In the not too distant past, having someone sponsor your event meant they contributed funds and, in return, you put their logo on your marketing material. Perhaps you might put a flashy web banner on your website—Thanks to our Gold Level Sponsor, Acme Corp!
Nowadays, the digital world serves up a myriad of opportunities for creative sponsorship, but many continue to offer what amounts to online versions of the old sponsorship model.
Sponsorships can introduce a new audience to you and your organization or nonprofit, particularly if you choose your sponsorship partners carefully. Another aspect to consider, for many organizations, is the financial; sponsors represent a significant portion of the revenue used to fund programs or events. It makes sense, then, to leverage today’s ever-expanding digital arena to add more value for your sponsors.
Assess Your Sponsors
Before you begin brainstorming about new ideas for sponsorship packages, take a minute to consider your sponsors. What are they looking for when they choose to sponsor you? How will sponsoring you benefit them, and how will affiliation with their name benefit you?
If you're a nonprofit hosting a large event, it's important to take care of your sponsors and treat them well. While traditional packages have value, there are ways to get creative and offer even more value.
Why would an organization want to add more value in sponsorship packages? Sponsors are looking for a return on their investments.
If a sponsorships leads to more business, they are more likely to increase their sponsorship level. They might even spend more money next time, which is a revenue opportunity for your organization.
Implement Digital Marketing
Before opening up any of these innovative sponsorship ideas, make sure you first have a solid digital marketing plan in place. Why, you ask?
A strategic inbound marketing system lays the foundation for attracting more people to your event. Once you've gotten their attention, you'll then have the right mechanisms in place to convert them (an effective landing page and workflow for registration, ticket sales, reminder emails, etc). In return for solid marketing and the promise of high turnout, you're more likely to attract sponsors for your event.
Once you've attracted sponsors, try one of these ideas to make your sponsorship packages even more attractive to donors.
1. Illuminated Smart Wall + Social Media
For a really high tech crowd, this one is a show stopper. These eye-catching interactive walls are perfect for integrating social media with a digital display. This is just one of the many impressive sponsorship offers Global Shop 2015 presented. There are so many ways to utilize these enticing screens, attracting thousands of eyeballs. Research shows they are successful by providing a real-time interactive experience for viewers, encouraging them to engage with the signage.
Use them to create a social hub that connects the event’s guest via social media such as Twitter and Instagram. What’s particularly appealing about this idea is that your company does not spend a lot of resources on creating content, the attendees do it for you, and people love seeing their messages show up for all the world to see. A great strategy here is to create a hashtag specific to the event as a part of the sponsorship package.
Lower tech option: Use a large monitor or flat screen TV at a station to display social media posts about the event—it doesn't have to be an interactive smart wall.
2. Charging Station
Everyone needs to plug in and charge their devices at a big event! Offer your sponsors exclusive rights to host a popular charging station. Attendees can charge their laptops, phones, tablets and more. There are a ton of cool ways to offer this feature; check out these "lockers," where visitors could drop off their electronics to be charged. Or this super cool "Refresh and Recharge" station, where visitors could relax as they charged their devices.
In truth, you don't have to have anything fancy— just a way for folks to plug in. This could be an excellent, non-budget-busting option. You can carefully place your sponsor's logo for good visibility, AND you'll have the opportunity to talk to people as they wait. It's a win-win! We've actually offered this package at some of our own events in the past, and it was a big hit!
3. Game Lounge
Game lounges are becoming increasingly popular. They encourage networking and socializing among attendees and give sponsors the opportunity to have participants’ attention for a good amount of time. Table tennis, ping pong and table hockey tournaments are tons of fun, as are bingo and casino-type games, and they all allow for sponsors handing out branded “prizes.”
You could also offer a quiet space for relaxing with old-school board games, or you could go big with giant versions of Jenga or chess. Toss some bean bag chairs around the room, and it will feel like your childhood best friend's basement rec room, in the best possible sense.
4. Video Interviews
Offer sponsors video interviews as part of their package. 60% of visitors would rather watch a video about a company than read about it; a video would be a great way to get the attention of your visitors, and it would offer a lot of value for your sponsors. Publish the video on your website and social media accounts, blog about it (or have the sponsor guest blog), and include it in email communications.
If your social media presence is strong, use them to promote the sponsors’ companies. You can offer these in weekly, monthly or yearly tiers. Create a cross-platform campaign along the lines of “This month’s sponsor is XYZ Corp,” and wherever possible include a link to their site’s landing page.
5. Naming Rights
Does your organization have elements that could be named for a sponsor? For example, if you were a nonprofit focused on getting kids to read, you could offer the “XYZ Corp Book of the Month” feature to your site and cross-promote it across your social media. Take a look around to get inspiration here – collegiate sports, NASCAR, arenas, museums and film festivals all have sponsored areas. If you don’t have a natural fit for this, ask the sponsor if they have a community-building idea in mind.
6. Sponsor a Party
Major events or conferences have kickoff and closing parties, as well as public and private events in between. Make the kickoff reception and the closing night events exclusive to no more than two sponsors each. Private parties that offer networking and branding opportunities are fabulous offers – incentives can include logo placements, catalog listings, promotion across social media and on mobile apps and complimentary event passes.
7. Sponsor Live Streaming
There are always people who can't make it to a big event, whether it's because the event sold out, tickets were expensive, or it was too far away. What better way to reach a wider audience than to live stream portions of the event? You'll make the folks who missed out feel like they got to enjoy a piece of the event, and you'll be broadcasting not just your sponsor's brand, but your own as well. (Use both your sponsor's and your own social media channels to advertise the live stream, so you'll be sure to get as many viewers as possible.)
Be sure that you test the tech before the event begins— a glitchy live stream won't do you or your sponsors any favors!
8. Creative Matching Opportunities
This isn't just a suggestion for creative sponsorship idea, but also a great way to do good for a good cause. If a nonprofit organization is offering a text-to-give option, your business could pledge to match the total. At your next event, you could advertise the fact that you're matching contributions to the nonprofit organization, and you could encourage visitors to your booth to donate right there. Prominently display the steps they need to take to donate and you can help people help others.
Remember, the key to making any of these sponsorships valuable to a donor is by starting with a great content marketing plan. Try coming up with your own unique variation on these suggestions by mixing and matching any of them, and make sure your organization’s goals and values are represented through any sponsorships you offer. By doing so you’ll have created an excellent opportunity to not only pull off a financially successful event, but to also attract future corporate revenue to your organization or business.
Have more creative ideas to add to the list? Share in the comments!