“Show, don’t tell.” It’s one of the first things you learn when you take an English class. Whether it’s a short story or an essay about Nietzche, you want your audience to believe you’re an authority on whatever you’re talking about, but you can’t just insist that you are that authority.
When you’re trying to get customers to believe your product is the best one out there, traditional marketing methods fall flat. Banner ads flash on every page until they’re blocked by AdBlocker. The first three links on Google are clearly sponsored, and sometimes they’re laughably off-topic (what are they even doing there?). Even commercials are easily skipped over with TiVo, or just ignored and talked over until the show comes back on. So how do you show your ideal audience that your product is worth their time?
Educating your audience and proving to them that you know what you’re talking about is incredibly important and provides value to them, so they won’t feel scammed or like they’ve wasted their time. However, in the time of noises coming from all directions, it’s often hard to find the motivation to read a whole book or series of whitepapers from a company you’re not even sure you trust.
That’s where virtual events come in. With a short webcast, a day-long class, or even a full-blown conference, you can display your knowledge to your ideal audience while showing that your products or services are needed in their lives. This establishes you as an authority who values their time and doesn’t want to waste it by shouting about how great you are to them.
Give your ideal clients something worthwhile, and they’ll come to you the minute they have a problem that you can solve!
What do you have to offer your clients that’s worth their time?
While online events are gaining traction, there still are many reasons to have in-person events. Some sponsors prefer in-person booths, some attendees enjoy the chance to leave the office for a few days, and other reasons. However, you may still want the opportunity to reach a larger audience – sponsors who like the option of online downloads in their booths, attendees who prefer to learn from home or their offices, bosses who don’t want to pay for travel costs.
You can combine the two very successfully to get the best of both worlds. Here are a few of our tips to do so.
1. Live stream your sessions
To make the online attendees feel like they’re really a part of the action, live stream your presentations during the in-person event. You can do this using any number of applications, such as YouTube Live (which now has taken over Google Hangouts), LiveStream, etc. Anything that gives you a live stream link will work successfully.
Make sure that you have a good quality camera (a GoPro or a good smart phone camera will both work great) and that your audience can see both the slides and the presenter’s face.
2. Make the slide decks available online.
This will benefit both your in-person and your online attendees. Whether they’re sitting in
the back of the room and forgot their glasses or they simply follow along better when they have the slides in front of them on their computer, always make sure you have slides available.
This will be great for after the live portion of the event as well. Those who attended the sessions live will like having the deck to refer to in the future and those who missed the session will be able to look back and see what they missed.
3. Make the presentations available On Demand for both in-person and online attendees
Just about every in-person conference I’ve been to has more than one presentation going at a time. Because of this, it’s impossible for any attendee, no matter how meticulous, to
see all of the content live. Your in-person attendees will be excited about the opportunity to be able to catch the presentations that they missed, and your online attendees will be more likely to view all of the presentations at their leisure.
4. Allow your online and in-person attendees both to participate in Q&A
You can do this a couple of different ways. Your speaker/presenter can have an online chat room that they can refer to during the Q&A with the in-person crowd, so that they answer questions from both audiences; alternatively, you can ask your speaker to answer questions from the online audience after the event using a chat room.
Either way, you’ll want your online audience to feel as much a part of the action as your in-person crowd. In-person attendees tend to try to catch the speaker after they are finished with their presentation, whether by the stage or in the lobby afterwards. Your online event audience does not have that opportunity, so you need to make sure that they have the option to ask their questions as well.
5. Work with your sponsors
You have more sponsor real estate, so to speak, utilizing in-person and online events simultaneously. It’s quite easy for sponsors to send you materials for an online booth – typically online downloads, links to their site, online giveaways, and graphics. This opens up a lot of opportunities for different kinds of sponsorships.
Your in-person sponsors may want to have both virtual and physical booths as well. You should approach them and see if they would be interested in having an online and a physical presence at your event.
Keeping these few tips in mind, you can have a truly successful online event to accompany and broaden the audience for your in-person event!
Have any questions? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to help out!
Continuing with the theme of “biggest concerns about online events,” another worry I hear from clients is that hosting virtual events just seem so complicated. This is understandable when you’re approaching a medium you haven’t utilized before or even changing hosting platforms. There is a bit of a learning curve usually when starting a new type of marketing strategy, but a lot of virtual event platforms have one or three great solutions to that for you.
A Best Practices Guide
Typically this is a PDF or document that answers most of the questions you may have about hosting an event with that particular platform. Many online events are self-service, which means that they are simplified as much as possible.
As someone who’s just purchased an online event, you’re not expected to know how to run the show. You’re expected to know your presenters and exhibitors, as well as to market the event, but actually putting together the event should be as simple as it can be. The success of your event is the paramount concern for the company you bought it from, so they really want to help you as much as possible.
This document usually is FAQ style, with common questions addressed in step-by-step fashion to help you navigate through the platform. If it’s in PDF format, it usually has links as well, to help you to move through the process in a easy and painless manner.
A Project Manager
For a lot of platforms, a project manager is an add-on. This is a person who is assigned to your event(s) and who is available for you to call, email, contact however you see fit.
This person will have helped out with a lot of events before and has been trained extensively on the platform. Not only can they answer your questions, but often they will actually either help you set up the event or take most of it off your hands.
For instance, with vConferenceOnline, the project manager can actually set up the entire event for you. You will send them abstracts for sessions, information about speakers, even contact information for speakers or exhibitors. They can then contact them directly for all of the information and set everything up for you.
One great thing about project managers is that they have access to information about previous events. This means statistics and analytics about similar events to your own, allowing you to find out things like: how many sessions will be best? How long should your sessions be? How do you encourage attendees to speak to the exhibitors?
As above, none of these platforms anticipate you knowing how to host your own online event – that’s why the platforms exist. It’s their job therefore to help you succeed with your event so you’re happy (and they’re happy to!)
For platforms who don’t have project managers, often they will offer live chat or email support to help you out with your event. Similar to the project manager, this will be a team of customer service representatives who are trained on the platform and know the answers to most, if not all, of your questions. If they don’t know the answer, they have access to project managers who do have the answers.
As with the project manager, this option is typically an add-on for other platforms, not included with the purchase of the event itself. However, the knowledge and experience you can access is well worth it for those who aren’t comfortable with the platform yet!
These three options are usually available on all platforms in some shape or form. The best practices guides are usually included with any event, while the project manager and the live support are typically add-ons. These give you three ways to access the platform’s expertise and experience!
That is a very broad way to say that your marketing strategy should first and foremost involve teaching your audience something that you know extremely well and that they want to learn about.
If you try to convince your audience that they should choose you you before they realize they want the services you even offer, you’ll annoy more people than you’ll close. Proving your trustworthiness and knowledge gets you in front of the competition before your potential client even knows they need you.
How do you do this?
Find a topic you know like the back of your hand (and they don’t).
In your sphere, there are problems that your audience is looking to solve. Chances are, you either have the solution to those problems or you know where to look to solve them. Do you have a large number of problems you know how to solve? Great! You can create an online class or a series of articles on it. By proving that you know what you’re talking about, you establish yourself as a trustworthy source. Your audience will come to you for solutions (and you’ll already be at the top of their list when they want to spend money).
Talk about easy-to-tackle issues.
Don’t try to overwhelm your reader/viewer with too much information at once. Try to break up problems into smaller step-by-step solutions. If your audience comes to a webcast and realizes you’re going to be talking for three hours, they’re already checked out. Take it by small steps to make your information more accessible to your audience.
Don’t brush off your own expertise.
Whatever your end goal, whatever you aim to sell to your potential client, you are confident that it’s a good product or service. Don’t play down your knowledge or forget to mention how you can be so helpful to your audience. If you’re a doctor discussing what a symptom could mean, it helps the patient to trust you if they know you actually are a medical professional. Make it clear why you’re an authority on the topic.
Your ideal audience doesn’t necessarily know who you are, so if you approach them by telling them that you’re great, they’ll just ignore you like a flashing banner ad. Offer them something they need – like knowledge, helpful tips, etc. – and they’ll be much more likely to become a good lead for you.
This way, you also connect with people you know will be good, qualified leads. A smaller number of quality leads is better than a huge number of terrible ones that will never pay off. Don’t waste your time (or theirs).
Nearly every industry in the world encourages, if not requires, continuing education. Typically, this is found in the form of expensive in-person conferences, which to attend, people have to drive across the state, fly across the country, or go to an in-town hotel. Continuing to grow and learn is a huge part of being able to climb the ladder in almost any industry.
How can this help you to add value to your event?
There are two options for adding certification to your event. If you are an educational company anyway, contacting a certifying body to figure out the steps to become officially certified in your industry is a great place to start. You will submit your presentations and any testing materials and they will determine if you are able to give out official continuing education credits.
An official certification is a huge benefit to your event, as it becomes a draw not only for the attendee, but their company. Frequently, with continuing education, the company will foot the bill, making it easier for you to reach more attendees.
However, there is another option if you cannot reach out to a certifying body. Including certification in your event does not necessarily require an official certifying
body. If you have a decent name in your industry – or are cultivating
one, you can set up the event a little differently.
Your event can simply have a short quiz for each presentation (typically, these are 5-10 questions). With a platform like vConferenceOnline, you can then automatically grade these and distribute certificates via email. The certificate will have your company name as well as details for the number of credits the attendee earned in the event, typically gauged by the number of hours – or fraction of hour.
Including certification in your event adds an incredible amount of value – and makes it very easy to justify a cost to your attendee. This makes the event more profitable for you. It also makes the content very easy to re-use after the fact in a webinar or online course style event, further monetizing your content.
Events are inherently marketing for the companies involved. Whether the event is meant to be educational, networking, or simply a tradeshow, the end-goal for those arranging the event is marketing.
Most companies have a pretty strict budget for all things, but marketing is difficult to quantify, since the results aren’t always immediate or easy to measure. In that case, wouldn’t you want to make sure that any money you put toward marketing is furthering your goals?
Of course you would. So here is a short list of why you should host your events – whether they be classes, conferences, or tradeshows – online and virtually, rather than in-person.
As I already mentioned above, budgets are tight. Everyone wants to make money, but they don’t want to spend it. With that in mind, here are just a few of the things you end up spending money on with in-person events:
Lunches for all attendees and staff
Space for the event
space for presentations AND exhibitor booths
All your attendees will need somewhere to plug in their laptops
Pens/trinkets at exhibitor booths/check in
Staff for check in
And on, and on, and on. None of these are a cost to consider with an online event. Security for payment and the presentations is taken care of by the platform hosting the event.
Coffee/lunches are the responsibility of attendees (as are bathrooms). If you want to do a giveaway, you only have to pay for the few shirts or keychains you decide to give away.
An in-person venue can only hold so many people before the firemen get antsy. Online, you only have to worry about bandwidth. If you have lots of people paying to come to your event (or lots of sponsors helping you with the cost), bandwidth is a truly minute cost. With all this extra space, you can allow so many more people in your event and therefore get your message out to them.
Additionally, only so many people can afford to travel to an in-person event. Your goal is to reach as many people, so why would you limit that? There is a cost to attend, a cost for hotel rooms, a cost for food, plus the cost for time off of work. With an online event, your attendees (and their bosses) don’t have to worry about that, so many more will be able to join you.
If your presentations are broadcast at a scheduled time, there’s no sweat on the attendees to watch it as it broadcasts with On Demand capabilities. No matter how many presentations you have at an in-person event, an attendee can only view one at a time.
With On Demand, they can view any presentation they want, anytime they want, wherever they want (with an internet connection).
This makes things a lot easier for your attendees and exponentially raises the value of your event, encouraging more to register and even further increasing your reach. The convenience of watching these presentations online far surpasses the cost of travel.
If you have to spend money on something, you want to know its effectiveness. Online events provide information that would be creepy (and impossible to obtain) at an in-person event.
You can know things like what presentations an attendee viewed, how long they viewed each for, which booths they went to, whether they participated in the networking chat or presentation chat.
Beyond that, with a company like vConferenceOnline, your project manager has access to the analytics of past events, which means that that person can help you to improve your event based on the successes and failures of previous events.
5. The Ultimate in Green
The whole world is trying to go green, with good reason. You can contribute to this, along with all the other benefits, while saving money. 100% virtual means no paper cups, no plastic food bags, no waste, nothing. If your company is looking to “go green” or if that is already a goal you are pursuing, I highly recommend a virtual event.
Have any questions about hosting a virtual event and want a great platform that will help you every step of the way? Email us at email@example.com
You have decided you don’t want to do an in-person event; you want to avoid the hassle, the enormous costs, the inconvenience. Now, you’re ready to dive into the virtual event space…but with what kind of event?
Luckily for you, virtual event platforms are malleable and any kind of event you want to host can be done online. However, before you start setting anything up for your event, you should choose the format, as that changes a lot of things down the line.
What kind of events are possible online? All. But here are a few categories to give you an idea.
Webinars are typically one (or two) sessions – these don’t usually have exhibitors and
feature a smaller “footprint” with a 1-2 page registration site. When the attendee gets to the site, they are taken to the session room during the day of the event, and to the on-
demand menu while the event is in on-demand mode. There is not usually a conference lobby, nor are there typically exhibitor booths. However, both can be added, depending on what you envision for your event.
Online Courses are similar to an online university class, but shorter. These are typically several sessions (usually fewer than 15) usually offered for a fee and starting on a specific date, with ongoing on-demand access for a period of time. This sounds very “variable” – an example would be 12 sessions on a topic, starting on August 1 and available to attendees for a period of 30 days. Typically, there aren’t exhibitors for courses, although sponsors and/or exhibitors are possible. There is usually a class- or session-ending quiz and you can issue a certificate of completion if the test is passed with the score you provide.
Virtual Conferences/Online Trade Shows
These are larger virtual events, typically featuring more than two sessions/presentations. They can include as few as 2 and as many as 150+ sessions running across many days and 12 rooms or tracks of simultaneous sessions. Typically, with an exhibit hall, these events can also be free for attendees, paid or freemium model events. However, all aspects, including the price for attendees, are easily customizable.
Which one works for you?
This all seems very wide-open and variable – there is a lot of overlap between the events. The biggest change between them is what audience you are trying to reach. Webinars are typically free and focused on getting leads for a sponsor or yourself. Courses are focused on teaching and are usually the product you are trying to sell – there is almost never a sales message in this format. Virtual conferences are focused on educating and selling, with the sessions for educating the viewer and the exhibit hall to encourage them to talk to sponsors.
The good news is that all of these event types are extremely successful online. Each event, whether it is pre-recorded and broadcast on a schedule, broadcast live, or allows the viewer to choose when and which session to watch, at some point can allow the viewer to watch at their leisure. With an On Demand section of each event available, you can access a large international audience and spread your message further than you could with an in-person event.
Have any questions about hosting a virtual event and want a great platform that will help you every step of the way? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
A conference relies heavily on its content to market the event – which makes a lot of sense. If you see a movie trailer and hate the concept behind it, you aren’t likely to pay money to go see it, let alone waste your time with it.
Therefore, it is extremely important to have talented, comfortable, knowledgeable speakers for your event. If they are well-known, active in whatever community you are a part of, this makes them an even bigger asset. How do you use their influence to your benefit?
Many virtual event coordinators create banners or badges for their speakers to put on their website or blog. These will say something like “I am a speaker at x event” and link to the event. If you want to track how many people use the links from your speakers’ sites/blogs, you can always use a VIP or discount code.
Most public speakers have active social media accounts as well – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or a blog. These are another great opportunity for your speakers to proudly announce that they’ll be participating in the event and to encourage their peers and audience to join in on the event. With virtual events, this is even better – the followers are used to interacting with this person virtually, so communication during the event will be very effective.
Are your speakers running/part of their own companies outside of your event as well? That’s a great opportunity to set them up with a virtual event booth. They will be able to interact with attendees not only through their presentation and the chat you set up during/after, but in their booth as well. Curious attendees can learn more about the speaker’s company, which can be a huge selling point to get those popular speakers to participate in your event as well.
Make sure that your communication with your speakers is effective and frequent. This builds a relationship between you, ensuring that the speaker is having the best experience possible, encouraging them to participate in your events again in the future. Well-known speakers in your community often discuss with one another their experiences at events and if yours has been excellent, your speaker may have contacts that would be happy to participate in your future events as well!
Most of all – remember that without presenters, you would not have an event. Your speakers are very important and should be treated as such!
This question comes up quite a bit. The short answer… if you do it right, is…
If you can market the virtual event in conjunction with the in-person event, you end up boosting the value of the in-person event. If you market one, then move to the other, then back again, the messaging can get very confusing to your audience. You need to work the shows together, then you can clearly show how your audience benefits from each venue.
One of the successful things that is done is using the online event as a promotional tool, but also as a pre-event tool. Using this approach, you can help your audience attend the in-person event in possibly a more prepared, informed way. Here are some ideas to help integrate the two types of events:
Hold pre-conference pre-sessions. These sessions are presented by your speakers and include information that will get the audience ready for the in-person event. Of course you don’t need (or want) to present the entire in-person session, but you can present the items that help people better understand what will be shown.
Consider pre- and post-conference classes or supporting sessions. You can offer these as an add-on to your in-person registration. These can be multi-session presentations and provide deep information for attendees. Then, when they come to the event, they can learn how to apply and further use the information from the pre-con. These can also be a way to get deeper involved in the materials presented, since the multiple sessions will be focused on a single topic whereas sessions in the in-person event typically are single sessions and stand alone.
Use pre-sessions to introduce topics and introduce homework to get people thinking along common lines.
Use virtual events to provide additional information about and by your vendors and sponsors. These virtual events are great ways to further leverage your relationships with your sponsors and provide additional opportunity for the sponsors to interact with and gain information from your audience. Keep in mind, you can keep the virtual event online after the in-person event, so your vendors can continue working with your audience in on-demand mode.
Consider adding “best of” type sessions after the in-person event has completed. You can add them to the virtual event and use it as an additional touch point to work with your audience. Simply capture the sessions at the in-person event, then announce that you’ll be adding the top 5 (or 10 or whatever works well for you) sessions to the virtual event in the weeks following the event.
Consider live-streaming your keynote presentations or key presentations from industry experts – this can further integrate your events (online and virtual) and show why people should attend both. They get to see the live session and they get to experience the online virtual event.
There are a whole host of ways you can leverage virtual conferences, webcasts and webinars and in-person events. From marketing to extending content to outreach to follow-up, the virtual event platform can significantly boost your in-person events.
As you write up your attendee and sponsor offerings, consider adding an option to add the virtual event items you’ll be offering. Do the inverse on the virtual event registration – adding options to include the in-person event. By integrating the two, you can leverage your audience, not split your messaging and gain additional ways people can take in your events, talk with sponsors and more.
Virtual events can be a powerful add-on and powerful marketing tool for your in-person events. So many people make the mistake of assuming it’s one or the other for their audience. Done right however, it allows you to extend your in-person event’s interaction with your audience in exciting ways.
While the virtual event is over (it’s still available on-demand, and free, watch it here), the learning and application of the different experiences and all of the information presented (and there is a LOT there), is just getting started.
The GroupHigh event is on-demand and ready to watch – make sure you check out this great summary – there is information here on everything from the conversations you have with your customers and advocates to tools and techniques for reaching out to your community.