Events are not made the same. As we pivot our event plans to host more virtual events, it’s important to keep your original business plan in mind. You may think you can host the same in-person event virtually but will you achieve your goals? Both types of events come with their own set of pros and cons and those details can be important in deciding if one is a better fit than the other.
As with most business plans, it all comes down to your goals, strategies, objectives, and tactics (GSOT). Defining these elements is a crucial first step. A goal is a comprehensive primary outcome. A strategy is a method taken to achieve a goal. An objective is a measurable step taken to achieve a strategy. A tactic is a tool used in pursuing an objective related to a strategy.
When defining your goals, ask yourself these questions. What do you want to accomplish at this event? Do you want to raise awareness for a cause or business? Do you want to network with a certain group of people? Do you want to sell a product or service? Do you want to have fun? All of these goals are relevant and can dictate the path you take. You may have more than one goal. Indicating each goal for an event is important at the beginning of the planning process. Consider financial goals as well. That is critical.
From these goals, your strategies, objectives, and tactics will dictate whether your event should be virtual or in-person or both. Some goals are custom made for virtual events because the best strategies to take are driven by technology and innovation. Let’s take a look at some GSOT event plans that would make effective virtual events.
Stand Out as a Thought Leader
If your goal is to position yourself or your company as a thought leader in a particular industry, a live or taped webinar is a great strategy to grow your influence. Use tactics such as a low price point and a national ad campaign to build an audience and increase your reach. Set up clear objectives such as collecting a certain number of email addresses for further communication or downloads of content.
Grow Your Lead List
If your goal is lead generation, a live-streamed demonstration of your product or service is an effective strategy to build interest in your company, especially if you are looking for customers who are not local. Objectives should include collecting email addresses or social media handles and scheduling follow-up sales calls. Use tactics such as inviting cold leads and implementing a referral program for current customers to bring new leads to the event.
Launch a Product
Your goal may be to launch a new product. A live virtual media event similar to what Apple is globally known for can be an effective strategy. Don’t forget to include tactics such as including an online resource area for product specs and information and a live support page for attendees to ask questions. Like other lead generation goals, your objectives should include collecting email addresses and scheduling follow-up sales calls.
Collecting data at a virtual summit or roundtable event is a great strategy to achieve the goal of learning about your industry or customers. Use the time to present valuable and useful information that will bring a good cross-section of guests to your virtual event. The online setting makes it so easy to use tactics such as live polls, quizzes, contests, and other data collection tools during a virtual event. Set objectives such as the number of polls answered measured sentiment of feedback, and downloads of content.
Brand awareness is probably one of the most common goals for planning a virtual event. The best strategy for staying top of mind is a large-scale virtual conference that includes your clients, vendors, partners, and leaders. Anyone not invited will feel like they need to buy a ticket or miss out. Creating FOMO is an excellent marketing tactic! Make sure to create plenty of live opportunities for guests to collect information about your brand and to interact with your leaders and partners. These tactics will create brand loyalty. Measure your results by setting objectives analyzing site impressions, traffic, social sharing, and content downloads.
If your goal for an event is networking, the strategy of a virtual meetup is an easy to execute event idea. The tactic could be as simple as a hosted Zoom meeting. Ask for RSVPs and a profile from each guest. Using the profiles, pair guests up with people they would be interested in meeting. Make sure each guest fills out a survey at the end so that you can measure objectives such as satisfaction levels and anticipated next steps. Also, measure guest social sharing and email collection.
As you can see, virtual events lend themselves very neatly to many business goals. But it’s important to use the complete GSOT process to ensure that every step of the way can be supported by technology. If you can’t measure your objectives or find tactics that meet your goals, a virtual strategy will not work. Not all innovation will work when in-person engagement is necessary.