In our most recent webinar, Revenue Retention with Virtual Events, event professionals from Meeting Expectations shared advice and lessons learned to help other associations navigate the transition to an online model. If you’re thinking of a shift to an online event – or creating a brand-new virtual experience – consider the following:
1. Don’t be afraid to rely on the technology and expertise that you already have.
For a virtual event to occur, you need a platform to deliver the education and networking that your members need. Many organizations commonly use online meeting tools already. You may be able to avoid additional expenditures by assessing your existing meeting platform first to determine if it is capable of hosting your event. Remember that the technology platform is just the delivery tool; the content and experience make your event a success. When determining whether your existing technology can support your vision, consider the full picture of what a successful virtual event entails. We can help.
The people on your team – from volunteers to association management experts – also have the expertise to help make your virtual vision a reality. Rely on their knowledge to help you determine and execute a plan, keep it simple, and maximize your existing toolkit to keep your bottom line healthy.
2. Think beyond the lifecycle of the event when planning your education.
Consider current events, topic relevancy, your specific audience needs, and what their messaging needs are. By thinking six-12 months ahead, your educational content could be repackaged and sold as an on-demand education series to spur revenue after the virtual event ends. Remember, it isn’t just about creating brilliant content; it’s determining what’s most helpful in the here and now. That’s key to grabbing your audience’s attention when they’re being pulled in so many directions under pressure and stress.
3. Leverage the brainpower of your volunteers.
The sooner you can scope out your education, the more successful your event will be. Bring your volunteers into the loop and invite them to share their talents and expertise to refine your education program. After all, they are likely to have real-world intel on what employers are looking for in terms of education for their employees.
4. Don’t undersell your education.
When determining the price for your event, the most important thing: don’t undervalue what you are providing. Keep in mind that your audience is not incurring travel costs. While you might think it makes sense to reduce the price of the education since you, as the virtual event host, are no longer paying for things like food and beverage, your attendees were investing in the conference for the education program – not the food. While some facets may shift, learning remains the primary focus for your audience, so price the content accordingly.
5. Trust the relationships you’ve built with your sponsors and exhibitors.
There’s a reason they continued to come back to the live events in previous years. You still have the captive audience – perhaps more so in a virtual environment – for them to reach and engage. They’re looking for the same thing in a virtual event, matching attendees’ roles to their products and services.
In fact, in a virtual environment, the audience might even be expanded with people who weren’t ever able to attend the live event. Be sure to capitalize on the longer shelf life of virtual content, too, if it’s being recorded. It could well be that your sponsors and exhibitors gain much more exposure after the event.
6. Rely on metrics to showcase value to sponsors.
Numbers illustrate value clearly in conversations with your partners. If you decide to craft sponsor packages that include web presence, incorporate your website analytics. For example, for OATUG’s online event, the sponsor logo page received 53k visits, showcasing the number of potential customers that sponsors could engage.
7. Position your sponsors as subject matter authorities.
Think beyond the web banner or display ad for sponsorship placement. Invite your sponsors to create content marketing pieces like whitepapers or interviews to showcase them as experts in their industry. This will reduce the deluge of sales pitches thus promoting organic connections between your attendees and sponsors.
8. Take calculated risks.
In this anything-but-normal time, now is the time to try new ideas. Consider socializing aspects of your event so attendees receive the human element they miss from the in-person event. Have some fun and incorporate themed virtual happy hour meetups or invite subject matter experts to deliver current insights focused on topic areas that are important to your association and its members. For example, when OATUG hosted their online event, we envisioned and executed an acrobatic virtual keynote to excite and inspire their audience.
Hit play and watch our experts elaborate on these tips and more.
Meeting Expectations is a full-service event and association management company and we would love the opportunity to speak with you about your challenges and successes regarding events or associations. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.