In many companies events are still an important part of the marketing strategy, in spite of the fact that the current situation has demanded swift decisions and flexible adjustments. It’s still hard to predict the future of events or their marketing, but certain scenarios and perspectives have come to dominate when future activities are being considered. What will be the new normal of event marketing, now that we’re slowly but surely starting to step back to everyday life?
The event life cycle will become longer
As we’re very adaptable to new situations, we humans still have a fundamental desire to meet each other, and we don’t wish to separate ourselves from the outside world. We’re now living in a time that’s marked by rapid technological change. With events this means that online and offline events will intertwine and create more seamless paths, hybrids will become more common and events will become a stronger part of marketing as a whole. In addition to these developments, the event lines will disperse and the event life cycle itself will become longer.
The event is part of content marketing
When it comes to content marketing, it all starts with a specific theme. Various content is then built around this theme through different types of platforms and channels. Therefore the event is also part of a larger whole – it’s a piece of content among other content. The platform(s) on which you then present the event, depends highly on the content itself.
When the event lines disperse, the significance of conceptualisation and storytelling starts to grow. It doesn’t matter where the event takes place – online, in a physical space or somewhere in between these two – the main goal of any event should be the real encounter. When it comes to online events, conceptualisation and storytelling is of utmost importance, because it’s a lot more difficult to engage a participant in those circumstances, than it is in physical events. Online events also require a bigger investment in background research, because by finding out more about the participants, it’s possible for you to create more individual and personalised paths for each of them. If you fail to do this, there’s a big risk that the experience itself becomes non-existent. It’s also important that you provide the participant with alternative ways of following your content. Remember that experience is king, no matter the platform.
Which part does the participant play?
The participant’s job is to be part of the narrative, the actual story, and therefore part of the content. Engaging the participant to play this part is something that should start at an early stage, even before the event. A successful engagement leads to the participant sharing their thoughts, views and ideas and thus challenging and shaping the narrative. In order for the participant to be motivated to influence the content in this way, the core theme has to be interesting and this interest has to be nurtured from start to finish. It’s up to you as the organiser to build up the participant’s expectations even before the event. This also means that the communication process has to be designed and implemented so that it supports this purpose. Again, this goes especially for online events, since it’s very easy for the participant to decide not to take part in the event, if they feel that they can’t relate to the content.
Along with the changes in our remote working culture, we’ve learned to appreciate time in a different way, and we’re also managing time more efficiently; now that we work remotely we’re better at planning, self managing and scheduling. From the participant’s point of view this means that they can be more selective in choosing where they want to go and how they want to spend their time.
Responsibility is the theme of tomorrow
Social responsibility and locality will be the central themes of the future. At the moment different restrictions and precautionary measures restrain our daily lives and this will be a fact for quite some time, at least to some extent. Thus it’s quite obvious that local events of a smaller scale will become more common. This isn’t a negative trend in any way, quite the opposite actually! Locality and limited capacities can be a trump card for every event organiser; the restrictions provide us the possibility to create new event concepts and target groups, where the meetings are more meaningful and purposeful than ever before. At the same time organisers and marketers have the possibility to create an overall sense of security, and to communicate their actions and intentions in a transparent and responsible fashion.
Three tips if you're planning a hybrid event
1. Start by defining the role of the event as part of your content and also considering how the event lifecycle could be prolonged.
2. Continue by conceptualising the actual event and the core theme.
3. Think about how you’re going to build the customer experience. At this point the emphasis is not on stands, sound or visuality, but instead you should focus on communication, the registration progress and the engagement.