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The Great (event) Debate – Live vs. Virtual…or do they have to compete at all?

Posted by Simone Nabers on
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I’m a marketer. I’m used to fire drills in the midst of planning. It’s a new year and not-surprisingly, many critical pieces of the marketing puzzle have changed. Rapidly. For most marketing campaigns, preparation is key. Yet, how do you plan for something if you’re unaware that process may have to be altered? Sometimes you must adjust in order to gain the greatest return on your investment.

Let’s talk specifics – specifically events: virtual, live, or even a hybrid of the two. Marketing departments are beginning to make significant changes in how they use events to market their products or services. With options in technology, budget and social innovations, there are numerous ways to produce (and market) events and conferences.  As marketers, we know how crucial the planning piece is, so if our strategy is outdated, our initiatives fall short and goals are not met. It is critical to be aware of the tactics that will be most effective in generating leads while being cost efficient. What is the best way to capture your target audience? Craft the right message and find the right venue to do so.

Recent industry research shows virtual events are cost-savers in a number of ways (time, reduced travel, logistics, etc.); however, they are starting to be used in conjunction with live events and tradeshows, rather than a replacement. Consider these benefits:


  • Ability to attract larger audiences: virtual events can cover more people in more time zones

  • Expansive content AND niche content:  Audiences at an event can be targeted and/or broad. The virtual piece enables the them to choose from multiple content tracks that might not all be accommodated at the physical event alone

  • Access to keynote speakers: high-demand speakers can skip the travel and pre-record their presentations for the conference

  • Monitoring attendee engagement: the ability to track audience activity (chat, downloads, survey questions) and time spent in each area make for enhanced, targeted follow-up; data that funneled into CRM systems for faster sales outreach

  • On-Demand Archives: those that were unable to attend a particular session or had multiples that overlapped can now access any presentation that was recorded


If the landscape of events is evolving and you’re still stuck in your ways from years past (of producing or marketing to), you’re missing out on a big chunk of the pie. Join us for an upcoming webinar on January 25 to learn more about the current state of virtual events from both producer and attendee perspectives. Steve Nesich, Principal of MarketStrike, will discuss how these different event types are currently being used and measured. What you'll learn may surprise you. See what's working, what isn't, and how this could impact your company's marketing and sales strategy and performance for 2012 and beyond.

 

What have you seen to be successful in your event marketing strategy? Or what would you warn others against? How do you feel about combining both the live and virtual aspects? Share your feedback and questions below and we’ll ask Steve to address them during the webinar.

 

Simone has been involved with both the sales and marketing teams at ReadyTalk and is currently the role Marketing Demand Manager and manages the monthly ReadyTalk Webinar Series, which is a free  forum for professionals to interact with their peers and other experts on topics ranging from sales and marketing to nonprofits and funding to leadership and professional development. Simone is an outdoor enthusiast - skiing, climbing, triathlons, and trail runs with her dog, Bucket, are just a few of the things she enjoys outside of the office.


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