I work for a large global IT company and every year we sponsor a large event in Barcelona that costs us over $230k. Due to the coronavirus, that particular event chose to continue this year in a virtual format. This got me thinking about virtual event sponsorship benefits and if it’s actually worth it.
I’m here to share my thoughts with you and the benefits of sponsoring virtual events. We all know that the benefits of in-person events are greater for sponsors than virtual events.
The reason why B2B companies participate in event sponsorships is that they want to generate business. In B2B, people buy from people.
The ability to build meaningful relationships in B2B will ultimately make or break a sales cycle.
That’s why in-person events are so powerful. It allows your sales team to build relationships with your prospects by networking at in-person events.
With virtual events, this is much more difficult to achieve. Sure, you can have a virtual booth and chat with the sponsors, but it’s not the same as connecting with someone face-to-face.
So, my team and I got thinking about virtual events sponsorship benefits and I’ll share the conclusions with you here.
1. Virtual events are cheaper to sponsor than in-person events
The value that an in-person will deliver to your company will almost in every case be greater than virtual events.
It’s much easier to network at in-person events. If you are a sponsor of an event, people will come to your booth and you can have conversations with your prospects. This is simply much harder to achieve at virtual conferences.
The most valuable part of B2B events is the ability to network and build relationships.
So a virtual event sponsorship benefit is that the sponsorship price will be lower than in-person events. The value that you will get out of the event is simply lower and therefore the event is not as costly. Also, the costs for the event organizer are lower since they don’t have venue costs et cetera.
This does not mean that virtual events are not valuable. On the contrary, virtual events can deliver great value to your business.
You should include them in your marketing mix and with the right strategy, you will get tremendous value out of virtual events. Have a look at an article that I wrote about how you can perfect your virtual event marketing plan.
2. Virtual events require less preparation
As a sponsor, virtual events require less preparation than in-person events.
This means you with the same resources, your team can prepare and executive more virtual events.
With in-person events, you need to arrange everything related to the booth, travel, arranging hotels for your staff, and you need to develop a solid event plan.
With virtual events, you will still have to do some of that, but the number of things you can and need to prepare is lower.
The majority of your preparation time will go to arranging customer speakers, prepping them, and probably pre-recording the session. If your virtual event package includes one-to-one meetings, then some time will be spent on setting those up as well.
Less preparation time is clearly a benefit to sponsoring virtual events.
3. There are fewer sponsors
Event organizers need to provide value to their sponsors. With B2B events this primarily through 2 things:
- Lead Generation.
However, for B2B companies, lead generation is by far the primary reason why companies decide to sponsor virtual events. Awareness is simply a nice addition.
The event that I mentioned in the introduction of this article typically accepts 30-50 sponsors for their in-person event. However, for their virtual edition, they only accept 5 sponsors.
This means that there is much less competition for your company to engage with prospects at virtual events. This will effectively increase the number of leads you can generate from a virtual event.
You still need a solid plan to attract the event audience to your virtual booth though. How are you going to engage the audience? If you want some inspiration check out these 5 creative virtual event audience engagement ideas.
4. Your sales can spend more time on selling
Typically, in-person events are very resource-intensive for your sales team. After all, they need to prepare for the event, travel, spend a full-day on-site, and follow-up.
With virtual events, the time it takes for your sales to participate in an event is much lower.
There are typically certain time slots throughout the day when your sales team needs to be there. You can invite your sales team when they are absolutely required. This means they can spend more time selling.
For example, you can have your marketing staff man your virtual booth and then transfer the conversation to sales when someone shows up.
With virtual events, you will often have one-to-one meetings. These are scheduled at a set time. This means that your sales can only log into the virtual conference when the meetings are about to start.
After the meeting, they can act on the follow-up steps defined in the meeting straight away. Whereas with in-person events, sales are usually only able to follow-up after the event.
Your sales team is expensive. They need to be focussed on selling and generating revenue for your company. A virtual event sponsorship benefit is that sales can still pull in the event leads, but with less time invested.
5. The follow-up time can be reduced
A key to B2B event success is by reducing the time it takes for your sales team to follow up on the leads generated.
I’ve participated in many events that are focused on C-level people. They actually told me that they expect vendors to follow-up straight after the event. So much so that they will free up time in their schedule to accept calls.
This means it’s absolutely crucial to follow up diligently post-event.
When sponsoring virtual events, you can actually reduce the time it takes to follow-up with your prospects.
Here is why:
- Virtual events are from your computer. You can have your follow-up emails ready and send them as soon as you’ve acquired the contact details.
- There is no travel time involved, meaning your sales and your prospects have more time available for the next steps
- It’s easier to book meetings virtually as you have your agenda open and can find a suitable time slot straight away.
So a virtual event sponsorship benefit is that opportunity creation will be accelerated due to shorter follow-up times. This helps marketers to prove the initial success of an event.
An extra benefit is that you can send your prospect the required information straight away. You need to be ready to hand over information that your B2B buyers need. When you have a good conversation with your prospects, you can send them some links to consume more information about your product.
87% of marketers consider the opportunities generated by virtual events as a success factor.(Markletic, 2020)
So accelerating opportunity generation by sponsoring virtual events is a clear benefit to your company.
Also, when sponsoring a virtual event, you should look at the sponsorship prospectus to see if it includes one-to-one meetings.
Typically, one-to-one meetings occur in between keynote sessions. Let’s say your salesperson is having an excellent meeting and they are unable to complete the meeting within the given timeslot. This is no issue because keynote sessions will be recorded anyway. Your prospects won’t miss valuable information and can rewatch the keynote at a preferred time.
Check out this article of mine to understand how you can get more ROI out of B2B events.
6. It’s easier to arrange one-to-one meetings
If you’ve read more articles on Markletic, then you will know that I’m a huge fan of arranging one-to-one meetings at B2B events.
B2B sales cycles are highly influenced by relationships. One-to-one meetings provide a great way to start building a relationship early in the sales cycle.
Whenever I take a look at a virtual event prospectus, I look at how many guaranteed one-to-one meetings I will get for my investment.
Virtual event platforms often have the functionality to chat with people. You can see a list of people who are attending the event and you can send them a message.
So, in addition to the guaranteed meetings that you get from your sponsorship, your sales team can also proactively reach out to delegates and book one-to-one meetings.
This effectively increases the number of meetings you will have at the conference.
A benefit of arranging virtual one-to-one meetings is that you can conduct research on the person. You can take a look at LinkedIn and view their profile and try to find out their pain points.
This is near impossible to achieve at in-person events. Imagine, when someone visits your booth, it would be very strange to ask their name and look them up on LinkedIn.
Of course, with virtual meetings this is possible, so your sales team can enter the meetings with more preparation.
There are pros and cons to both virtual and in-person events. These are 6 virtual event sponsorship benefits that you can consider when making your marketing planning for the near future.
Are you looking to host your own virtual events? Then have a look at some other articles that I wrote.