As events across the world are either being postponed or canceled it’s time to think about how we can still provide attendees with all of the important elements that live events can offer.
While the need to create live experiences isn’t going to change. What is going to change, is the way in which we do it. Just look at the Geneva International Motorshow. The event was replaced with pre-recorded and live-stream press conferences, all of which could be viewed on-demand.
Being event organizers, it’s our role to facilitate these changes and more importantly, it’s our role to start creating more online experiences for attendees.
The current circumstances have come as a huge shock to all of us and now more than ever before, we’re seeing how important it is to have a backup plan for running events, and this is exactly what we’re going to discuss.
So, where does this leave event marketers? After all, you already had a strategy and budget allocated. There’s no need to abandon it, instead, you need to mitigate and adapt to the changing environment.
Millions will be working remotely which is going to have a big impact on how we work. Office jobs are called office jobs for a reason and for many of us this will be the first extended period of time working from home.
Understandably, this is going to take a bit of time to get used to. But more importantly, we need to realize that none of this would be happening without work and meeting technology like Slack, Zoom, and Google Suite.
The main takeaway here is that these tools haven’t appeared out of thin air and the same applies to the options that we have with events.
As more and more people work from home, we need to look around us to see how other companies have created fantastic online experiences. Take Ikea’s augmented reality app where you can virtually place their products in your house. Or educational platforms like Kahn Academy.
These companies are doing it without the face-to-face aspect of event marketing and at the same time, they’ve still been able to offer something unique that adds value and engages their customers.
Making your event virtual
Making the switch to virtual isn’t as complicated as you might think. Especially when you consider how much time your attendees spend online and how often they access webinars. After all, events are made up of different components (content, networking, experiences) and these can be transferred to the online world.
The different options that you have mean that you can be flexible with how you approach this. For example, IBM’s Think conference will be going digital this year, combining live events with features from virtual events such as live-streaming content and interactive sessions.
This can go a long way in really adding to the attendee experience. To really get this right, make sure you know what your audience wants. Do you know their habits? What technologies do they use? What’s the best way to get their attention? Once you start getting the answers to these questions, you’ll have a much better idea of how you can give your audience what it wants in a virtual format.
Here are some of the virtual options that you have:
- Pre-recorded videos – Create an experience that combines brand elements and clear language with a captivating video presentation.
- Educational content – Provide attendees with how-to guides on their pain points and walk them through your product with demos and setups.
- Live-streaming – Generate attention by broadcasting updates and important bits of information live.
- Virtual event panels and forums – Engage your audience with a live Q&A session by hosting an online working panel.
So as you can see, live and virtual events share a lot of similarities. In fact, they’re almost identical. The end objectives are still the same, it’s just the means in which you go about achieving them. Making this shift over to virtual and online experiences enables us to add value in different ways.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, then take a look at these examples of virtual events:
Product-Led Summit: The Product-Led Summit was delivered entirely online. It included 60+ SaaS leaders from companies such as HubSpot, Appcues, and ProfitWell speaking. The content from the event includes workshops, masterclasses, and talks with their being three pass options: a free 48-hour pass, an individual all-access pass, and a team all-access pass.
SaaS Breakthrough: The SaaS Breakthrough Summit is a 100% free, 100% virtual summit hosted live on webinar platform Demio designed to give audiences an inside look at the marketing, growth, and acquisition channels from five of the top SaaS marketers in the world.
Reach Summit: This is a free online event from Teachable focused on the steps needed to scale and monetize your business. Each day of the event is aimed at different jobs. Providing that you register ahead of time, you’ll have access to all sessions for a limited time beyond the date.
The main takeaway from all of these examples is that virtual events provide flexibility. They’re never going to be a replacement for live events because they’re two completely different things, and each come with their own benefits.
Virtual events can go a long way in reducing carbon footprint, and money spent on expensive tickets. Content doesn’t have to be viewed in the moment and attendees have more freedom when it comes to what they want to engage in.
These are all viable options, and regardless of the ongoing situation, these benefits aren’t going to be forgotten about when we make the inevitable move back to live events.
- Events are being canceled but that doesn’t mean any events at all and as event marketers, we still have plenty of tools up our sleeves to engage with our audience.
- All of the components that make live events can be adapted to other areas of marketing with the help of technology. Live-streaming can facilitate product launches and virtual event panels can replace keynote sessions.
- With no traveling, the ability to access valuable content at any time, and generally having more flexibility virtual events can provide us with a new approach to event marketing that is going to stick around for a long time.