The events industry has undergone a significant transformation in recent years. With the advent of the hybrid model, many event organizers have realized that events don’t have to be either virtual or physical. Instead, they can find the middle ground to leverage the best of both worlds.
In the continuum of events, event organizers need to find the right balance of in-person and virtual events based on their audience, needs, and objectives. By using the hybrid strategy, planners can avoid last-minute cancellations, travel restrictions, or reduced travel budgets.
The main advantage of hosting a hybrid event is the fact that you can reach a wider audience, but you have to combine marketing and promotion effectively to make your hybrid event successful. The optimal way to develop a hybrid event strategy with purposeful experiences and content is by determining the specific goals and objectives of both in-person and virtual attendees.
Tom is a B2B marketing consultant who has helped dozens of small to mid-sized businesses improve their online visibility, website traffic, lead generation, and business results.
A B2B marketing expert, he helps clients achieve better customer experience, optimize marketing technology strategy, and address tough marketing planning challenges.
* Could you please walk us through your professional journey?
After getting a technical degree, one of my first jobs was running an engineering documentation department – which I like to say was exactly as exciting as it sounds.
Realizing the marketing people were a lot more fun to hang out with, I went back to school, got my MBA, and switched career gears. I spent 14 years in corporate marketing and then 10 years at a B2B-focused marketing agency before launching my own consultancy in 2017. I’ve never been busier or enjoyed what I do more than now.
* Event marketing and production-wise, what are the most important necessities for pulling off a stellar virtual, hybrid, or in-person event?
I think about events differently from many event professionals because I come at this from a content marketing perspective. So my focus is on the content:
– What content is needed before the event to entice people to come? You need compelling speakers and content, but then also appealing, concise messaging to grab the attention of prospective attendees and then persuade them to commit time and expense to attend your event. Finally, you need to keep registrants informed and excited about the event through pre-event emails and social media posts.
– What content are you developing to deliver at the event? Most importantly, these is the presentations that speakers will be delivering, but also requires attention to signage, content in your event app, live social media posts, and any other content delivered during the event.
– Finally, what content needs to be delivered post-event? This includes access to event presentations (generally in both PDF and video formats), short-form video and photos of event highlights, possibly a post-event survey (along with the results), and (if applicable) Email/website content to get attendees excited about your next event.
Of course, there are myriad details to get right, from the venue and transportation to lighting, sound, presenters, entertainment, food, and more. But the two elements of events that attendees will most remember are the quality of the networking and the value of the content.
* What do you see as the biggest game-changing event tech trend in the next few years?
I hope that it’s a continuous improvement in technology for delivering a seamless hybrid experience. Currently, too often, what’s billed as the “hybrid experience” today is merely a Livestream for remote attendees and the traditional experience for those attending in person – who are often unaware of the size or even presence of the remote audience.
There need to be better mechanisms developed for remote attendees to interact live with presenters, and for in-person and remote participants to be able to connect and interact more effectively.
* What are some tips for implementing event marketing effectively?
There are so many, but here’s one quick one: pre-event, respect that your registrants are busy but also that one size doesn’t fit all.
Too often, once I’ve registered for an event, I either get bombarded with pre-events emails or I hear virtually nothing. Event marketers should strive for a balance, but also keep in mind that such balance won’t be the same for everyone.
So, give registrants options, even something as simple as letting them choose between “I’d like to receive ALL pre-event messages” or “Please send me only the most important communications.”
* Any additional advice you would like to give to our event planners?
Just one point that’s fresh in mind because of an event I recently attended: Never forget that the two most important elements of an event are the content and the networking.
I recently attended an event (an annual event the hosting company has been running for several years, so they should have known better) where presentations were stacked back-to-back with barely a bio-break in between. Both the length/number of presentations and the layout of the venue itself made networking nearly impossible.
Make sure you are enabling and encouraging networking through both the scheduling of breaks and the layout of the facility. This should be obvious (and likely will be to most planners), but it still gets overlooked.
For more in the Events Industry Experts series, check out our interview with Jen Salerno, CMP, DES, Harris Schanhaut, CME, Janice Cardinale, Courtney Stanley, Helen Moon, Danica Tormohlen, Ashley Brown, Jason Allan Scott, Brandt Krueger, Corbin Ball, Will Curran, and Stephan Murtagh today!
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