We have been doing virtual events every month for the past 6 months. We learned a few things along the way that I would like to share to help make all virtual events better.
10 truths that our ChannelNEXT team found in doing virtual events (so far):
- Don’t Do Boring Content: Virtual events can quickly become boring because of poor content, speakers, organization and speed. All are critical factors for success! At least make sure your content is relevant to the current conditions and audience. Do not do a sales pitch, especially during these times. Attendees can and will quickly “ghost-out”!
- Funding Vs ROI Measurements: During this crisis, many vendors are tight on investing funds into any marketing activity (including virtual events). So far, ROI has been mixed. However, who can really afford to just sit this one out? Short-term partner recruitment may be the smaller component of the ROI metrics. The bigger ROI may come from showing that you are out there supporting partners during this crisis to solve their pain points. This will build your “channel credit” that will pay off down the road.
- Virtual Events Have Two Audiences – Live and On-Demand: Many channel partners are experiencing burn-out from the sheer volume of virtual events. No one can solve this, but vendors should plan to get lot more views after the virtual event as many channel partners prefer to digest the recorded content on demand or through news media like eChannelNEWS.
- Length Of The Event: Virtual events cannot be too long or the interest level of the audience drops off a cliff. Multi-day events seem to be for the super virtual warriors. We have decided to do smaller half-day monthly virtual events instead of longer multi-day virtual events. The jury is still out on this, but we find that surviving a 5-hour virtual session is pushing the outer limits of a human. Our monthly “freestyle virtual networking” event is only 90 minutes.
- Weak Platforms Can Be A Disaster: Virtual event platforms are not all delivering the performance needed to provide the best experience. There are many shortfalls in this technology but to be fair, none of them were expecting the World to go virtual overnight. We will surely be seeing some crazy big improvements and consolidation in this area. We are constantly testing many platforms to find the best. In the mean time, you may need to stitch together a couple of platforms to get what you need. You are welcome to come check out what we use.
- Bad Experiences Are Hard To Overcome: Many organizers are simply trying to translate their in-person live event experience into virtual, but they are missing the mark. Unfortunately, the two experiences can never be the same because they are fundamentally different. Organizers should be innovating to create a brand new virtual experience!
- Poor Skills Can Kill The Event: Pitching virtually is different from in-person. The skill-set is different. Check out our Lions’ Den sessions to see for yourself. Someone that is awesome in person can be a flop in virtual. This skill is important for everyone in the channel to master! Many presenters and organizers of in-person events are simply not up to speed with the required skills to properly execute digital events. Time to skill up!
- Freshness Will Keep Them Coming Back: Content should be refreshed for every event you do. Change things up! Bring new perspectives. Get new speakers. Try different things! Regurgitating the same content will quickly push away channel partners.
- Some Good Virtual Interaction Is Needed: Poor interactivity between the attendees on a virtual event is not good. Some of the biggest benefits of live events are hanging out, eating, drinking and the social interactivity. While not the same, you can still get a decent virtual interactive experience and in some ways it can become more personal as you see each other in their homes! Add some fun games! Check out our FREESTYLE Social Networking Hang-Outs.
- Low Energy Kills The BUZZ: Low excitement and energy can quickly kill the buzz of any virtual event. You should welcome everyone and reconnect as a group throughout. Having a self-serve virtual event is a sign of laziness and shortsightedness. Video needs to be on! Personalize it!
We are continuing to experiment and analyze the results of the virtual events that we do. We are adjusting as the data rolls in and we are making improvements every time. Come experience it for yourself!
Meanwhile, we are also working on the new normal of our ChannelNEXT in-person events and plan to reopen in November with our first in-person event “COVID-Safe” format. It’s going to be different and interesting! Stay tuned…