It’s only been 6 weeks since the first (small) wave of companies started pulling the plug on events in the U.S., and only 3 weeks since the Federal Government mandated social distancing, effectively postponing or canceling all events.
That’s all it’s been.
In that short amount of time, it’s become clear through viral quarantine memes and virtual happy hours that we long for in-person connections.
From a business perspective, even the folks that loathed the networking opportunities at events are beginning to reminisce.
We took live events for granted.
Now, digest the fact that this could continue for another couple of months.
The question I’ve been asking myself is, ‘How big and quickly will the wave of live events be, post-pandemic?’
I’m willing to bet it will be explosive.
How Important Are Live Events?
If you work closely with your Sales department, you might have heard a Manager tell his reps to ALWAYS push for an in-person meeting over a Webex.
That’s because in-person meetings are proven to have higher close rates…Considerably higher.
According to Social Scientist, Susan Pinker, it’s innate. In-person connections release positive hormones, creating a whole slew of benefits that technology can not replace.
This creates an affinity for the person we’re connecting to that results in a deeper relationship.
Events are along the exact same vein, but with an exponential multiplier.
- 95% of respondents believe in-person events can have a major impact on achieving business goals.
- 85% of respondents in leadership roles have identified in-person events as critical for their company’s success.
- 20% more marketers from 2019 to 2020 believe in-person events are the most important channel for achieving business goals.
I’m willing to bet if the same Marketers were surveyed again in 30-60 days these statistics would be even higher.
As many people have been experiencing a new remote-work life, it’s easy to see the immense benefits of live meetings.
Speakers Are More Engaging
As a member of Toastmasters, I’m used to seeing our meeting room packed full. Visitors and Members come for the opportunity to speak, but also, the opportunity to watch others speak.
A good speaker is hypnotic. Their body language, hand gestures, and eye contact are more powerful than the actual content of their speech.
Since Toastmasters has gone virtual, our local club’s attendance has dropped by 30% this last week. Not bad, actually.
Some groups have experienced more severe declines, while others have even stopped meeting altogether. Kudos to our VP of Ed and Technologist for doing an amazing job to try and recreate a lot of the in-person qualities that our group had, but the effects (or lack thereof) are palpable.
You have likely experienced the exact same sentiment in remote team meetings, webinars, or virtual events. It’s easier to get distracted, right?
“What did he say again?”
For your company, no messaging or branding can be more effective and sticky, for an internal or external audience, than through live events.
Content Is More Digestible
If the speakers are more engaging, the content is more digestible.
Every business event has a message behind it, even Incentive Trips.
Think back to every type of business event you’ve been to or hosted in the last 2 years. Got it? Now imagine it as virtual.
How effective are your C-levels, Product Managers, and Key-note Speakers at driving their message (and making it sticky)?
Effective Networking Happens In-person
After-hours events like happy hours, sporting events, dinners, and others are all immensely effective at bonding people.
For externally-facing business events, it gives your prospects and customers face time with your brand and your reps. They attribute a good time with your business.
Everyone lets their guard down and connects. It’s extremely important for building relationships.
And for your internal meetings and events, networking builds trust, loyalty, and teamwork.
The result of effective networking, for internal and external audiences, is higher productivity and sales.
Attendees Walk Away with an Experience
I’m sure you have been to some truly amazing events, even if they weren’t business-related. Part of the effect you felt was likely due to the event’s theme, production, venue, and more.
This is effective event planning in action. The event had a very physical, happy, and positive effect on you.
And these live event experiences create higher sales.
Live events will be back this year. While the exact timing is anyone’s best guess, expect the comeback to be rapid and explosive. When Government and Business travel restrictions get loosened and eventually dismissed, people will be clamoring for live human interaction.
Prior to the pandemic, even though we were so inundated with company marketing and physical meetings, event spend was increasing rapidly, because people attend live events and companies benefit from it.
Businesses saw the value in live events because it is a company’s only form of 3D marketing that can take advantage of our human need for face-to-face connections.
Now imagine that same human need but after months of quarantine.
Planning the perfect event will matter less at that point than getting your event out there first.
Be there first!
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Jeremy Sweat is the Sales and Marketing Director at J.Shay Event Solutions. When he’s not working, he enjoys traveling with his wife, scuba diving, and triathlon training.