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

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

 

The Benefit of Session Tracks

Many online event platforms attempt to copy in-person events, particularly when it comes to sessions. During an in-person event, there are a few rooms set up with perhaps a theme for each (or perhaps none at all). The sessions are presented in each of the rooms and there is typically a ten-fifteen minute break in between so attendees can check the schedule, look for the next presentation, grab a cup of coffee, and settle in before it begins.

Many platforms emulate this by having a session listing where the attendee will choose a particular session to watch and, like a webcast, when it is over, click back to the lobby to choose the next they want to watch.

As an attendee, if there is a theme to a room, typically, you want to watch all of the sessions. You find a table in the room, settle in your chair, and stay there until the sessions you’re interested in run out. If an in-person event were run the same way as many online events, the room would have to be cleared before the next session, forcing all attendees to stand outside before being let back in.

That idea seems so inconvenient and unnecessary that vConferenceOnline created session tracks. It’s very similar to a playlist – sessions are scheduled to present live or play pre-recorded content at a particular time, have a break in between, then continue with the next session. An attendee can simply stay in the “room” and have the sessions play seamlessly and conveniently.

How does that benefit you, as a conference host?

The time in-between the sessions can be used for any manner of things. You can play elevator music to entertain the attendees. You can host a trivia game. You can ask people to communicate with you via Twitter hashtags or Facebook. You can show commercials from you or your sponsors. Ten or fifteen minutes is a lot of air time – with no fewer options for how to use it!

Many options that make things easier for your attendees also make for great opportunities for you and your sponsors. Just think creatively!

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!

First Steps to a Virtual Event

In my company, we’re working on setting up our next virtual conference, so I figured I’d start writing some blogs about the whole process. I’ll go step by step as I personally start setting up our event, and you can see really what there is to do for it. At the end of it all, I’ll write up a quick bullet point post that shows all the points in order.

First step is making sure you really have an event. I’m positive you have the audience you need – all you have to do is to reach out to them – so that’s not even a step. You already know your goal with the event, you know you want to save money and time by doing it online – and reach more people.

You can watch the video below, or keep reading underneath it!

Truly, the first thing you should do is contact your speakers. What takes the most time during the setup for an event – especially a virtual event – is gathering your speakers, getting confirmation, contracts, session names, powerpoint slides, session abstracts, and of course the actual recording from your speaker.

You need to contact your hopeful speakers.

  • Contact more speakers than you’ll need, because there are bound to be some that will not be able to participate.
  • Have a date in mind – but do not set it in stone yet. If nearly all of your hopeful speakers can’t make the exact date you want, well, what’s the point?
  • Be flexible. Allow varied topics from the exact ones you’re looking for.
  • Make it relevant. The topics are actually more inviting than the speakers themselves to most attendees. If someone has never heard of Billy Bob but loves hearing about how to build your own spaceship, they won’t mind that they don’t know the speaker.
  • Get excited. Your speakers will reflect your energy. If you’re just going through the motions of another virtual event, if you’re already stressed, or you just plain don’t want to do it, you need to get into a better mindset and send more positive emails. If you sound excited, they’ll get excited too, and they’ll be more likely to participate.

Keep in mind – you won’t get all of your dream speakers – and that’s okay! You’ll get great people participating in your event, and you and your attendees will have a blast.

Everything tends to fall in place in the end – just keep your plans flexible.

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.

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.

Why Virtual?

Why Virtual?
Josh Harrison, Producer

Before we dig into the more technical stuff, I have to get this out of the way to be sure we’re all on the same page (No, my bosses did not make me write this).

Chances are, you’re reading this because you have something you need to distribute to an audience. It’s also possible that you are considering distributing it via a “virtual event”. Before we go any further I should clarify what I mean by virtual event. To me (YMMV*), a virtual event is a happening that people attend online or over the internet. This could mean a presentation, a meeting, a learning session, or a time and place to eat pizza together… virtually. The sky’s the limit! It’s also important to note that I personally think that the word “virtual” when applied to an event sounds a bit like we’re all going to play a game in a 3D environment so I will substitute the word “online” for “virtual”. Call me crazy, but it makes more practical sense to me.

In our case here at vConferenceOnline, the need for online events came about via conferences. Organizations usually have members and interested parties. These entities need a way to communicate with each other and share their information. In the old days what we now call “in person” conventions or conferences were organized in large cities where people would come from all over to take part in the “event”. This also applied to meetings, continuing education, and many other forms of organized events. This worked pretty well for many years.

In recent years event organizers have seen their “in person” attendance drop. People were busier than ever and their time and budgets were limited. A solution was needed… “Hey, what about the internet?” Online events were born. It became possible to include many more people in the events by offering a “virtual event” online to those who could not come to the “in person” event.

Today, some choose to do online events alongside in person events. Some do them at separate times, and others do online only. There are many factors (which we will discuss in future articles) to consider when deciding HOW you will do your event. Overall, the main reason WHY you should do an online event is to widen your audience options. From there the rest starts to make more sense.

In the next article I’ll discuss types of events and how you might choose what is right for you.

*Your mileage may vary