Going virtual doesn’t mean that you lose everything that an on-site event has! A lot of what you had planned for your on-site event can still occur online, it just may look a little differently.
Here are six ways you can maximize sponsorships and attendee revenue in a virtual platform:
In your conference website, a virtual exhibit hall can be built out to house all the resources a sponsor wants to distribute to attendees. In each “exhibit booth”, the sponsor can upload PDFs, videos, company descriptions and links, and other resources. The exhibit hall will be open 24/7 – giving even more exposure for the sponsors that originally intended. The “exhibit booths” can also be upgraded to allow chat room style discussions between attendees and staff from the sponsoring organization. Your sponsors will get maximum and continual exposure to your attendees and will serve as a resource for attendees throughout the conference with having to have a booth “maned” the entire time.
Branding and Logo Opportunities
Because you are building this virtual conference site from the ground up – you have the ability to make an al a carte sponsorship of nearly any page on the website. Have a poster session? Offer this page a sponsorship add-on, with their logo in a prominent location on this busy web page. Giving an option for boosted exposure on commonly used pages on the virtual conference exposure is another way the sponsors can ensure they are getting ROI.
Commercials or Pre-Produced Videos
Sponsors could upgrade their commitment level to include a commercial or pre-recorded video to play before or after a session in the virtual conference. All the sponsor needs to do is provide the video ahead of time and it can be queued up! This gives the sponsor the attendees undivided attention, as they are preparing for or concluding a session. You can also chose to have that video as a permanent part of the archived recording, which means evergreen exposure for the sponsor!
Session and Speaking Opportunities
There are numerous ways to offer speaking opportunities to your sponsors in exchange for financial support. You can offer an entire session to sponsors, or you can create a while section of your agenda dedicated to sponsors giving presentations! Allowing the sponsors to present gives them the feeling that they may miss of being in front of human people. It give a human interaction to a virtual setting.
Attendee Access Fees
Just as you would charge a registration fee for an on-site conference, you should be charging a registration fee for access to the virtual event. You can also break the access into per day or per session registrations if that suits your conference model better. You can also charge for access to various, high-profile discussions or resources. Attendee fees should not necessarily be less for a virtual conference, because while you are eliminating food and venue costs, you are now gaining hosting and technology costs.
Allowing your content to live on in an LMS is a smart move. You are able to continually add to your archive through the years of events and house more resources for 24/7 access. Just because an attendee paid for the conference does not necessarily mean they should receive access to the archives for an undetermined amount of time. You could restrict access to archives and other resources to those that choose to purchase subscriptions to your LMS platform. Entice your attendees to subscribe by offering exclusive content in the subscription model only.
Whether you are going virtual from the onset or rescheduling an onsite event, the conversation about monetization is important and necessary. There are many ways to drive revenue for a Virtual Conference, and these six options are only scratching the surface! Have any other ideas on how to boost revenue in a virtual format? We would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org
Click HERE to see all the episodes from Going Virtual with Kate!
Going Virtual with Kate is a weekly chat on Facebook Live with CommPartners’ Kate Ratcliffe. Kate discusses popular topics, answers questions, and shares ideas about all things virtual events during this time when many organizations are going virtual with their events. We know this decision can be a daunting task that brings with it many questions, especially for organizations that have never hosted an event online and now have to transition an entire conference to a virtual platform.
Find past episodes of Going Virtual with Kate right here, after they’ve aired on our Facebook page. Catch Kate live every Thursday at 4 p.m. EST on our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/CommPartners.
Before you begin your marketing efforts, you must know what you are selling. This should always be the first step of a marketing team, asking the questions. Below you will find a few examples of things to consider, be sure you are exploring your offerings from a micro and macro level!
Are you offering on-site and virtual attendance options or, is this a strictly virtual event?
When the attendee registers for the livestream, what do they receive? Is it access to (1) individual session, or will they receive the whole conference?
Will there be access to slide decks or other resources for all attendees?
Will attendees have the opportunity to receive credit or certifications?
Would you personally register for this conference? Do the pricing and offerings match?
After you have defined all of the offerings, you can now begin identifying goals. Your goals can be as simple as a registration or monetary goal, or as complex and long-term as return registrations or ongoing community discussions. Your goals should follow the SMART guidelines. They need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. The goals you set should also be organization specific. For example, your organization may need to make a profit off this livestream or it may need to build membership. Your goals will be used to measure success. Remember – success is not a one size fits all model; it is fluid and ever-changing!
Now you know what you are offering and how you define success, next you need to create your plan! When developing your marketing plan, it is important to consider, once again, macro and micro perspectives. Start by looking at the “bigger picture,” i.e., how much time do you have, what marketing platforms and methods are you planning to use, what resources do you already have, etc.?
It can help to create a timeline from now ending with your livestream event. Set benchmarks that will que you to check on your progress. You should ask yourself, “am I on target for my goals” regularly and then use you marketing plan to either maintain your current efforts or tweak aspects of the plan that are not working to successfully reach your benchmarks.
3. Know your audience and their preferred communications
Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t speak your language and you don’t speak theirs? No matter what you are trying to communicate, the other person does not know the details, but rather only what they can surmise from watching your non-verbal communications.
The same idea is applied to marketing. If you are getting your promotions out on Facebook, but your intended audience primarily uses LinkedIn, you will find your audience may only be picking up portions of your message, and not benefiting from all the right information!
You also may want to take a look at your method of communication based on certain subgroups. For example, you may be trying to market to a specific organization that practices law in the United States, but that group has very specific sub-sets within itself. Younger age groups may get their information from Instagram, while an older age group may prefer email. Segmenting your marketing efforts and tailoring the messages to those sub groups will ensure that the right information is getting to the right people.
Livestreams offer a cost-effective and time-efficient way for attendees to obtain the same information without the hassle of travel and taking time off to be on-site. Many busy professionals prefer to multi-task during their day, and livestreaming your conference ensure they get the right content without turning they daily routine upside down.
Event recordings are a great way for registrants to re-watch the presentations later for a refresher, or they can visit the recording at a more convenient time.
Identifying your livestreams unique characteristics will help you market to attendees. Why is it important for attendees to register for your livestream? Is there credit associated for the presentations? Do they have to watch it live or can they still obtain credit watching the recording? Ask yourself, “why did we decide to livestream in the first place?”. Chances are you will find the reasons why your audience should register.
Once you have identified what makes a livestream different, market as you would for anything else, highlighting the products unique characteristics.
While a lot of your marketing efforts can be automated, that will make the messaging less personal and easier to delete or ignore. When marketing your livestream, it is important to make sure that you are offering a personal experience, because that is one thing potentially lost when an audience member is virtual.
When you are in-person at a conference, the whole experience is more personal because you are experiencing it with all your senses. A livestream takes away a certain personalization, and it is our job to compensate with catering marketing and course offerings to them.
A few ideas to make the experience more personal:
Ask for input: What does your target audience want to see, hear and/or learn? People love to know that their voice matters! How awesome is it if you ask to hear about a particular topic, and then it actually is presented on!
Ask for feedback: Again, people want to be heard! If this isn’t your first event, ask the past attendees for their feedback, and entice them to come see their suggestions in action! The main difference here is that you are receiving reviews based off what you’ve already done!
Create a Community: Learning online creates its own challenges, but luckily, technology can help. Allow your virtual audience to communicate with each other and their instructors through chat features in the course and discussion boards!
Create a personal email/phone marketing campaign: Provide your team with an email or script that has a few customization options. Those customization options could be a variety of reasons to attend or the session content/titles. When your team reaches out to attendees, they can pick from the provided options to personalize the message and make attendance more enticing.
Don’t be afraid to try new things! With the advances in technology, you can leverage so many more tools to make your event an exciting one to register for! Here are a few ideas
Contests with prizes: Using a variety of technologies and platforms, you can make a game or raffle contest online!
Harness the power of video: People love to see and feel excitement for the event; it makes them feel like they are part of it. Live broadcast on social media with your presenters, sharing excitement, or sneak peeks!
Use the voice of your partners: Create a human connection by using quotes from past attendees, speakers, and team members in your various marketing efforts.