In the event world, we’re trained to adapt and expect the unexpected. No amount of planning can ever predict last minute cancellations or delivery issues or freak weather….or even a global pandemic. Our entire industry is defined by our ability to solve problems and create amazing experiences, no matter what may happen.
This leads us to our new reality of a complete event shut down. No parties. No conferences. No gatherings of any kind – unless you think digitally.
While not every event is suited to an online pivot, those than can be re-imagined online can often discover hidden benefits including reduced costs, greater reach and increased engagement. Workshops, seminars, Q&A’s and performances are just some of the formats that can effectively be reworked for a digital audience and offer significant benefits for hosts and attendees alike.
But before you start redesigned those invites, it’s important to remember a few key points before making the decision to go digital.
Stay focused on your goals
Successful events are never simply a means to distribute information or socialize. There are ALWAYS specific goals and objectives that need to remain top of mind in order to measure your success and make the effort worthwhile – and digital events are certainly no different.
Whether you’re hoping to drive sales, fundraise for a cause, make connections or, simply, educate, designing your event around these objectives should always remain your number one priority
For example, attendees are often attracted to an event for the networking opportunities alone which makes it an essential consideration within a digital platform as well. Achieving this may require the addition of open forums, smaller breakout groups or some other form of personally connecting your participants to help them grow their network and find value in your event.
Create a Superior Attendee Experience
It’s impossible to replicate live events BUT that doesn’t diminish the need for a stellar attendee experience. Consider why your audience is attending your event and offer them the best opportunities possible to connect, learn and interact. Keep in mind, the experience doesn’t need to be limited to a video presentation or “LIVE” event. Consider ways to utilize other platforms or services to encourage more activity and interactions before or after the main attraction.
Choose the right “Venue”
We may not be talking glitzy hotels or chic restaurants anymore, but your digital venue choice still requires thought and organization. Zoom, GoToMeeting and Skype are still some of the top pics these days and each has their own set of features to schedule, share and interact. It is VITAL that you take the time to essentially become an expert in that platform to ensure your event runs smoothly. You, not only need to be able to use your chosen presentation tools but you also may need to integrate them into any other applicable software and help others that may need help troubleshooting issues – and there WILL be issues.
Ensure you test your internet connections, run rehearsals, prepare backups of presentations and visuals and offer easy to follow guides or FAQ’s to ensure everything runs smoothly because no one is going to grab a coffee or chat with a tablemate while you work things out. Preparedness in an online setting is absolutely necessary.
Fine Tune your Marketing Strategy
In many respects, your promotions may be similar to a traditional event. The same tools are still relevant – advertising, social media, email communications – but the emphasis on digital communications is even more important now. The need to segment your audience and communicate the varying elements will, likely, also be more significant and require additional effort. We no longer have the benefit of announcing sessions or event components to an already engaged room. Instead must find ways to attract them to each online gathering space. The key to this will be to create interest, communicate effectively, make the process easy to navigate and, most importantly, offer value to the audience.
Embrace your Partners
Having great event partners can be a huge boost for any event and in the digital world a strong partnership can offer even more value in promoting your event and offering additional incentives for your audience to participate – not to mention that ever important financing to keep many events profitable.
But the road goes 2 ways, if a partner is investing in your event, it’s also important they receive a positive ROI as well. This may require being more inventive than simply adding their logo to the promotional material. Consider live shout outs, introductions and the incorporation of promotional offers to provide them more facetime in front of your audience and therefore adding more value to their investment. Keep in mind, achieving a balance is still important in any event setting and privacy laws need to be considered when negotiating the sharing of attendee contact lists.
Adjusting an event for an online platform is no simple task but with careful planning and a little creativity, a well-executed digital event can still offer an experience worth remembering. Interested in learning more about if your event would be a great fit for turning digital? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org