When you type ‘events’ into any search engine - you are met with a COVID-19 warning of displacement, as this is one of the sectors that has naturally been widely affected by the pandemic. From concerts to conferences, the event industry, along with the rest of the world, has been turned on its head.
Events are a fantastic way for businesses to showcase what they do, impress their audience, grow existing relationships and harness new opportunities. As a result of the times, this has been a much more difficult task as we can no longer meet people in person. However, this does not mean that events cannot go ahead altogether. In fact, many innovative businesses and leaders have taken to adopting online platforms to continue events and are seeing fantastic benefits from virtual communications.
Virtual events may sound a little futuristic, but they have been present long before COVID-19 forced the world to adopt them. Technology like video conferencing has made the world a much smaller and accessible place and in these times even the most sceptic users have seen the benefits.
As a result of the pandemic’s restrictions, even some of the largest conferences have gone partially or completely digital. In a few weeks time, Radio 1’s Big Weekend music festival will be completely digitised as artists take to their living room to perform for the masses, watching on from the safety of their own homes.
In 2018, Coachella’s YouTube livestream proved that this can be done successfully when it brought Beyoncé’s Homecoming to more than 41 million people in more than 232 countries, rather than just the hundreds of thousands who were in attendance in person.
Although it has been a necessity to move events online if you still want them to proceed - digitalising events is here to stay far beyond days of lockdown. Moving events of any size and scale can significantly reduce business costs as well as carbon footprint, all the while making the event much more accessible to a wider audience.
Why do businesses need events?
For many businesses, planning events online or in person may seem like an unnecessary waste of time, resources, money and an added pressure. However, what if I told you that almost nine out of ten CEOs believe that events will increase their marketing reach and help them to generate more sales?
According to The Content Marketing Institute, 56% of respondents use in-person events as a top marketing tactic, even above digital advertising and email marketing. Whilst 80% of marketers believe live events are critical to their company’s success, according to another report. The event marketing trend is clearly an effective strategy that isn’t shifting anytime soon - the means of delivery might differ - but the concept will remain a key marketing tool.
Why might this be? Real-life experiences are much more engaging and can shape our memories and perceptions much more than anything else. If events aren’t already part of your overall marketing toolbox, here are a few of many reasons why you should add them...
1. It’s cheaper than you think
The main concern of business people is the bottom line. Therefore, it may seem like an unnecessary expense to organise an event. However, if you plan the event the right way, this can be much more cost effective than you’d first think. For those who are inexperienced in what it takes to run an event, it may indeed take much longer to plan everything that is needed. If you are looking to plan an event and unsure how to do so - it is worthwhile calling upon the experts to save you time and money. (link to SPA event page).
The average Event Manager salary in the UK is around £34,000 - which does make the prospect of planning events a bit more expensive - however, there are cheaper alternatives.
Event management is one of our most commonly sought after tasks at SmartPA and makes for a much more efficient alternative to a full time or even part time member of staff. With no overheads, recruitment fees or employee costs, our support can be utilised as little or as often as you require. Your support can be scaled up if you decide to host more frequent or large scale events - or it can be scaled down if you have smaller tasks to be carried out. This is a fantastic way to introduce events to your business, by onboarding an expert SmartPA who can carry out any and every event related task for you, much more efficiently.
2. Improve company culture
What differentiates a company is much more than just the products they sell or the service they offer - it’s the working environment they develop and the brand that they establish.
Hosting events can be a fantastic way to nurture a positive corporate culture. This can be internally, such as a Friday quiz, or externally as a networking event for local business owners.
Here are some more ideas on how to improve company culture through the medium of events.
3. Strengthen the team
A strong team dynamic is difficult to establish at the best of times, even more so when we are all working individually from home.
Whether through a virtual catch up, lunch over a video call or an in-person team building exercise when we finally return to the office - events are a great way to strengthen team cohesion.
4. Key for your marketing strategy
It’s no secret that companies use events to promote their products or services. The end result of a product or service may solve a problem for your customers - which is great in the short term. However, the purpose of utilising events in your marketing strategy is to give an insight into the brand and create a positive experience that they’ll associate with you long into the future.
5. Be regarded as a ‘thought leader’
Clients prefer working with people who are seen as experts in their field as they can trust their opinion and innovative thinking. Events are a fantastic way to launch leaders into these positions and instill confidence in their ability to their audience.
Being a guest speaker at an online event or appearing on a panel can elevate a leader to new heights and encourage others to follow in what they are doing.
Here is our very own Founder doing exactly that - solidifying her place as a voice to be listened to by speaking on business panels and hosting masterclasses.
6. Stay ahead of the curve
Events may seem like an obvious way of marketing your business and making new connections and of course many people have jumped on the bandwagon. But think of how many companies still have not seized this opportunity effectively?
To stay ahead of the curve and up to date with those who have adopted the new virtual form of connecting, you need to find your seat on the bandwagon too. Utilising technology such as Zoom or Google Hangouts is relatively simple and advertising your event online can be done with a few clicks. This will allow you to stay ahead of competitors who are waiting for the world to return to normality and for in person events to re-commence. Hosting an online event in these difficult times is a great example of not waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain.
How to host a virtual event and tools to help.
Have a purpose
It is easy to host a networking event, but attracting an audience is another story. To make sure that you stand out from the list of ‘networking events’ and ‘how to’ guides - be certain that your event has a purpose of conveying a message or advice that will support others during these times.
Put yourself behind the screen of the potential onlooker - would you want to dial in over your precious lunch hour to listen to this?
Promote the event
Once you have established what you’re talking about, you need to promote your event. This is even more important when we return to times of meeting in person, as no event organiser wants to see an empty room.
Utilise channels such as EventBrite or Linkedin to advertise your event, making sure to get your network to like and share to make this visible to as many people as possible.
Determine the key selling points your event has to offer when promoting it to attendees. This could be an interesting topic or a guest speaker, whatever it may be - make sure the value is clear in your advertising.
When running your event - hopefully with more people than you could have ever imagined - it is important to make the most of your captive audience. As great as storytelling and fact sharing can be, no one can listen to a 45 minute talk and still be as interested in the last minute as they were in the first.
Encouraging engagement and interaction at an event or virtually is vital. Ask questions, share your screen, do a show of hands, make a joke. You will be remembered for a fun and innovative event but you will NEVER be forgotten for a boring and disengaging speech.
These 3 little tips make event planning sound simple - advertise, make it fun and talk about something interesting. As experts in this field, we might make it look and sound as easy as a (socially distanced) walk in the park, but of course there is a lot more to it!
How can SmartPA support with event management?
Event Management is one of the most common services requested at SmartPA. Our support can be in the form of assistance and advisory with how to plan or in the case that we take on the whole event and organise from start to finish.
Our event support has been utilised to organise a medical conference, an equestrian show, various awards nights and company activity weekends - to name but a handful of the corporate events that we have organised. As well as large scale events, we have arranged team building days, birthday parties and board meetings - you name it, we can do it.
In addition to end to end event management, we can support isolated tasks such as sourcing guest speakers, organising venues, managing invites and analysing post event data. Our support is scalable and bespoke to your needs.
Event management is a key marketing tool that has proven to bring fantastic success to business. Whilst networking has become even more vital in these times where we all crave human interaction - this is the time to test the water.
If you feel uncertain about where to start, we are here to help.