Head of Events and Field Marketing
Somehow, there are companies that have yet to cancel their big in-person brand events for 2021, including one with aspirations of making a 70,000-person event happen live in Lisbon. That seems like wishful thinking, not an effective meetings strategy.
The present situation has actually created tremendous opportunities for us to expand our audiences online, boost our skill sets as digital-event marketers, and think more broadly as a consumer. We have to build new strategies that align with our companies’ go-to-market plans.
For us, that means making event-portfolio plans in six-month increments rather than 12, and having minimum 120-day lead times for each event. So, it begins this way: None of our events will take place in person between January and June. We will assess the macro climate in March and make recommendations for anything past June at that time. But preliminary insight is already showing that we would probably not plan in-person events of any size before October. And whenever we do feel comfortable with in-person experiences, whether those are for customers or internal staff, they will be smaller in size, regionally based, and have strict health and safety requirements.
Meanwhile, we’re on with digital. But those who hadn’t already been leaning into digital in their event portfolios prior to March 2020 are likely still well behind on gathering market insights and developing a longer-term strategy that allows digital to amplify their firms’ in-person experiences. Having been through the first industry pivot to digital during the 2009 financial crisis, I learned that it isn’t an “either/or” proposition; it’s a “both/and” approach that is the secret sauce for achieving business success through an events portfolio.
This time around, however, I feel strongly that digital might be the preferred medium for both the host company and the audience for so many more events moving forward. When you are able to provide participants with a “choose-your-own-path” adventure for content consumption, good things happen. People feel more empowered and engage better when the experience works for them. Imagine that: the attendee deciding what the ultimate attendee journey is.We planners must continue to learn something new every week. Embrace this crisis as an opportunity to upskill and change the trajectory of your career, while inspiring those around you to do the same.