Many organizations are wrestling with how they can pull off a successful virtual meeting, especially with regard to their sponsors and exhibitors. How do you provide real value for them in the virtual environment? How do you convince them that it’s worth the time and investment? Heck, will they even want to consider it?
Good news! Whether virtual or in-person, sponsors and exhibitors want and need the same thing: access to your members, their target market. We don’t have to tell you that life looks different, but regardless, business is still moving forward, and your sponsors and exhibitors still need facetime with your members.
Generally speaking, your sponsors and exhibitors want one (or more) of three things from your event:
- Brand awareness
- Content leadership
So how do you know what they want most, and how do you provide avenues for fulfilling those needs? Ask! Have strategic conversations with your sponsors and exhibitors to learn more about what they want. Start by asking your largest sponsors and exhibitors, but talk to everyone, even if it’s just an email:
- What value do your exhibitors and sponsors get and expect from your in-person conference and tradeshow?
- Have their sponsorship and marketing goals or objectives changed recently, as a result of the pandemic?
- Have they participated in a virtual event or meeting recently? What was their experience? Good? Bad? Indifferent?
- If they can still meet their goals, are they willing to support YOUR event?
Before you enter into these conversations, make sure you brainstorm with your team and have a list of things you’re thinking of offering to your sponsors and exhibitors. During the conversation, be sure to listen, be open-minded, and take feedback. Then, design sponsor and exhibitors opportunities, and your event, with their needs in mind.
The world has changed, but your sponsors and exhibitors continue to be invaluable partners for your organization. Give them what they need, and they’ll partner with you for life, no matter the venue.