Part 2: Three Paths to a Productive Event
With the virtual events space seeing an acceleration that should have taken several years, within just a few short months, many companies are wondering how to make their crossover to a virtual environment a productive one.
In Part 1 we explored some of the basic questions for determining the type of event you may need, and its basic structure. In this article, we will examine three primary paths for achieving a productive event.
Path 1 - Adopt Available Tools
Use a tool, in the configurations it offers, as is.
Virtual events and brand consultant Jan Berndt estimates that more than 50% of events can do just fine with existing tools. Companies and entertainers have now successfully broadcast virtual concerts and parties, and there are a number of streaming tools like Crowdcast and ON24 which offer varying levels of interaction.
But more complex events often need custom solutions, which we’ll explore further as part of Path 3.
Path 2 - Combine Available Tools
Create a semi-custom solution by combining more than one off-the-shelf tool
If your event is more complex than a one-tool solution, but can still benefit from several off-the-shelf products, it is possible to create a semi-custom solution by combining two or more existing tools that can work together to get the job done.
For example, you may choose one product to host your meeting or event, but it doesn’t come with a ticketing option. You will need a landing page to sell tickets from and may need to integrate other options as well - and not every out-of-the-box solution is price transparent. This is where a consultant can help you determine what mix works best for your unique situation.
When combining different tools, it is crucial though that you have a compelling customer journey with no “loose ends.” as it can get pretty challenging and frustrating for your attendees if they have to jump between different tools and touchpoints all the time.
Path 3 - Build a Custom Solution
Starting from scratch, develop your own tool to support your needs.
In Germany for example, where brand consultant Jan Berndt is based, auto makers have always streamed parts of their large events in order to reach a broader audience worldwide. Tools like hopin.to, Big Marker and even Vimeo offer some capabilities for bringing these events fully online, but what happens when you have an event that:
- Needs to include thousands of participants from your existing CRM platforms?
- Needs to be hosted on your own servers and under your own IT security protocols?
- Needs to go across dozens of countries, for weeks at a time?
- You need each participant to have a profile they can use to log trainings and highly confidential e-learning sessions?
- Needs participants to network with other virtual attendees in breakout rooms?
- Needs the capability for participants to watch pre-recorded sessions, view live streaming content?
- You need to connect with social networks and participate/post as the event happens?
If you need to be fully in the driver’s seat, Path 3 lets you have full control. For these complex, layered requirements, truly custom digital event solutions are required to get everything checked off the list.
A number of events agencies are developing their own products and licensing them out for these more complex requirements. There are usually two options here. The first is to be the fastest. This likely means you are using a beta version of a product, which may not be as thoroughly tested.
The second option is to wait for a perfect solution. It takes longer to build, but you can count on it delivering everything you need. It’s the Apple approach - not the first, but the best. This is the kind of solution Marker Seven regularly delivers for clients.
There are massive amounts of technology on the market and a combination of them will work for basic events, but companies who need to execute a perfect experience cannot simply translate their offline plans into a virtual setting. That requires innovation and major changes to the way events are handled.
If perfection is a requirement, it is no longer a question of whether to make or buy a product. To transform a trade show or larger conference environment into an online experience requires more than existing software. It requires strategic planning, custom development, and even a team, which we’ll cover more in part four, Staffing for Success.
To start exploring an event solution that works for you, please feel free to contact us.
This is part 2 of a 5 part series.