As the COVID-19 crisis continues to transform the way we work, businesses need to adapt to stay relevant. With social distancing measures looking to continue in the coming months, industry events and face-to-face networking has been put on hold. But as we miss out on conferences and parties this summer, virtual events have seen a surge in popularity, providing opportunities for keynote speeches and online Q&As. However, without human connection these can feel like just another webinar, and tuning in from home often means that our attention is elsewhere. With so many virtual events taking place, how can you create a truly unique experience to engage your customers?
In order to create a completely different virtual experience, look at developing a theme which can back up the conversations you have and what you want your brand to convey. For example, our ‘Let’s Rock’ campaign for Advantech featured a rock music-themed partner event with brochures, merchandise, a Spotify playlist, and a live music gig for partners to enjoy. As well as an opportunity to unwind and have fun, the event strengthened partner relationships and Advantech’s brand messaging. As for online events, the HPE Discover Virtual Experience, taking place throughout July, is themed around sports, with various sporting personalities hosting talks on business and human recovery. By linking back to themes of stress and mental wellbeing, the technical content of HPE’s event appeals to attendees’ human nature. Look at your audience and see what themes they have engaged with in the past – how can you link this to your business offering and excite your customers?
Once you’ve established a distinctive theme, consider holding your event for smaller clusters of people rather than one huge group; this helps people feel personally connected to your brand and comfortable asking questions and networking. You could take this further by doing bespoke webinars or one-to-one sessions that are entirely personalised.
You’re not giving grand talks on a conference stage, so why speak as if you are? Adapt to the format you use and create opportunities for conversation and participation, whether it be live polling, real-time commenting, or even speed dating style networking, giving attendees short bursts of time to build connections.
Hosting an event digitally means that integrating video, animation, and gaming is far easier, as well as giving you opportunities to experiment with VR and AR. You’re also not tied down by your geographical location; guest speakers and attendees can join you from all over the world.
If you’re still hesitant about virtual events, look at creating socially distanced networking opportunities as lockdown restrictions ease. We have been working on exciting socially-distanced events with our clients, such as drive-ins (e.g cinemas and gigs) and travelling pop ups, which allow people to interact with brands safely and without huge crowds. This could be a great opportunity to showcase your brand, particularly if you have a very localised customer base.
When planning any event, make sure you establish a unique theme and link it back to your business offering. Keep your events fresh and exciting by planning both virtual and physical events that incorporate new ideas every time. If you’re holding an event online, adapt to the format but don’t fall into the trap of a basic webinar, make your event an intriguing experience. Your customers miss individual connection, so personalise and humanise to stand out.
Whether it’s online or in-person, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to chat about planning a safe and creative event for your brand.