Virtual Events – Harnessing this New Business Development Tool Beyond 2020

by | Dec 16, 2020 | Sales Strategy

The year 2020 has undoubtedly been a time to test out new business development strategies. One area that experienced significant disruption is tradeshow and event outreach. Those who relied on in-person events to gain new business and make connections found themselves forced to reimagine future strategies.

If events were part of your business development plan, you’re not alone in experiencing disruption. The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) cited 79% of events went virtual in 2020, and virtual meeting platform Microsoft Team reported a record 44 million users per day in March 2020. For many, the COVID-19 pandemic forced their hand to accelerate plans around virtual events that were already in the works.

Benefits of Going Virtual

There’s a reason many were already considering adding a virtual aspect to their in-person gatherings. Virtual events reach a larger crowd than in-person as they eliminate the burden and cost of travel. Cvent CONNECT reported almost an 80% increase in event attendance from their in-person 2019 event to their 2020 virtual gathering.

With increased attendance, you also gain a greater variety of ideas and spaces. That speaker who couldn’t make the 1,000 miles+ trip can do a virtual event, no problem. Thanks to virtual, you can now host speakers in the mountains of Colorado all the way to the beaches of Florida in one event.

Similarly, you can share your event with a broader audience thanks to the ability to record and share it. Although you could record portions of in-person events before, those who watched lost some of the experience. With an all-virtual event, recordings feel more engaging as they’re continually part of all the action.

The final benefit of virtual events is the cost savings. With virtual, you avoid the cost of renting a venue, catering, and paying for speaker travel costs, all of which make up the bulk of event expenses. With that extra financial wiggle room, you have the freedom to offer perks to attendees, like gift card giveaways or a virtual swag bags with discount codes, or free access to exclusive content.

Drawbacks of Virtual

There are aspects of in-person events that virtual simply cannot contain. A live event’s energy is difficult to replicate in a virtual environment, and it can be challenging to keep attendee attention. Time zone also pose a problem as convenient times for those in North America may be prohibitive for those in Europe or Asia. To combat such issues, your team needs ample preparation to make your virtual events just as engaging and attainable as their live counterparts.

Making the Best of Your 2021 Events

As we near 2021, the state of in-person events is yet unknown. For those planning events for mid-to-late 2021, the best move is to plan for live with a virtual back-up option. Holding a virtual event can be just as effective as an in-person version: studies show that almost 70% of buyers used B2B webinars to make their purchasing decisions in the past year.

If you’re worried about how a virtual event compares to a live version, consider these hacks to make the virtual experience more powerful:

  • Keep it concise – give time limits to presenters and make your event move by cutting it into easily digestible segments
  • Create space for real-time feedback through side chats or the ability to “like,” “clap,” and “question” via emojis
  • Add in alternate engagement opportunities through quizzes, short and entertaining videos, or other aspects to break up the monotony of looking at a talking head
  • Be okay with using multiple platforms to provide the best quality of content – no one service can do it all
  • Test technology before the event, running mock sessions to ensure your staff knows how each element of the technology works and that there are no hiccups
  • Think outside the box – try break out rooms, “speed networking,” or other innovative ideas to make your event unique

Work with a Nimble Partner to Get the Results You Need

When it comes to your new business development event planning, you have a lot to consider. Don’t make outreach and lead management part of your worries. Work with an agile partner like NuGrowth to ensure you get the word out and have the eyeballs you need to bring in new leads and spark conversation.

Our team is poised to launch targeted event outreach campaigns, identifying and engaging leads before, during, and after events to ensure a positive ROI for your efforts.

With a pre-event outreach cadence proven to increase attendance and post-event efforts that develop new relationships and opportunities, the NuGrowth team has all the tools, training, and data-driven strategies you need to make any event a development success.

Get in touch at 614.304.3920 or fill out this simple contact form to find out more.