These are extraordinary times. The world is shutting down around us in an effort to instil social distancing and slow the growth of COVID-19. These measures won’t stop the virus, but they will make it easier for the healthcare system to handle the volume of people who will get sick by spreading it out over time. Hopefully you are all doing your part.
The collateral damage is the cancellation of the events we all know and love. Events are a crucial part of business. They offer the chance to engage with peers, network, and gather new information and opportunities. Events, travel and hospitality are all going to take a hit — and in their place, we are seeing the increased focus on virtual events.
Virtual events are capable of handling from five to 50,000 people. They offer you the chance to engage and share information, but they really miss that “human touch” element where you connect, build relationships and can see a more tangible impact.
That doesn’t have to be the case. Virtual events can have a “tangible” element associated with them, if you are a a little ingenious and willing to try something new.
In the last few days I’ve heard the following solutions being offered:
— At-home food delivery to supplement virtual attendees.
— Work-at-home survival kits delivered to your attendees, featuring the essentials for optimizing the work-at-home experience and including branded merchandise that highlights the brands of sponsors as well as the event itself.
— Virtual networking, using team collaboration apps, where multiple people can engage in a large video environment, but also engage in sidebar conversations using messaging, chat or parallel video.
Implementation of these solutions requires coordination between video and meeting platforms. plus traditional models like direct mail, branded merchandise and traditional creative.
Many companies rely on events for pipeline development because there are the proverbial “two birds, one stone.” For one trip, you can meet multiple clients and partners and do deals that push business forward. In a situation where people are being tasked to keep their distance, virtual engagement and video-based meetings are going to become the norm. Building tangible, personal relationship are going to continue to be even more important, though accomplished in a different way
Are you starting to dive into your event strategy? Are you looking at ways to engage with your customers in the confines of their own homes? What are some of the ways you are thinking this through?
Cory Treffiletti is chief marketing officer at Voicera. He has been a thought leader, executive and business driver in the digital media landscape since 1994. In addition to authoring a weekly column on digital media, advertising and marketing since 2000 for MediaPost‘s Online Spin, Treffiletti has been a successful executive, media expert and/or founding team member for a number of companies and published a book, Internet Ad Pioneers, in 2012.
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