How events have evolved — and how you can benefit

Onsite booths, hall signage, sales swag, tchotchkes. Demos, one-on-ones, real-time interactions. Since their inception live B2B events have always been a complex feat.

Until 2020. Then they became miraculous.

When the pandemic hit the pause button on in-person gatherings, everything changed.

First, there were logistics to consider. While event hosts worked delivering  virtually, sponsors reworked presentations, adapted programs to online formats — all to compress their “onsite presence” to the size of a laptop screen.

Then there was the challenge of creating a meaningful experience. Virtual events require a special kind of wizardry: Content has to be dense enough to deliver key information in a brief timeframe, yet engaging enough to compete with all the work-from-home distractions. Keurigs, kids, comfy couches — you know the drill.

And for consulting companies, where handshakes and eye contact set the stage for “know, like and trust,” the need for compelling conversation became even more critical.

Interesting times. But now we’re in Q4 2021. And it’s clear that most events will combine the best of in-person and virtual for the foreseeable future. To maximize the opportunity, your No. 1 priority is to have a strategy for before, during and after the event to keep the engagement going.

So how can you capitalize on the change?

  • Connect creatively. Earlier this year, we dubbed 2021 the Year of the Human, and the name feels especially appropriate for online events. Relationships happen differently in a virtual venue. Lunch-and-learns or Q&A sessions are great for engaging new audiences and showcasing your expertise. But when everyone is competing for virtual real estate, the best way to capture interest is to think outside the obvious.Think about ways to beat the virtual doldrums. “Speed dating” style virtual meetups are one option: Invite a limited number of prospects, and give them 5 to 10 minutes one on one in a chat room with a member of your team — then, when the time is up, switch them to another team member to learn something new. The quick format breaks up the monotony of a 30-minute-long session.Or consider adding some fun to the overall event with an online challenge that can run in the background — like an interactive scavenger hunt, quiz or poll. A little creativity goes a long way in holding prospects’ interest — and can yield valuable customer data.
  • Think concisely. Attention spans have always been a thing. When virtual fatigue hits, the less prospects have to do to get to know you, the better.Leveraging attendee lists is a great way to tackle key communications when prospects are less distracted by the event itself.Before the event, invite prospects to schedule one-on-ones in your virtual booth.  This gets you on their agenda before the overwhelm kicks in. No response? Include an insert in their virtual attendee bag so they know in advance you’ll be there and what topics you’ll cover.Post-event, take advantage of follow-up communications by supplying a list of your top event takeaways. This will add value and keep you top of mind for attendees who missed a session or one-on-one with you.Bottom line: Prospects will thank you for keeping the networking process quick and painless
  • Negotiate tirelessly. Sponsorship packages may feel limited under the new normal. This doesn’t have to be the case. If you’re feeling restricted by your events company, it might not hurt to invest in a third-party that can advocate, ask questions, and negotiate terms.The big benefit of having an agency assist in your virtual (or even in-person) event planning is experience. An agency can help build on a traditional sponsorship package to get you out in front of your customers. And they can creatively negotiate additional opportunities with the event planners, who can test those opportunities for future packages.

Are you planning to leverage an event in 2022? We’re here to help you build the plan and work it, so you can make the most of every opportunity, set your brand apart and build deeper customer relationships throughout the event experience.

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