September 22, 2020

12 Ideas For Virtual Sponsorship Experiences

Anne Manning
VP, Business Development

Ask the events and trade show industry experts, and they will tell you: The current solutions for virtual sponsorship opportunities aren’t cutting it. 

The initial excitement over quick-fix virtual solutions have faded as sponsor companies struggle to gain traction and meaningful interaction with their event attendees. In the online-only world, qualified leads are harder to come by and virtual event platform banner ads are white noise, if not just visual clutter.

So, the question remains:

If we can’t gather in large groups and harness the power of face-to-face interactions right now, how can we bridge the gap and bring real value to sponsors and exhibitors?

While this may be new territory for many, hybrid and online events have been delivering meaningful connections between customers and providers for years. 

At Hartmann Studios, what we have found to be true for virtual events is also true for virtual sponsorships:

  • The message matters: Every effective interaction depends on compelling content and creative to draw attendees' attention.
  • Know your audience: A little research goes a long way. What do your attendees hope to gain from your event experience and how can you give that to them? What do they enjoy in their free time? What problem is keeping them up at night?
  • Connection is key: A cool experience is just that. You have to connect the experience to your brand, but even more importantly, don’t leave your audience hanging. Give them clear direction and a call to action on where to learn more and do more.
People talking at table with 'Sponsor' word over image

So how can this work for you and your sponsors’ brands?

First, spark interest: Create a unique experience that will ignite authentic audience engagement. 

Then, connect the dots: Tie the experience to your brand and your event goals.

We’ve pulled together 12 ideas for virtual sponsorships experiences that will both grab attention and get attendees engaging with sponsored brands.

Image of person sitting with multiple pots and plants.

Going Green

You Grow, Girl!

Join the Green Revolution gardening frenzy that is happening now and pick up some quick, green hacks during a 30-minute session. Gardening tutorials can include topics such as: Is there a difference in the process of planting vegetables vs. herbs? Outdoor vs. indoor planting? What type of fruit trees will thrive in your living room? Are there easy ways to use recycled materials as planting starters? How important is compost?

The Plant Doctor

Plant propagation is a great path to sustainable living. A small group of 15 or so attendees can enjoy an online plant workshop and learn how to grow their own at-home garden paradise, tailored for their own local climate. From fiddle leaf figs to succulents, learn about how to care for various plants and which vessels are the best to grow them in. 

Brand tie-ins and other thought-starters:

  • Tagline idea: Grow With Us, Dig In
  • Great for health or wellness-related brands
  • Promote a sustainability theme
  • Focus on growing fruits, vegetables and herbs
  • Virtually partner the plant expert with an executive leader from the brand company
  • Compare and contrast how the expert’s project turns out compared to the “student’s” project for a good laugh
White spoons on black background, filled with spices and salt, ready for cooking.

Foodie Culture

Virtual cooking show

As the world embraces CSA boxes, Blue Apron, Uber Eats and contactless pizza delivery, let’s explore inventive, family-friendly recipes that are quick and easy to make. We'll feature local and sustainable ingredients as well as tips for turning pantry staples into delicious, stuck-at-home cuisine. A celebrity chef paired with a VIP leader co-host this quick, on-the-go show.

#Cookbook

A more budget-friendly option: Encourage attendees to submit their favorite recipes (with photos!) introducing their fellow participants to new cuisines and dishes. Create a social hashtag campaign so all attendees can easily find the content in real-time, then, create a final product in a digital format to share post-event. 

Salt bar

Let’s dig into the world’s greatest staple. Here we can introduce attendees to the rich history and interesting benefits of using salt. Topics can range from a primer on the different types of salt and the fascinating role it has played over the centuries to cooking demonstrations and cocktail ideas. What’s a salt block and how do you use one? How do you make an aromatic, rejuvenating salt scrub? 

Brand tie-ins and other thought-starters:

  • Tagline ideas: Feed Your Soul, #Grit, Worth Your Salt, Now We’re Cooking, Around the World
  • Use a split-screen to show dual action shots 
  • Ship branded jars of spices or salts or branded aprons--bonus points if you add personalization
16 different digital artwork avatars of smiling people who look professional and casual.

Digital Art

Digital Avatars 

Draw out your attendees’ personalities as they make their own digital avatar for playful photo opportunities and conversation with their fellow participants. Maybe they create a side-by-side comparison of themselves and their avatar creation? Digital characters can be used throughout the online conference and on attendees’ own social media channels.

Digital Caricatures

Are you the presidential type? The hippie type? Maybe you’re more of an eco-warrior princess or a book worm type. Provide three adjectives to our digital caricaturist describing how you see yourself and enjoy a digital caricature produced in five short minutes.

Brand tie-ins and other thought-starters:

  • Incorporate brand campaigns/hashtags into the digital artwork itself
  • Create a game-like universe where avatars can interact with each other, delivering a sponsored networking event
  • Turn this activation into a learning experience, teaching attendees how they can try out this incredible art form
  • Try a personal growth angle and encourage attendees to see themselves from a different perspective
A red pixel alien on a yellow brick background.

Gamer Challenge

With games running simultaneously, small-group teams can compete, mingle or just kick back and watch the fun unfold. Attendees can test their knowledge while letting their team flag fly, using fun team names and custom logos the teams can choose themselves.

Personable and professional game masters will guide the action, while providing customizable content. During the game, these game masters will also DJ music and provide entertaining, topical commentary. 

Game ideas: Buzz-In Pub Trivia, Giphy Challenge, Pictionary Drawing, Head-to-Head Social Games, Lipdub and Fun Fact Match.

Brand tie-ins and other thought-starters:

  • Tagline ideas: Game On, Level Up, Quiz Show
  • Customize game content for both the brand and event 
  • Ship branded VR headsets to participants
  • Have attendees compete for sponsored giveaways
A blackboard image with words like gamification, leaderboard, points, levels and badges.

Rack Up Points

For customizable swag...

Not all sponsored experiences need to happen on a schedule. Incentivize audiences to earn points or badge awards simply for attending, watching or participating in activities that interest them most. Points earned may have actual monetary value or can be redeemed for swag through a custom online catalog. 

...or for charity!

Add a feel-good element and allow attendees to select a charitable organization to award their points to upon completion of the event.

Brand tie-ins and other thought-starters:

  • Tagline ideas: Cash In, Earn It, Give Back, #Score
  • Align options to charitable causes that matter to the brand or industry
  • Include a branded gift that all attendees receive, regardless of participation level
  • Create an interactive, real-time leader board 
A professional man walking in a city with a smartphone and earbuds.

Get Moving

Walking scavenger hunt

Everyone needs a good reason to get up and move after participating in online sessions and presentations. Why not encourage attendees to take a break while still accumulating “Total Time” at your online event? They can take a walk, get some fresh air and check items off an Ultimate Scavenger Hunt List, snapping images to upload for credit. 

Podcast to go

Create podcast-style content for attendees to listen to on the go. Feature bonus Q&A content, behind-the-scenes interviews with conference speakers, or deep dives on special interest topics revealed through pre-event polling or registration.

Brand tie-ins and other thought-starters:

  • Tagline ideas: On the Go, The Hunt
  • Inspire listeners to submit a photo related to a specific topic; submissions can be showcased in a shared gallery and even entered into a contest for further recognition
  • Winners gain branded swag or get to choose the next item to find
  • Participants can post their finds on social media, using a strategic brand hashtag
  • Create a custom, community mural at the end of the event which ties back to the brand

Are you looking to bring in more sponsors for your next live, virtual or hybrid event? Our team of content and creative experts would love to design inventive and effective experiences that your sponsors--and your event attendees--will go crazy over. Contact us today.

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