How to Shift to a Virtual Event Strategy

As many of you know, PrimeAlpha has been operating in the virtual world since I founded the firm 5 years ago, but I never thought that quarantine would be the new normal. We have been extremely busy using technology to help managers scale and expand, and one area we have been revamping is the sphere of virtual events. We have decided on a monthly multi-format program that we will continue once the world gets a little more normal.


Here are some of the things we thought about.


The first thing to consider: Is it the right thing to do to shift your in-person event virtual?

How do virtual events fit into your marketing mix?

  • Would holding your event virtually achieve your marketing goal?

  • If a large % of your marketing mix before was in-person, how might you strategically shift to an online setting?


For example:

  • For large conference => virtual event companies

  • For intimate dinner events hosted by service provider => virtual event companies

  • For intimate dinner events hosted by you => self-directed virtual events


Helpful Tip: One thing I keep observing is that funds participating in virtual events do not have access to attendance lists and contact information. If you are not getting this data, would it make sense to participate and/or pay, and is the inbound ROI enough to cover the cost?


Is the content you are sharing suitable for a virtual event?

  • Depending on your event's goal, other formats may be preferable. For example, I have attended several events that were successful as virtual events, but I have also attended events that could have been better suited as a video recording and sent out.


What is the timeline? If your event is

  • Within the next few weeks: Can you quickly transition to a webinar?

  • Within the next few months: What is the best way you can simulate a real-life event in a virtual environment and have enough runway for preparation?

  • 3 months out: It may be best to hold your event virtually considering public sentiment. Even without social distancing, people may not feel safe in a large gathering or traveling.


How do you create a more personal event virtually?

When planning to run effective virtual events, here are a few things to consider:

Define your goal

It is important to know the goal of your event and the goal of your audience: Whether it is to educate, pitch, foster networking, etc., this will determine your timeline of events, content strategy, and whether or not it can be accommodated with other platforms.


Consider your audience

Consider that members of your audience may have more obligations with family, children, etc., now that everyone is at home. Additionally, multi-day or multi-hour events may be daunting online, so it may be strategic to create pockets of longevity.

Select live or recorded

Consider whether your event should be held live or recorded for the future.


Why recorded may be the better option:

  1. Live content can run unnecessarily long, while recorded videos allow for brevity.

  2. Allows for limited distribution in the case that your content is not engaging to be held live or too specific to have a broader appeal.

  3. People can watch a recording at their convenience, and viewers can be tracked.

  4. Allows for post-editing of video.


Why live streaming may be the better option:

  1. Suitable for larger events and very engaging content.

  2. Allows for more interaction between people.

  3. No need to edit.


Select your platform

  • Whether you choose to do a recording or live event will determine your platform.

  • Engagement: Will each person be able to show live video, can people see posted questions/comments, can attendees communicate with each other, will you present presentation slides, do you need breakout rooms, etc.? For example, Zoom, GoToWebinar, Vimeo, and Google Meet, all have different capabilities for consideration.

  • Have a backup plan to avoid technical issues and shortfalls.


Don't forget the after-party

  • Make sure to announce that you did an event on your social media outlets.

  • Now is a good time to reach out to people for help. Consider who could help share your event before and after the event.


Going forward: virtual is here to stay

  • All events should have a virtual component

  • Consider having year-round virtual events, such as a virtual series, and multiyear marketing events

  • Maintain an online connection with social media platforms, and build your online presence for more engagement.

  • Know what production value is expected in the future and how that can contribute to a more attractive event


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