Thought Leadership Sponsorships for Virtual and In-Person Events



Today, I want to talk about thought leadership sponsorships. Often, it’s one of the most popular requests sponsors have for associations. Unfortunately, associations are not open to the idea of these kinds of sponsorships. Typically, it’s because 10-20 years ago they gave someone stage time and they got up there, and they delivered a sales presentation for 45 minutes. And the association put a stop to these types of presentations. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, associations began looking into expanding their revenue models and alternatives to in-person meetings. Associations are exploring the idea of a sponsor speaking in greater length now.

If you’re examining a thought leadership sponsorship, here are a few tips you may want to consider:

1. Set specific guidelines. Review the speaker and the content prior to the agreement and make sure you have a walkthrough with them before they give their speech.

2. Evaluate your speaker’s resume. Look at white papers that they’ve written in the past, watch videos of past speeches, etc. Make sure to do your homework so you have an idea what to expect.

3. I highly encourage you to make it a joint presentation. Some of the best ones I’ve seen are where the sponsor does a dual presentation with a member company; it’s something that really resonates with members, especially when they see their peers doing the best-case practices study.

4. Expand on the presentation; don’t make it a one-time thing just for the event. Record it and make the video available on demand for your members to view. The sponsor can also use it for their own promotions in the future. It’s also pretty easy to convert a live presentation into a white paper for future use.
And lastly, some perspective on bringing in a sponsor to speak at your event. A sponsor can bring an opinion that’s not insular to the industry that is represented by your association. An outside voice that can provide a unique perspective that folks who are focused only on the industry wouldn’t get otherwise. Additionally, you can charge a premium for these opportunities with the decrease in in-person meetings. This is a real opportunity for your association.

If you have any questions about this or you would like assistance for your virtual event sponsorships, either consulting or implementing plans like this, feel free to shoot me an email at or fill out the form below and I’ll be in touch. I look forward to speaking with you soon!


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