Due to COVID-19, some of the most significant industry events of this year, which usually attract thousands of people together onsite, have gone entirely virtual. By moving online, it makes attendance accessible to a broader audience. As we know, nothing beats attending a physical conference and networking with attendees. But, of the many lessons 2020 has provided, one has been that change can create opportunity. And finding ways to be more creative and innovate to achieve a similarly valuable experience via an online event as an in-person event is no exception.
2020 will be remembered as the year things didn’t happen, the type of things that require travel and swarms of people anyway. Some of these things though are still happening - they just look different. Sibos, the biggest financial event of the year, took the decision to run the programme entirely virtually. In its 42nd year running, the event would normally have attracted over 8,000 delegates coming together to meet new people, strike up conversations, and engage with prospects and clients and build awareness for their business. ‘Normally’ is currently an obsolete concept.
So, what will happen this year at Sibos and is it worth joining the event? There is no fee to register, which opens the virtual doors for all. But how will people network, sell their products and close the deals, and showcase the latest thinking?
There are still ways that you and your company can build awareness of your latest offering and participate in the lively discussions on topics from innovation to real time payments. As you gear up for a virtual Sibos, here are some points to help inform your planning:
Create content that your audience will care about
Yes, this is a foundational premise of marketing. But especially in a virtual setting – when tuning out is easier than ever - the content you create needs to be compelling and pass the ‘so what?’ test. You don’t want to be saying the same as everyone else. Avoid this by having an opinion about the issues that matter to your clients and the industry. Longer form content is still valuable and can be used to send to prospects and clients, but always think about how to repackage this into bite size pieces that can be used across social channels. Also think about the best format for what you want to convey - whether it is best presented as a Q&A, a teaser video, e-book or infographic.
Stand out – be bold in content design
We know that a virtual event will be different, so you need to think about every element. How you present your assets is essential. Whether you are using PowerPoint, Prezi or Google Slides, the look and feel must stand out if it’s going to grab and keep attention. Think about the content format: can you add an infographic, embed a video or bring in audio to try and excite the audience? Keep the content clear and concise. You won’t be able to gauge the audience, so put yourself in their shoes, and ask if what you’re showing would keep you engaged.
Showcase your star speakers
With the audience online, their concentration will be challenging to hold; distractions will be there, and people can switch off. Therefore, to ensure people are engaged, use your best speakers who you know can elevate a room, even when it’s a virtual one. Train speakers to stay on message and be passionate about the topic of discussion. The best speakers are confident in the virtual space and happy to engage with the audience online.
Create a buzz and excitement before, during and post-event
Use social media to engage with your audience. Amplify your content across Twitter and LinkedIn and stay engaged in conversations you start or take part in. With more interactions taking place online there’s good opportunity for more meaningful interactions here. Follow what people are saying and join the conversation - imagine it’s your virtual exhibition space and speak with them. You may not have met in person, but the use of social means that you can introduce yourself, share ideas and build your network.
Network with your peers (still!)
We all love going to events to meet our global colleagues and peers. With no exhibition space or, let’s face it, drinks, it can be challenging to meet and greet in the digital realm, but it doesn’t make it impossible. Have you thought about live streaming your panel, or setting up Zoom Q&A sessions where people can drop in and find out and more about your business? Also, think about what you can share post-event, for example a rebroadcasted panel, or highlights from some of the sessions. With the increasing trends in streaming on-demand services, this could be an opportunity to create excitement by offering sessions on-demand.
Sibos is going ahead and although it will be different from previous years, it still presents an opportunity to raise your profile, build your reputation and network. Sibos 2020 could still be where you sign that partner, virtually meet the person who changes your perspective on an issue and help you change your business for the better.
Talk to us about how we can help you pivot your Sibos event strategy to succeed online this year: Get in touch here.