Billy Ray Cyrus’ coined phrase about his mullet, “business in the front, party in the back” has now become the basis for wardrobe inspiration of many virtual meetings and events. After all, who doesn’t want to wear a business shirt with pajama bottoms and still reap all the benefits of a work engagement?
And, although this past year has forced many conferences, events, classes, and other in-person communications online, the age of virtual events started way before the infamous 2020. In fact, it was during the recession of the late 2000s that online events started to see a true up-tick. Marketing experts realized the benefits of holding events online while keeping overhead costs to a minimum and virtual events made it easier for participants from all over the world to join. Now, the single mother who would normally have to find a babysitter to attend a work conference has the ability to join from the comfort of her own home and the remote worker who lives across the country can lean into the educational courses his company has to offer without booking a flight.
Virtual events however open up opportunities for more than just the attendee — they also give flexibility, creativity, and possibility to the organizer. So, if you’re searching for all the right tools to pull off the perfect virtual event, make sure to keep these 5 tips in your back pocket!
#1 Do Not Stay in Your Lane
One mistake a lot of companies make when it comes to deciding on the angle for their virtual event is being too predictable. The key to being successful in the online space is to get creative and think outside what you would normally do in-person.
For example, if you are a homebuilder, the instinctual first idea for an event might be a virtual home tour. And while this might garner some traffic and push a few individuals further down the buying funnel, it is not super interactive (more on that later), or interesting.
Instead, why not set up a mock auction for a handful of homes? Have participants bid on the home of their dreams while simultaneously using the auctioneer to provide specs and detailed information about each home. This not only shows you which houses are the most sought after (valuable marketing information), but it gives you the opportunity to offer up tons of details about your company and your product without seeming too pushy.
When it comes to virtual events, the more creative and interactive, the better. Which leads us to tip #2.
#2 Make Sure It Is Engaging
We can all agree that if a meeting or online event is not very interesting, it is far too easy to turn off your camera, grab your phone and start scrolling or go change out a load of laundry. This is the last thing you want participants of your virtual event to do! Which is why it is imperative to make your event fun, engaging, and interactive.
Let’s continue with the auction example from above. Since individuals will be performing the physical act of raising an auction paddle, it forces participation and engagement. Finding ideas like this help to keep individuals involved from the get-go. Here are a few more ideas to help make any virtual event even more engaging:
- Include games
- End with a raffle
- Take polls throughout the event
- Get a special attendee to stop in (“Oh hey, Stormy!” for you Carolina Hurricanes fans)
- Get participants up and moving (Free yoga class anyone?)
#3 Provide a Dress Code
One thing that still perplexes us is the age-old question of “What should I wear?” Make it easy on your participants by providing a straight-forward dress code for your event. Below is a breakdown of some of the most common dress codes and an example for each:
- Think weekend wear to run errands or grab coffee with a friend. Examples would include t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers.
- Business casual
- Stepping it up a notch, this is what most companies have moved towards working from home. A sundress or dress blouse and khakis can be considered business casual as well as a polo and chinos.
- Business attire
- Traditional business-wear. A suit for a man or woman would suffice.
- Often used for larger events, such as weddings, semi-formal wear usually consists of a nicer dress and heels or a blazer and tie.
- Formal or Black tie
- “Dress to the nines” is what should come to mind if you are asked to a formal or black tie event. Expectations consist of a ballgown or tux.
- Your event attire might not fit any of the above categories, which is fine! Maybe you are providing a free workout class or betting on college football. If you have a specific clothing direction for your attendees, do not be afraid to simply spell it out. For example, “workout attire” or “your favorite college football jersey” would both work!
#4 Set the Tone
Cutting edge technology from companies like Zoom and UberConference have made virtual events more lifelike with opportunities for backdrops and scenery. Utilizing this type of technology can take your event from “Here we go again” to “Wow, I’ve never seen that before!” in seconds. However, you still want to make sure it matches the overall tone of the event and it makes sense!
An auction hall is the most obvious choice with our continued example. But why not use a custom picture of each individual house you are auctioning off? This not only provides a useful visual, but it will keep attendees interested with its changes throughout the event.
Not sure what a Zoom background is? That’s where tip #5 comes into play.
#5 Be Sure You Are Tech-Prepared
There is a lot that goes into a virtual event from the planning and invites to the technology, Q&A, and follow-up. Consider utilizing a digital marketing agency to assist in the execution of your next event. At Martin Communications, our experienced team can take the stress off your shoulders. Remember, “Think Big, Execute Bigger!”
From the brainstorming to the “Thank You’s”, our team will be there to inspire, think outside the box, keep your clients engaged, and foresee any technical problems that may be keeping you up at night. We can also implement touchpoints throughout the event to garner leads and help you begin to move the needle with all of your potential customers.
Virtual events have come a long way over the past decade or so. And while there are tons of ways to get your clients excited about going digital, sometimes it’s best to get an outside perspective. If you’re interested in putting together a virtual event, contact us today to get the creative juices flowing!