How to use tech to take your event virtual, according to this Houston expert
As the long-term repercussions of the coronavirus set in around the world, the events space was one of the first to realize its need to change course. Events across the world that were scheduled for March through June and beyond are being canceled, rescheduled and rethought.
As a business that has always operated in the live event and public space, my company, VISION Production Group had to quickly re-invent how our clients would be able engage with their audience under these strained circumstances.
When an event is canceled or postponed in times of crisis, businesses still have important messaging to get out. They still have a need to sell, still have a need to engage, still have the need to get organizational support. Shifting live attended events into an online experience helps those businesses shape their original event into a 'show' format that encapsulates the fundamentals of the live event in a creative manner ideal for remote viewing.
Instead of canceling the events, planners can be innovative and evolve their original format into one that allows them to still engage attendees and share their brand stories through virtual experiences.
Event marketing is all about putting yourself in the shoes of your customers — they were excited to come to your event and see the live event, network with others in their industry, and ask their lists of questions to ask during your Q&A sessions. So, what do virtual events look like, and how can you turn them in to an opportunity to add even more value and deliver an experience that makes your potential clients thrilled to be taking part in?
Creating a successful virtual event goes far beyond just a taped stream of speakers and the sharing of information. By utilizing the techniques below to create videos, creative content, 3D animation, motion graphics and other digital content, virtual events can become engaging productions that live on past the event itself.
Know your options
With a prerecorded event, you have the option to provide access to videos of the event on demand and can even consider additional revenue streams with pay-per-view options.
Utilize professional production and create an experience that combines brand elements and clear language with a captivating video presentation that makes attendees feel like they are turning their TVs onto a celebrity awards show. Once your pre-recorded virtual event has gone live, use video marketing to push out on your website or social media to share your brand story through packaged presentations.
VISION is currently working with both the Kinder Institute and the Houston Holocaust Museum to turn their major May events into pre-recorded productions that will be able to engage an even larger audience than their normal events.
Animated education content
Another forward-thinking technique is to produce 2D and 3D content to reduce the production costs found in traditional video. This can be interfaced with recorded and live footage or be used to walk attendees through a product demo or setup process with ease.
Think about utilizing this kind of virtual event if you are in an industry that relies heavily on trade shows. Instead of needing to be person-to-person for a demonstration, you can explain your product or service through 2D and 3D technology.
Get buy-in for digital events with a bit of live aspect, pulling groups together online for a shared remote experience. With a live stream event, you can have the benefits and production value of a pre-recorded event but incorporate the capability to take questions and engage your audience in real.
Remote viewers won't want to miss out on asking questions in this community format and you can record the stream for future use as well.
Virtual event panels and forums
With virtual panels and forums, you can live stream from your anywhere. Hosting an online group is a great way to engage your audience with a live Q&A session and provide the human connection, digitally.
This avenue is great if your event is typically comprised of panels and interactive breakout sessions for attendees.
Tips and best practices
Attendees flock to events to catch the latest innovations and network with industry leaders. Replicating that experience online isn't easy, but brands that get it right can attract big audiences, generate interest and increase brand visibility.
Use these tips to compel your audience to take action:
Develop a virtual event marketing strategy that aligns with your goals
With a great strategy, you can turn any onsite exhibit into a virtual event.
You may already offer online webinars or tutorials, but adding virtual events requires a little more planning. From accessibility to remote attendance monitoring, it's important to visualize each step in the strategy and planning of your event.
Choose digital technology tools and formats that convey your message and create a clear and compelling story and video script to keep attendees tuned in and engage virtual attendees using high-quality videos, animation and graphics.
Develop virtual events before a cancelation
Don't wait for your next live event to get canceled. Instead, put together video assets now. Drop the travel expenses and live stream a panel right from your office. Virtual events give your audience the flexibility to experience your brand and products from anywhere.
Tracey Shappro is the president and CEO of Houston-based VISION Production Group.