Getting beyond Marketing Emails

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

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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

Pre-Record or Broadcast Live?

In-person conferences are only slightly different from online events, but one way in which they are vastly different is the presenting style. In-person events are presented live, with the speaker on a stage or at the front of a classroom-style room, speaking to the audience in real-time. They can step off the stage and answer the audiences’ questions while being a foot or two away from them and everything they say is live. This is great for a personal touch to events, but with a larger event, the personalization fades.

For online, virtual events, you have a few different options to try to replicate this experience while broadcasting your message and knowledge to a large audience. You can pre-record your sessions or host them live. If you host them live, through a livestream, you can even use a service like Google Hangouts to invite attendees to ask questions in real time while showing their face and using their own voice.

So, what are the pros and cons of each option?

From the platform standpoint, it makes no difference if an event is live or pre-recorded. The platform will work with either and it’s all about what makes you more comfortable.

Live sessions are great because the presenter has (hopefully) rehearsed their presentation and knows it like the back of their hand. A live panel-style session can be personalized to the audience. They can submit questions before the session via social media or text chat. Those questions are then answered during the session, which adds a nice touch for the audience.

However, live sessions carry a threat to your event as well. If the presenter is late, has connection issues, forgets their slides, has background noise, doesn’t wear something appropriate, or just has an “off” day, it can reflect badly on your event and brand. This is why pre-recorded sessions have their own benefits.

With a pre-recorded session, you can approve it ahead of time, cut out background noise, ensure that it aligns with the high quality event you are arranging. If you decide to do a 100% On Demand event, where the attendees are able to choose which session they want to watch at their leisure, this is the only option – and it’s a great way to make sure each presentation is up to your high standards!

Both types of presentations – live and pre-recorded – have their pros and cons. Make sure you figure out what the aim of your event is before you choose which will fit the best for you.

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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

Happy event planning!

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!

Help Viewers Understand First

Many people approach a webcast or virtual conference session as an opportunity to sell. This ends up driving the content for the session, and it drives the focus and presentation style as well.

While it’s certainly possible to present a “pre-sales” type presentation with information about your product or service in hopes of driving the sale, you might want to consider a different approach, particularly if you don’t have a captive audience.  A “captive audience” is one that can’t leave, that must watch your presentation.  This might be the case if you’re presenting sales training or other required materials.

But, if you’re talking with potential customers, or trying to woo customers into upgrades and enhanced service offerings, presenting a sales pitch or making sure you cover your marketing bullet points might be the last thing you really want to present.  You’ll probably find that this causes people to click away, to stop listening and to become disengaged with your message, brand and presentation.

It’s just too easy to click away, or become distracted with email or have a thousand other things that get in the way of the attendee’s attention.  An online presentation is, by necessity, a different animal from an in-person presentation.  You need to turn on the expertise, the creativity and answer the “what can you do for me” question that all of the attendees are struggling with in their own minds.

To do this, consider providing information.  REAL information – lessons learned, best practices, etc.  These are the things a viewer can watch, learn from, and apply to their own world.  Talk about things you’ve run into.  Talk about customers and situations that have come up that show you have both a sense of humor and a problem-solving approach.

When you provide real-world information and experience, and you provide take-away, actionable information, the viewer will appreciate it.  You’ll be seen as the expert, the one to go to for more information, more services.  With an online presentation, it’s much more like a conversation with a viewer than a presentation AT a viewer.

Here are some quick ideas to get you started:

  • Provide a quick 5 or 10 tip best practices sheet they can download.
  • Provide an idea sheet that gives unique ideas that can spur other ideas the viewer can use to be successful.
  • Provide a “common pitfalls, and how to avoid them” sheet
  • Give a checklist of things to cover or consider

By providing takeaways, and giving actionable items, your viewer will be engaged and care about what you’re presenting.  It’s not enough to just have great slides.  Give a worksheet or other item that can be put into play immediately.  Make the viewer look good in the eyes of their boss and/or customers and you’ll immediately be seen as a benefit to their work, and you can show that you’re trustworthy.

Sure, you can show a slide or two about your product or service at the end, but first give the viewer something they can relate to and depend on.  Then help them see how your offering can help.

One last thing – don’t handicap the information you provide.  In other words, provide ALL fully-usable information in the sheets or takeaways you provide.  Don’t give 3, then say “contact me for the other 10.”  You’ll only make your viewer resent you and feel like the whole thing was a setup for sales.

People understand that sales are needed, they just don’t want to be sold.  Help them understand first.  The sales and marketing will follow.

Do Virtual Events Hurt Your In-Person Events?

This question comes up quite a bit.  The short answer… if you do it right, is…

No.

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.

Keep Virtual Event Attendees Engaged

Keeping attendees engaged is a tough battle with an online event.  Let’s face it, distractions abound!  Email arrives, instant messages beckon, heck just typing a new URL in the browser is a threat to their attention to your event.

What can you do to retain attendees – to keep their attention and make the event all it can be for them and for you and your stakeholders?

One thing that has worked repeatedly is the use of between-session messaging and content.  As you move through your event, offer additional content between sessions.  Rather than just showing “the next session starts in 5 minutes” type messages, consider putting additional content, tips and other elements in the space between sessions.

Here are some great examples that work very well, time after time:

  • Interview the speakers – talk to them about real-life, ask for advice, talk about their pets.  Basically what you’re looking to do is to help your speakers be “real” to your audience, help your audience get to know the speaker.  These are very powerful and can be relatively short.  If you’re concerned about topics, pick a central 2 or 3 topics, then ask the same questions to each speaker.  This can be things like “what’s your favorite board game” or “what movies have you seen recently” or “are you a dog or a cat person?”  All of these are great ice-breakers and can can offer a bit of fun between sessions.
  • Add polls between sessions – ask questions of your attendees, see what you can learn, and then present, about your audience.  Perhaps even ask the same questions as those above.  Then you can get a feel for your audience and help them relate to the content presented.
  • Add contests – have treasure hunts in the virtual environment have treasure hunts in the sponsor’s and speaker’s web sites.  This is a great way to get people involved and learning all that’s available.  You can even score the activities (for every “X” you find, you gain 20 points) – then award a keychain or t-shirt to the winner by points.
  • Have chats on Twitter or in the chat tools – guide the chats to include materials just presented (the speaker may be able to provide interesting topics and questions) or on completely unrelated topics to help people get to know one-another.
  • Create news segments – talk about very recent headlines between sessions.  Make sure the headlines are related to the event.  Perhaps even just one or two headlines, then suggest people move to chat or social media you have integrated into the event to discuss the headline.  Be sure to give them your opinion (or the opinion of the person presenting the headlines) on the items.
  • Have a fun mini-session – this could be an exercise session, a yoga session, stretching that you can lead.  This can also be a completely spoof-based segment.  Remember, it’s only a few minutes maximum.  Have fun with it.

By doing these types of activities, attendee retention jumps by up to 80%.  These are real benefits and can substantially impact your event, the attendees involvement in your show and their impression overall for the event.

Foolproof Marketing Strategy – Across All Channels

A question people are always asking is, “How do you profit from _____?” The entire point of marketing, digital or otherwise, is always trying to turn a profit. That’s the point of selling products or services, right?

Wrong.

I’m going to tell you a secret that I’ve learned from endlessly researching “how to market correctly.”

Focus on your content and how it will help people.

That sounds cheesy and it probably is. After all, we don’t give our services and products away; we sell them! Why wouldn’t we focus on the money we ought to be getting for what we sell?

Customers are more annoyed with marketers than ever. They fast-forward through commercials, ignore banner ads, and generally just scoff at any kind of advertising ploys we try. They’ve seen our tricks plenty of times and they’re tired of it. This is where content marketing, digital marketing, and so many other kinds of marketing become frustrating for all parties.

This is why you should focus on your content. If someone sees your content, understands that you’re trying to help them achieve some goal, they are much more likely to want to buy your product or service, because they know that you can really be an asset to them.

Stop trying to focus on your profits – though don’t sell yourself short. However, if you focus on helping people, they will see your intentions and like you more for it – and that is where the profit comes.

Digital Marketing Tips, Experiences and Blood, Sweat and Tears

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.

In a word, priceless.

Kristen Matthews, the guru behind the event and getting things going for GroupHigh, put an excellent summary of sessions together.  Check it out here.

Different types of Content and Delivery

Josh Harrison, Producer
vConferenceOnline

Different types of Content and Delivery

The good news is you have options. The other good news is that it’s not hard to choose your option.

I’ve seen many types of events and helped produce content for all of them. The important thing to remember is you have to make your content available in a manner that suits the information presented and in a format that your audience wants to consume it in.

Example #1:

You run a yearly conference. Typically you get 2000 attendees to your 3 day conference in Las Vegas. Your attendees are used to days full of educational sessions and exhibits. We won’t talk about the evenings cuz what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

You don’t want to alienate the crowd that attends the in-person event, but you know there are thousands if not tens of thousands of other interested people that couldn’t make it for 1 reason or another. If you were to do a hybrid event that runs alongside your in-person event you might stream live video broadcasts of the keynotes or sessions. You could offer online exhibitor booths and charge a fee for all those attending online. Or you could use it as a free teaser and limit the content to entice possible in-person attendees to your next event.

Example #2:

Your company needs to train new sales staff around the world and you’ve been asked to cut costs on the training program. Why send trainers all over the world for days on end at high cost to deliver the same information over and over? Do a continuing education event that is ongoing and place training modules and videos on-demand or scheduled with trainers manning the chats. Still need that person-to-person training? Trim down the amount of time needed by placing the material that doesn’t require person-to-person in an online event.

Example #3:

You need to market a product or service and your company wants new marketing avenues. Do a webcast where you have an expert in your industry do an informational talk on your product and make it invitation only or release it to the whole world to watch whenever they want? Further, don’t just do slides and a phone call, make it a video where you can see the presenter. Webcasts and webinars are great for fostering interaction with potential customers and clients. Keep an open email portal for the on-demand period so potential customers can contact you with questions and see other viewers questions and answers.

These are just 3 examples. There are many other possible scenarios and each event is a little different. I’m really trying not to be a sales guy right now, but I have to say that that is why our platform can be a great choice. We are not a template you plug your info into and push go. We really do work with each event to help you pick the delivery, format and options that best suit your event.

I’ll get off the sales horse now and get on my video producer horse for a minute. It’s important, now more than ever, to create compelling content. Viewer expectations are up. Slides and telephone audio aren’t going to do the trick like they used to. Video production can be had for little investment and it makes a world of difference in keeping your viewers attention and instilling a good impression of your organization. Granted, it’s not always the best way and at times is just plain overkill. Either way, always keep in mind how your viewer wants to consume the information you want to deliver.

That takes us to the next Article: Scheduling… Live, Simulated-Live or On-Demand.

Sessions, Content and Your Attendees

Some keys to great virtual conferences, webcasts and e-learning courses.  It’s all about the presentation and a great environment to take it all in.

For your event, you will be working on determining the best possible mix of how-to and promotional materials.  It’s this mix that will drive the success of future events, will drive expectations of this and future events and will help your attendees make the most of your sessions…

“But wait, I’m not selling stuff at my event!”

Sure, you might not be selling goods and services directly, but you are selling, at the very least, your event.  Your services.  Your next event.  Your content.  You are “selling” because you have to convince people it’s worth it to spend their time on your event.  It’s critical to keep in mind that you have to earn their time and attention.  They call it “spending time” and “paying attention” for a reason after all. 

A couple of quick tips on putting together sessions.  

Speaker Intros, Bios and Contact Info
Speakers should focus on the meat of the session.  By this I mean that speakers should avoid bragging about their accomplishments, should avoid talking about their products (unless the session is clearly a demo-based session of course).  Instead, consider having an event host that talks about and introduces the speaker.  Spend 60-90 seconds at the start of the session to outline the presenter’s qualifications and their background, projects and how to contact them (and whether they’re available for consulting/gigs/etc.).  

At the end of the presentation, consider coming back in the session and thanking the speaker, again offering contact info.  Using these two informational points (the intro and exit points), you can show that the speaker is authoritative, you give the audience a handle on the presentation so they know what to expect.  In addition, the audience knows you won’t be talking forever about the presenter, it’ll be a quick intro, then into the meat of the presentation.  It let’s them know they’re not wasting their time or attention. 

Content (content, content, content)
It’s far better to have an information-packed 20 minute session than a too-long-for-the-content 60 minute session.  Attendees are much more concerned with excellent information, tips, experiences and real-world information than they are with filling an allotted time slot.  Make sure your speakers are keeping presentations on track and that the attendees can take in and use the information as quickly as possible.  

In today’s “short attention span theater” type world, it’s critical to give points that can be used immediately, while also giving direction and food for thought type guidance for looking a bit more to the future.  

It can also help to follow the rule of:

  • Tell them what you’ll be telling them
  • Tell them what you want to tell them
  • Tell them what you told them

This lets you present what you’ll be talking about – then the topic at hand.  Wrap it up with a summary and touch on the key points and attendees will have a great opportunity to really ingest the information you’re presenting.  

It’s About the Attendees
No matter if you’re producing a virtual event for sponsors, for continuing education, best practices, tips, tricks or something else entirely, it’s about the attendees.  They need to be able to get the most from your content and speakers.  If you don’t have attendees for your virtual event (webcast, webinar, virtual conference or online learning course), you’ll have a hard time continuing with the virtual event in the future.  

Content (and presentation) truly is king.