To say events have their fair share of ups and downs over the last year would be an understatement at best. We went from flying across the country to conferences in 2019, to completely virtual in 2020, to a mix of all of the above today.
If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve attended more events in your career than you can count. And I’m willing to bet there’s only a handful of events that stand out as being the best. So what goes into creating a best-in-class event?
Stephanie Baiocchi, Director of Membership & Events at IMPACT, has a few ideas. During her episode on the Real Marketers podcast, she shared a ton of event secrets you’ll want to jot down if you’re hosting an event anytime soon.
Ask the Tough Question
If we’re being honest, sometimes marketing is about checking the boxes. A lot of times that’s having an active blog, being present on social media, etc. And sometimes that also means hosting an event just because everyone else is.
Hosting a webinar just to say you’re hosting a webinar isn’t the best strategy. Stephanie mentioned in the episode you need to justify your event. Make it worth being done.
Best Practices for Virtual Events
Hosting a virtual event is more than sending out a Zoom link and throwing some slides up on a screen. During the episode, Stephanie revealed three things that make a virtual event exceptional.
Engage your audience
For obvious reasons, there is a lack of networking, connecting, and conversing with other attendees at virtual events. Most of us are still WFH and are looking to have a conversation with someone other than our pets (no offense, Fido 🐶 ). Setting up break-out rooms or having an active chat is crucial to creating an elevated event experience.
Curate polished content
We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again – your content needs to be more compelling than Netflix. If people have the option to watch a recorded Zoom meeting labeled as a masterclass or watch polished video content on their favorite streaming device, they will choose the latter. Stephanie recommends having a simulive event where you can edit out the glitches (but still make it human!) and have it play as a premiere at the same time for everyone. ⏯
Make it on-demand
On the topic of launching your virtual event, you need to have plans to send the recordings to everyone who registered the day after. Don’t require an extra form. Just send the recording. Sincerely, everyone.
What Not to Do
If you’ve ever run an event of any sort, you know first-hand just how stressful they can be. Something inevitably goes wrong it seems.
“I could use another drink koozie,” said no one ever. If you are hosting a booth at an in-person conference this year, put yourself in the attendees’ shoes. What giveaway would get you excited? It’s probably not a pen or a lanyard. Do you know what does get people jazzed? You guessed it, food. 🍿
You know the saying, “When you try to be all things to everyone, you just end up being less”? That expression was written about hybrid events. Believe me, I get it. We live in a world where some may not be able to or feel comfortable attending an in-person event. So host an in-person event, and then host a virtual event with the same content a few days later.
Sponsored Virtual Booths
This might be hard to hear, but no one is going to your sponsored virtual booth. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still sponsor an event! Stephanie recalls several well-done examples of brands sponsoring virtual events in this clip below.
Events are hard, especially in today’s world. I sincerely feel for all of you event marketers out there. Pivot is your middle name by now. Stephanie’s got even more tips for best practices for events in her full Real Marketers episode.