Marketers are constantly looking for the right mix of events to build brand awareness, educate their customers and prospects, and, of course, help them close more business. Unfortunately, most marketers think that a certain type of event always needs to be executed a certain type of way, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. With the technologies available today, and the different ways customers and prospects want to engage, companies need to be taking more of their events online to extend their reach and touch more of their audience, drive more measurable response and save a good chunk of change in the process. Here are three events that have traditionally been in-person, but are tailor-made for an online/virtual approach:
I can’t tell you how many marketers I’ve spoken to over the last 3-4 years that have said their road shows are consistently a failure, yet they keep doing them anyways because they feel like it’s something they HAVE to do. That’s crazy to me and is a poor use of funds. Road shows are restricted to a certain area, can be expensive to host (flying executives out to the destination, renting out a space, wining/dining prospects, etc.), and almost always have a lower attendance rate than what was expected. A good alternative for a road show would be a mini virtual event. Perhaps a half day event that has 2-3 webinar presentations, a virtual booth where attendees can get loads of information about the company and its products and interact with company executives, and a forum for attendees to network with each other. It’s more cost-effective, it will drive larger traffic numbers AND it’s more measurable.
Lunch & Learns
This one is a no-brainer to me. While these aren’t typically as expensive as a road show, they’re still more expensive than an online alternative and they don’t drive nearly as much traffic because they’re restricted to a certain area. A mini virtual event would be a good play here as well, but hosting a few 45 minute webinar presentations back to back may be the better play. You can extend this Lunch and Learn to anywhere on the globe, your audience doesn’t have to travel, and they can be in/out in an hour and a half. And marketers will get a better sense of audience engagement on the backend…a true win-win for everyone involved. I’ve seen some companies take their Lunch & Learns online and order in lunch for their registrants/attendees. It’s a nice touch.
With all of the enterprise grade webcasting and virtual event solutions out there today, I believe marketers should always execute their product releases and showcases in an online environment. Besides all of the benefits I’ve already mentioned, it’s just smart business. Companies can go the webinar route for either of them – we have many clients that have launched new products or services via a webinar on our platform – but if you want to beef things up I believe a virtual product showcase is a great option as well. It allows you to host different webinar presentations on the products and it’s benefits (maybe one presentation that’s more technical in nature and one that focuses more on the value a customer has received by leveraging the product); you can have a booth or a series of booths that focus on your different products, and have product experts manning each booth to answer attendee questions (similar to the virtual road show); you can have a room where attendees can network with one another in a virtual environment; and you can add giveaways and gamification into the mix as a way to enhance your brand and get your audience engaged with your products.
In addition to all of the benefits I’ve listed, it’s important to remember one more thing: when an in-person event is over, it’s typically over. Most companies don’t do a good job of extending the shelf-life of their in-person events. When you take your events online, you can extend their shelf-life through on-demand archiving so it continues to drive marketing ROI for your business for a longer period of time. Something to think about when putting your event strategy together for the 2nd half of 2017.