The following interview was held between CEO Jaymie Scotto Cutaia and JSA’s Events Director Terri Goggins to develop our latest article featured in the Forbes Agency Council. To read “How To Approach Virtual Events As A Long-Term Marketing Strategy”, click here.
Jaymie: At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies pivoted their event strategy to include virtual events. Now that many businesses are starting to budget and plan for 2021, what do you think their event strategy should look like?
Terri: I think a big takeaway from the past several months is the fact that virtual events are here to stay, so it’s critical that you build a long-term strategy rather than considering virtual events as a short-term solution. Instead of canceling any future events, you want to lean into online platforms and pivot to virtual events so you don’t lose out on the benefits of hosting (or attending) these events.
Jaymie: What are some of the benefits of virtual events compared to in-person?
Terri: Contrary to what you might think, some things make virtual events preferable to in-person ones. For example, a virtual event offers a lot more flexibility for your attendees. Since your event isn’t confined to a physical location, attendees can join from anywhere without the hassle of travel logistics, meaning you can seize the occasion to reach a wider audience than ever before. And, you can greatly decrease your costs, because you don’t have to worry about the cost of travel or accommodations for speakers, attendees or your team.
Another huge benefit is that you can learn more about the effectiveness of your strategy, as you have more opportunities to capture valuable analytics from these events. Measuring engagement and capturing attendee information before, during and after virtual events is much easier than doing so for in-person events. You can easily collect information on attendee numbers and demographics, and even record what kinds of questions were asked during any sessions. Leverage an event platform that integrates with your CRM or automated marketing software and you’ve got a built-in, post-event game plan.
Jaymie: Which experiences from planning and hosting in-person events prove valuable for virtual event planning?
Terri: Many best practices are the same as an in-person event. You’ll still need content that attendees find valuable. You’ll still need targeted, effective promotion and outreach. You’ll still need branding, a website (or landing page), registration, attendee communication and feedback. You will not have to re-learn how to properly execute an event when you pivot to virtual; you can still draw on your previous experiences with in-person events for planning and execution.
You’ll also want to make sure you establish clear goals if you are pivoting an event from in-person to virtual. Avoid falling into the temptation to change what you originally set out to achieve. With a well-planned virtual event, the value to your organization can be the same as an in-person event, so your aims – the reasons you wanted to have an event in the first place – should remain constant. In fact, this is a key aspect of assembling a successful virtual event: don’t get stuck thinking about the format first – laser focus your goals and let them lead your planning direction by developing a solution to meet your goals virtually instead of in person.
To read the full article, click here.