Adapting Your Marketing Strategy to the Reality of Virtual Events
Steve Vonder Haar
Jun 7, 2021 1:25:05 PM
It’s almost cliché to write about how things have changed so much in the past year.
Quarantines, remote work, and video collaboration are “in.” Despite our shared yearning for a return to normalcy, extensive travel, big gatherings, and in-person meetings still seemingly remain out of reach.
In a world nearly turned upside down by COVID, it’s refreshing to recognize that some things actually have not changed much in the past year. Consider, for instance, the world of corporate marketing.
The formula for generating and managing sales leads today is not much different from the process marketers have been using for decades. First, you develop awareness among prospects and get their attention. After identifying a prospect, you qualify them to determine how likely they are to become a customer. Then, you use varied techniques to engage with that customer on a repeated basis, essentially nudging them through the sales funnel.
What has changed in the past year are the venues available to marketers that can make this lead- nurturing process viable. It is quite apparent that the old stand-by of the industry trade show has been temporarily sidelined, as many individuals remain reluctant to return to their pre-pandemic norms. Among the 2,101 participants in Wainhouse Research’s Enterprise Video End User Survey, conducted in the fourth quarter of 2020, 70% of respondents agreed with the statement that “In 2021, due to COVID concerns, I expect that I will participate remotely in events that I have previously attended in person.”
Little wonder, then, that virtual events are garnering such traction in the corporate realm. In the Wainhouse survey, more than half (53%) of organizations represented in the survey reported that they plan to either initiate or expand the use of platforms for virtual events in 2021.
Marketers have no need to hang their heads in COVID-driven despair. In fact, they have begun to adapt their marketing strategy and gear more towards a digital experience. The pandemic has not obliterated the promotional process; it simply has helped organizations realize that virtual venues, when used correctly, can be employed to execute tried-and-true marketing techniques.
Mainstage presentations in virtual events can be used to draw a crowd and garner end-user attention. Registration tools can collect profile information on prospects as they enter an event, generating data that marketers can use to qualify leads. After the headline event is over, multiple technologies embedded in virtual venues (video collaboration, matchmaking, gamification, and more) can be employed by marketers to nurture further engagement with prospects.
This is not rocket science. It’s just following the long-held principles of marketing (and marketing during COVID). The only real challenge comes in recognizing how to leverage widely available virtual event platforms to develop and deliver relevant engagement with your target audience.
If you’re looking to develop a better understanding of how to adapt your marketing strategy and achieve old-school marketing objectives in the virtual world, you can review an in-depth discussion between Steve Vonder Haar of Wainhouse, and 6Connex Chief Marketing Officer Luiz Martins. In the 6Connex webinar that took place on April 6, 2021, Vonder Haar goes over some of the technologies that infuse engagement into virtual events, and Martins provides great input on ways that organizations can host a virtual event and enliven existing marketing campaigns with relevant virtual event capabilities for successful online events.
For corporate marketers, the subject of adapting your marketing strategy is really too important to ignore. Undoubtedly, the world is going to make its way past-COVID, and normalcy is just around the bend. Experiences of the pandemic will continue to shape outlooks on how we conduct business and drive marketing initiatives in the post-pandemic world. This not only means leveraging opportunities through virtual events, but also incorporating hybrid events into your marketing strategy as well.
Traditional trade shows and conferences will return in a big way once we turn the corner of the pandemic. COVID has helped many to recognize that the types of engagement enabled by virtual and hybrid event solutions are valuable and productive. As a result, virtual and hybrid events will remain a big part of the marketing communications toolbox.
It’s fair to say that things have changed a lot in the last year – even for corporate marketers. But don’t just dismiss the alternative solutions to in-person events as just another COVID cliché.