Industry partnerships are invaluable to associations. While these partnerships often involve more than just purchasing a tradeshow booth, exhibiting offers companies the opportunity to network with their target market – your attendees. When an event is cancelled, it’s a missed opportunity.
Moving to a virtual event may sound great to attendees – they still have access to the strong content that your organization is known for. But your exhibitors may not feel the same way. They may have hoped that you rescheduled instead of moving to a virtual format.
During the Virtual Blueprint webinar hosted by Sponsorship Boost and Conference Managers on May 5, presenters spoke about ways to offer exhibitors the opportunity to connect with virtual meeting attendees. Ideas included sponsored coffee breaks, focus groups, virtual happy hours and message board discussions. One idea I liked was having a “Meet the Expert” session, where an industry sponsor could facilitate the discussion among virtual attendees and an industry expert.
When it comes to the virtual space, exhibitors want the same thing from a virtual event that they get at live events: quantifiable leads.
“Exhibitors want to connect with your members,” said Jennifer Kerhin, owner of Sponsorship Boost, during the webinar. “Find ways for them to still connect. Business is still going on. It looks different but business is still moving forward.”
Another tip from the webinar: hold training sessions on your virtual platform for your exhibitors and sponsors. If you want them to have a successful experience, they need to know how to get the most out of the webinar.
New Sponsorships Needed: No Lanyards or Hotel Keys
Sponsorship opportunities for virtual meetings are not as cut and dry as they are for live events. The big ticket items for onsite events, such as lanyards and hotel keys, don’t translate to the virtual platform. Beyond the few suggestions offered above, digital advertising in a daily digital publication and/or daily email newsletter will help exhibitors connect with readers.
Creating a daily digital publication, in flipbook and PDF format, with an email newsletter, provides multiple advertising opportunities for advertising placements. The placements can include email banner ad, product listings, advertorials and display ads. Here are a few tips we provide exhibitors to help them get the most out of digital advertising placements:
- Link the ad to a splash page, for capturing leads.
- Offer a content download – attendees love case studies.
- Promote special events occurring in the virtual exhibit hall.
I think everyone would agree that 2020 is the year to “think outside the box.” That is especially true when supporting your exhibitors and sponsors.