Should you charge for your online event?

In your to-do list for your event, one of the first things is to decide: are you going to charge attendees to view your event, or are you going to find other ways to cover the cost of hosting? When this question comes up, usually there are two options:

  1. Charge attendees to cover the costs
  2. Charge sponsors to cover the costs

If your event is well-established (you’ve been hosting it for a while either online or in-person), it’s easy to justify charging an attendance fee. Your content is consistently worth the attendees’ time, you’ve been in the game for a while so your name is known, and if you haven’t been charging yet, the attendees are likely surprised that you’re “giving away” your content.

If you’re just starting out or if your audience balks at the idea of paying for attending an online event, you may want to approach sponsors in a different way and view them as benefiting from the event just as much as you and your attendees do, turning it into sort of a ricochet effect – your attendees benefit, so your sponsors benefit, and so you benefit. 

 

Let’s say your event is established and you’ve decided to charge for it. How much do you charge? Your first step would be looking at other events in your sphere.

  • What similar events are there?
  • Are they online or in-person?
  • If they’re also online, how much are they charging for their content?
    • How many presentations do they have lined up?
    • Are the speakers going to several different events and repeating those presentations at each (are the presentations not unique to the event)?
    • How well-known are their speakers?
    • How well-known is the event?
    • Are they competing with another event happening at the same time?
  • If the event is in-person, consider the other fees that the attendee or their company will have to cover (hotel, food, travel, car, time out of the office).

If you find one very much like yours (online, similar renown, etc), that’s your best reference point. If they are a competitor, this is your chance to slightly lower your price (while making sure that your costs are covered and you will profit from the event).

If you can combine the profit from the sponsors AND the profit from the attendees, I would recommend that you lower the price for the attendees. If the price is lower, more attendees will be able to attend and you’ll actually profit more!

Have other questions about hosting an online virtual event? Not sure about the difference between virtual tradeshows, virtual conferences, webcasts, or classes? Shoot me an email at caitlin@vconferenceonline.com and I’ll be happy to answer your question – it may even end up on this blog! 

Simplifying Online Events

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!)

  • Live Support
    • 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!

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

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

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!

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.

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.

Great Resource for your Digital Marketing Projects

If you haven’t seen it, check out The Outreach Marketing Virtual Summit (it’s free) – it includes key information from a whole host of experts.  There is so much great information in this free event – it’s incredible.

Here’s the direct link:
http://www.vconferenceonline.com/event/home.aspx?id=1092

This was a project by GroupHigh, an outreach marketing firm that rocks working in this space.  They have a great toolset, and the series of sessions they put together are excellent.

There is also a session there by me (Stephen Wynkoop) about virtual events and how they work in the marketing cycle.  What’s more, you can see the platform in action and check out some examples.

Enjoy!

Producing Content – horses for courses

Why Virtual?
Josh Harrison
Producer
vConferenceOnline

Producing Content – horses for courses

So I talked about the importance of video in creating an engaging presentation. So for this last article let’s get into some real world HOW.
You’ve decided “Josh is right, we should use video in our event.” Congratulations, you’ve made the right choice! Now how do you do it? Let’s set out some example scenarios:

Scenario 1: Your online only event has 6 different presenters. The budget won’t allow for in-studio professional video production. They all have slide deck presentations and want to stick to that plan. The presenters are all in different areas of the world, but you want to give the event a cohesive feel.

Solution:  Not a problem! We have a tool that allows presenters to record their desktops to include slides, full motion computer demonstrations and yes, their webcam! You arrange for a slide deck design treatment that they all use and you make suggestions for webcam placement and lighting in a simple to read document that we provided you. The speakers make quick test recordings and send them in for approval. Everyone agrees it looks and sounds good. They go about recording their full presentations and you smile with satisfaction in a job well done.

Scenario 2: Your in person event is going to include a bonus online event. You need to record and document all presentations and the keynotes. You’d like to offer the online event a week after the in person event for anyone who missed anything. Both in person attendees and non attendees.

Solution:  We discuss your needs and decide that you need a multi-camera production. Our crew designs a production equipment package and travels to your event to record the show. We work closely with your team to ensure that all required moments are captured and we setup the event online to allow for scheduled playback of these videos the following week. You just grew your event attendance, not to mention your event’s income.

Scenario 3: You’ve decided you want to take that same event to the people live over the internet!

Solution:  We add on a live streaming package to the already fully planned production package and you have created urgency and excitement for those that couldn’t attend in person.

Scenario 4: You are having an online event with your company’s top executives. This needs to be polished and professional. Production quality is very important. The event will be live with on-demand versions of the presentations available after the live event.

Solution:  We invite you out to our production studios in Tucson Arizona. Our producers work with you to decide show flow and set design. The required content and rehearsals are scheduled. Everyone knows what is happening when and where they should be. Our well designed studio gives your event that high end look you were after and your executives appreciate the chance to tee off at some of the world’s best golf courses after the event.

I could go on and on as there are many different scenarios. The point is that we can handle any of them and we help you along the way. That is a major separator for us as a platform provider.

I hope these quick articles have been informative, or at least entertaining. “Like TV”.

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