Over the past 18 months, B2B marketers have had to be more flexible than ever. With social distancing and traveling restrictions putting a stop to live events, exhibitions, and conferences, we were forced to pivot to online alternatives.
Today, as we edge towards a return to business as usual, what does the future hold for businesses looking to bring their news and views to the people? Will live events make a return? Is it now a virtual world? Or is the answer somewhere in between?
The pandemic fast-tracked a growth in popularity of virtual events that was already on the rise pre-COVID.
Beyond the safety benefits of being socially distant, virtual events are cheaper to host (and attend) and can reach a much wider audience than live events. They’re also a great way to attract top talent to speak as you’re only asking for an hour of their time to attend virtually as opposed to the cost and time implications of appearing live.
For these reasons, virtual events are here to stay. In 2019, the virtual event sector was valued at $78 billion. That’s set to grow by a massive 23% each year until 2027.
As the name suggests, hybrid events are those that allow both in-person and online attendance. They’re a great way of giving your audience a choice: Want to come in person? You’re welcome. Prefer to attend virtually? That’s fine too.
One of the key benefits of hybrid events is that they do more than simply live stream events, they make them interactive so every attendee can participate and engage with speakers and receive real-time feedback.
Another option to consider if you’re keen to host a virtual event that allows two-way conversation is the app Clubhouse.
Described as a ‘space for casual, drop-in audio conversations’, the audio-only social media platform lets invite-only attendees listen in and contribute to live conversations. When it comes to hosting virtual events at virtually no cost, Clubhouse is hard to beat.
Want to find out more? Check out our guide to why you should include Clubhouse in your communications strategy.
Events are great sources of content
Whether your event is in-person, virtual, or hybrid, it’s not done and dusted once the last speaker has spoken. The agenda of an event can be re-purposed to create a treasure trove of sharable content.
Each session can be recorded and viewed in its entirety or broken up into short videos to be used as social media posts. Footage and on-camera feedback from live events can also be edited to create promotional videos for your business or future events.
Let the purpose define the event
We’re now in a position where we have more choices than ever before. So, before you decide which type of event you’re going to host, consider what you want to achieve and your target audience. Then, pick the option that will best showcase your brand whilst providing the best possible experience for your attendees.
- Want to showcase a product and let people test-drive or taste-test your wares? It must be in-person.
- On a budget but want to reach the widest possible audience? Go for a virtual event.
- Want to extend the length of an event with follow-up sessions online? Hybrid is the answer
Or, to borrow a phrase from Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, you could simply ask the audience. What do your target customers want from events? Have they got the budget to travel to and attend in-person events? What benefits do they expect from attending whether in-person or online? Their responses could help define your marketing event strategy and ensure you’re giving them what they want.