Before launching your virtual event - whether a trade show, summit or webinar - consider these 5 things
The recent global health crisis has seen many industries around the world take an absolute beating.
In-person events are being canceled, postponed, or “transformed” into virtual events. If you’re an events organiser who is considering the third option (setting up a virtual event), this post is for you - especially if you’ve never run a virtual event before.
We’ve quite a bit of experience in marketing these kinds of events, working closely with organisers & marketing teams from webinars to virtual summits.
Read on for 5 things to consider when launching a virtual event.
1) Conceptualise your event as a virtual experience
If you’re one of the many trade show or other B2B event organisers who now want to translate their event into a virtual experience, conceptualisation has to be your first step.
One of the greatest selling points of in-person events is the face-to-face time you guarantee between buyers & sellers. The way in which your new virtual event brings this across needs to be seamless.
- How are you going to allow your exhibitors to showcase their products?
- If your exhibitors are service providers, how are they going to allow prospects to innovatively interact with these services?
- If you have keynote speakers, how will their speeches be delivered? Will there be an option for attendees to interact with them in real-time?
Fully map out your virtual experience by answering these and other questions related to your event. This will make it easier to sell exhibition space & speaker slots, and make the acquisition of attendees to your virtual event smoother & easier.
If you think that boring PowerPoint presentations & poorly recorded speeches from a C-suite executive or two are gonna do the trick, you need to spend more time at the drawing board.
2) Understand the physical requirements of a virtual event
This may seem counterintuitive, but virtual events have (sometimes considerable) physical requirements.
Sure, you don’t have to hire a venue, but if you’re hosting, say, a panel discussion, where will that be filmed? Will you need a makeup & production team?
Speaking of production, there’s no need to think of your virtual event as a glorified Skype call. You could turn it into a multi-camera shoot with advanced features - dream big!
If you properly plan for all the space & production requirements, you’ll be able to launch a virtual event with customer experience as its guiding principle.
3) Reevaluate your audience
When organising & marketing an in-person B2B event, the personas you created had specific needs. You crafted your event to cater to these needs.
Are your persona needs the same now that your event is virtual?
Probably not. Even if you’re targeting the same audience as your in-person event, the things that they’d expect from a virtual event are different, and you need to take this into consideration.
Now that your event is virtual, you have the potential to reach people in regions that you might not have had access to with your in-person event. This is obviously a goldmine of a business opportunity - more valuable than hand sanitizer or loo paper currently - but this new audience probably has unique challenges.
How is your virtual event going to address their challenges?
People are accessing your event from the comfort of self-isolation (probably) & the one-size-fits-all approach, especially with virtual events, won’t be received well.
4) Choose a virtual event platform
Cool. You’ve conceptualised your brilliant, industry-shaking virtual event, mapped out all the production requirements to make it possible, and relooked at your audience - what now?
Well, now you have to choose a platform to bring your virtual experience to life.
Because we’re in the business of helping event professionals, we’ve created a handy little list of virtual event platforms for you to check out.
5) Budget - Virtual events still need cold, hard cash
When it comes down to it, virtual events are usually much cheaper to produce than in-person events.
We always mention this to our clients when proposing a virtual event.
The process of mapping out a budget for your event can be a long & tedious one, but some of those costs can be cut out completely when opting for a virtual event - such as venue and food costs.
Keynote speakers are also another major expense for organisers, especially considering that they need to be flown out, compensated for travel time, and accommodated in hotels.
Even with all of the above savings, producing a quality virtual event still takes some cash. If you want your attendees to be impressed, invest a little more - you won't regret the great word of mouth advertising you get out of it.
Virtual events are the new in-thing, and they might be here to stay.
Investment in Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR) has seen a rejuvenation, and more & more organisers are seeing the room for opportunity & innovation in virtual space.
Before you even start talking about marketing your virtual event in this current climate, you have to begin with conceptualisation & positioning.
Conceive of your event as a virtual experience.
Understand that even virtual events have physical requirements, such as hardware costs for production & space for filming.
A virtual event could potentially reach a wider audience, and you’ll have to hit the persona drawing board again. Without properly positioning your event to address the challenges of a new audience, you’re throwing new business opportunities down the drain.
Choosing a virtual platform that meets all your needs (even the ones you didn’t know about) is crucial to success.
Lastly - money makes the world go round. Virtual events have a long list of pros, such as saving on some costs (by eliminating them completely), but you’ll still have to budget for other things - like a virtual event vendor & production hardware.
The event industry may be shaking a bit, but you can tap into an innovative, stabilising feature & see spectacular ROI. & be on your way to launching a virtual event that will leave a very real & lasting impression.