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Truly Hybrid Events – the Only Strategy That Matters Now

The Future of Hybrid Events and Marketing Strategy

What is your marketing and events strategy looking like for the coming year? How does the prospect of a return to real life events affect the shift to 100% online that you arrived at after many late nights and Zoom calls?

It’s tempting to think that there will be a return to the good old days before the pandemic turned the world upside down. But the savviest know that things have changed forever, offering huge challenges but also great opportunities for those willing to think boldly.

That boldness needs to be focused on one word, and how seriously we take it: ‘hybrid’. Sure, it’s hot right now, but beyond the terminology, does anyone have a truly Hybrid Events strategy in place? The following four suggestions will help you to develop one.

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Get Bingeable 

As we shake off the shackles imposed on events by Covid, corporations must continue to build on the virtual event strategies they’ve developed, not neglect them in a rush to the nearest conference hall.

The answer is to be Netflix. The future of corporate events and marketing strategy is that companies will become as adept at maximizing the use of their content as streaming giants and TV channels. Events’ organizers must develop their virtual offering by making them bingeable.

You’re creating content at a rate of knots, so you need to be making sure the content is chunked up, allowing you to pull out powerful bits that are easily digestible and watchable. For instance, split your panel discussion into short slots for each question that is put to the panelists, providing bits of bingeable content.

Got an event you’d usually run over one day? Why not, for example, consider breaking it down into varied, digestible chunks of well-produced episodic content that speak to the needs of the audience and can be consumed over days? Another key part of this approach is developing a channel strategy that blends live and pre-recorded content, directly speaking to the needs of clients.

A blended experience

But companies will need to go even further than becoming TV channels. They need to build into such an approach the ability to seamlessly curate and blend the physical and virtual, ensuring the two have a symbiotic relationship that is complimentary, not competitive.

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We need a mindset change, towards the acknowledgment that an event can be physical or virtual – whichever way you cut it, it’s an event.

In the coming months, as companies cater for varying levels of audience readiness to re-enter physical spaces, they will have to ensure that neither physical nor virtual audiences feel they are excluded from a truly optimal experience. And there needs to be a focus on finding the most cost-effective ways of achieving this, that won’t erode both sides.

Produce your event with both audiences in mind.  A true hybrid event is one where both audiences have been considered right from the start.

More than this, firms need to maximize the opportunities of cross-fertilization between the two. Sponsors and exhibitors have become quickly accustomed to accessing deep new streams of data in this era of virtual events, for example, and will now expect better data collection from physical events as well, as they scrutinize ROI.

The Delegate Rules

The experience should always come before the technology. Whatever platform you use, it will not be your route to success.

Think about the delegate experience first, before anything else. Ask yourself this: how do you want your delegate to walk away feeling, after the event? What do you want your delegate to say about the event to his or her peers?

Think about how you are going to orchestrate the event in order to help the delegates to navigate the experience, friction-free. Because the potential for distraction is huge.

Your audience should have the freedom to engage with your brand in any way they want, and every single individual should be able to blend the physical/virtual experience as they wish. The companies that win in the future are the ones that make this as easy as possible.

The dream of a perfect delegate experience must be at the center of the world you construct; the world of a friction-free event. An individual should be given a full suite of truly interactive experiences. They should feel cared for – and catered to.

The past year has changed everything. As much as we think life will go back to the way it was – it won’t. Companies should be aspiring towards creating seamless hybrid experiences.

The audiences of the future will only know that kind of experience, so we should be prepared to cater for them.

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