It’s time to stop talking about 2020 and look at ways we can improve our marketing strategy in 2021. Have you thought about hybrid events yet? Well, you should have. And this article is going to tell you why.
What is a Hybrid Event?
A hybrid event takes place both in-person and online. This format is expected to soar in popularity as the events industry battles with travel restrictions, lockdowns and the regulations enforced globally to help fight the pandemic.
If your business uses tradeshow marketing to generate leads and increase brand awareness, hybrid events are something you will have to get used to. They allow you to capture additional data from leads using the virtual platform while creating evergreen content that visitors will have access to for life.
Hybrid events may seem scary. But they’re a lot of fun once you know how to get ready! The five key ways to prepare for a hybrid event are:
Researching the shows
Planning and strategizing
Preparing your team
Imagine investing in the wrong hybrid experience because of a lack of research. This happens a lot. And it will happen to you if you skip this step.
The best way to avoid choosing the wrong event is to attend as many shows as you can. Unfortunately, it’s 2020 and you haven’t been able to do that. So how can you research upcoming hybrid events and choose the right one to exhibit at?
It’s simple. Look at the exhibitor list. If your direct competitors are on that list, this is a show you need to be at. If they’re not on the list, look for reasons why.
Maybe it’s a new show and your competitors aren’t ready to take the risk. This allows you to sneak in and gain a competitive advantage. However, the chances are your competitors aren’t exhibiting at that show because it’s not the right audience for them.
It’s probably not worth your time.
Plan and strategize
The show you choose to exhibit at will influence your strategy. Are you selling directly to consumers? Or looking for businesses that would want to distribute your products? What are your objectives?
Exhibitions, hybrid or not, are not a ‘one shoe fits all’ strategy.
The research you’ve already done will help you plan and implement a strategy for your upcoming hybrid event. You need to think about things like:
How will you generate traffic both in-person and virtually?
What are your objectives?
How will you measure the results?
How will you collect data?
Who will staff your in-person and virtual booth?
How will you follow up with leads?
Once you and your team have established your hybrid event strategy, you are ready to move on.
If you get your budget wrong, you won’t achieve the return on investment that you wanted. Simple.
But when it comes to budgeting for events (especially hybrid ones) there are loads of factors to take into account. Firstly, you need a floor space at the venue. But you also need a virtual space. You’ll need an exhibition stand and a digital display to show off your business.
Then there are the smaller costs. Staffing, pre-show marketing, promotional literature, furniture hire… you name it. These costs add up quickly and without a proper budget to stick to, you can easily get ahead of yourself.
To make sure you don’t miss any expenses, download a trade show budget tool. This way you can ensure you won’t miss anything important before your hybrid event.
Think back to the questions you answered earlier. Maybe you chose to run a competition to encourage traffic on your virtual stand. You’ll need to prepare a pre-show marketing strategy to let people know about your competition beforehand.
You also need to prepare your staff. Remember, half your team will be hosting impromptu in-person meetings and half will be communicating via chatbots and video conferences. Both platforms require a strong, knowledgeable team.
Use your research to predict what type of people you’ll meet in both environments. Are the decision-makers with buying power attending virtually to save time out of the office? Or in-person so they can meet the team they are doing business with?
The most important thing is to train your staff to qualify leads quickly and effectively. Collecting thousands of leads is pointless unless you can convert these people in the follow-up stage.
There are loads of effective lead generation tactics you can implement to find new customers. Hybrid events are one of the most effective.
Event marketing places your business in the same environment as your target audience. Attendees have demonstrated an interest in your industry just by being there. All you have to do is sell to them.
Lead capture is one of the most important things to get right at a hybrid event. As the events industry advances into its tech-savvy future, so too does lead capture. No more fishbowls full of business cards.
Have a look around for the best lead capture apps to use at trade shows. Some of these are free to download and can accommodate in-person and virtual team collaboration.
The more information you collect about each lead, the more effective the follow-up will be so don’t be shy when it comes to that initial conversation.
The Future Is Hybrid
Now you are ready to exhibit at hybrid events, generate tons of leads and grow your business. With better planning and budgeting we can all become excellent hybrid marketers so, what are you waiting for?
Start researching shows now to get an idea of what your calendar will look like next year. Get your team in a good shape to handle both in-person and virtual meetings. Brainstorm ways to get people to visit your booth. Sort your budget out. And let us know where you’re exhibiting, we’ll stop by for a virtual coffee.