Take a deep breath, you’ve done it! Your live event has been reconfigured as a virtual conference. Congratulations!
Over the past month (or longer), you’ve watched (many) product demos, revised event schedules and discussed content objectives. There have been Zoom meetings about how to support exhibitors and the need for new sponsorship opportunities.
Now, the hard part comes – getting the word out! You can’t use the Field of Dreams “built it and they will come” philosophy.
Your virtual conference needs attendees and, most likely, sponsors and exhibitors. How will you promote your event? Methods that you may have used in the past, such as printed brochures or calls to offices, will no longer work – everyone is at home!
The obvious answer would be to use digital communication methods and social media. But, guess what? So is everyone else!
You have to fight for your prospective attendee’s online attention. It starts with digital tools and social media, but again, it’s about thinking outside the box.
- THINK beyond just putting text and some graphics in an email and hitting send.
- FOCUS on what will make your virtual conference stand out: what makes it worth the investment, both in terms of time and money?
- CREATE a digital publication, i.e. multiple issues of a digital preview issue. Content can include speaker interviews, profile members who will be attending and information on the virtual exhibit hall. An updated version can be sent weekly or monthly….can also include information on your plans for attendee safety.
- RAISE AWARENESS about your exhibitors and sponsors – thank them for their support. Either include advertising placements in your digital preview issues as a value-added opportunity, or set budget-friendly rates.
- BE EVERYWHERE: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube…you need to be active across all platforms. Your prospective attendees probably have their go-to sources for news and information. You can’t guess as to which will be the most effective – get your message out everywhere.
- TEASE content topics. Introduce speakers. Conduct polls about the topics.
- THANK exhibitors and sponsors.
- AND USE your exhibitors and sponsors: provide them with text and images that they can share via their social media platforms.
- IDENTIFY potential new audiences
During and After the Event
- DON’T STOP marketing your event, just because it kicked off. Publish a digital daily newspaper and email newsletter to share content and highlights with a wide audience
- IDENTIFY social media ambassadors to share posts across different platforms.
- GAMES: Hold a contest to encourage attendees to post on social media.
- SHARE content through a post-conference digital highlights issue that focuses on content highlights, provides links to recordings, spotlights exhibitors, one more time, and thanks attendees for participating.