Did you know that while only 33% of marketers surveyed say their company has hosted a virtual event, a whopping 70% said they plan to host more? (Westuc, 2015)
That is very telling. That statistic says there are barriers to entry but that there is real business value in hosting virtual events.
While live events will always be the preferred way to host events among most marketers, you can capture much of that potential in a virtual setting.
Let’s talk about those barriers, and how to get around them.
Barriers to Hosting Virtual Events
The reality is, the barriers to hosting your first event or more events probably fall into 1 of 2 buckets (or both).
These barriers are manageable and something that you can easily overcome – With the right support.
This means relying on new faces and brands to help you accomplish your business goals. Which, can understandably be scary, especially if you are pressed for time.
Aversion to Event Technology
In many ways, event technology is the exact opposite of what many event managers signed up for – It is essential and complementary to event planning and management, but it is usually managed by a dedicated staff member.
We speak to many event professionals and what is abundantly clear is that they love their career because they get to produce a tangible experience for their attendees; it can be felt. It is one of the only times a company can market their brand and drive their messaging in a 3D format.
It is usually the technology components such as event websites, registration forms, gathering data, etc. that we see outsourced to 3rd parties.
It’s also the fastest-growing side of our business.
Perceived Ineffectiveness of Events
While live events produce higher marketing outcomes, virtual events, if planned and executed correctly, are capable of producing a very positive ROI.
Virtual events should be viewed as a complement to your other digital marketing efforts.
Here are some of the benefits of a virtual event:
- Flexibility for speakers, no travel required, means you are more likely to retain your first choice in talent
- You can hit a wide audience
- Virtual events reduce the cost per lead
- Record and share
- Less time to plan and execute
- Logistics are minimal
The solution(s) for many marketers involves recognizing the potential rewards with virtual events and adopting a new mindset for achieving business objectives. Live event managers can’t be held back by a temporary withdrawal of events; they must embrace the opportunities in front of them.
Shifting the Skill Set of Internal Team Members
One option is to have your in-house event professionals learn the ins-and-outs of virtual event technology, remote networking solutions, and become comfortable with things like bandwidth, training speakers and presenters on technology, and other potentially limiting factors involved with telepresence.
There are certifications from different organizations providers like Cvent that offer the training and practical exams to get comfortable with their technology.
The downside to this approach is it requires:
2) And likely some familiarity with other event technology to efficiently learn a new system
Leverage a 3rd Party with Technology Expertise
Outsourcing the shift to virtual events to a 3rd party agency could be your answer.
Some, not all, 3rd party event agencies are experts in event technology.
A 3rd party agency, like J.Shay Event Solutions, that already has a comprehensive understanding of event technology, and the marketing outcomes businesses strive for, can make the virtual migration painless and put you ahead of your competitors.
Your in-house event professionals can still be leveraged, even if you outsource virtual events – From a strategic perspective, it will require collaboration between your leadership, you and the 3rd party agency capable of delivering on your goals.
Look at virtual events as an opportunity.
Between you and your competitor, who will say, ‘You know what, we’ll just have to accept there’s nothing we can do right now and we’re going to lose out on leads this year.’
And who will capitalize on their competitor’s inability to adapt and market their business’ brand and messaging in a new format; potentially taking their competitor’s prospects and customers, as the competitor sits on their hands?
Don’t let barriers hold your business back.
Explore your options and consider the pros and cons of holding a virtual event, and don’t forget that you may rely on partners you haven’t leveraged before.
Check out our Event Manager’s Guide to Virtual Events →
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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.