Is Live Worth It?

Last week, I coordinated an enormous database/technology event. With over 30 sessions to schedule, over 20 speakers to herd, and over 1300 attendees, it was a little bit chaotic – in a great way! With so much content, so many people involved, it really turned into a fantastic event for all involved. 

One of the things my team discussed before beginning the process was: should we have live sessions? 

One of the benefits to live sessions, most will say, is the increased interaction with attendees. For instance, you can roll directly from a pre-recorded session into a live Q&A to answer your attendee’s questions the way they’re used to at live events. 

However, with our platform, we are able to conduct a Q&A session throughout the presentation, allowing attendees to ask questions or have in-depth discussions for over an hour, instead of 15 minutes. 

One thing that we did decide to do was record the keynote sessions for each day of the event using a live streaming tool. It had all the charm and look of a live session, switching back and forth between speakers and a one-take time limit, but we were able to make sure that it was as polished as a pre-recorded session.

The mock-live sessions played at exactly the right time, there were no audio/video issues, it rolled seamlessly into the next session; none of the typical issues with a ‘live’ session were present, but it appeared live. In fact, a few attendees really believed that it was live and asked how we pulled it off. 

The point I think I’m getting at for this post is that your event can have the benefits of live sessions without the stress of live sessions. Both look the same to the attendee anyway, so why not take some of the tension out of your own shoulders? 


Have any questions? Send me an email at caitlin@vconferenceonline.com and I’ll be happy to help out!

Case Study – Online Events and Membership Sites

Today, we have a great free download of a case study for you. 

We’ve created a few different case studies based on some of our most successful events hosted on vConferenceOnline. Today’s is about a technology membership site who wanted a way to communicate more effectively with their audience as well as give them a great way to access the ever-changing information in their sphere. 

Using vConferenceOnline’s online event platform, they were able to reach their goals and create a fantastic international online event the size of which their industry had never seen before. 

Just fill out the form below and we’ll email the case study to you!


 
      




 
  • Should be Empty:

 

Why Is Customization Important?

One of the more important options you have when selecting a virtual event platform revolves around customization options.  You’re already putting in major effort in creating and providing your virtual event, so the customization (being able to contribute your own look and feel on several key elements) is the fit and finish to your event that can make a huge difference.

This is part of a series of posts that supplement the “5 Things to Ask…” free planning guide, available at the top of the right column of this page. Get your free copy here.

There are several areas to consider for your customization: they include items that are based in the platform, but also items that are things you control entirely for the presentations.  Here’s a quick look:

Slide templates – make sure your slides have a common theme and look and feel.  While this seems perhaps tedious and odd, it’s important to have your event (even if it’s a webcast), have your logo information, your branding, you “look and feel.”   These things reinforce to the attendee who is providing the event, and where to turn with questions on the overall event and information provided.  Creating templates in your presentation tool (like Powerpoint, for example) is typically pretty straightforward.  Taking the time to create the template and distribute it to your speakers is a small step that has a big branding and consistency pay off for your event.

On-screen elements – talk with your provider about options you have for customizing the environment.  Things to ask about include:

  • Your logo placement throughout the event environment
  • Your graphical backgrounds and designs (1)
  • Your graphics and designs on the registration pages and microsite

(1) examples of this include one event where we were doing some work with school busses.  We changed the lobby to include a school bus and used the windows of the school bus as the navigational elements in the event (instead of conference room doors).  Consider using your offices, or your campus or other items that relate to your business and the industry you are serving.

Exhibitor booths – if you’re having booths inside your virtual event, consider the options you have for booth designs and how much your exhibitors can easily take advantage of those options.  Graphics sizing, options for using the “margins” on the page (some exhibitors like to include coupons in these spaces), custom menu and button options, custom videos and assets, along with general customization to the look and feel are the things you’re looking for here.

Emails, (Attendee Correspondence) – How much control do you have over the branding, look and feel and other elements that make up the email contact capabilities for notifications, announcements, etc.  These are important because you may be able to offer sponsorship opportunities (as an example) where you can include sponsor logos in the emails about your event.  In addition, you will want to make sure your branding is prominent and consistent.

There are many different components to customization.  While most platforms will indicate that customization is allowed, the “how” of it all – the options available – vary widely, as do the tools and approach to implementing the customization.  Ask lots of questions, find out the various things possible and make sure they align well with your company and show branding and functionality requirements.

Getting beyond Marketing Emails

Every marketer’s dream is to have their ideal audience and potential clients come to them.

manhammock-300px.png

Living the marketer’s dream.

No banner ads, spam marketing emails, or annoying commercials necessary – and it make an advertiser’s job easier. Hands-free marketing is the goal, right?

 

How do you make the marketing process so easy that your clients find you before they even know they’re looking for you?

Connect to your audience through education

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).

Want to educate your audience with a virtual event? Check out how to get started here. Questions? Email us at sales@vconferenceonline.com

5 Reasons Why a Virtual Conference Will be More Successful for You

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.

1. Cost.

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 staffWater Cost by scyg
  • Coffee
  • Space for the event
    • space for presentations AND exhibitor booths
  • Security guards
  • Electricity
    • All your attendees will need somewhere to plug in their laptops
  • Clean bathrooms
  • 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.

2. Reach

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.

3. Leisure

If your presentations are broadcast at a scheduled time, there’s no sweat on the attendees Beach chair silhouette by laobcto 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.

4. Analytics

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 Greentree by gurica

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 sales@vconferenceonline.com

MoreHelp

What kind of virtual event should you host?

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.

Classroom-Silhouette-300pxWebinars

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

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 ShowsProfessional-People-Silhouette-300px

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 sales@vconferenceonline.com

 

Your Speakers are Your Biggest Assets

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!

Fundamental Choices: Live vs. Pre-Recorded or Pre-Produced

One thing we constantly work with clients on understanding is the use of pre-recorded, or pre-produced sessions vs. live, on-the-air content.

Generally speaking, the decision from a quality and control standpoint is extremely clear.  You want to pre-record your sessions.  Why is this?  It comes down to quality of content and control of your event.

If you pre-produce your sessions, you have the opportunity to mix different media types (perhaps a recording from your phone,  a recording from a camera, bits of PowerPoint, etc.), and then put these together to create a great session for your attendees.  Of course you can switch between sources live, you can do your talk with your slides, present your materials, all live.  But you are faced with issues that just don’t have to be there.  This is especially true if it’s not just you presenting, but perhaps a whole group of speakers.

The logistics of managing schedules, getting speakers connected at exactly the right time, addressing bandwidth issues at their location, etc. – all of these come into play.  Here are some examples that, frankly, didn’t need to happen.

  • A speaker showed up more than 15 minutes late.  He jumped on the line, then started talking about why he was late, complaining about traffic and how he was having a bad day.  Then he realized he had jumped on the live conference line and was talking about his woes to the world.  Live.  We had had to start without him and in joining late, gave the world a very unprofessional, very personal look at his troubles.
  • We had a speaker do their presentation over the top of dogs constantly barking.  The speaker would do part of the presentation, then have to stop to try to quiet the dogs as they announced the arrival of the package delivery service.  Then the mail carrier.  Then a door-to-door salesperson.  It went on and on in an amazing display of home activity that didn’t need to be part of the session.
  • Another presenter spent about 25% of their time scolding children who would not only be too noisy, but would come up and interrupt.  Would knock on the door when closed for noise control.  Would ask permission to use the restroom.  All nicely broadcast out to the audience.
  • We’ve had presenters who attempted to do their sessions from hotels with such poor quality internet that they were unable to show their demonstration correctly.  They would lose their connection, have poor quality images, etc. – all because they were presenting from a location they did not control.  In one case, the presenter actually announced to the world that they apologized, but they were sitting in the hallway for the presentation and hoped it would sound OK.

These are all life and reality for many presenters that do their work from the road.  But the fact is, you don’t need to be at the mercy of presenters.  Using great tools, you can record segments, create a great session and play it out on a timed, pseudo-live basis.  The presenter is then able to participate in chat from anywhere in the world in a clean, quality-controlled environment.

If you think about television, most shows (especially other than news programs and sporting-type events) are pre-produced.  It’s about control.  It’s about great quality and it’s about having excellent content for your attendees.  Your attendees may not even realize it’s not live.  It’s the best of all worlds.

Virtual Conferences Are, Indeed, Underrated – Here’s a Look at WHY

Great article posted to Convince and Convert about virtual events, what it can do for your business, impact of the sessions, community and more.

Here’s a link to the article

It’s a great way to work with your community of customers, partners and contacts – it’s also an excellent tool to educate and generally get the word out!  I think one of the key things (that you’ll see in the pictures people tweeted as well) is to have some fun with it too.

Check out the article – great information and review of the technology!

Types of Events

Why Virtual?
Josh Harrison, Producer
vConferenceOnline

Types of Events

I realize that the name of our platform might lead some to think that we only do conferences online. I assure you  that is not the case and my bosses didn’t make me write that either. There are many different types of events that can be done online. I’ll get into the  types we work with most often. Starting with the most obvious… in person events.

Conferences

These may be the most popular and well known types of events simply because there are so many and they generally happen in every area of interest. From finances to comic books, there are people with like interests that need to gather and communicate. For the most part these consist of keynote sessions to start off and general sessions combined with a show floor or exhibition hall for vendors to tout their offerings to attendees. Depending on the area of interest you’re probably going to a conference for the sessions or the exhibits. A subgroup to conferences would be shows or exhibition events for vendors. The attendees at these events only represent a very small portion of the actual audience for their topics. Many can’t get away from their daily lives or simply can’t afford to travel and attend.

Education

This is  also a very popular type of event. In most professional industries there is some sort of Continued Education implemented to keep pros up to date. There are requirements and standards that must be met to qualify for these CE credits. Professionals are usually busy, and time is money, so fitting in travel or even leaving the office for CE is usually a struggle.

Training

Training events are usually done on a smaller scale in person. There will be an instructor going over hours if not days worth of courseware with a select group of people. Some training programs will do a circuit or tour run to try and reach as many people in different locations as possible. Still, the reach is limited and you have an instructor repeatedly delivering material to a small audience. This requires higher registration prices due to trainer costs and can eliminate some potential trainees due to travel or costs.

Webcasts/Webinars

Marketers have long been creating events to attract attention to their product or services. A company may be releasing a new product and they want to tell the press or educate potential customers/clients. In many of these situations these are small events that require their attendees to travel.

If you are starting to see a trend I’m hoping you are starting to see the advantages of Online Events. Factor in time and costs for travel, food, lodging and attendance charges and you may see why in person events have seen a decline in attendance.

I said all of that to say this. Give the people what they want. In today’s world, individuals and businesses are accustomed to instant gratification. Everything is at their fingertips thanks to the internet. If your information isn’t easily available to the world they will find another option as quickly as type, point and click. The good news is all of these events and more can be done online.

Any craftsman knows that you need to use the right tools for the job. In the next article we’ll start to talk about what type of delivery suites your information.