Advertisements
 

It’s All Virtual Turns Two

December 12, 2010

“Time flies when you’re having fun.”

It all started two years ago today.  The first blog post was made on December 12, 2008.  Since that time, I’ve covered virtual trade shows, hybrid events, virtual worlds, Second Life, social media and many other topics.  It’s been a fun ride to date, but I’m even more excited about what the next 2 or 5 years will bring.  For now, let’s take a look back at five selected posts from the past two years.

What Started It All


My first post, from December 2008, looked ahead to 2009.  It was titled “2009: The Year We Go Virtual“.  I was mostly on target with this post, except for that innocent comment where I noted that face-to-face event producers would struggle to survive.  I should have known that physical events would never go away – and, I hadn’t considered what would follow in 2009/2010, the hybrid event.  Whoops.

Lenovo’s 3D World, Powered by web.alive


This posting, from January 2009, remains today the top grossing piece on this blog.  Lenovo launched a 3D world to promote their Thinkpad notebooks.  It used the web.alive 3D platform from Nortel (and is now part of Avaya, via Avaya’s acquisition of Nortel).  While touring the environment, I met Nic Sauriol, the Venture Lead for the project and he took  me on a personal tour.  Read more: “Review: Lenovo’s eLounge Virtual World“.

Musings on Physical Events & Virtual Events

(Photo courtesy of “ExhibitPeople” on flickr)

Physical events have been around for a long time.  So I decided to write about what we like at physical events and consider how those “features” could work in a virtual event.  I didn’t expect it at the time, but this turned out to be one of the most popular postings this year.  For more: “Bringing The Physical Event Experience To Virtual Events“.

Whose Platform Do I Use?

Once you’ve decided to do a virtual event, one of the key steps is finding the right virtual event platform.  In my Virtual Events 101 series, the most popular posting was this one: “Virtual Events 101: Tips For Selecting A Virtual Event Platform“.  For me, it comes down to the 6 P”s – People, Platform, Production, Price, Process and Partners.

Branching Out A Bit

Branching out from virtual events, I shared some thoughts on the topics of social gaming, location-based services, “gamification” and loyalty programs.  In the coming 1-3 years, gamification, location services and virtual events will come together (via API’s and integration).  On the gamification front, it’s noteworthy that San Francisco will be home to the Gamification Summit in January 2011.  For the full post: “The Name Of The Game Is Engagement“.

Conclusion

It’s been a great two years.  It’s hard to imagine what the (virtual) “world” will look like in another two years.  There’s one thing for sure: I’ll be blogging about it.  Come along for the journey and subscribe to regularly receive my posts.  Until next time!

Advertisements

Top 5 Virtual Event Posts Of 2010

August 5, 2010

Here are the Top 5 posts (on this blog) for calendar year 2010.  The Top 5 List is in descending order and based on the number of page views per blog posting.

#5: Virtual Events 101: Tips For Building Your Virtual Booth

My guess is that many readers built their first virtual booth during 2010.  This posting provided tips planning and objectives, content strategy and booth staffing.  In addition, it provided tips on content presentation, “search optimization” and how to stand out from the crowd.  This posting is part of a broader Virtual Events 101 page that provides tips on virtual events.

#4: Bringing The Physical Event Experience To Virtual Events

This posting did some brainstorming on features that virtual event platforms could provide to bring physical event experiences to virtual events.  Then, it covered tips for virtual events, including how to gauge attendee interest, how to connect with interested attendees and how to create better attendee networking.

#3: COMDEX Re-Launches As A Virtual Trade Show

This was big news back in March, that the famed COMDEX show would return as a virtual event in November 2010.  I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store this November at COMDEX Virtual.

#2: How 3D Virtual Worlds Can Be More Like Twitter And Facebook

Twitter and Facebook have taken the world by storm – this post received a lot of traffic by association.  I thought it was logical that 3D virtual world platforms could adopt some of the principles developed by Twitter and Facebook, such as the pervasive “Like” feature from Facebook.  I posited on some new concepts, such as closed circuit TV and on-demand TV for virtual worlds.

Finally, I guess I foreshadowed “Second Life Shared Media”, when I suggested that web content be embedded in-world – Linden Lab announced that feature a few short months after my blog posting.  More recently, I wrote about Second Life being at an important crossroads.

#1: The Future Of Virtual Events

There’s always something about the “future” that generates interest and curiosity.  I’m still a believer in the vision of the future (for virtual events) that I painted here.  While none of it has come to fruition, it’s just a matter of time.  In the future, that is!

Tweet this posting:


Virtual Events 101: Tips For Creating Your Virtual Event Survey

May 16, 2010

Satisfaction surveys are a key tool in a virtual event planner’s arsenal.  Among their many benefits, a virtual event survey can serve to:

  1. Gain valuable feedback to improve the experience for subsequent virtual events
  2. Gain data, insights and comments that can be leveraged for public relations and future sales/sponsorship opportunities
  3. Establish a baseline of metrics that can be used to gauge your virtual event on an ongoing basis (e.g. overall event ratings, speaker satisfaction ratings)

Here are some tips to consider when creating your event’s satisfaction survey.

Determine what’s important to you

Identify the key components of the virtual event experience – those elements that are most important to you.  Then, incorporate survey questions around those components.  Samples include:

  1. Content
  2. Sessions
  3. Navigation
  4. Exhibitors
  5. Event duration
  6. Event time (i.e. time of day)
  7. Helpfulness of online event staff

Don’t wait until after the event!

During the planning process, you should be defining overall objectives for your virtual event.  Craft your survey questions during the planning process – the survey, then, becomes one means by which you evaluate whether the event met your defined objectives.  Sending a follow-up email (with the survey) after the event is fine – but, be sure to make the survey available within the event experience – either via a built-in feature of the virtual event platform, or by incorporating a third party survey, such as SurveyMonkey or Zoomerang.

Without being intrusive, make the survey “hard to miss” from within the virtual event experience – consider placing links to the survey in the event’s main navigation and in banner ads, your Help Booth and Auditorium.  If the virtual event platform supports it, schedule a periodic “notification pop-up” to inform attendees of the existence of the survey.

Stay true to your survey goals

Remember that a survey is about collecting input and not about qualifying leads and prospects.  Avoid asking qualifying questions in the survey (e.g. “Would you like a sales representative to contact you about ..”) and stick to the goal of understanding the attendee’s overall experience. A survey that’s disguised as a qualifying form will turn off potential submitters – and you’ll likely end up with fewer completions than you had planned.

Similarly, determine whether you want to request “attributes” from survey submitters (industry, country, email address, etc.) or allow submitters to be completely anonymous.  Submitter attributes allow you to segment the survey responses by “qualifier” (e.g. event ratings by industry), while an “anonymous survey” may yield more submissions.

Easy to complete

Place a reasonable limit on the number of survey questions and the number of survey pages.  I’d recommend no more than 10 questions and no more than 2 survey pages (e.g. a limit of 2 survey pages with 5 questions on each page).  Pay attention to the question wording – don’t write an essay on the question or in the multiple choice selections.

Use a combination of quantitative measures (e.g. a rating from 1 to 5) so that you can track particular metrics over time – and qualitative input, such as a free-form text box that invites submitters to leave feedback in the form of a comment.  Try to estimate the amount of time required to complete the full survey and provide that up front to survey takers (e.g. “Spend five minutes – provide us with valuable feedback to improve the event experience for you”).

Include an incentive

Incent survey respondents by offering some value in return.  You could provide a small offer to all submitters (perhaps a $5 gift card) – or, offer a larger prize that’s awarded by random drawing.  Consider the trade-off with an incentive – while you’ll generate more survey submissions, the integrity or quality of the survey data may be slightly compromised, as some users will quickly complete the survey (via random selections) simply to qualify for the prize.

Define your action and response plan up front

A survey serves you limited purpose if you don’t follow up and respond to the collected feedback.  When creating the survey questions, determine the actions that will be taken based on the responses.  For instance, for quantitative measures, define your targets (e.g. an average satisfaction rating of 4.0 [on a scale of 1.0 – 5.0]).  If you score lower than your target, drill down to determine why and apply those learnings to your next event.

If your attendees rated your event low on navigation, determine whether that was the “fault” of the event platform, your own experience design or both.  For attendee feedback focused on the platform, hold a meeting with your virtual event platform provider to discuss further – they’ll appreciate the input and may already have plans (in the product pipeline) to address the concerns.

Conclusion

Surveys can be effective tools for virtual events – be sure to align your survey questions to your overall goals, make it easy and convenient for event attendees to complete it and properly follow up on the feedback delivered.  Keep using surveys for subsequent events, so that they get better and better (and better).

Related Links

  1. Browse the Virtual Events 101 Index Page
  2. Download the eBook, “Virtual Events: Ready, Set, Go

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


Virtual Events 101: Tips For Planning Your Virtual Event

May 7, 2010

Previously, I provided tips on selecting a virtual event platform.  In that posting, I covered team, technology and customer service considerations for selecting a platform.  Now, I’d like to cover the very important process of planning your virtual event.  A successful virtual event originates with a sound, strategic plan – one that’s researched, developed and documented well before the topic of platform selection is even broached.

Virtual events involve technology – however, as with physical events, it’s about the experience first.  Technology, while important, is there to provide the means to address your experiential goals.  Get the planning done right and technology decisions will fall out naturally from there.

Understand Your Audience

A virtual event planner must act like a product manager – to build the best “product” (i.e. event), you need to first understand your target audience / target customer.

Product managers need to employ “customer empathy”, while virtual event planners need to employ “attendee empathy”.  Product managers develop user personas – profiles of different users of the product.  Similarly, you ought to create attendee personas.

Identify the attendee profiles – and for each profile, document the “average user”.  Questions you ought to ask about your audience:

  1. Are they inclined to experience an event virtually?
  2. What topics/subjects are they most interested in?
  3. What online sites do they frequent the most?
  4. When they’re not online, what are they doing?
  5. How do they prefer to consume content?
  6. How do they prefer to interact with one another?
  7. What would prevent them from interacting, engaging, etc. online?
  8. What motivates them?
  9. What is their preferred form of reward (e.g. recognition, money, etc.)?
  10. How do you hold their attention?

There are many more questions you could ask.  Understanding your audience is one of the most important planning steps, so make sure you invest the right amount of time and energy here.  When done, document your “audience profiles” and share the document with your extended team.  Ensure you’re all on the same page with regard to your target audience.

Identify Your Funding Sources

The virtual event never happens if you’re not able to pay for its costs.  Are you an association that aims to fund the event with association or per-event fees?   Are you a non-profit organization who submitted a bid for a grant?  Or, are you a B2B publisher who aims to fund the event by selling sponsorships at a virtual trade show?

For virtual trade shows, identify possible exhibiting companies and forecast the amount of revenue you can generate from the sponsorships.  Review past events you’ve produced (whether physical or virtual) – and, review competitors’ trade shows to see which companies are exhibiting at them.

Regardless of the scenario, ensure that your funding model is identified – and, that the funds are “firm”.  It does you no good to spend a month profiling your target audience, only to have that work go to waste when you’re not able to obtain funding for the event.  If possible, seek to have your funds secured before you begin the subsequent planning steps.

Define your Format, Venue, Style, Personality

There are many types of virtual events: virtual trade shows, virtual career fairs, virtual product launches, etc.  Chances are, you already have a format in mind and that’s good.  Following that, however, you ought to consider the additional details of the design, style and personality of your virtual event.

The most direct (and cost effective) approach is to select from the pre-existing “event templates” of your virtual event platform provider.  They’ll allow you to select a theme from their template library and you can apply customizations on top of the base image.  While this approach is time and cost efficient, keep in mind that it’s more challenging to distinguish your event, especially if your competitor uses the same platform and selects the same theme.

If you have the budget (and time) to create a unique experience, consider the venue and theme – a virtual experience is not bound by physical space limitations (or, by gravity), so there are endless possibilities.  Do you want an outer space experience?  Perhaps not, but that’s possible if you so choose.

If budget allows, consult with a creative agency or design firm – you’ll first want to “storyboard” the event experience in the same way you’d map out a new web site.  In addition to event components, storyboard the user journey and user experience – map out how you’d like attendees to move through your environment.

Identify the Event’s Content

Most virtual event planners associate “content” with “sessions” (e.g. Webcasts, Videocasts, etc.).  Sessions are indeed important – invest the time and effort to identify hot topics, develop session tracks and recruit speakers and presenters.  Once that’s complete, identify additional content formats to include:

  1. Break-out Sessions
  2. Training Sessions
  3. Scheduled Chats
  4. Quizzes
  5. Games

Virtual events no longer need to be focused around the session schedule – as you can see from the list above, many content formats are available – and some are more effective at engaging and involving the audience.

Identify Potential Dates

Who knew that virtual event planning would be similar to wedding planning?  With regard to date selection, your first step is “conflict avoidance”.  You want to eliminate important dates within your organization (e.g. the date of your annual customer conference) – as well as important dates within your industry.  Then, review competitive events and related events in your industry, as you want to avoid those too.

Finally, consider seasonality dependencies, such as the December religious holidays or the week leading to Labor Day (in the U.S.), during which many families with school kids are out of town.

Once you’ve done the “elimination” of dates, consider events or occasions that would work well for your event – you might want to plan your virtual event around an existing physical event of your’s – or, plan for event around a key product launch you have scheduled two quarters from now.

Identify the Event’s Duration

Single-day events are the most common today.  Your event, however, should have a duration that’s driven by your goals and objectives.  For instance, if you have more content than can be consumed (or scheduled) in a single day, consider the multi-day event.  If your event is based around an ongoing game, with points accrued over days (or weeks), then the game parameters will dictate the event duration.

For multi-day events, be sure you have an audience engagement strategy in place to incent Day 1 attendees to return for Day 2 (and Day 3, etc.).  In addition, keep in mind that multi-day events require staffing and support to be available for each live date, which adds hard and soft costs to the equation.

Conclusion

Hold your horses! Technology is fun and exciting, but before you jump into that step, be sure to spend the necessary time and effort to complete the planning steps outlined here.  In the end, you’ll be rewarded with a successful event.

Related Links

  1. Browse the Virtual Events 101 Index Page
  2. Download the eBook, “Virtual Events: Ready, Set, Go

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


Virtual Events 101: Common Use Cases For Virtual Events

April 28, 2010

Some event planners just know that they want to produce a virtual event.  Others take a circuitous route to a virtual event, considering other options first.  For those of you “on the fence” – you’re interested in virtual, but not sure if a virtual event makes sense right now, read further about common use cases of virtual events.  Based on what others have already done, perhaps you’ll find a similar use case for your business need.

Corporate University, Virtually

Consider a conventional corporate training program – employees travel to the training site and receive instruction.  Training is often in the form of long and elaborate PowerPoint-based presentations, with some intra-class interaction mixed in.  Some training programs may incorporate hands-on learning (e.g. in a lab or in the field, where the company’s products are used).

Now consider virtual training or virtual university.  First, employees (and instructors) skip the flight and hotel – instead, they all participate from their office or their home.  Next, each student enters a virtual university environment, with a customized learning program created by the instructor(s).  In a virtual university (like in a virtual trade show), the attendees’ actions are tracked.  The result – heightened accountability for the students.

Sure, students are still able to view their BlackBerry or iPhone while an instructor is speaking – in virtual, however, learning effectiveness can be measured with precision.  For example: number of sessions attended, average session stay (or, “non-idle time” during the session, if the platform tracks that), number of questions asked per session, number of polling questions answered, number of “engagements” with other students, etc.

Quizzes (e.g. certification) can be given, with automated grading provided by the platform.  In addition, a variety of learning formats and learning tactics can be employed online: live presentations with “pass the baton” (students take turn as presenters), on-demand presentations, interactive games, online quizzes, user-generated content, Q&A sessions facilitated in a group chat room, etc.  Relative to a physical classroom setting, the possibilities are nearly endless, with tracking on a per student, per activity basis – powerful.

Test The Waters in a New Market

Event planners need to consider the creation of new events and new event franchises in order to generate revenue growth and explore new markets.  Consider the commitments required for a physical event vs. a virtual event.  For a physical event, you’ll need to find and secure an event site and pay a deposit to lock in your event date(s).  Then, delegates, exhibitors, presenters and the event staff make travel arrangements to the event site.  Finally, exhibitors and the event staff make arrangements to ship booths, printed paper, computers and related gear to the site.

For a virtual event, there’s a commitment (to secure the virtual event platform), but no physical site, no travel and no shipping.  In other words, the upfront cost commitment and “overhead” is significantly reduced.  This means that you’re more free to test the waters in a new market and evaluate attendee response and sponsorship sell-through rates.  If you discover that the market is not right for an event (virtual or physical), you can move on to the next opportunity.

If, instead, you determine that the market is ripe for ongoing events, you may choose to continue the virtual event – or, create a physical event around the footprint you’ve created virtually.  If you managed to create a loyal community around your virtual events (i.e. attendees are visiting the environment and engaging with others outside of scheduled events), then you have a natural outlet for promoting your corresponding physical event.

Cancellation of Physical Event

The economic downturn of 2008-2009 caused many physical events to be canceled due to budgetary factors.  Despite the cancellations, events planners were left with a mandate from management that “the show must go on” – it was not an option to cancel the annual customer conference or the sales kick-off meeting.

What resulted in 2008-2009 was a lot of virtual event innovation, stemming from savvy event planners who migrated their legacy on-site event or conference into the virtual world.  The result for these planners?  A larger and wider audience (virtually) that appreciated the opportunity to connect and interact – you can’t replace the handshake or the post-event cocktails, but connecting virtually was better than not connecting at all.

As economic conditions improve and budgets for the on-site conference come back around, event planners are not abandoning virtual to return 100% to physical.  Instead, they’re leaving the virtual component in place (in some cases, the virtual component grew into a vibrant online community) and pairing virtual with physical to create a hybrid experience.

Real Products, Virtual Launches

Microsoft made a big splash with its product launch for Windows 95 (in 1995) – the product was ushered in by the Rolling Stones’  “Start Me Up”.  These days, you’re more likely to see Microsoft produce a virtual product launch, rather than a multi-city, on-site road show.  A virtual product launch allows for effective and efficient dissemination of product information to a global audience.

Audience segments can be conveniently managed, with hosting of analysts, media, customers, prospects and partners in areas that are virtually “walled off” from one another.  This event model is analogous to “computing virtualization” – whereby logical “sub events” can ride over a single event platform.  So rather than separate analyst day, media day and partner summit meetings, your analyst relations, PR, product marketing and partner marketing organizations can leverage a single platform to engage with all of their constituents simultaneously.

Virtual Events as Listening Platforms

In my mind, we (as marketers) speak too much and listen too little.  In a challenging economic environment, it can be easier to grow existing accounts than convert new prospects.  To do so, you need to listen more to your customers and become more in tune to solving their business needs.  This is where a virtual events platform can help.

Today, we have the virtual customer conference and the virtual partner summit – those formats, however, are largely focused around “vendor to the customer” content, rather than “customer tells vendor what they need” content.  I think a “virtual focus group” should become a part of most virtual customer conferences, where the given “focus group” can be as small as a single customer to as many as 20.

Virtual event platforms can effectively provide listening tools (e.g. chat rooms, webcasts with “pass the baton”, etc.) – to enable better listening, the platforms may need to build better interpretation and analysis tools.  For instance, the ability to parse all of the chat room content, summarize the key points made and generate a sentiment rating.  Without such tools, event organizers are forced to read through reams of chat transcripts themselves.

Conclusion

I’ve covered a few of the use cases of virtual events – there are many more.  What interesting use cases would you like to share with us?  Leave your thoughts via the comments section below.

Related Links

  1. Browse the Virtual Events 101 Index Page
  2. Download the eBook, “Virtual Events: Ready, Set, Go

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


Virtual Events 101: Tips For Building Your Virtual Booth

April 13, 2010

Your company is exhibiting at a virtual event and you’ve been assigned the responsibility of building your company’s virtual booth.  You’ve had plenty of experience assembling a physical booth, but never before have you built one virtually.  What’s your first step?  To immediately resist the urge to start the virtual build.

Set/Confirm Objectives & Goals

The objectives and goals for your virtual booth should align with the goals for your company’s participation in the virtual event. If you do not set the direction yourself, be sure to round up the necessary decision makers and have a documented set of goals – publish them internally and be sure that all stakeholders have a copy.  Sample goals include:

  1. Obtain contact information from “X” number of prospects
  2. Generate “Y” number of meaningful prospect engagements in-booth
  3. Yield “Z” number of qualified sales opportunities
  4. Generate “X%” of brand uplift, as measured by “Y”

It’s absolutely critical that goal definition be your first step, as it drives the decisions you make regarding the build-out of your virtual booth.

Content is King

The main elements of a virtual booth are (1) content [e.g. images, signage, videos, documents, links, etc.] and (2) virtual booth staffers.  Your first job is “content curator” – review all content available and be selective about which content you’ll place in your booth.  It all goes back to the defined goals – the content you select should align with the goals.

So if your goal is demand generation, find the same White Papers that your marketing team is using to generate sales leads across the web.  If your goal is driving awareness around a product launch, grab that 2 minute video of your product manager and have it auto-play when visitors enter your booth.  Besides documents in your marketing library, be sure to cobble together useful links on your web site, along with third party articles, blog postings and product reviews that reinforce your objectives.

Booth Labels Are Like Headlines

Content in a booth is typically housed behind a set of “booth labels”.  Your next job is one of headline writer – you’ll want to craft captivating “headlines” for the booth label, along with attention-grabbing titles (and descriptions) for the underlying content items.  You’re like the home page editor for your favorite content site – you need to figure out how to write headlines (titles) that will grab your visitors’ attention.

While you certainly want to avoid the “bait and switch” (e.g. writing a label/title that intentionally deceives), your labels need not literally reflect the underlying content. For example, if you assemble a set of blog postings from your company’s blog, you need not label these “Blog Postings”. Instead, organize the blog postings into themes – a set of postings on best practices could simply be labeled “Best Practices” in your booth.

While I suggest you do not change booth labels while the event is live (that would significantly confuse your booth’s repeat visitors), you’ll want to review the activity reports from your booth to learn from the labeling decisions that you made.  You’ll begin to figure out what worked and what didn’t – and can use those learnings for your next event to more effectively use labels/headlines to achieve your goals.

Use A Call To Action – Not A Declaration

For signage within the virtual booth, I prefer to use a call to action (e.g. “Ask Us Why 2010 is The Year of The Hybrid” above) over a declaration. So instead of declaring, “The world’s leading producer of plastic widgets”, try a call to action, “Ask us why plastic widgets are the new metal widgets”.  The call to action initiates a conversation with your visitors, rather than telling them what they should know.  If visitors enter your booth’s group chat and proactively ask the question stated in your call to action, then give yourself a pat on the back.

Stand Out From The Crowd

You’ll likely have competitors exhibiting in their own virtual booths, which means that a key part of your job is to figure out how to separate your booth (and company) from the crowd.  Greenscreen video (aka an embedded video greeter) has been used at enough virtual booths that it won’t make your booth any different.

Instead, try an offbeat video that’s not yet made its way to YouTube.  Or, how about an avatar of your CEO whose mouth movements are synchronized to the words s/he is speaking.  Perhaps an animated avatar is the new greenscreen.  Thinking further outside the box, how about bringing one of your products to life – personalizing that product to the point where it speaks and delivers a message to visitors.  A good example (in general – not in a virtual event) is the DCX Man character created by Brocade:

Source: Brocade (dcxman.com)

Further information can be found here: http://www.dcxman.com/whois_dcxman.html

Optimize Your Content For Search

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not the sole domain of your web site or blog – it applies to virtual events as well.  How can this be?  Well, most virtual event platforms provide basic and advance search capabilities – they index all content in the event (e.g. documents, links, Webcasts, etc.) and some platforms even index the contents of uploaded documents.

As a result, keep SEO in mind for selecting documents to include in your booth, along with the labels, titles and abstracts that you use to catalog your booth content.  Taking a step back, be sure to write an SEO-optimized description for your company and booth – if attendees search for a key term and your booth is at the top of the search results, then all is good in the world.

Subject Matter Experts as Booth Staffers

While you’ll certainly want sales reps and sales engineers as booth staffers, it’s critical to work subject matter experts into the staffing schedule.  A visitor who asks specific product or service questions is a hot prospect – and telling that prospect “let me get back to you with an answer to your question” becomes a lost opportunity.  Even worse, that opportunity could fall into the lap of your competitor, whose booth is only one click away.

If you’re a technology vendor, try to have your product manager, chief engineer or event your CTO available within the booth.  While some technology folks may not be comfortable face-to-face with a customer, most feel quite at home in a text chat session.

Optimizing For: Demand Generation

If you’re looking to generate sales leads, cobble up all your best lead gen content – the latest White Papers, Case Studies, product sheets, videos, podcasts, customer testimonials, etc.  Be liberal and selective at the same time – that is, ensure there is a good mix of content choices, but be religious in making sure the content you select aligns with your goals – and relates to the theme of the virtual event.  The beauty of a virtual event is that registration occurs once – but all activity with your content is tracked.  So you’ll have rich activity profiles at your disposal to help you separate the cream of the crop leads from the visitors who came simply to enter your prize drawing.

Optimizing For: Thought Leadership

Are some of your co-workers experts or luminaries within your industry?  If yes, then have them be staffers within your booth!  Visitors will have a natural inclination to engage with them – and they’ll be able to funnel the ripest opportunities to sales reps within your booth.  If your employees have not achieved rock star status within your industry, leverage some of the luminaries to produce content on your behalf.

Perhaps it’s a research report authored by an industry expert – or, a video interview (hosted by the expert) with your CEO.  Better yet, a Webcast within the virtual event that features the expert(s) who provide a presentation prior to your own speakers.  If the experts are available to attend the virtual event, invite them to provide Q&A within your booth, as they’ll serve to draw interest and engagement from visitors.

Conclusion

While much of the logistics occur “online”, building a virtual booth will take longer than you think (if done right).  Be sure to clearly define your goals first – then, make sure your booth achieves those goals.  Take planned breaks from the virtual build to assess whether your booth aligns with the stated goals.  Finally, be sure to study activity data from the live event so you can make improvements for your next event!

Related Links

  1. Browse the Virtual Events 101 Index Page
  2. Download the eBook, “Virtual Events: Ready, Set, Go

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


%d bloggers like this: