Event planners are needed to attract in-person attendees while avoiding alienating virtual attendees for hybrid events. They are also required to compete for a virtual audience’s attention in an increasingly saturated market. So how does an event planner sell an event to appeal to both demographics and stand out?
The new challenge that has surfaced for event planners is that their virtual offerings must be attractive enough to entice a remote audience with its options; but yet, avoid taking away the motivation for an in-person event.
Both in-person and remote involvement have distinct advantages, and the trick is to position your marketing in terms of what each has to offer — not vice versa.
6 Hybrid Event Marketing Strategies to Overcome Marketing Obstacles
The event’s marketing effort should, ideally, work in tandem with its hybrid format. The marketing should be shaped by the event’s content, and the marketing should assist in preparing the audience for all aspects of the event.
Hybrid events are more complicated because they must examine how live and virtual experiences interact as both independent and interdependent components.
Marketing campaigns that should be emphasized in the lead up to the event includes:
- The flexibility and accessibility provided by virtual participation
- A more immersive experience provided by in-person participation
- The potential for live attendees and distant participants to communicate in two ways
1. Hosting An Event Teaser to Familiarize Attendees with the Virtual Event Platform
Online format provides many advantages, including many opportunities for pre-event engagement.
By hosting a teaser live stream broadcast, prospective attendees are able to preview the event’s content while experiencing the engagement and interactivity your platform offers. This provides potential virtual attendees with an opportunity to explore the online format before the event. Those planning to attend in person would also benefit as they can get familiar with the platform beforehand.
2. Provide Exclusive Audio Content to Prevent Zoom Fatigue
The format is equally important to the teaser event and the main attraction. Convenience, flexibility, and accessibility of the virtual experience are connected and the main factors in an events’ appeal.
Most participants may experience ‘Zoom fatigue’ – tired of watching and being watched through a screen – therefore, some may even prefer engaging audio-only. While offering video content and some interactive features like Q&A, it’s wise to design some sessions that will work just as podcasts would. The ability to switch between the minimal focus requested by background audio and the maximal involvement allowed by active comment strings and live polls is at the heart of online interaction.
3. Smaller Events Should Be Marketed As Exclusive Rather Than Limited.
The elements that make a live encounter appealing are, in some respects, the polar opposite: it’s about being totally present and absorbed in the multi-sensory experience. When advertising the live experience, planners should consider the one-of-a-kind experiences that make being there physically worthwhile.
With the exception of destinations such as Vegas or Miami, any live event component will most likely be limited to a small number of socially distant professionals. This may be perceived as a disadvantage by potential guests. When compared to the hundreds of individuals they may be used to, what is the networking potential of an event with 10, 20, or 45 people?
However, smaller audiences make it easier to create distinctive experiences that can boost ticket sales while also attracting distant players.
Focus on event design and stress the experience aspect in your communications to combat the perception that your live event is limited. Concentrate on evoking a sense of luxury, novelty, or one-of-a-kind chance.
4. Make the In-Person Experience Worthwhile by Using the Event Destination
By virtually participating, attendees can stream from anywhere in the world. Therefore, planners need to think in terms of making their event destination stand out.
Event planners should consider hiring influencers for pre-event interviews on location-preferably one that is a speaker for the event itself. This potentially promotes live attendance and optimizes cross body promotional opportunities as well as positions the proposed destination as a unique and valuable one, enhancing the event’s impression that it is designed as an exclusive experience for a limited number of attendees.
It is also recommended to organise tours of nearby attractions to maximize the appeal of the event’s destination.
5. Make Hybrid Interaction Work for You to Reassure Potential Attendees
The interaction of in-person and virtual audiences should be considered when marketing the event, and a small in-person audience at a teaser event could demonstrate this dynamic in action.
You may even consider incorporating the audience into the show, with cameras filming their reactions. Unlike remote Zoom participants who may become fatigued by having to remember that they are constantly being recorded, in-person attendees may feel a slight thrill from being in the spotlight for a brief moment when their reaction is accidentally recorded. Remote participants, on the other hand, will feel more connected.
6. Create an Online Community Through Social Media For Ongoing Engagement
With much of event content being experienced virtually – as events begin to recover – event planners should consider the implications on their relationships with their audience. There is an adage in business that recommends the economic efficiency of retaining customers over gaining new ones, and with much of the event content being experienced virtually as events begin to recover, event planners should think about the implications on their relationship with their audience.
What is the benefit of keeping your audience interaction limited to the event, especially as Covid is limiting practical events to a single day in many cases?
As more event content becomes available for on-demand consumption at people’s leisure, more opportunities for engagement with the content and your audience will arise outside of the event. Having a social media presence for your event has always been a good idea, but the type of branding that event planners should consider when developing communities around recurrent events should be more focused.
Creating a social media community around your event and its brand will provide a ready and waiting audience for future versions of the event, spin-offs, and the organizers’ other endeavors in general.
In the run-up to the event, the hybrid format opens up new avenues for establishing an online community. Returning to Schwinger’s recommendation, if ambassadors and followers are matched ahead of time, they will have the opportunity to develop a community and generate excitement.
Professionally crafted social media posts can assist generate interest online while also reinforcing the event’s identity as a final tactic. Even before the event begins, in-person attendees and remote participants should be actively connecting with one another online.
Hybrid events pose a marketing difficulty, but they also present an opportunity for creativity and differentiation. It’s not just about bringing out the finest in each format on its own; it’s also about maximising how they operate together.