Marketing virtual events like in-person ones is like comparing apples to elephants.
Back in 1996, I distinctly remember having a conversation with my boss about how stupid I thought it was to build a camera into a cell phone. The quality was terrible and could never be as good as my film or newly purchased digital camera. Well, clearly I had a lot to learn about product evolution and how to see beyond what was in the moment to what something could become (so, 21 years ago, I was wrong). That is where I believe we are with digital and virtual events.
Event organizers must stop apologizing as to why their digital offerings and events won't be the same as the events that they used to produce in person. You do not begin a date with a person you hope to get serious with by informing them of your terrible snoring habits, inability to properly hang a towel, or close the toilet seat. Instead, you charm them with wit, personality, and your kind smile. You remind them that what’s important in life aren't wet towels and seats, but connection and love.
How about we create a digital event that is exceptional and worthy of everyone's time and filled with purpose and meaning?
There are huge upsides to digital events right now, and 2020 provided me with new business opportunities and relationships, all made in a rectangle. Some relationships were made in Zoom rectangles and others in virtual event platforms. Some events delivered new nuggets of knowledge, others offered a new contact or two that blossomed into a relationship. I even developed a relationship that—ready for it—turned into a paying business partnership. I applied myself to these environments and worked the events like it was my job. Because guess what, it was and is.
This week, I made a promise to stop comparing digital events to in-person ones. That comparison inevitably ends with “it can't be as good as” or becomes an apples-to-elephants comparison.
I think we can all agree that virtual or digital events are a completely different product and experience than the in-person events we’re all used to. If your participants expect an online experience to be the same as an in-person one, the event is set-up for failure right from the start.
Let’s tell great stories about our events and educate our communities on how they can be successful within the environments. A digital event can utilize participant data and enhance the experience based on that data. Guests can connect in a myriad of ways, such as; text, video, email, group chat, and group Q & A. A great digital event requires guidance to all of its stakeholders as to how they can make the best use of that environment so that the event delivers exactly what they need it to.
Because really, at their most basic level, an event is a shared experience and something worth attending.
As an organizer, I do believe that there will be a continued demand for and need for virtual events to continue even after we return to convention centers, hotels, and conference rooms. They simply provide too much value for time spent for them to simply disappear. Agree, disagree? Hit me up and let's chat.