Making the most of an event ‘going digital’

Gutted!!! … That feeling when the inevitable email finally arrives to confirm the event must be cancelled.

Now what?

How are we going to fill the event void?

Considering the cost and time taken up by an event, sponsors and delegates alike must be hoping for something pretty incredible. Quite simply, it’s impossible to replicate that feeling of euphoria as the keynote speaker takes to the stage and the buzz begins.

How do companies think they can replace that? Have they really thought about why people have registered to attend on the first place? Do they really think they can achieve their objectives without it?  Let’s delve into it…


What does the audience want?

Learning and insight; about what’s going on in their industry; what’s new in IT, where the risk are and how can they be overcome. Many delegates say that attending an IT conference is like going back to Uni for a few days. They love the open-minded atmosphere and that feeling of enlightenment as new ideas take shape and their plans are affirmed.  

Help with their business case. With huge IT budgets at their disposal, attendees are looking for evidence to support their business cases and for guidance on how they should be planning their spend over the next few years.

Inspiration and Creative thinking. Without doubt getting away from the hum drum of the office gives delegates space and to think more creatively about how to achieve their goals.

Networking with peers. As humans we find comfort in sharing concerns, ideas, and experiences; good, bad and even ugly. That bustling atmosphere as folks leave a speaker session discussing their opinions is a sure sign that you’ve really captured their imagination.     


What does a sponsor want?

Attention and awareness. There’s no better way to reach and engage a captive audience than at an event. It’s your companies chance to shine and put your message right in front of those that matter.

Leads and opportunities. Scanners are the sponsors magic wand – once touched, the customer details are harnessed, and engagement begins. A great on-site experience paves the way for great relationship building.  

Meaningful dialogue. You can’t beat that sense of excitement when the booth is busy with customers and colleagues milling around, asking questions, sharing demos and building rapport.

Market positioning. Sponsorship opportunities put your company at the forefront of customers minds, speaker slots build your credibility and customer examples underpin your expertise.


Is there a virtual answer? ... No … but also Yes !!!

Most of the major events have morphed into digital events. But how can you stand out from the crowd as a sponsor?

As companies jump on the virtual bandwagon and the online noise picks up you are jostling for position once again, and without a booth, a team and on physical presence what can you do?


A few simple “differentiating” ideas

Fly in the experts

Make the most of the travel restrictions by virtually bringing in personalities who would normally be unavailable or too expensive to be there in person. Who wouldn’t want to hear from Brian Cox or Helen Sharman? Does your own CIO have credibility on the speaker circuit? Or do you know any industry respected specialists? Depending on your audience, your personalities can share new innovations, thought leadership and provide technology advice. The added benefit in this approach is it gives you a fabulous “reason to call” customers.      

Create the mood

Think about what you want your audience to feel about your event – are you sharing ground-breaking insight? Reaffirming their beliefs about a technology? Helping to solve IT problems?  or simply reporting on what’s hot and what’s not?  Build your messages around the right theme.

Be the music to their ears

Why not take the opportunity to include music, drama, comedy …all of the things that might normally be restricted at an event.

That’s entertainment!

Spend some time entertaining the audience too. The last thing you want is to find that attendees dropped off halfway through. Keep the momentum going with competitions, quizzes and whiteboarding. Share the order of play up front to keep their interest.

Bitesize is best

If your story is “War and Peace” share it chapter by chapter. That way you can gauge reactions, gather feedback and make tweaks. It’s easier to fit a shorter event into hectic schedule and you’ll find that customers are more likely to share it afterwards.

Networking tools

Create a forum – LinkedIn, community of interest, ask the expert and use it before and after the event. During your event, open the floor to questions, kick things off with questions “from last time”. Follow up your event with attendee sessions; white-boarding, workshops and debate.

Incentivised SWAG 

Aaaah!! that familiar sight of customers gathering their SWAG to take home - now’s your chance to really maximise the marketing opportunity:-

Provide themed giveaways in return for customer contact details

Issue vouchers to be cashed in when the real thing happens

Use promotional codes to track SWAG uptake

Do the right thing – charge (just a little) for SWAG and donate the proceeds to help the fight against coronavirus


Keep in touch

Throughout this virtual time keeping in touch is more important than ever.

Remind your audience often in the run up to your event, get them to register and share with them snippets of video, voice / music over presentation so they won’t want to miss it.

Share videos or podcasts of delegate interviews from last year … or last week to build interest

Capture feedback, act on it and share .

Send them a personalised thank you from your CEO – you have the technology to make them feel really important.