Offering functional experiences for sponsorship is one of the most straightforward ways to ensure high brand exposure that really stands out from the sea of logos while providing real value for both attendees and corporate sponsors alike.
Global corporate sponsorship reached $65.8 billion in 2018, giving planners a key opportunity to maximize their relationships with companies that already have dollars budgeted for events.
However, many planners struggle to demonstrate the return on their sponsors’ investment, especially when it boils down to foot traffic in a crowded, multi-sponsored environment. Moreover, with the impending pandemic threatening many events, how can you convince sponsors that their investment is a safe bet, nevermind a lucrative one?
The answer is through activations that provide real functional utility for the attendees — activations they will seek out to engage with, online or offline. Functional sponsorship is the easiest way to turn passive brand exposure into active brand engagement.
In this post, we’ll go over some ideas for sponsorship opportunities that attendees will actively and happily engage with, securing the exposure and data you’ll need to substantiate ROI and secure future sponsorships.
Functional Sponsorship Ideas for Brand Engagement
Providing functional sponsorship opportunities — that is, services that give your audience something they can actually benefit from — makes a much more memorable impact compared to a simple corporate logo placed on event swag.
Check out the following ideas to incorporate sponsorship activations into your next event and drive engagement with all of your stakeholders.
Sponsor Panel Discussions and Online Engagement
More and more, events are going virtual as a safeguard against exposure to the coronavirus causing COVID-19. Sponsoring a panel discussion is an effective way to actively incorporate a supporting brand, either in person or online. In addition to projecting a sponsor’s logo on the screen, a representative can also introduce the panelists and briefly mention the company’s connection to the event.
Similarly, you can connect partners with attendees in advance of the event with online engagement opportunities such as branded giveaways, lectures, social media activations and content hubs. Another digital touchpoint includes sponsored content, which is particularly attractive because it’s easy to track statistics on audience reach and engagement through multiple platforms.
Incorporate Sanitation Stations
The importance of health and sanitation is at an all-time high as coronavirus wreaks havoc on events. At those events that must still go on, attendees will certainly appreciate the brand that helps them manage their onsite risk. In addition to a greater number of hand sanitizer pumps throughout the event space, consider sponsoring sanitation stations that include wipes for phones and laptops as well.
Sanitary goodie bags are another practical opportunity for sponsors. Personal-sized items can even be branded for added impact and a lasting impression with attendees. Even as events are cancelled across the world right now, the coronavirus has clearly created a new market for sanitation sponsorship that will likely last even as the outbreak wanes.
While tracking methods for this type of sponsorship are somewhat limited to footfall, you can ensure a high engagement rate by offering a goodie bag to every attendee and posting the sanitation stations in key areas throughout the venue, partner hotels, and any other space attendees are scheduled to go en masse.
Implement a Branded Workspace for Attendees
A designated workspace sponsored by a corporate partner can be a major draw for attendees at a professional event. At last year’s Convening Leaders, PCMA sponsored a functional working area where attendees could set up laptops and get work done in relative peace. Tailor this opportunity to fit your audience’s specific needs. For example, you could offer sponsorship for podcast and video booths if your event targets content creators.
There are a number of ways to track the engagement here, from using a dedicated hashtag and asking people to post and share to asking people to scan their badge to tap into the space, wifi or charging outlets. If you think that might add too much friction to the exposure, foot traffic tracking methods work well as well, especially if the work space is cordoned off.
Provide Free On-site Childcare
The issue of finding childcare for a destination event can be a huge hindrance to potential attendees. While paid on-site care is sometimes available from the hotel venue, it’s not a given. However, you can not only boost attendance for working parents but also raise some impactful brand awareness by getting a company to sponsor childcare.
We saw this done well at last year’s FinCon, where daily on-site childcare was co-sponsored by two kid-related financial apps. Not only was this a helpful service to attendees with kids, it connected real-life parents with a product they could use for their own families.
The engagement here is easy to track; nobody is leaving their child somewhere without a record, which can be as simple as a sign-in sheet and standard waiver.
Set Up Sponsored Lockers
For event venues not attached to the hotels where attendees are staying, lockers can be a huge benefit. Having to carry bags, laptops, and other personal items from session to session is a pain we’re all familiar with.
The Montreal Tourism Board did this at IAEE’s Expo! Expo! in 2019 and PCMA’s Convening Leaders in 2020, where it was hugely popular among attendees. The lockers also came equipped with charging cables — another event essential. It makes networking and mobility much smoother without having to drag around luggage or work bags.
Give Attendees Free Wifi
Your chosen venue likely has wifi available, but getting your own connection for your event makes things more secure and reliable for your attendees, who may want to post, share or live-stream parts of your event.
It also serves as a chance to support sponsorship goals. You can get attendees to register through a sponsored landing page by signing in with their email or a code you can communicate to them in your registration pack or on the event badge. Make the connection even stronger by making the wifi password the name of the sponsor.
Tracking the engagement here is easy. The number of people who accessed the wifi is the number of people who interacted with the brand.
Include Coffee Stations For Morning Sessions
The first session of the morning can have attendees dragging, especially if they had to travel to get to the event. A branded coffee, tea and refreshment station lets everyone bypass the long Starbucks line and fuel up on their way into their first session. Whether there’s a sign with a corporate logo or branded to-go cups, everyone appreciates that early morning fuel to start the day.
For added memorability, specialty teas and coffees with a value-add message will reinforce a positive brand association. Local, cruelty-free, and sustainable sourcing is one way to achieve that. Providing snacks that meet a lot of dietary restrictions is another way for sponsors to let people know they care.
Sponsor the Event Technology
Event technology provides the perfect trackable sponsorship opportunity as engagement tracking is normally part of the platform itself.
If an event app is part of your event offerings, give companies the chance to sponsor different aspects. Most apps let you add sponsor banners within the platform. You can also incorporate a sponsor icon within the app that links to unique branded content. One of the major perks of app sponsorship is that the company’s return on investment is completely measurable through clicks and engagement.
Facial recognition for super-secure check-in is also novel enough to give attendees a memorable brand experience. Branding can be added to the check-in kiosks, as well as in the confirmation or welcome messages.
Demonstrating the value of event sponsorship to corporations isn’t always easy. By creating a suite of truly functional opportunities, your sponsors will see better engagement with attendees who are eager to interact with their brands and share their experiences with friends, colleagues, and social media platforms.