Landing sponsors for your virtual summit doesn't have to be complicated or feel slimy. It can be an experience that feels great for you and your sponsors while presenting incredible resources to your attendees.
Chelsea Clark is here this week to share her experience and how, in her very first summit, she landed $15k in summit sponsorships without uncomfortable sales calls or slimy tactics.
She's breaking down how to:
I’ll let Chelsea take it from here!
Summit hosts tend to have anxiety around sponsorships because asking for money can feel uncomfortable. Plus, the possibility of rejection is scary, too.
When pitching brands, remember you are not asking for money. Instead, you're offering the brand an advertising opportunity to get in front of their niche audience of potential customers.
There’s no lack of funds in a big company’s advertising budget, so remember your summit's valuable to them, too. You have an engaged audience of attendees watching the sessions and giving their undivided attention. When you pitch brands whose products are the perfect fit for that audience, your summit becomes prime real estate to that brand.
My mantra throughout the entire summit-planning process was "transformation over transaction" and that carried into my sponsorships as well. I didn't want to run sponsored advertisements in between sessions, and I didn’t want my attendees to feel obligated to buy from the sponsors directly.
I took a few specific steps when choosing companies for sponsorships:
Since I wanted sponsorships to feel good to the attendees as well, I was strategic with what I offered each company.
The brands were offered a session during the summit where they were able to teach the audience something of value, pitch-free, or I recorded a session of myself using their tool to save time in my business.
The best part is that each brand contributed a free trial of their products to my all-access pass. They didn’t have to pitch their product because everyone who was buying the all-access pass was already getting the products for free. This added more value on top of an already high-value all-access pass.
Although we had a sponsored summit, it didn't feel sponsored because we focused on the transformation. When you focus on the transformation from the very beginning, you’ll make those all-access pass sales and host an incredible event.
I pitched sponsors 60 days before the summit began with a professional-looking PDF. It was simple but included all the information a potential sponsor would need to know about the event.
Although I didn’t have a registration page ready to show, the PDF still gave me authority, showed the scope of the event, and set my pitch apart from others.
When putting together a sponsorship PDF, include thing like :
Now that the sponsorship PDF is created, send a simple, to-the-point email. Let them know you love their product, that you have sponsorship spots available for your summit, and that they’d be a perfect fit. Insert a link to the PDF, and ask them to jump on a Zoom call to discuss it further.
I sent this to 6 companies.
Instead of feeling defeated and let down by those 2 who said no, I approached their competitors with the opportunity instead and got a “heck yes!” If anyone says no to you, don't take it as no forever. Go find someone else that would give you a yes. Don’t give up.
My sponsorship packages were presented to the companies as different tiers. I went with priced tiers in my pitch deck because I knew some brands would want to be featured more prominently at the event, want their own sessions, be mentioned as a platinum sponsor, and were willing to pay more for the exposure.
So although I started with priced tiers, I also customized the offers to make it fit their unique needs that matched my goals.
Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and get sponsors involved in your summit. It’s all about creating that transformation and incredible value for your attendees.
Chelsea Clarke is a Monetization Strategist on a mission to help creatives make more paper. She scaled her blog Her Paper Route to over half a million dollars last year, and shares marketing and growth-hacking advice to help other entrepreneurs at every stage.
In 2020 Chelsea hosted her first virtual summit and landed $15,000 USD in brand sponsorship from big-name companies - before the event was 10% planned. The summit earned over $58,000 USD and helped grow the speaker’s lists by thousands.
Chelsea has been featured in Business Insider, MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, and Authority Magazine.
Learn how much time to set aside for planning and launching your profitable, stress-free online summit and use my calculator to set the due dates for you.