ve entered a space dedicated to your sponsors. Landing pages, live chats with representatives, opportunities to explore products and meet one on one to learn more from experts will allow your audience to feel like they are able to learn, connect, and explore.
- EXPERT MEETINGS– Create opportunities for attendees to request and schedule one-on-one sessions with sponsors who are qualified in their area of expertise. Expert meetings are efficient ways to filter out the tire-kickers and unqualified swag-grabbers and allow sponsors to meet with the right attendees. In addition to positioning the company and individuals within the company as experts, these meetings also serve as excellent vehicles for gathering qualified leads.
- CUSTOM SITE BRANDING– Make the most of your website real estate! Identify key areas where sponsor branding can not only enhance the design of your website, but also create additional opportunities for your sponsorship packages! Everything from landing page banners, registration site features, session and presentation branding, to fully customized lead generating pages.
- BUMPER VIDEOS– Short but engaging videos utilized at the start of keynotes, before each pre-recorded session video, or in those awkward transitions during live sessions are a great way to raise brand awareness, create consistency in your content, and create a sense of place for your top sponsors.
- PARTNER LED SESSIONS– Offer sponsors the opportunity to present a session with either live, simulive or on-demand content. These sessions work best if they are customer case studies or educational as opposed to product pitches. These sessions make great lead-generation opportunities for sponsors. Just make sure to add a registration screen or permission checkbox so that attendees understand their contact information will be shared with the sponsor.
- PARTNER LED LABS / Q&A SESSIONS– Is your sponsor hosting or participating in a session? Add value by offering them an opportunity to sponsor a live, post-session Q&A. Consider having a representative from your organization host a live Q&A with the sponsor. This gives attendees the opportunity to interact with sponsors and colleagues. Another option: Have attendees submit questions during the session for presenters to answer during the post-session Q&A.
- SPONSOR MEETINGS– Make the most of your meetings off the “expo floor”. In contrast to expert meetings, in these sessions, sponsors can sell and demo freely. Have sponsors designate multiple people available to meet during designated time slots. As with expert meetings, make attendees aware that their contact information will be shared with that sponsor, and give them a disclaimer check-off.
- HAPPY HOUR & FIT BREAK SESSIONS– Sessions don’t have to be all work and no play. With some creativity, you can pull together out-of-the-box sessions that generate buzz. Bring in a celebrity bartender, for example, for a live-streamed demo to break up the formality. Ask the mixologist to craft cocktails around the sponsor theme. Get creative with fun options. We’ve seen Netflix party streams, yoga, mindfulness and fitness breaks—even virtual dance clubs. You can gate these sessions with permission check-ins to collect leads.
- DIGITAL PASSPORTS FOR BOOTH ENGAGEMENT– Create a digital passport feature that gamifies an attendees sponsor experience! Digital passports can work in using codes or Easter eggs that can only be retrieved by engaging with a sponsor. Once their digital passports are filled, they are able to submit them for a virtual prize! Prizes can be anything from eGiftcards to 15min meet and greets with your top executives or thought leaders
VIRTUAL BOOTH? NO PROBLEM!
Generating leads, raising brand awareness, becoming an established thought leader, and connecting with customers and prospects are not things that need to be sacrificed in the digital world! Approaching change with a creative and solution based mindset will open the doors to a wider audience reach and more thoughtful engagement. No one is an exception to the current learning curve, but everyone can contribute to the innovation born from it!