In 2020, in-person event cancellations have become the norm.
There will be no Money 20/20 in Amsterdam or Vegas this year, which for marketers means that an event essential to your annual plan is skipped and partly moved online. Sales teams rely on such events to fill up the pipeline with new contacts and sign deals with existing clients, and PR teams make the most of them as a platform to generate media coverage. For marketers, large conferences can be a fundamental part of the strategy and a backdrop for many other efforts.
And now travel is restricted and events have morphed into day-long Zoom sessions. But all is not lost.
Faced with this challenge, the companies who prosper will be the ones who can leave old thinking at the door and evolve. It’s time to rethink plans and come up with something new that generates maximum ROI in this unique situation.
When important industry events are cancelled, the need for marketers, public relations professionals, and sales teams to meet their objectives does not evaporate. So, think about how you still can reach your audience without the coffee break at the conference, or the expensive booth on a trade show floor in the Amsterdam RAI conference centre.
We have seen companies pivot to virtual events, webinars, and other digital experiences for their clients and other stakeholders. This is all fine, but talking on a screen will not generate results in itself.
Rather, the challenge is to implement a communications strategy to maximize the ROI of these virtual events when participating. And surprisingly enough, that strategy is not significantly different when compared to successfully engaging at events in person.
Here are some ideas to start to (re)build your plan and generate ROI virtually:
- Create a stellar message.
What challenges or priorities are top of mind for your target audiences at the moment, and how can you meet those needs? Make sure you’re aligning what you want to say with what your audiences care about and want to listen to.
- Ensure your network knows you are participating before the event and engage in an active dialogue if they cannot join.
Leverage email marketing as well as social channels to invite your network to join you, as well as sharing and commenting on content from the event organizers and other participants to start the conversation early.
- Make an impact during the event with a better, more honed presentation than other speakers.
We’re all struggling with Zoom fatigue at the moment, so find ways to stand out on screen. If you’re leading the presentation, think about how you can involve your audience more actively – from engaging visual or video content to polls or digital games to keep the energy up. If you’re joining a panel or discussion, follow the golden media training rule of three – make sure you’re prepped with your key messages and avoid long, meandering speeches!
- Use the event to create short, insightful content snacks in real-time to feed to the social media monster.
Taking and sharing quick photos is less easy when you’re attending online, but (confidentiality permitting) screenshots of key speakers are still an option when coupled with a quick POV on what you’re finding interesting. Even without s picture, be sure to follow event hashtags as well as the organizers and key speakers, so you can like, comment on and share what they’re posting.
- Announce something newsworthy for the media during the event so that they will pay attention.
As with in-person events, the news cycle around events is crowded! Have you got new data or information you can share, that ties into what’s on the agenda? Make sure to offer your spokespeople’s time as you would at a physical event; exclusive conversations and access is still an exciting opportunity if the story is right!
- Follow up with new leads and missed contacts after the event.
Have a longer piece of content ready to send to everyone you met during the event and all your contacts that you expected to reach, but didn’t. A simple personal email is a better option than an anonymous, generic newsletter. But the latter is better than nothing. When it comes to the theme – again think about what’s top of mind for your target audiences right now, and what unique value or information can you give them that they can’t get elsewhere?
- Amplify your reach with organic and paid social
Use social media to offer a wider audience the chance to download that longer piece of content – a good way to continue to build that vital CRM database. LinkedIn lead gen ads are an effective, and user-friendly, way to share your content whilst collecting those all important new contact emails.
During Money 20/20 you can say ‘hi’ to unknowns and get on the radar of those you want paying attention to your brand. Those physical opportunities are not there during a digital-only event. So making the most of social media and strong media relations is essential to generate the ROI you are looking to achieve. Integration with a strategic direct marketing approach will be the road to success.
Talk to us about how we can help you pivot your Money 20/20 event strategy to succeed online this year: Get in touch here.