No, Every Virtual Event is NOT a Nail

There’s an old business proverb handed down to me from a sales mentor:

 

The suggestion here is clear: Not every customer is alike, so don’t treat them alike.

 

Similarly, not every virtual event should be a “Zoom” call. But overnight, U.S. companies and consumers made their declaration for Zoom as they scrambled to keep business going and bridge gaps among friends/family.

Now that “Zoom” is wedged into the vernacular of any virtual experience, it’s time to reckon with the fallout.

 

Not every virtual event is a nail

I have nothing against Zoom, Teams, GoToMeeting, Google Meet, etc. (let’s call them Basics, for short)

But, these platforms are not designed for every virtual event.

Take this list of virtual event types (thanks to Townscript EventManagersBlog for this list):

  • Online training/workshop
  • Virtual summit/conference
  • Webinar series
  • Virtual meetup
  • Virtual trade show
  • “Ask me anything” (AMA)
  • Virtual keynote
  • Fireside chat

 

While each type varies in its complexity and purpose, the general idea is for you to engage customers so your brand leaves a lasting impression.

In 2020, your customers now spend hours-and-hours on platforms like the aforementioned. This means DMs (decision-makers) have fewer-and-fewer markers of distinction between one vendor to another.

Basically, you look like everybody else.

[Case Study] See how NextLevelFan helped SWBC (financial services) co-create their first webinar, post-COVID

So how do you stand-out?

You first decide not every event is a nail.

 

How to pick the right “tool for the job”

Above, I gave you several examples of virtual events.

Choose the right platform based on these three factors:

  1. Am I promoting sponsors/partners?
  2. Is networking a key benefit for attendees?
  3. Do I want to visually set my event apart for attendees?

If you answered YES to any of those questions, then using a Basic alone ISN’T going to get it done.

Instead, you can host your event while still using your favorite Basic AND wrap the experience with a branded, sponsor-activated page.

 

By hosting the event this way, you also have access to engagement and profile data that a Basic doesn’t provide.

Data you should be collecting from start-to-finish (for when your boss asks you at a moments notice):

  • [Pre-event] Where did registrants come from (email, SMS, social promotion)?
  • [Pre-event] What questions do your attendees want you to answer?
  • [Post-event] What info do your attendees want to know more about?
  • [Post-event] Which attendees need follow-up from Sales?

 

Event planning should begin with the end in-mind. Knowing the data you want throughout the event lifecycle is critical to high conversion follow-up.

(Especially today, when live event lead gen is non-existent. Now is your time to consolidate your efforts into a single virtual events platform.)

 

You get what you pay for

When this “new normal” of COVID-19 hit, there was financial panic from the C-Suite.

“We’re gonna lose customers if we can’t meet them face-to-face.”

Then, it turned into financial curiosity.

“Finance and Sales: you get together and run some numbers to see if we can’t cut our travel in half and still meet our numbers.”

Now, it’s become financial necessity.

“We gotta strengthen our pipeline going into the second half of 2020, or we’re gonna pay big time!”

 

Nearly 80% of event organizers have moved events to virtual (source: CEIR, July 2020). What many organizers have yet to do in this transition is recognize this is not a stop-gap that goes away in 6 months.

There’s a new value proposition for in-person events: (1) attendees can network with like-minded people, (2) sponsors can engage attendees and build a pipeline, and (3) everyone can learn WITHOUT the need for so much travel.

Basics are not designed for this evolution of the event space. Therefore, organizations may need to re-evaluate their investment in the right tools in order to satisfy their sales, their sponsors/partners and their customers in the long-run.

 

In Conclusion

While live events will return, the business of virtual engagement is here… now. Businesses can’t wait for live events. So the right thing to do is adapt with a virtual engagement platform that captures 9x more data for your CRM.

Zoom and “friends” just aren’t the right tool for that job.

 

 

Written by Brian Barker

Spent 12+ years running hundreds of B2B events before attempting to save the world as an elementary teacher. When I realized how awesome our teachers are (and that I wasn't cut-out for it), I pivoted to B2B event tech.

My wife rocks! My kids are awesome! I'm just playing catch-up...

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