Many businesses and networking groups shifted to virtual events, but there are still opportunities to create meaningful engagement.
Most of us have seen dire consequences of sheltering in place, from millions suffering job loss, to sizeable downturns in our business. We demonstrated agility by continuing to network, hold client meetings and other virtual marketing efforts to create some semblance of business continuity. But is this the new norm? Is it reasonable to translate traditional live events into virtual sessions? Can you create meaningful engagement with others in the new virtual format? Consider these facts:
- More convenient to many
- Lower cost per guest
- Cast a wider geographic net
- Replay possibilities
- Immediate call-to-action
The answer is YES! If you plan your events well you create value for your attendees and make them crave for more. Here are 5 easy ways to engage and delight your attendees:
- Consider your audience. The number one factor is to create value for your audience. Whether it is a live or virtual event, be conscious and considerate of your audience. Create a clear reason for them to come and stay. Here’s an example, having recently courted to attend a well-promoted event I logged on only to find there were THIRTY sponsors who took 2-3 minutes each before any dialog was allowed by anyone else (including no chat capabilities). I don’t know how many attendees were there and I didn’t waste any more time to find out. Admittedly, this is not the model you want for your event. Bounce rate must have been high for the event so let this serve as the first sign of what not to do. Attendees are busy, crave interaction and want to be heard. Create attendee value early and throughout the entire event.
- Create a theme, educate, and inspire. Although people are not in traditional offices now, they are still busy. You want to engage attendees, make them want to come back, respond to a call to action, and inspire a positive emotional response. Some of the best events leave the attendee with more than they had before, educationally, motivationally, and certainly financially. Financially? Of course, they want to see a return on their investment of time, whether it is new skills or networking opportunities, or how you solve a problem. Don’t overlook lead-capture, demographics, donations, subscriptions or other immediately tangible results as well. Additionally, just like an in-person event, consider your branding and tie it to the theme. Get your brand prominently displayed during your virtual meeting, just like you would in an in-person event. Need help, click here.
- Live events do not always translate to virtual events. You have to think “Edu-tainment” here. Having attended dozens of virtual meetings, the typical state-your-name-elevator-pitch format is hardly exciting. Create an agenda, tie it to a theme relevant to the group, and make it educational and entertaining. This will be a more engaging for the attendees, but will make them want to come back. Television programmers have understood the “living room challenge” for some time, along with all the accompanying distractions. Their playbook should be your playbook. Standing around a bar does not translate to a virtual event very well, but creating a well thought out theme and agenda may very well tremendous word of mouth. One word of caution here, no one will sit through a three day, all day conference in front of a computer screen, so you may have to pre-record some sessions and offer them concurrently in different virtual classrooms.
- Make your event binge-worthy. Consider the power of virtual events being a built in evergreen marketing tool. Most virtual meeting platforms provide a mechanism for recording events. Use this as an opportunity to record product demos, mini-courses, webinars, or even create a public speaking portfolio. The possibilities are endless to rebroadcast or repackage your event for future use. This also allows for editing to create even more segmented material.
- Delight your attendees. If you have an event people register and pay for, provide swag! It may be something as simple as a t-shirt, blue light blocking sunglasses or some other inexpensive item you can encourage attendees to wear or display during the event. Something showing up prior to an event presents a delightful surprise right now. This certainly differentiates you from other virtual events. It also keeps your brand top of mind long after the event.
You now have several suggestions you can immediately put into action, now and in the future. Virtual events demonstrate a shift in how we present our products and services. If nothing else, the cost savings to attendees, ease of global access and a reduced cost to companies putting on events definitely shows us new possibilities. Still have questions? Call Upscale Event Productions today at (904) 600-4554 to see how we can make your next virtual or in-person event magical and memorable.