Beyond the terrible human cost of the current pandemic and the public health risk associated with even small gatherings, the impact of travel restrictions and lock-down has led to a shift of mindset in the global business community.
This new mindset has evolved rapidly and now also relates to the many other impacts both large and small gatherings can have, such as the environmental impact of event-related business travel.
And while this shift in awareness grows, there is also a clear understanding that business life goes on, and new ways of working, new ways of collaborating and connecting with each other will be needed to get – and keep – business on the road.
Many are now considering their options.
Aside from conferences and exhibitions, many of which are cancelled or postponed for at least this year, the immediate needs are to restart corporate sales and marketing programs, workforce education – and not least – product and service promotions.
So, there’s a big challenge ahead for marketers across the world, now compounded by marketing budget reductions and dwindling
This situation is going to require companies to think in a whole new way, and finally look to digital to evolve the corporate world and deliver a new virtual community where collaboration, commerce and communication can thrive again, in a new normal.
Here, Webinars are an obvious option, because they offer your customers, regional sales and marketing stakeholders as well as the trainee workforce safe, remote access, and in the new resource-depleted normal, Webinars conserve stretched budgets too.
But hosting a Webinar – be it a series of sales meetings or a large conference – is different from hosting a physical one and while venue, catering and travel costs and complexities evaporate, these are replaced by new challenges.
These can include making tricky decisions on some pretty confusing platform options, and there are other critical issues like managing simultaneous multilanguage sessions, where specialist input will probably be required.
And there are many platform options available, including Adobe Connect, GoToWebinar, ON24 and Zoho Meeting, all of which are useful in different ways, so your choice depends on your highly specific needs.
Also, while many Webinar vendors offer customer support, ultimately you and your team are on your own as Webinar marketers, creators, presenters and post-event analytics officers – you need to be sure you have the team resources available to do this.
If these processes are not managed effectively, you are wasting resources.
Because, while marketing the Webinar is important to ensure you actually have an audience in the first place, keeping that audience interested and engaged, ensuring they don’t simply drop off prematurely, is equally important.
And of more importance, knowing who attendees are, how to progressively learn about them, engage with them, and how to convert this information to a sale is critical because the success of every Webinar should be measurable in terms of ROI.
In all of this, the single most critical issue is that virtual events must be all about people – humans are tribal creatures, and if you lose sight of that fact in the virtual world, you will never meet your objectives. It’s about engagement.
That means there has to be a very people-centric element to everything you offer your attendees, including plenty of on-scene humanity in the form of highly-visible hosts, presenters and audience participators.
So, you may want to think about bringing in a fully managed Webinar service to help with the end-to-end process; from scripting and content development to managing and controlling the ‘show’, leaving you and your team to present in confidence.
And if you hire the right team, they’ll manage pre-Webinar marketing, in-event and post-event analytics to deliver data for lead generation and sales
follow-up, building a clear and continuous picture of attendees, and per-Webinar ROI.
Whatever else this pandemic has done, it’s changed our thinking and therefore our future. In that way, it’s Darwinism: to survive commercially, we need to evolve fast, so now it’s a race for visibility.