Have you heard? B2B Live Events are coming back. The Coronavirus (COVID 19) really put a damper on Small to Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs) as far as B2B Live Events, hasn’t it. All this talk of what to do to practice social distancing really has everyone spooked about holding B2B Live Events. Do you blame them? B2B Virtual Events can be your solution.
What Are B2B Virtual Events
You all remember my good friend, Wikipedia. Wikipedia defines a virtual event as:
“A virtual event is an online event that involves people interacting in a virtual environment on the web, rather than meeting in a physical location. Virtual events are typically multi-session online events that often feature webinars and webcasts. They are highly interactive, often aiming to create as similar an experience as possible to their physical counterparts.”
What Is the Difference Between Virtual and Live Events
So, as I delved into my research, I came across an article from 6Connex that has an infographic that gives the differences in an easy-to-understand format.
Benefits of B2B Online Events
You know, COVID-19 does not have to be the only reason that an SMB might decide to go with virtual events. Let’s look at some other benefits that might sway management to consider them as an option.
** B2B virtual events do not involve the travel expenses that live events do; therefore, that, in itself, would make them less costly. Now, take into account that B2B physical events had venue costs, catering planning and expenses, audio and visual equipment, branding (example: roll-up banners) and a host of other charges.
Yes, you will have expenses with your online events such as your hosting platform. And you will still need good technical equipment like a good microphone.
** Another benefit of having B2B online events is that your engagement with your participants is going to increase. It allows you to identify their requirements and then tailor to their needs.
Are there anymore benefits? Oh, here’s another one.
** Utilizing virtual events allows you to showcase your products and services while differentiating them from your competitors.
Next on our list of benefits is reach. What do I mean?
** You can reach many more clients and customers. Did I mention globally? Yes, that’s right. You get to do away with the barriers that B2B physical events present.
2 more benfits why SMB Management should pursue B2B Virtual Events
** Tracking. Ask any upper management what they are most concerned with and they will tell you it is ROI. You all know what that is, right? That would be your return on investment. Well, how will anyone know what they are getting if there is no tracking?
Virtual events record everything (and I mean everything) right from the beginning of the event, during the event, and even after the event concludes. Learn the stats that can occur through registration, login, the number of audiences interacted, enquired, clicked, or viewed, and even the number of videos shared, number of downloads, or information exchange.
Did I get your interest? What it boils down to is that you can track every detail of the event while measuring success rates.
** Lastly, you can plan data-driven strategies to enhance future event performances. Virtual events allow audiences to retrieve the recorded versions of the events when the live stream ends. It helps in attracting more audiences thus boosting more engagements and better lead generations. What could be better?
Types of B2B Virtual Events
You might be surprised at the variety of virtual events. Are you ready to take a look at some popular ones?
Another term for this is virtual trade fair. This is a type of virtual event that is run in an online environment for a limited period of time. Think of it as an online version of a traditional tradeshow or exhibition, only exhibitors and visitors connect with one another on the web, rather than in-person.
Instead of networking in person, interactions between exhibitors and attendees utilize interactive features, such as live chat, chat rooms, 1 to 1 or group video calls, Q&A, live webinars or on-demand webinars, webcasts, lucky draws and more.
Summits (virtual Conferences)
Virtual summits or virtual conferences can be extremely powerful. A virtual summit is a type of shared online event in which speakers are interviewed by a host. Picture an online conference where the users have the opportunity to view collections of online presentations. You can have anywhere from 6 to 30+ experts on a topic.
This type of event is a powerful marketing tool for both experienced business owners and newcomers. Newcomers get the advantage of gaining new knowledge from a wide variety of speakers from all over the world. But, what is in it for business management?
Benefits of Online Summits
Two benefits that make it totally worthwhile according to AdEspresso by Hootsuite make sense. Here is what they say.
“Lead generation: Virtual summits are extremely effective at generating traffic, opt-ins, and sales. The potential to view talks from dozens of experts on an interesting topic can attract more people than a typical webinar. Plus, with good incentives, you can crowdsource your marketing, because each speaker you have can become a promoter for your event. Now, let’s look at your second benefit.
Product development: Though summits usually are free for the few days that they are live, they can become a product after they close. All of the content you’ve created is highly valuable, and it’s unlikely that your audience could take in all the information and speakers they wanted to during the live sessions. For this reason, summit hosts will often sell an “all-access pass” that gives lifetime access to the talks.”
Do you miss being able to attend trade shows and being able to have your very own booth? There are companies that will help you set up your online booth, network and even work with you to book meetings and appointments.
Encourage your attendees to meander the expo hall from the comfort of their living rooms and see your latest and greatest products and services that are available to them. Let them order online and download your business cards and brochures.
Another online virtual opportunity for you has been around for some time. Community forums and chat rooms are as popular as ever. Alternative B2B virtual events that can’t be ignored are the chances to host your team meetings, live streams and even offer continuing education classes.
Here is one method to help your teams collaborate. You can use virtual workshops to encourage teams to brainstorm, conduct mind mapping exercises and experiment with design sprints.
Wait; you are not sure what design sprints are? Design sprints, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, are timed events where participants rapid fire answers to business questions and get customer feedback in a hurry. The advantages of doing this are that it can lead to breakthroughs that can normally be a lengthy process.
Combination B2B Events
So, do I think that physical B2B events still have their purpose and their popularity will increase again after COVID-19? Yes. It may not happen overnight and they may be used in tandem with B2B Virtual Events. What are they called? Let’s take a look:
Hybrid B2B Events
For help in this discussion, I am going to call on Wikipedia again. According to the writeup, the definition is:
“A hybrid event is a tradeshow, conference, unconference, seminar, workshop or other meeting that combines a “live” in-person event with a “virtual” online component.”
Would you say that there are overlaps between the different types of categories and types of events? I would, definitely. So, what would I say in closing?
My thoughts are that Small to Medium-sized Businesses, Fortune 500 corporations, and even Managed Service Providers need to be creative even more so than ever. I read recently that the Director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is estimating that it may be the end of 2021 before Americans can really return to “normal” business activity. Hmmm, what year are we in?
And then, of course, there is the flu that everyone will need to contend with. This is not even taking into account what is going to happen globally. And, no one knows what else could happen to business supply chains.
SMBs and Managed Service Providers (MSPs) need to take heed to the steps provided in SMB Change Management – Do you embrace it or run from it. Mark my words, if you don’t and ignore the potential for B2B live events, you take a chance of being left in your competitors’ dust.
Here are just a few directories you can check for online marketing events that may interest you.
Events in America
The Bizzabo Blog
So, who is the author? Pam Lokker is a master writer and a virtual assistant professional who urges companies to utilize a wholesome content marketing strategy. Borlok Virtual Assistants, LLC (Borlok VA) has been the place to get global expert VA services with quality and on-time delivery for many years. We are now focusing on writing blog posts, articles and web content, as well as proofreading and editing.
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