Why Virtual Events Aren't Going Away Anytime Soon (PODCAST)

Posted by Jenna Schultz on July 28, 2020 at 11:36 AM     WebsitePodcasts
Why Virtual Events Aren't Going Away Anytime Soon (PODCAST)

With in-person trade shows and conferences off the table for the foreseeable future, how can companies engage their audiences, network, or find leads? The answer: Virtual events. In this podcast episode, you'll learn about how virtual events are changing the landscape of business events from Marketing Essentials founder and CEO, Patty Cisco.

Listen to the podcast here, or access the full transcript below!

Podcast Episode

Full Transcript - Why Virtual Events Aren't Going Away Anytime Soon

Jenna:
Hello and welcome back to another Brew Session with Marketing Essentials. I'm your host, Jenna joined by my cohost Jessica. Brew Session is your chance to join us every week with your favorite brew, whether that's a cup of coffee or something stronger as we discuss everything digital marketing.

Jessica:
On tap for today. In our previous episode, we took a pretty in depth look at SMS or mobile marketing. We asked our listeners if they had any other questions about SMS marketing and how they're incorporating it into their 2020 strategy. So again, if you have any questions, I encourage you to reach out to us on any of our social media accounts. And we might feature your question in an upcoming episode. So for this next episode, we're going to take a look at the state of trade shows, events, conferences, and this new time and how you can be adjusting your marketing strategies accordingly, whether you're hosting one of those events or you are an attendee. And to help us talk about this topic, we have a very special guest today, Patty Cisco. And Patty is our founder and CEO at Marketing Essentials. She is very well versed in everything trade shows, and we're really excited for her to join us today for her first Brew Session. She has a lot of great knowledge to share with everyone. Yeah, we're definitely really excited to have her on today.

Jenna:
So Patty, thanks so much for joining us for a Brew Session episode. You are quite the expert at planning and executing for trade shows. So we were excited to bring you on and have you talk about the changing landscape in marketing this year and how that's going to have an effect on trade shows as well. So obviously there have been big changes in the way events are handled in 2020. Do you think trade shows are going to go back to normal in the next year or ever?

Patty:
Well, great question. I think everybody's kind of holding on here a little bit and wondering when things can get back to whatever the new normal is. And COVID obviously the state of the pandemics is going to drive a lot of when trade shows can really go back to the actual live person situation. So I think it's going to be a little while. I mean, I think right now everybody's projecting about 12 to 18 months before, you know, organizations feel confident they can plan because it takes an immense amount of planning to actually have the physical trade shows. So I think we're a little ways off before we can do what people are used to seeing in the actual physical trade show environment.

Jessica:
If I'm an attendee, let's say I am typically going to trade shows. That's where I get a lot of leads. That's where I do a lot of business. What are my options now? I mean are virtual events still just as good? What are you thinking about that?

Patty:
Well, I think we're in an interesting time where many organizations are still very, I would say maybe old school and traditional in both their sales and marketing efforts and what the pandemic has done is really caused many businesses to rethink how do they connect with people. Like I can't do face to face visits anymore, whether it's at a trade show or get in their door and they've, they've been forced to go online and figure out how to use online channels, whether it's email, whether it's Zoom meetings, whether it's webinars to really attract people and engage people in relationships. So I think what we're going to find this new normal is really going to be quite different because people have been forced to utilize technology and the ones that aren't, you know, they're, they're going to be greatly behind compared to those who really jumped in and really started to advance building relationships by using many of these channels.

Jenna:
Yeah, absolutely. So speaking of virtual events, tell us a little bit about what makes for a great virtual event. What considerations should they keep in mind and how can they properly plan for and execute them?

Patty:
So I think we have kind of two different avenues. I would say we have the one on one virtual event, right. And, and that could be simply a Zoom meeting as a, as a virtual event. And then we have the virtual events in masses, like a webinar or like a virtual trade show. So, you know, I think both take thought, both take planning because even if I'm doing a one on one virtual event or a virtual meeting, you know, I want to make sure my background looks good. I want to make sure that my, my physical presence looks good. In fact, I think people virtually are even a little bit more aware of what your surroundings and what you look like compared to when you're face to face.

Patty:
So I think there's intentional time to make sure you're planning your meetings, planning your environment, et cetera, on the virtual trade show. That's a bit more of a monster because you want to have the right type of platform that you're going to use. You want to have gone through and used that platform. It takes a lot more significant planning because you're going to, you know, to the masses, you know, what's your list, who are you sending the invitation out for, for either that webinar or that virtual trade show. So I think depending upon the virtual event you're having you're exactly right, Jenna, there needs to be thoughtful planning. There needs to be a fluent understanding of the tool or the platform that's being used. And there needs to be intentional time with the follow up of the contact that you're making, whether it's one-to-one or mass.

Jenna:
Okay. So I'm really glad you brought up the follow up because I think another important consideration is how you approach reaching out to those attendees, both beforehand and after the event, how do you think that changes or how is that more important than if it were an in person event? How are you going to approach that differently?

Patty:
Well, I think even if it was an in-person trade show. Okay. I think the opportunity that I consistently saw that businesses were lacking in even face-to-face trade show was intentional follow up. So I don't think that we need to follow up differently. I think it's being intentional about how we follow up setting a cadence, so to speak of what the touches are going to be over a period of time for those people we're going to follow up with, how can we automate that process? So it's easier for either the sales or the marketing department. So they're using their time efficiently. I think even when there were traditional trade shows, there was so much opportunity to be leveraging the digital side of automation and sales that wasn't being used. That now, again, this presents the opportunity and we're forced to do it. Let's get on board and let's make it work really, really well.

Jessica:
I think Patty, you kind of touched on planning a little bit ago and I think going back to that, that's so important because I think you need to set people's expectations. If there are people who are used to going to an in person trade show or seminar or whatever it is, it is going to be different if it's online. So I guess kind of, how would you talk about setting a attendees expectations before an event?

Patty:
Yeah, you're definitely right, Jessica. Because even the attendees, some of the attendees aren't used to being virtual. And so I think you're spot on being very clear about what they can expect during the virtual event, you know, what happens if there's a lag, what happens if there's problems with the technology; how fast will it move? Will it be facilitated?

Patty:
Will I have a chance to ask questions during the event, will it be recorded so that if I can attend, I can still get that. I think setting those clear expectations are extremely important because that helps make it easier for the attendees to want to be engaged to feel more confident, being engaged in what they're doing.

Jenna:
So if companies or salespeople can no longer get out to in person trade show events, either as vendors or participants at conferences. Is a virtual event still a good choice.

Patty:
I think it's definitely a good choice. And I think there's a couple of options. I think instead of just solely relying on that traditional trade show once or twice a year to generate the majority of their leads, I think they actually need to rethink their entire lead generation process and use a mix of things to generate those leads now and not put all their eggs in one basket.

Jessica:
So is a virtual trade show one avenue or opportunity that they could be doing to generate leads?

Patty:
Yes, it is. So I think it's rethinking the mix of the tactics for lead generation. That's really important. A virtual trade show may not be for every company. And so I think we need to think through who does this make sense for? Because you are going to put intensive time into preparing for it and to managing and facilitating it and, and, and those types of things. I would also say that I think what is going to be a little bit different is that instead of the large groups, which you've done traditionally, when you go to the trade shows, there's thousands of people there. I think virtually online rethinking instead of like five full days of, you know, trade shows, rethinking and doing things in smaller time segments, because again, people are now virtually online with meetings all the time. You know, that's making it you know, a little bit overwhelming and kind of getting burned out for meetings. So I would definitely rethink maybe doing those virtual trade shows in smaller segments of times with smaller groups as well.

Jessica:
I like what you said, Patty, about rethinking things. I think one thing I was kind of thinking about, I think as more trade shows or events move online I kind of think it's going to level the playing field a little bit because not every company can afford now to go to an in person trade show or just spend money to send a bunch of people there. And although there is a cost associated with virtual events, I think to me, that would only help make it more accessible to more companies and work people.

Patty:
Yeah, you're right. You're right. I mean, digital, digital opens up the world, right? And so regardless of your size, you know, your capabilities, everybody can use it and they can use it in a way or a manner that best fits their company and their organization. So I think you're right, Jessica.

Jenna:
So up next in this week's house blend section, we're going to talk about a few things we're seeing right now in the digital marketing space. Google recently announced three new ranking factors that will to help determine which websites will rank well in search these core web vitals as they are called. Such as loading speed. So how fast the website is loading before you see the page interactivity and visual stability, these factors won't come into play until sometime next year, but until then you can start working with your web developer and make sure your site is in ship shape in these areas. That way you do not get blindsided and see a tank in your website rankings.

Jessica:
And I think the other thing to keep in mind is Google is constantly tweaking and changing their algorithm. So there's always a lot of factors in play, but it's nice to have kind of a heads up and know that these things are coming for next year when you can start to get your, your site and shape like Jenna said.

Jenna:
Yeah, absolutely. Like you said, these ranking signals are changing from what we know, what little we know they change on a constant basis, but it is good when they do give us quite a bit of heads up because then, you know, it's going to be some pretty important updates. So definitely something you should pay attention to.

Jessica:
Yup. For sure. And our other house blend item - you might have noticed this yourself - if you're kind of missing chitchat and small talk when you're working from home, you're not alone because a new study in the Academy of Management Journal found that although small talk can just distract people temporarily, temporarily from work, no surprise there, it actually enhances their wellbeing overall through social connections. So if you're kind of missing that interaction, that water cooler talk with your your workmates, you can maybe spend a couple of minutes chatting before a virtual call. Plan a zoom lunch date, or just call up a friend during a break.

Jenna:
Absolutely. I think that's a really important thing to keep in mind because if you're not in the office, having those informal conversations, it's surprising how much that can affect your mood, which then impacts your productivity. So schedule a meeting, if you need to, or just be sure to, when you first get on a call, jump in a few minutes early and feel free to chat with your coworkers. It'll really help.

Jessica:
Yep. Absolutely. And up next, our listener submissions, we do have a couple that came in and as always, like I said, if you would like your question to be answered on an upcoming episode you can submit those questions on our Instagram @mktg_essentials, or just mention us on any of our social media accounts. So the first question that came in. This person is wondering about SEO. They've heard a lot about SEO and they are asking, how do I use it to rank higher on the search engines? I have no idea how to get started. Can you help? So SEO is a pretty complex topic but here's just a very quick overview of it. SEO means search engine optimization. In a nutshell, it's the process of making adjustments and improvements to your website, so Google recognizes your site as high quality and moves it up in the search results.

Jessica:
SEO is not really a quick fix. It's really something you have to be in for the long term because you're making consistent, dedicated improvements and changes to your site. Things like having the proper elements on your pages, writing about topics people are searching for and other things all kind of play into SEO. So if you want a quick overview to learn a little bit more about SEO, you can visit our website and we have a nice video that we did recently to help you kind of visualize how SEO works. And we will put the link in the description for you to click on.

Jenna:
So for our second listener submission, someone asked, we have a pretty old website and I noticed it is very hard to read or zoom in and out on a mobile device. What should I do? So when it comes to issues on your site, you really are going to have two different scenarios. So the first is maybe you just need a refresh or a facelift to your site. So work with your web developer to talk through if this is a good solution. So this might be a good solution for you. If you really only need a few tweaks to your site, maybe the web developer can increase the font size of your site and make some minor adjustments that is going to improve the user experience on the site. However you should consider if there are other larger, structural and design issues to the site that could be impacting the user experience.

Jenna:
If so, you really may be a good candidate for a website redesign and rebuild because if you're having issues with zooming in and out on a mobile device, there may also be other issues that your users are experiencing that point to bigger structural issues. So maybe there's navigation changes that aren't really working. Maybe the overall page design and layout just is not conducive to mobile devices. Just because it's responsive does not mean it's a great mobile experience. So if you're caught between those two scenarios and you're not really sure which one would be a better fit for you, we really encourage you to talk to your web designer and developer and see which one would make more sense.

Jessica:
Yeah. And I think the important thing is either way a good modern site is going to be able to be read and look good on any size of device. If you're having problems with that on your site, like Jenna said, it might be time to do a little bit of investigating and see if there are some updates that you could make. Something a lot of people don't really think about is that a lot of your web traffic is probably coming in on mobile or at least reaching it the first time on a phone or a tablet device. So if they arrive and it doesn't look good, chances are they're going to leave the site and go somewhere else that works better.

Jenna:
Yeah, absolutely. I think, like I said, it goes beyond just seeing whether something is working on mobile and instead thinking about how can I optimize it for the best mobile experience, because a lot of your visitors now are visiting first from a mobile phone. So we want to optimize for mobile, not just make it okay or acceptable for mobile.

Jenna:
That's all we have for this week's episode. Thank you again for joining us to learn all about trade shows and virtual events and be sure to reach out on our social channels. Again, we will be choosing one lucky listener who submitted their question, and we would like to feature you on an upcoming episode.

Jessica:
Thanks for joining us.

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