In our first blog in this series, we gave an introduction on virtual events. As we continue our overview, we’re next sharing insight on steps for planning your virtual event, and that starts with understanding your content.
Think about what you plan to present: Are you debuting a new product? Showcasing newly added features to an existing product? Do you just want to remind your customers how awesome your product is, to get them to buy more?
This is your main content for your event. You need to decide first what is being presented. You need to decide what the key takeaways are going to be for your audience. And then you take some planning and ideation steps like you would a physical event before you can pick and choose those platforms.
You need to review your event objectives and needs, so you know what action this content will drive, identify your audience, so you know how this content will be presented, and then determine those base technology needs, so you know how this content needs to be experienced.
Reviewing Your Event Objectives and Needs
What do you need your content to do? For instance: Is the primary goal to gain new business, or reinforce existing customer relationships? How will you track ROI? Are you demonstrating a product or piece of technology? And how long will a typical meeting/presentation last?
If you’re objective is to gain new business, at least some of your content should speak to your brand story, to increase that awareness. When it comes to tracking and ROI, what kind of metrics matter to your goals? For Company CoolCat launching those three new products, they’ll want to know not only who looked at their virtual event, but also how long each visitor spent looking at and learning about each product. And things like product demonstration or speaker presentations—is your objective simply to share information, or are you looking to drive interaction? Will you have one long presentation for everyone to attend, or is it your goal to allow the audience to pick and choose shorter sessions to attend and interact with what is most important to them?
Identifying Your Audience
Next, define your audience; not only for the obvious benefit of planning your pre-event marketing efforts, but to further figure out how your content will be presented.
Considerations for identifying your audience include:
• Prospects vs. customers
• Locked door vs. ungated content
• Familiarity with your company
• Requirements to attend/participate
• Building distinct customer journeys
• Location & time zones
From the list above: Do you have a specific audience that requires registration and a login process to keep things private? Or, is this open to pretty much anyone who has internet access? Does your audience have the time to peruse your virtual event at their leisure or is this a quarterly board meeting that has definitive start and end times? Of course, things like availability of internet access and time zone will affect how you share your content, too.
The last thing we want to impart on the importance of defining your audience in these beginning stages is making sure the content you provide aligns with their preferences.
Remember the golden rule you were taught as a child: Speak to others how you would like to be spoken to? Good. Now, forget it. Because when it comes to marketing, you need to speak to your customers and prospects how they want to be spoken to; which means you also need to determine what their content preferences are first, and then communicate your information through those preferences. If your audience prefers visuals, make sure your content is stacked with infographics, slide shows, and videos. (And leave that 10-page whitepaper behind.)
Identify Your Event Technology Needs
So, you’ve figured out what you want your content to be, what you want it to do, and how best to present the content based on your audience.
Now, you need to think about the technology needed to power your experiences:
- Bandwidth capabilities
- Webinar portals
- Live chat (1:1 & small group)
- Video content
- Downloadable takeaways
- Games, entertainment & interactive content
- Social media
Audience size will help you determine how much bandwidth you need. Keynote speakers and presentations means needing webinar or embedded video tech. Recreating those ‘happenstance’ breakout session conversations and networking opportunities means live chat or video conferencing tech. There’s tech to build various interactive games, different tech needed to livestream your social media, Ecommerce tech that can be tied in for direct purchases, forms for submitting mailing addresses to send out swag; the list goes on.
Notice how we haven’t once mentioned a specific platform at this point. That’s because technology needs can be handled by a myriad of platforms, and we’re platform agnostic. We don’t have one platform partner we use or recommend over another because we can work with them all! And that’s because—going back to our carpenter lumber metaphor—we don’t force-fit your content into one platform. We find out what you need first and custom-build a virtual environment with the platforms that provide the technology you require.
We can’t reiterate this enough: Content is still king here. Don’t worry about the platform just yet. First, focus on your main content—what you want to present. Figure out and pull together a list of what you want your attendees to experience while keeping in mind your objectives, audience preferences and technology needs (and it’s okay if you don’t have everything figured out, as we can help you where you’re stuck or unsure).
Once those details are outlined, that’s when we start building the website that houses the platforms and delivers your content in a way that recreates those moments of connection and excitement to make your virtual event a success.
In the following articles to this blog series, we’re going to dive into some details for how to develop, build and design your virtual event space with the right type of communication tools and platforms.