Going Virtual: Shifting Your In-Person Event Marketing Strategy
With most in-person events canceled for the foreseeable future, marketers are re-allocating event budgets and looking for new ways to bring in leads.
Here are a few ideas to inspire you as you shift your strategy and resources, inspired by Marketo’s recent webinar.
Direct mail is making a comeback. As inboxes get even more cluttered, marketers are diverting their attention to the mailbox. And with most now working from home, a well-designed and executed direct mail campaign can help you capture prospects’ attention, connect with buyers, and generate new leads, even without the face-to-face interactions that typically make in-person events so successful.
Send care packages to top prospects. It could be trendy desk ornaments or nice pens and paper for their home office, healthy quarantine snacks, or fresh cut flowers. Or, send them a card with an option to donate to a charity of their choice. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s accompanied by a simple note that acknowledges the tough time we’re all going through and that you’re thinking of them.
To make direct mail truly successful, it helps to know your buyer and their interests, so you can tailor the campaign accordingly. Also, make sure you are mailing the gift to the right place – a tall order with most now working from the home office. Send a digital gift invitation giving recipients the option to tell you where to send their package.
If you typically wine and dine prospects or clients, or engage with them through other intimate events, these interactions can still happen and be fruitful even in a period of social distancing. Set up a virtual cooking class with a locally famous chef. Or, host a virtual wine tasting, or paint night. Send attendees an Amex or Amazon gift card so they can buy whatever suppliers they need in advance.
Keeping these virtual gatherings small and local will increase engagement and give attendees more opportunities to connect and build relationships – with both your team and their peers. Also, have an executive kick it off with a quick intro.
Almost any in-person event activity can become a virtual one — breakout sessions, expert panels, hackathons, and more. Turn that speaking opportunity you had coming up into a webinar. Brand it as a lunch and learn and promote it with a “break up your work from home routine” message. Co-branding and hosting these webinars with partners is a great way to gain visibility and access to prospects in your sector you might not have been able to reach on your own.
Look at the conferences you planned to attend this year and identify the events that will be held virtually so you can still get in on the action. If you had your own conference planned, consider having subject matter experts record their sessions, then categorize the content by topic and sell by the bundle (or offer for free) on your website. Or, hold the event in real-time through an online platform. One of our clients, EcoVadis, hosted its annual Sustain conference virtually back in March and saw a high attendance rate. The sessions are now available on-demand.
If you do host a virtual event, LinkedIn has rolled out a events feature to all pages. It’s a useful tool for encouraging sign up for virtual events and generating networking amongst attendees.
While today’s circumstances have spurred a considerable shift in marketing strategies, there are plenty of opportunities to build pipeline and drive value. Now is the time to get creative and deploy that campaign you’ve been wanting to try, but haven’t had time or resources, or invest further in your SEO or content marketing programs.
Want more? Here are nine other considerations for marketing amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
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