Having to cancel the events that drive bottom lines and cement customer loyalties has become a stark, daunting reality for countless businesses in the wake of COVID-19, leaving the event industry reeling and companies scrambling to find replacements for in-person events.
Imagine being one week away from hosting over 1,000 B2B marketers in San Francisco, prepared to deliver 16 talk tracks, with keynotes from customers and partners … and suddenly, you have to cancel the whole thing due to a global pandemic.
Shortly after having to make the gut-wrenching decision to cancel their annual ABM Innovation Summit, I got to talk with Demandbase CMO Peter Isaacson on The Marketer’s Journey Podcast.
It’s a devastating choice, and one many are facing as the virus continues down an unpredictable path. Marketers in every industry are now in the process of reevaluating their entire 2020 strategy, and for a lot of them, that means bringing their physical events online.
Flexibility has always important in marketing, but now it’s critical.
3 tips for pivoting to virtual events
Pivoting to virtual events requires a completely different mindset than planning something in-person. Because, let’s face it, as people become more and more comfortable working from home, the offers for attending one more Zoom session or live-stream are becoming less and less appealing.
Here Are A Bunch Of Virtual Events You Can Enjoy While You're Social Distancing https://t.co/NW5zQb71lA
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) April 20, 2020
You can’t expect your audience to show up – let alone stay engaged – if you aren’t offering them something very different than the hundreds of other digital offerings now cropping up. After all, we’re now living in a world where getting a webcam is proving incredibly challenging.
So how do you successfully make the leap from show-floor to the web? Here’s three pieces of advice that Isaacson offered up for pivoting to virtual:
Reconfigure your content
Bringing a physical event to a virtual space requires rethinking some of your content.
While big keynotes may translate well to video presentations, consider what content would work well as a podcast, an e-book, or a webinar. Give your attendees a variety of options so they can engage on their terms.
Invest in high-quality production
For virtual events, the attendee experience hinges on the tech. Grainy or choppy videos will lose your audience. For the key presentations, invest high-quality AV to improve engagement and give people the best possible experience.
Presenters, bring your a-game
Presenting on stage to a room full of people is one thing; presenting to a video camera while trying to capture that energy is an entirely different challenge.
As Peter said, “it becomes incumbent on the presenters to become even more outgoing, even more energizing and to really do whatever they possibly can – through humor, or insight, or storytelling – to communicate in a more effective way.”
— Ursula Ringham (@ursularingham) April 22, 2020
Adaptation is always a requirement of survival, we’re just needing to adapt much quicker than usual. Keep the customer experience at the heart of your plans, and odds are you’ll find success – or learn.