Sales & Marketing in a Crisis Part Three: Events strategy, pivoting from F2F to virtual
When speaking to our Heads of Marketing on adapting strategy in the current climate, we found that one of their most pressing issues is how to successfully pivot events from F2F to a virtual environment. For many of our portfolio, both attending and hosting events is a crucial part of their marketing strategy and like selling online, switching to 100% virtual events is no mean feat. From our discussions, our teams pinpointed 6 main challenges:
1. Standing out when every industry is overwhelmed with webinars and virtual events
2. Some industries and events work well virtually, other’s just don’t!
3. F2F events convert quicker, virtual events influence rather than secure or generate leads
4. People are downloading and learning in the current environment but not moving further down the funnel
5. (Therefore) It’s much more difficult to measure ROI on virtual events
6. How do you replicate the networking environment effectively? Some feel that you just can’t!
To help combat these issues we wanted to breakdown the key elements of a virtual event to understand how to make the most of this new environment and share some top tips from across our teams and the ecosystem for ensuring success.
The two target groups for events are prospects and current clients. In both cases, the main aim of most virtual events is to use content to educate and knowledge share in order to build brand recognition, rather than generate leads. Some of the most effective ways of maximising engagement with these virtual audiences are:
Client Focused Events
• Use the customer success team and ask clients what they want to learn about
• Make it exclusive by hosting webinars/round tables for customers. Small group gatherings can be really valuable to share best practice and challenges, but also help you gain invaluable customer insight
• Utilise industry experts to learn about the industry, but also show customers how knowledgeable and well connected the business is
Prospect Focused Events
• Focus on the industry as a whole, rather than specifically your business/selling
• Re-purpose webinars into podcasts for further engagement/reach
• Be tactical and focused on who you want the event to reach
• Make education at the core of the event
• Customise the content focused on the type of brand you want to attract
Check out this piece from Big Marker on How to keep your virtual audiences engaged and Vfairs Virtual Event Marketing Playbook for tips on everything from promoting virtual events to maximising audience reach.
Partnerships are a great way to create both content and value, particularly when budgets are tight. They can help fill gaps from a sales perspective, such as brand recall, and the introductions that they are able to make to potential clients create strong, validated leads which are much more likely to convert. In the current environment, partnerships can be particularly useful for raising brand awareness and increasing brand reach through co-hosted events and webinars. For a partnership to be effective in any capacity, you need to ensure sure that there is value created on both sides.
When considering a potential partnership make sure you ask the following questions:
- Who has brand recognition and equity in our space that would be a valuable partner?
- What do we/they want to get out of the partnership?
As Forbes says in their article Can B2B Marketing Survive a large-scale crisis? snuggle up to partners, ‘this is an exceptional time to work closely with those who are faced with similar challenges to sustain or grow their business’.
Take a look at Balderton’s B2B Sales Playbook (Pg 25/26) for some advice on choosing the best partners and indirect sales channels.
Top Tips for hosting a virtual event
- Don’t try and replicate an in person event in a digital environment
- Ensure the speaker line up is strong
- Understand who your target audience is for each session
- Keep engagement with polls and interactivity that also benefit the company with insight
- Have processes in place to be able to track success and understand value
- Feel good, sentiment based events go a long way (e.g. yoga, meditation), they help build relationships and strengthen opportunities for conversion
Check out ThinkGoogle’s playbook on Pivoting from Live to Virtual Gatherings.
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We’d love to hear how you’ve adapted your approach to events strategy in the last few months, feel free to get in touch by commenting below or connecting with us on LinkedIn.