Finding and securing sponsors is no easy task. In fact, most event professionals rate it as the greatest sponsorship challenge they face, over evaluating return on investment and approaching sponsors.
A shifting paradigm is partly to blame: brands who were once content to drive awareness via logo placements are now looking for opportunities to create deeper, long-lasting connections with attendees. As a result, they’ve become harder to win — and much harder to retain.
So how can you win these brands over? First, by understanding your attendees’ needs and matching them to a sponsor’s objectives. Second, by creating sponsorship packages that offer the opportunities for deeper connection brands seek.
In short, you need to avoid blending in with all the others approaching the same brands. To help, here are 10 examples of event sponsorship packages that stand out.
Sponsorship package #1: Interactive art installations
Whether at a conference or a music festival, people love interacting with art installations. Whether it’s by walking in, on, or around them, or by actually becoming part of the artwork, interactive installations grab attention and engage in a way quite unlike any other brand activation.
At Food Network’s 20th Birthday Bash in 2013, the event used 11 different interactive art installations to engage partygoers and reminisce on twenty years of food trends. Guests were greeted by a towering birthday “cake” comprised of whitewashed vintage TVs playing old Food Network clips.
The installation lived on at another even two days later, when the design was repurposed for the New York City Wine & Food Festival’s Tacos & Tequilas bash. Instead of old Food Network clips, the TVs played past clips from event sponsor NY1.
Sponsorship package #2: Sponsored livestreams
Live video can extend your reach and have a real impact on your bottom line. In fact, 30% of people who watch a livestreamed video will attend that same event the following year. Offering a livestream as a sponsorship package can provide brands with the opportunity to engage with audiences in niche markets.
For example, Toyota sponsored Tumblr and Yahoo’s 2016 livestream of the country music festival Stagecoach (Coachella’s sister event, which drew about 75,000 fans). The video player included Toyota branding at the top of the page, as well as 30-second pre-roll and shorter “bumper” videos that ran before the content began playing.
“We decided to livestream on Tumblr to support our ‘Music Moves You’ blog,” Nancy Inouye, national media manager at Toyota, told AdWeek. “Being able to provide premium live video and access to one of country music’s biggest events helps us amplify our presence in the music space in a way that centrally features our brand.”
Sponsorship package #3: Virtual reality installations
Virtual reality offers events and brands alike an opportunity to create engaging, innovative, multi-sensory brand activations for attendees. Putting on a VR headset allows the user to view three-dimensional imagery, transporting attendees to different places and experiences.
For example, SAP’s Quarterback Challenge at Levi’s Stadium allows users to feel as if they are the QB in an NFL game. Gaze detection technology also allows fans to select which receiver they want to throw to, with a hand-held trigger measuring timing and accuracy.
“Most importantly, there was the question of how to keep the experience memorable,” Sam Yen, Chief Design Officer at SAP wrote on their blog. “That last question led us to design the follow-through experience, providing people information about their game performance via e-mail.”
Sponsorship package #4: Sponsored lounges
Sponsored lounges and parties can take your event to the next level. Especially if you’ve conducted surveys and your attendees wanted more opportunities to network or relax during your event.
At BottleRock, winery sponsors are a natural fit. They descend every year with libations and beautiful pop-up wine-bars, featuring hardwood floors, chandeliers, and white leather couches in which patrons can sit back and sip wines.
“Our winery sponsors really help turn our GA space into what I would consider a VIP experience,” says Jason Scoggins, who manages sponsorships at BottleRock. “Winery sponsors are the perfect fit in terms of our brand and our experience.”
Sponsorship package #5: Wi-Fi and phone charging stations
Whether your event is for business professionals networking on a weekday or foodies relaxing over the weekend, attendees require access to Wi-Fi. And if you want to encourage people to engage with your event on social media or live stream performances, you’ll want to provide access to Wi-Fi, too.
This year at the Glastonbury Festival, official technology and communications partner EE offered colossal quantities of free 4G, Wi-Fi, and phone charging (including wireless charging), all in preparation for the most shared Glastonbury ever. Over 50 terabytes of data were used and EE’s Recharge Tent and power bar swaps kept attendees fully charged all weekend.
Sponsorship package #6: Food & drink brand activation
Food printing (logos printed on eatables), company branded drinks, pop-up restaurants, even organizing a chef’s table or mobile kitchen — there are many different ways to offer a brand activation around food at your event.
At the 2010 BlogHer conference, sponsors Hillshire Farm and Jimmy Dean (both owned by Sarah Lee) used the largest booth on the expo floor, an 80-foot by 20-foot kitchen, for chef demonstrations, tastings, and a sandwich-making competition hosted by Padma Lakshmi.
Sara Matheu, director of communications for Sara Lee North America, told BizBash, “We came out of it with so many insights, so much amazing content, and a great group of new brand ambassadors.”
Sponsorship package #7: Stress-melting game stations
Having a games area at your event provides attendees with a place to have fun and network. Table tennis, ping pong, table hockey, casino card games, old-school board games, or giant versions of party favorites like Jenga can be a valuable brand activation for sponsors.
At Sound on Sound Fest, at a Renaissance Faire Park, a cider company took over the ax- and knife-throwing area. “We stuck apples into those walls, and folks were trained how to throw an axe or a knife to hit the apple,” says Adi Anand, the director of business development at Sound on Sound Fest.
“There were prizes: if someone hit the apple, they could win an instant upgrade to VIP, or tickets for next year. There was a long line the whole time, and it was one of the most popular things we had. It was about learning a new skill, and it was very on-brand and done in a very safe, monitored setup.”
Sponsorship package #8: Illuminated smart wall & social media
A social media wall is one or multiple screens at your event that displays posts and photos that are tagged with your event’s hashtag on social networks like Twitter. Most social media walls display new posts in real time, but if you’re concerned about any tweet getting on the big screen, you can moderate which posts are shown or highlight your favorite tweets.
The eighth annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards used various large social display walls throughout the event venue where attendees, honorees, and fans could all share and interact with social content. The engagement was impressive, with over 60 million projected views of social, branded, content during the one-day event.
By offering a social media display as a sponsorship package, sponsors can control the flow of posts and add their brand’s tweets to a regular circuit.
Sponsorship package #9: Short fitness and wellness sessions
69% of millennials attend live events to challenge themselves and escape everyday routines. One way to fulfill that desire is by providing short fitness sessions at your event. It doesn’t have to be a time-consuming or daunting class, as frequent, 5-10 minute offerings can really pack a punch and help attendees feel like they’ve tried something outside of their comfort zone.
For example, when looking to expand their fitness brand awareness, Zumba showed up at events and ran 10-15 minute beginner dance sessions that attendees could join. These short sessions introduced attendees to the workout and improved the event experience.
Sponsorship package #10: Unique giveaways
Everyone loves swag, especially when it’s useful or unexpected. Gifts and giveaways are excellent brand activations that you can create a sponsorship package around, especially if you and your sponsor tie the giveaway into something experience-based, like a trip.
Online real estate marketplace Ten-X was a major sponsor at SXSW 2016. Their Ten-X Flyaway Contest tied in the launch of a new product with a compelling prize: roundtrip airfare and hotel accommodations for five winners and their guests to the SXSW Interactive Festival, as well as registrations for the event and tickets to Ten-X’s exclusive launch party.
Attendees are eager to participate and provide their information in the process, making this a powerful sponsorship package for lead generation.