As many events for 2020-2021 continue to go virtual, you may have already done the legwork on how to participate and what the technical components are. But in creating the event, internally or with an agency, it is critical to not lose sight of your brand story. Just as this would have been a consideration with a live event, it is important to maximize your virtual event to tell your story.
Once your basic plans are in place, take a moment to consider the more strategic aspect.
1. Clearly define the benefits of your virtual event
Once you identify the benefits, ask yourself are these benefits to your company or your audience? You need balance. Certainly there needs to be a reason for your brand to execute this live event, but more importantly, it needs to benefit your audience. Citing the benefits will help you attract the attendance you need and delivering on those benefit promises will raise your profile with your target audience.
2. Include your audience
Audience inclusion is relatively easy with a live event. With a virtual event, you may have to work harder to engage your audience. Begin prior to the event with a simple expectations survey during registration; continue during the event with opportunities for live Q&A, feedback and networking. Finally, provide your audience with shareable content and data points they can refer back to as their everyday lives resume.
3. Rethink your budget
Don’t try to force your virtual event budget into your previous live event plans. The categories are different and in order to maximize the experience, you need to shift thinking. Great, trade show went virtual so no money is needed for travel, right? But now, you can no longer count on attendees walking the floor and discovering your exhibit. You need to draw them in and set yourself apart in a different way that may include pre-event promotion, incentives and creative design.
4. Don’t just show up
Creating the event is only half the battle. Tell your story in a way that works for a digital platform and then make sure the content is accessible. Consider breaking up the content into multiple release days instead of one full eight-hour day and incorporate experience mapping to keep your audience informed and guide your process.
5. Don’t forget the follow up
You may not be able to distribute collateral, free gifts and other physical elements at a booth, but don’t underestimate the impact of snail-mail. To control costs, select your top tier audience, or use the event data to identify those that interacted in a certain way with your online presence. Then, send them a creative and relevant follow up in the mail in addition to your standard email follow ups.
6. Find the Right Partner
Most brands do not have the internal resources to execute a virtual event and there is no doubt that the planning process can be intimidating. At EP, we are happy to start from scratch with your brand’s planning or review the plans you have so far. If you are taking the leap, we want to ensure that your landing is solid!