• How to Succeed With Virtual Events

    By taking advantage of virtual technology, event marketers can reap the rewards of a trade show booth in a convenient and cost-effective platform.  Here are some keys to success for virtual events:

    Start by setting concrete goals.  Are you introducing a new product?  Do you want sales leads?  The more measurable the goals, the easier it will be to determine success.  Once objectives are established, learn as much about your target audience as possible.  The event organizers should provide a registration list.

    The next step is deciding who will staff your virtual booth.  Conventional wisdom points to sale reps, but it’s possible that other employees are equipped to interact with visitors, as well.  A Trade Show News Network poll showed the primary incentive to trade show attendees was access to quality content.  An engineer or developer is likely much better at answering detailed questions about your product than a sales or marketing person.  Choose a group of staffers who are trained to understand both the audience’s needs and your company’s objectives.

    Finally, establish a plan for pre- and post-event communication.  Social media tools (e.g. Twitter, Facebook) are great at generating buzz for your booth prior to the event.  Don’t forget to follow up with everyone who visited your booth afterwards.

    Virtualization doesn’t just enhance trade shows.  Webinars, sales meetings and conferences can all translate to virtual events.

    In 2008, in the midst of a recession, executives at Cisco Systems needed to reduce costs, so the company decided to move all of 2009’s events to virtual platforms. This included Cisco’s annual sales conference, the Global Sales Experience (GSX), which was held in Las Vegas the previous 19 years.  The move not only saved Cisco a significant amount in expenses (approximately 90 percent), it also helped increase attendance from 14,000 to 22,000. At the 2010 GSX event, 21,000 attendees watched more than 100 sessions and 130 hours of live broadcasts over the seven days.  This year, Cisco took GSX to a new level by combining the virtual broadcasts with in-person meetings.  A hybrid event was born.

    Hybrid events are a fast emerging trend in event marketing.  For example, a company can setup a camera to live stream their seminar or trade show booth for individuals who either can’t attend, or attended but want to review what they learned afterwards.  CA Technologies demonstrated the value of hybrid events when it hosted a webinar on Virtualization and Cloud technologies last month.  The twist: customers were invited to convene at a venue in one of 28 U.S. cities and watch a satellite broadcast of the webinar.  This allowed CA to inexpensively bring together a panel of experts while maximizing the reach of its audience.

    Virtual events are great ways to attract new customers, improve existing customer relations, and increase brand awareness.  Start today!

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