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June 14, 2024

5 Ideas for Naturally Incorporating Sponsors Into Your Community

Most associations have now embraced a member engagement strategy that includes virtual events and online communities. Online offerings are convenient, cost-effective, and allow associations to connect with a broader audience.

But, if your association previously brought in a lot of non-dues revenue through event sponsorships, you may be wondering how to maximize your revenue in virtual spaces like your online community to make up for less revenue coming in from in-person events. The answer lies in modernizing your sponsorship approach and incorporating sponsors and exhibitors into the online experience.

By monetizing your online community, your associations not only generates revenue, but also creates added value for their members. Here are five ideas for naturally incorporating sponsors in your community!

Your online community platform can pay for itself! Learn more about how to monetize your online community in our guide.

1. Give Sponsors Community Access

As part of your sponsor or partner agreements, you could allow paid access to your community, with an agreement that sponsors won’t do promotion. Instead, sponsors join as members to share best practices, build relationships, and make connections. This is a great opportunity for both the vendor (who comes to be seen as a trusted resource) and the association (because additional subject matter experts are available to answer questions and share their knowledge in your community).

2. Suggest Event Sponsorships

Running an AMA? Hosting a webinar? Offer the opportunity for one of your vendors to sponsor the event. You can feature them in associated promotional material like marketing emails, or even offer two minutes at the beginning or end of a webinar for the sponsor to say a few words. This gives sponsors the opportunity to get in front of your audience, while helping you offset the cost of your programs (which often makes it possible to host MORE programs).

3. Have Sponsors Generate Content

Content marketing is popular for a reason – people like to work with brands that know what they’re talking about. Your sponsors are likely looking for opportunities to showcase their expertise (or, if they’re not, they SHOULD BE). Invite them to share thought leadership with your members! Sponsors can create featured blog posts or run educational webinars for your members. This creates added member value while also helping sponsors build awareness and trust for their brand.

4. Create a Sponsor Directory and Highlight Sponsors in Your Community

Choose sponsors with solutions that your members need, and make them easy to find by creating a special directory. Members can then search for partners with the right solutions to solve their challenges.

You can also get creative with how you showcase your sponsors. For example, you might create a Sponsor of the Month or Vendor Spotlight, which you promote in your email newsletter or directly in your community.

5. Sell Ad Space in Your Community

Higher Logic Thrive Community is designed with built-in ad space to help you balance promotion and community activity. Consider offering these different ad types to your sponsors:

  • Daily digest email ads that go out in your daily digest emails, usually as a banner or button.
  • Discussion group messages included in each online discussion post, or a “post powered by” hyperlink to the sponsor in every discussion post.
  • Leaderboard banners located on your community homepage.
  • Sponsored blogs featured on the community homepage, providing visibility and prestige as a thought leader (and valuable content for your members!).
  • Page sidebar column ads, featuring a mix of internal and external advertisements.

To keep the community from feeling like purely a marketing channel, think about limiting the number of advertisers you accept for community ad spaces and in each weekly newsletter.

Need help getting started building your sponsorship program? Use our Customizable Advertising Prospectus template.

Higher Logic

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