Returning to in-person business development events doesn’t mean ending digital events. On the contrary, given the many inherent strengths of online programming, a solid calendar of digital activities provides valuable support for your in-person marketing and business development programs.
Here are three ways to use digital to support your upcoming in-person events:
1. Use data from your previous programs to take the guesswork out of scheduling
Digital events produce data – on topics, attendees, engagement, etc. – which should inform your choice of issues to address in future curricula.
For example, when the firm’s tax practice manager tells you that she would like to organize a full-day program on IRS audits and investigations, you can gather ideas for topics by reviewing data from all tax-related webinars that you have already hosted. The issues that resonated the most with your audience—the ones with the most attendees and questions from attendees—should also be addressed at your in-person event.
Action Item: Develop a standardized report to present the data you collect in digital programs. Rank topics by number of attendees, audience engagement, and attendee feedback. Include attendees’ job titles, their status as customers or prospects, and other information that can help organizers focus on providing their targets with solutions to the specific issues that concern them. Use this information to guide decisions about agenda items at your next in-person event. Lawyers love precedents!
2. Use digital events to promote upcoming in-person programs
Online programs are generally relatively easy to set up. They don’t require a lot of time or travel commitments from the participants. There is no set format: they can include webinars, interviews, video “how-tos”, etc. And they can be long or short, depending on the content needs.
Coupled with huge online reach, digital provides the flexibility you need to promote your events in person. Before your next in-person event, consider producing some of the ideas below for online consumption:
- High-level reviews of the conference agenda and what attendees can expect
- Insights into specific sessions and why they are relevant to your target audience
- Webinars that provide background and background information on important topics
- Video presentations and interviews with key guest speakers (this also creates a product that your speakers can share with their own audience, further extending the reach of your event)
- Abbreviated programming, which covers some of the topics that will be discussed in person, with a call to register for the full event.
Action Item: When planning an in-person seminar, include two or three digital events specifically designed to promote the live program. Circulate them to your target audience with the registration link. Also, share with people who have already signed up to confirm that the agenda matches their interests.
3. Use digital events to spread the buzz of in-person events
Digital makes it easier to continue the conversation with customers and prospects after an in-person event has ended.
You can develop a webinar around, for example, a specific issue that generated a lot of interest during the live event. You can dive deep into solutions that require more time to develop. You can create “digital debriefs” to recap key sessions or ask attendees to submit additional questions that speakers can answer in an online follow-up program.
In short, you can use digital events to spread buzz, keep your audience engaged, and provide additional information. And in doing so, you’ll create programs that are all the more relevant to your customers and prospects.
Action Item: Incorporate follow-up digital activities into the planning and execution of your in-person events that keep the conversation going. Plan two or three digital events, one of which should be a short webinar where you answer questions you weren’t able to address in the live session.
How do you use digital events to support your in-person programs? I would like to hear about it.
Julie Glazer is Sales Manager at ON24. Connect with her on LinkedIn.