The Virtue of Virtual B2B Events
Gone are the days of in-person face-to-face meetings, conferences, and trade shows. Being at a trade show was all about discovery. Roaming isles (earning those steps!) and discovering something new was fun and exciting. (The free swag was nice, too.) One lesson the year 2020 has taught us is that there are different ways to stay connected. The practice of hosting and attending virtual events was not new to us, but it certainly forced its way in and has not only become a necessity, but the new norm.
As B2B events shifted to virtual settings, we lost what we were accustomed to but gained a lot more in return. The shift offered us different opportunities. These opportunities enabled us to reach a wider audience and really focus on business goals and strategies. And, as we move into a new year and continue to plan these events, here are a just a few points to remember as part of your planning process:
Determine what you want to get out of this event and what you want your attendees to walk away with. Let those key factors drive the event. Then promote. This is the time to use and grow your social media network (especially LinkedIn), while also signifying that your company is thriving and still a resource in the industry. Take advantage of participants’ affability to join remotely, grow your qualified audience, and establish your brand’s reputation as a thought leader.
Taking the “in person” factor out, how do we make a virtual experience worthwhile? After all, events are about human connection. These two small but important touches can make your event stand apart from the rest:
There are a multitude of options to host an event, including interactive meetings, Facebook or LinkedIn live events, webinar presentations, guest speakers or expert panels, or even a curated series of on-demand videos with built-in networking capabilities. Whatever your choice, make sure you have a moderator who can keep an audience’s attention and deliver the message. Additionally, have a support person on hand to manage the platform on the back-end, from muting to organizing the Q&A session. Make sure to include opportunities for engagement, like breakout sessions or mid-presentation polls and quizzes. And don’t forget to incentivize attendees. The experience can be anything from receiving prizes for participating, catering your virtual event to entertainment such as a virtual band, magic show or simply a fun challenge throughout the event.
Send a recap of your event as a follow-up to your audience and thank them for attending. This is also a good opportunity to survey them about their experience. Virtual fatigue is real and we all want to find ways to limit that, and who better to ask than you attendees for their honest opinion so that you can continue to create a memorable experience for them.
The advent of hosting and attending virtual events can also have a variety of benefits you might not have been aware of. These benefits include:
- Cost savings: Hosts and moderators of virtual events no longer need to concern themselves with extra costs that may include renting space for the meeting, catered lunches, or transportation and accommodations for out-of-town attendees.
- Strong engagement: Regardless of whether there are 10 or 100 attendees at an event, the simultaneous privacy and intimacy that a virtual event provides can also foster closer engagement. After all, quality matters more than quantity.
- Feedback in measurement: Facts and figures of how many people attended a virtual event are visible through online measurement, thus revealing its effectiveness and impact.
- Purpose of repurposing: Finally, by taking the extra step of recording a virtual event, content is now available to repurpose across social media, the company website, and any other online venue that can expand reach and visibility.
So, there’s the proof: The shift to virtual events, however difficult the adaptation might be, will ultimately make your brand’s message stand out and travel far.