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Returning to in-person business development events does not mean pulling the plug on digital events. On the contrary, given the many strengths inherent in online programming, a robust schedule of digital activities provides valuable support to your in-person marketing and business development programs.
Here are three ways to use digital to support your next in-person events:
1. Use Data from Your Previous Programs to Take the Guesswork Out of Setting an Agenda
Digital events produce data – on topics, attendees, engagement, and more – that should inform your choice of issues to address in future programs.
For example, when the head of the firm’s tax practice tells you she’d like to organize a full-day program on IRS audits and investigations, you can gather ideas for topics by reviewing the data from all tax-related webinars you’ve already hosted. The issues that resonated most with your audience – those with the most attendees and participant questions – should also be addressed in your in-person event.
Action Item: Develop a standardized report to present the data you gather in digital programs. Rank topics based on the number of attendees, audience engagement, and participant feedback. Include participants’ job titles, their status as clients or prospects, and other information that can help organizers focus on providing their targets with solutions to the specific issues they worry about. Use this information to guide decisions around agenda items at your next in-person event. Lawyers love precedent!
2. Use Digital Events to Promote Upcoming In-Person Programs
Online programs are typically relatively easy to put together. They don’t require significant time or travel commitments from participants. There’s no set format: they can include webinars, interviews, video ‘explainers,’ and more. And they can be long or short, depending on the needs of the content.
Coupled with tremendous online reach, digital offers the flexibility you need to promote your in-person events. In advance of your upcoming 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
- Overviews of specific sessions and why they’re relevant to your target audience
- Webinars that provide background and context around significant topics
- Video introductions of, and interviews with, key guest speakers (this also creates a product that your speakers can share with their own audiences, further extending the reach of your event)
- Abbreviated programming, that 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 along with the registration link. Also, share with people who have already signed up to confirm that the agenda aligns with their interests.
3. Use Digital Events to Extend the Buzz of In-Person Events
Digital makes it easy to keep the conversation going with clients and prospects after an in-person event has concluded.
You can develop a webinar around, for example, a specific issue that generated a lot of interest at the live event. You can do deep dives 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 a follow-up online program.
In short, you can use digital events to extend the buzz, keep your audience engaged, and provide additional insight. And in doing so, you’ll create programs that are all the more relevant to your clients and prospects.
Action Item: Build follow-up digital activities into the planning and execution of your in-person events that keep the conversation going. Plan for two or three digital events, one of which should be a short webinar where you answer questions you couldn’t address at the live session.
How are you using digital events to support your in-person programs? I’d love to hear about it.
Julie Glazer is Sales Director at ON24. Connect with her on LinkedIn.