How To Work A Virtual Event (Be Ted! Not Ned.)

Virtual Events—they provide all of the great networking and branding opportunities of in-person events without the hassle of travel or dressing up. In fact, you can still be present in your office without losing a full day of productivity, all while reaping the benefits of a first-class educational and networking event.

We don’t think it gets much better than that.

Throughout the event, you’ll have opportunities to meet attendees, share your expertise, swap contact information, give away educational materials, and participate in post-presentation discussions.

Here are some tips to get the most from your virtual conference sponsorship. By knowing what to expect and taking the time to prepare, you’ll be ready to take full advantage of everything these online events have to offer.

Preparation is Key

Be Ted!

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At every conference, there are always one or two booths that win the popularity contest. They have the best and coolest giveaways, most attentive staff, and they just seem to give off an air of awesomeness that attracts visitors in droves. If you want to be a virtual conference rock star, you need to prepare like a conference rock star.

Give some serious thought to the materials you’d like to provide visitors to your virtual booth (check out this post for what your booth could look like). Do you have whitepapers, presentations, or videos to make a great impression? If you’re coming up empty, the time to pull something together is now. Your goal should be to create a rich resource of tools and materials for conference attendees.

The Big Day

Just as you would for an in-person conference, you want to arrive early. Find your booth by clicking on your logo at the top of the intro plaza screen, or by entering the exhibit hall and clicking on your booth. Flexible booth staffing options make virtual events easy for your reps. Can’t man your booth all day? No problem! We have a real-time email feature that allows attendees to contact you even when you are not there. We do suggest being in the booth at various times throughout the day, (because let’s face it, talking to a “real” person trumps email any day!) BUT – now you can come & go as you please without feeling restricted by booth duty!

Greet folks who visit your booth and converse with them about, well, them—their marketing efforts, as well as their current challenges and goals for the future. The public chat feature within your virtual booth is the best way to engage in these conversations. You also have the option of holding private conversations by hovering over someone’s name and selecting the chat option. This is most appropriate when something comes up that you’d like to address privately.

It’s also important that each staff member sets up his or her personal profile prior to the event. Simply select the my profile tab at the bottom of the screen and voilà!

To get the most from your conference experience, consider the following tips:

Be Ted!

Not Ned.

 
 
 
  • DO staff the conference with two or three team members—one to stay in the virtual booth and the other to mingle and participate in networking lounge chats.
  • DO include your company name in your screen name. This will help attendees recognize your brand affiliation and make it easier for them to find you later on.
  • DO be sure to include an avatar or photo of yourself to accompany your profile.
  • DO get creative when it comes to contests and giveaways.
  • DON’T post anything in the public chat that you don’t want everyone to see. Everything entered into the public chat stays in the public chat—good, bad, or ugly.
  • DON'T post sales pitches in public chat areas like the Networking Lounge, or be overly slimy in personal chats. Because...ew.
  • DON'T forget to stock the Resource Center with tasty downloads, especially since they continue to be available for on-demand attendees later on.

The After Party

Now that you've got your list, it's time to start your follow-up plan. Let's be clear; these aren't leads in the traditional sense. These are names of people that may or may not have attended an event that you sponsored. It's possible they stopped by your booth (score!), and it's possible they downloaded one of the aforementioned tasty items you supplied to the resource center (score again!) But it's also possible they didn't do any of these things. Be mindful of that and treat the names as such.

For your post-event marketing, here are some of our suggestions on what to do next:

  • Booth visitors who engaged in conversation:  let the sales rep follow-up directly with a call or      email. Whatever tickles their fancy.
  • Booth visitors & content downloaders who did not chat: flag for warmer follow-up marketing acknowledging their hand-waver status and perhaps being more proactive in asking if they would like sales contact.
  • Attendees who did not interact with sponsor: “Hope you enjoyed the event as much as we did. In case you didn’t get a chance to see our booth, we offered some great free content which you can download here…” (Include a link to access your content.)
  • Registered/did not attend: “Looks like you weren’t able to attend the live event, but hopefully you can catch it on-demand. We were a sponsor and had our own great content available including (INSERT ONE OF THOSE VALUABLE RESOURCES HERE) which you can get directly from us here…”

Patience, grasshopper.

Nurture these leads like a fine wine, or a slab of aging cheese. Be sure to treat them according to what action (or lack of action) they may have taken, and give them time to get to know you and your product.

Your virtually fabulous event liaison,

Courtney

How To Rock Your Sponsored Webinar

Did you know that B2B marketers rank webinars as one of the most effective content marketing strategies?

By sponsoring a MarketingProfs webinar, you’re creating an opportunity to let your expertise shine as you build an audience, increase your authority, and get your name in front of key decision makers.

We make the process simple by taking care of the promotion, setup, hosting, registration, and moderation for you. That leaves you with the job of selecting a webinar idea that will knock the socks off of your registrants.

When it comes to planning, promoting, and generating leads from your webinar, you’ll get the greatest results by planning ahead.

Provide Valuable Content

Your first step in planning your webinar is coming up with a topic, a title, and supporting content. Keep in mind that many potential participants are savvy marketing professionals who attend webinars and conference presentations regularly. If you want to get (and keep!) their attention, you need actionable content that provides real value. Waste their time with recycled, superficial fluff and your authority fades quickly. After all, your webinar may not cost a dime to watch, but attendees do pay with their time. Make their time count and you’ll reap the rewards later.

What topic—what content—do you choose? Have you written a whitepaper or ebook that got awesome results, or produced a blog post that became a social media sensation? These are two possibilities that could be expanded into an in-depth webinar. And if you need our help, just ask! We’re happy to give feedback or help streamline your idea based on what’s worked (and what’s fallen flat) with our members in the past.

Here are a few ways make your webinar attractive:

  • DO make sure the topic appeals to a wide audience.
  • DO propose a title that gets people excited, not one that puts them to sleep (we can help!).
  • DO put the most important information up front. This ensures that everyone gets the most value from your webinar—whether they can stay for the entire event or not.

A few things to work on in advance:

And some tips for the presentation itself:

  • DON’T talk about your products or services unless you want to lose credibility with your audience. One hint of a sales pitch and you’ll have them running for the hills.
  • DO keep your topic tightly focused so that you can cover it in depth.
  • DO provide plenty of real-world examples to bring ideas to life.
  • DON’T simply regurgitate your presentation on the slides. Your slideshow should provide key points and complementary information—not a script.
  • DO consider using polling questions to break up the presentation
  • DO keep a steady pace - not too fast and not too slow. (DON'T spend too long on any one slide).

Promote it Well

We’ll handle the bulk of the promotion for your webinar, but that doesn’t mean you’re totally off the hook. If you have a blog, write a teaser piece that introduces readers to the topic and encourages them to participate. Or, plug the event on social media channels, send a message to your mailing list, or invite colleagues and friends to join. This will ensure you not only generate leads, but nurture your existing contacts with awesome content.

To do our part, we’ll need an abstract, title, and speaker bio(s) from you 6 weeks prior to your event. These materials will go to our webinar marketers for review and editing, adding the MarketingProfs voice, and selecting accompanying creative that resonates with our audience (humor and personality go far!). Make sure to provide us with plenty of information, as this is all we have to go on in promoting your event. More is always better, so go ahead and give us all you got.

Turn Those Leads Into Customers

After the webinar, we’ll send you the customized data you've requested on your registrants, options like their names, companies, email addresses, industries, revenues, and company sizes. This is the real reward from your webinar, particularly if you pull off an event that generates lots of interest and excitement.

Within the first 24 hours after the webinar, make sure you reach out to all registrants—whether or not they attended. Failure to attend isn’t typically a sign of disinterest, after all, but rather a sign that they had an unavoidable schedule conflict or simply forgot. A good rule of thumb is to send a brief “thank you” email, along with a PDF of the slides and a link to access an encore of your webinar presentation, to attendees. We do host all on-demand recordings on our own website, but we suggest that you also host the recording on your own site if you want to continue to track views. Send a “sorry we missed you” email along with the same documents and link to the no shows.

Now that you’ve reached out to your leads, you need to tell them what to do next—or risk losing them forever. Should they join your mailing list? Register for a free trial of your service? Register for another upcoming webinar? By giving them an explicit call to action, you’ll have a better shot at growing those relationships from webinar participants to loyal customers.

Kristen

Mistress of Webinars

Get Killer Event Sponsorship ROI

As a MarketingProfs event sponsor, your brand will take center stage in front of hundreds of influential and forward-thinking marketing professionals, many of whom have decision-making power and are actively seeking ways to enhance their current marketing efforts.

That makes event sponsorships your perfect opportunity to build brand recognition, demo new products, build (or strengthen) relationships, and receive the highest quality leads.

But that doesn’t mean all you need to do is show up to the party. To reap the greatest rewards from these in-person events, you need to come prepared and ready to stand out in the crowd. Here are some great tips to make it happen.

Set the Stage

If you want to have the booth that has everyone talking, then you better be ready to bring your “A” game. The first step in this process? Making sure to staff your booth with your most charming, knowledgeable people. These folks should be equipped to engage attendees, answer questions, and cultivate interest in your brand without requiring marketing advice from our event staff (really, it’s happened!).

Secondly, you’ll want to create some pre-event buzz by reaching out to attendees before the event. If your sponsorship includes access to a pre-show list of registered attendees (or a pre-event email drop), send each a quick, introductory message to drive traffic to your booth (an exclusive giveaway or discount offer can work wonders here). Including fun, quirky items in our highly sought-after attendee swag bag or at your booth is highly encouraged, and we're happy to offer suggestions and/or vendors.

Here are a few more tips to consider as you prep for the big day:

  • DO get personal with your attendees and use their names in all communications. Generic greetings such as “Dear Attendee” just don’t cut it anymore.
  • DO provide access to a free trial if you think it makes sense to do so. You’ll enjoy deeper and more relevant discussions at the show when attendees are already familiar with your brand.
  • DO think about your lead scoring system in advance and discuss this with your event staffers.

It’s Showtime!

With the big day upon you, it’s important to arrive early enough so that your booth is all set up and ready to go before the attendee flood gates open. Your goal here should be to make your booth as inviting and attractive as possible. As you design your space, think of creating comfortable spaces that will draw visitors to you. Giving away fun, innovative swag never hurt, either.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that even the most attractive booth won’t sell itself. Your number one priority should be interacting with attendees, so stay off your computer, put your phone away, and stand out in front of your booth or table (no sitting!). Be proactive and focus on having a handful of productive conversations. It’s all about quality, not quantity—there are no prizes awarded for collecting the greatest number of names.

It’s also important to attend the sessions, mingle on the event floor, and attend social events as time permits. Acquiring new customers doesn’t mean pitching your goods everywhere and to everyone, so be sure to have real conversations and make real connections with people. They’ll pay off. Make sure you have at least one other staffer on deck so that you can cover ground without abandoning your booth.

The following DOs and DON’Ts will help ensure your success at the show:

  • DO engage attendees with small talk to get the conversation moving: Where are they from? How are they enjoying the sessions? Once they seem comfortable, then the conversation can turn to business.
  • DO remember that attendees are not walking badges. Build relationships first, then scan.
  • DO be respectful of the floor plan. There are a lot of variables we consider when determining booth placement, and we aim to provide the best results for everyone—including attendees. Please don’t ask us to change it.
  • DON’T leave before the show comes to an end. There’s nothing worse than booths in various stages of disassembly before the last session leaves (except maybe attendees who leave their booth space a mess). Please clean up after yourselves.
  • DO make sure you keep walkways and common areas clean and clear. This will be enforced by the fire marshal for everyone’s safety.

The Encore

Once the show is over and everyone heads back home, it’s time to follow up with those great leads you collected. It’s important to give folks time to process the event and get settled back into their regular routines, so allow a few days of breathing room before picking up the phone (or shooting out that automated email). When it’s time, tailor your follow-up so that it directly relates to the conversation you had at the show (notes may be helpful here). If you didn’t have a long conversation, a more generic follow-up is fine, too.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re sponsoring our flagship B2B Marketing Forum or one of our local happy hours, the key is to relax and enjoy yourself. We want everyone to have fun, so whether it’s games, performances, or even magic, bringing a level of playfulness to your booth is not only welcomed, it’s encouraged! You’re vying for the attention of savvy marketing professionals, after all, so step up and rise to their level. Not only will you maximize your ROI by attracting more attention to your booth, but you’ll add to the overall enjoyment of the event. It’s a win-win.

Your B2B Marketing Forum Hostess-With-The-Mostest,

Courtney