What if I told you that you could very likely get your first sponsor for your virtual summit within the next five days?
Sounds too good to be true? Hear me out.
I’m going to explain how this is possible, and what steps you can take towards selling virtual event sponsorships.
However, I believe it’s the second step of the process that will make or break whether you can find a sponsor for your summit.
Let’s face it, hosting a virtual summit is expensive and not a small project. You might be super excited about your idea for your virtual summit and want to put a summit together but the costs of the platform, promotion, all the VAs and tools needed seem too much and kill all momentum.
I’ve been there myself, as have many students inside Virtual Summit Mastery.
That’s why I decided to put together a strategy that shows you how you can get your first paying sponsor within the next five days.
But first, let me explain what you DON’T need to make this happen:
- You do not need to have tens of thousands of followers.
- You do not need to be recognized as an expert.
- You do not need relationships with companies in your field.
Those things will help you, of course. But they’re not mandatory.
I’ll walk you through my step-by-step process on how to get your first sponsor for your virtual summit. If you follow what I’m about to share with you and take action, you will get your sponsor. But you have to do the work.
Know Your Summit Audience
Here’s the secret sauce: when you know who your “ideal attendee” is, you know what companies want to get in front of that audience.
As an example, when I’m putting together my email-marketing-focused summit List Building School, I know that I want entrepreneurs and small business owners to attend the summit. I want them to be aware of email marketing and its potential – but I also know that they’ve got problems in making email work for them and their business.
I know that they struggle with building their email list.
I know that most attendees aren’t able to sell their products to their list.
I know that most attendees do not earn $1 per subscriber per month on average.
And here’s the important part:
I am 100% convinced that the speakers at List Building School can teach solutions to exactly these three problems. That’s why I’ve picked the speakers you see on the website.
When I’m approaching companies to support the event as sponsors, or “tech partners” how I call them for this event, I know exactly what types of companies have the same audience that my event has.
Tools like Convertkit, Simplero, or even Jarvis can help with email marketing. They’re all potential supporters for the event and you’ll find their logos on the website when the event is in full promotion and running.
Without understanding who you are hosting your event for, you’re lost.
You won’t get any meaningful results from your summit if your targeting is too broad. (Hint: that’s why the first module in the VSM course is dedicated to exactly this.)
Your marketing will fall on deaf ears. You’ll barely see signups if you’re not speaking to a well-defined community of people. Just as you would with any online marketing campaign – no matter if you’re selling a virtual summit, a book, coaching, or any other product or service.
Know your audience and you know which companies you should add to a list of potential sponsors for your virtual summit.
Create Appealing Sponsor Packages
After hosting countless events for the past six years, I’ve realized that most sponsors are purely interested in engaging with your community live and getting in front of your attendees as often as possible.
I’ve tried virtual booths where sponsors could host giveaways with fancy spinning wheels and build their list that way. They slowly but surely stop working.
I’ve tried virtual networking lounges where sponsors had booked times to moderate the conversation. That didn’t work too well either.
I’ve tried selling sponsors on being placed on ads for the summit and having short video clips in front of the ads. No bueno.
What works reliably are the following few things:
- Live webinars during the event
- Live roundtables during the event
- Highlighted pre-recorded sessions with live chat
- Engagement opportunities with the audience after the event
- Promotion to the audience via email and social channels
It’s not rocket science if you think about it – but having these starters hopefully helps.
Look into what other virtual events are already doing in your industry (or in related markets) and adapt. Do not blatantly copy them, that’s bad for your kharma. See what works and do more of that.
Regarding pricing, you have to be comfortable selling the sponsorship packages over the phone. Most companies you’ll speak with have never sponsored a virtual summit and you’ll need to explain the concept to them more than once.
For that reason, do not prices you don’t think are justified.
The smallest package could be $500 or $1000. I recommend having a second, “middle”, tier for around $2000 – $3000 and then offering the highest tier for $5000+. By having multiple packages, you can cater to companies of various sizes.
Before you can approach sponsors, be sure to have a sponsorship contract in place that protects you and also clearly states the perks the sponsor receives. Do NOT take on sponsors without a contract.
Selling Virtual Event Sponsorships The Smart Way
At this point, you should have a clear understanding of the target audience for the event and have sponsorship packages ready to sell.
It’s time to approach companies!
Shortlist Potential Sponsors
If you aim for getting 10 sponsors, shortlist 100 companies. Put them into a spreadsheet and also list 2-3 reasons why you think they should sponsor the event.
Remember the golden question: What’s in it for them?
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What measurable results will sponsors get from supporting your event?
More website traffic?
More followers on their social profiles?
More users joining their trial offer?
You get the idea.
After you’ve come up with your list of companies and a few reasons for each of them, research the people you’re going to pitch.
How To Pitch
Do NOT pitch a company profile or email address directly. Never.
Find the employees responsible for this type of engagement. These usually are marketing managers, partnership managers, VPs of Marketing or VPs of Business Development, and so on.
Always build relationships with people – not with company profiles.
When connecting with them on social media, do not waste their time but also don’t go straight into a pitch.
Start the conversation by referencing some news around the company, a piece of content recently published, or any other event that would be a valid reason to approach the person.
At this stage, it is NOT about you and your event. You can’t jump into these conversations by directly selling virtual event sponsorships. It is about getting to know the other person – they’re human beings just like yourself. Don’t be selfish.
After the initial contact, you can ask questions like:
Does your company engage in supporting virtual summits or supporting our community?
Then, slowly lead the conversation toward your summit and ask them if they’d be interested in learning about your virtual summit.
Get them on a quick phone call (make booking easy by using a tool like Calendly) and go through the sponsorship packages together.
Take note of every question they ask you and incorporate the answers into your future conversations.
As long as you’re focused on making the sponsorship not just a win for yourself but also for the sponsor and for the attendees, you’ll get sponsors.
Companies want to see that you care about the success of your attendees more than you care about your own as the summit host.
Funnily enough, that’s when sponsors will start supporting your event and will help you make it a success for you as the host.
If you found this article helpful, you’ll LOVE the training videos waiting for you inside the Virtual Summit Mastery course. It’s packed with 74 lessons and I’m adding new materials constantly.
Check out the course curriculum here and join our engaged community of summit hosts if you want to fast-track your way to success.
If you’re not ready to invest in the course because you’re still in the planning phase, don’t worry. Download the 7-step cheat sheet for free and make the first steps today!
Selling virtual event sponsorships doesn’t need to be hard.