Tips on Using Virtual Events to Generate New Revenue
Virtual Events—which essentially replicate all aspects of a physical event minus the physical logistics, costs and on-site headaches—are a great way to generate new revenue and a new audience. Live conference sessions with Q&A and sponsor and exhibitor booths filled with rich media and live interaction between attendees, booth reps and presenters can create a real buzz during a live event, in addition to some real revenue for the event organizer.
While many of the aspects of a successful virtual event are similar to those of a physical event—quality content draws audience, excellent promotion attracts large numbers of people, which leads to sponsors who are willing to pay to have access to these people—there are certain best practices to be mindful of in order to operate successful virtual events.
The FactPoint Group, a Silicon Valley-based research and consulting firm, recently completed a study of 200 virtual events and produced a research paper, “Best Practices in Virtual Events: How to get the most from virtual events.” The paper covers everything from planning to execution. Below are a few tips extracted from the paper. If you would like to request a full version of the paper, please e-mail your request to email@example.com.
Promote the Virtual Event
The three keys to success here are 1) promote early; 2) promote often; 3) promote even more. The key to any event is attracting an audience to make your sponsors and exhibitors happy. Use all traditional promotional methods, including e-mail blasts, banner ads, search engine marketing, editorial content promoting the event, etc. But be sure to promote it frequently and track various mechanisms to see what is successful and what isn’t.
Don’t shortchange yourself on sponsor packages, as the physical cost savings afforded everyone (event organizer, sponsors/exhibitors and attendees) with a virtual event can generate a substantial return on investment. Having said this, sponsors new to this venue can sometimes be a little hesitant. Even if it is your first virtual event, your technology provider should be able to arm you with the tools you need (statistics, cases studies, sales tools, etc.) to help you recruit sponsors effectively.
Drive Attendees to Sponsor/Exhibitor Booths
Thousands will attend virtual events to see the live presentations, but don’t just be satisfied with drawing attendance. Your sponsors want those people in their booths to not only collect marketing data, but to interact with them live. Standard event techniques like prize giveaways and freebies like virtual gift cards for a cup of coffee probably work better in a virtual event than a physical one (as there are no “booth vultures” waiting to pounce on an attendee when they enter the booth). There are also many opportunities for sponsor-branding throughout a virtual event, including effective tactics like redirecting attendees from a specific session to a particular sponsor. You can learn more about capitalizing on virtual events from both the FactPoint Group’s best practices paper and from Unisfair, a leading provider of virtual events.
Editor’s Note: Don’t miss the “Capitalizing on Virtual Events” session at the 2008 Publishing Business Conference & Expo (March 10-12, NYC), which will be produced by Publishing Executive and Book Business magazines. Please visit www.PublishingBusiness.com for more information.