This article was originally written for, and published by, Prestige Events magazine in June 2022.
Events offer businesses an unrivalled opportunity to connect with both existing and new audiences. In-person, virtual and hybrid events all give brands the opportunity to produce a wealth of content that is crucial for driving meaningful engagement and business growth.
Marketers across all industries will be well aware of these benefits. Yet, there is less of an understanding around how events can be organised to maximise a firm’s commercial success.
Last year research found that 33% of event organisers were hosting virtual events for free. This is great for allowing content to remain widely accessible. However, the use of monetisation strategies, sponsorship and on-demand content will help businesses to reap the commercial rewards of events.
Widening your audience is the first step
A larger audience means that a firm has a higher chance of securing business that will drive revenue. However, it is also important to reach a wide range of people, and recently we have seen how hybrid events are able to attract a diverse pool of attendees.
Hybrid events neatly sidestep geographical, economic and logistical challenges that often prevent people from attending in-person functions. Their virtual element means that delegates can attend whenever and wherever suits them. More importantly, each individual can choose how they want to interact with other attendees.
All of this drives an increased amount of meaningful engagement for your brand. In addition, the networking capabilities of hybrid events generate a feeling of community, ensuring that they have a lifecycle that is extended to days both before and after the main agenda. At the heart of this community is your business.
2. Provide tighter restrictions for your speakers
It’s easy for events to become monotonous if every speaker uses the same format.
To keep your audience engaged, push your speakers to mix it up. Forcing speakers to adapt to different restrictions can be a great way to improve the quality of their content.
Whether it’s limiting their speaking time to just 10 minutes, requiring them to use timed polling intervals, or adding other constraints, such limitations will usually force speakers to think more creatively, be more concise, and deliver more impactful messages. With this approach, speakers are challenged to distil their ideas into a clear and concise format that is both engaging and informative. The result is often more dynamic and engaging presentations that are better suited to an audience’s needs.
In-person events are beginning to make their long-awaited comeback. For many companies, this may mean a return to much more clear-cut ticketing policies. In-person events require obvious overhead expenses, which means that tickets need to be priced accordingly.
It can be more difficult to put a price on hybrid or virtual events. However, now that they are firmly established within the industry, it is important that companies examine the evolving pricing landscape to ensure that, where possible, commercial opportunities are maximised.
This doesn’t mean that free tickets are completely abandoned; these lower-cost options are crucial to ensuring that events are as accessible as possible. Instead, businesses should integrate flexible or tiered price models that meet the needs of different audiences.
This should be considered in relation to the fact that virtual attendees provide a constant stream of invaluable data about audience preferences. Offering cheaper tickets for online attendance will be more than offset by the volume of insight that will be gained, and which can be fed into business growth strategies.
Making the most of sponsorship
Technology that can help to measure the ROI of event sponsorship has been around for several years. However, it offered fairly basic insights – for example, which delegates visited a stand, and how many returned – and we found there was a surprising lack of uptake from event planners.
Now, virtual events have shown the sheer volume of information that can be gathered to help determine sponsorship placement and pricing. Data clearly shows where attendees lingered and which content saw most interaction.
The industry now needs to implement strategies to gather this level of insight at in-person events. Technology will be at the heart of this objective. Facial recognition, mobile tracking and Bluetooth beacons will all help to map the sales journey of delegates and contribute to a heat-map that identifies key areas for effective sponsorship placement.
This information will help sponsors to assess ROI much more efficiently, as well as helping organisers to optimise sponsorship as a revenue stream.
Put content to good use
Events are no longer limited to one or two days of activity. Virtual elements have extended the arc of engagement, meaning that attendees can connect and watch content long after the agenda has concluded.
On-demand session recordings can also be used as an additional source of revenue. Videos can be priced individually or as part of a subscription model, whilst attendees can be granted discounted or free access as part of their ticket.
This system allows businesses to create and use content to its full potential, giving true value for money. More importantly, it provides a basis for a longer-term communications strategy that will be key to meaningful engagement. Events no longer exist in isolation; by implementing the above initiatives, they can become the cornerstone of sustained commercial growth.
Authored by: Toby Lewis, CEO at Live Group