Unusual Business: Moving Live Events to Digital and Hybrid Experiences

It’s no secret that when the COVID-19 pandemic started, Digital world changed. Unlike previous crises, there is no clear idea when we will all get back to normal. And, indeed, how is this “normal”.

But as marketers adapt and rapidly develop their approach to dealing with the impact of the pandemic, it’s clear that the fundamentals and intentions of innovative experience design remain the same – it needs to be engaged. It must be powerful. It must lead to action.

A basic structure

It’s not an easy task to create rich, brand-driven, focused experiences that move people to action. The application of a central structure allows addressing the main elements:

  • Calendar and content structure. Collaborate on a multi-touch content strategy with a focus on agility, flexibility, and scalability that takes into account the long tail of the content lifecycle and can deliver sessions on demand for a more personalized experience.
  • Quality production. In the battle for attention, the production value is an important consideration as we design and develop a variety of content types, including ‘streaming quality live streams, smooth, vibrant motion graphics, and thoughtful, immersive interstitials.
  • Including interactive. The design and delivery of interactive elements are essential to establishing a value exchange between the brand and the audience: a solid set of resources is needed to enable one-on-one expert meetings, peer learning, interactive demonstrations, and digital engagement and to create moments funny as possible.

Once this structure is established, the focus can shift to telling the content of the experience.

A story about the content and principles of digital design

Like traditional fiction, the content approach can be divided into three parts:

Phase I includes great moments of access to the brand and “wow” with landing spaces that facilitate personal travel.

  • Phase II is where the main content is delivered. Brand-oriented messages, from goal setting to product-oriented presentations, mixed with conversations between external speakers and direct and simu-direct sponsors. This content is organized to generate engagement and relevance.
  • Phase III is a personalized call-to-action, sales sponsorship, and integration through a series of content trails, qualified prompts, data acquisition, and CRM integration.

Applying content storytelling to our experience framework, we see some key principles for digital design:

  • Travel planning. Digital and remote experiences are not limited by the usual limitations of personal experiences. Brands must therefore strategically invest to create clear and attractive pathways for their audience during the audience experience. Brands that are not at risk of short attention spans, resulting in hearing loss, loss of KPIs, and damage to brand reputation.
  • Moments of association. Recent restrictions on community gatherings and socializing have resulted in a greater need to interact with people and audiences than ever before. By creating many indispensable moments of connection within the experience, they become shared meeting points between fluid journeys.
  • Follow-up stories. If the story and content are engaging enough, people will keep coming back. The “chapter” content allows us to create compelling stories that meet the unique expectations, learning styles, and behaviors of visitors.
  • Custom connections. Serving the audience individually and their needs makes the experience much more memorable and engaging. It can be supported by composite chat as well as support and service at every touchpoint with the right technology and content.

When working with messaging, content, and experience, you need to consider your platform at the same time.

Platform Considerations

One way of looking at this is that this is a decision between “rent” or “ownership”. When renting, you have many options on the market to meet your business needs. By acquiring it, you engage with a branding environment that will likely be well integrated into your existing technology stack and strategically integrated into your marketing portfolio; you will also have the opportunity to continually develop according to your specific needs.

When designing and building a custom platform, you need to consider cost, time, and usage considerations – is it a multi-year platform for a full portfolio of experiences and engagements? Or does it need to be highly personalized for a unique occasion?

These questions require input from the entire organization, especially from sales, who often rely on these events to generate leads, drive the pipeline, and ultimately close and close transactions and relationships.

Finally, how will your platform work in a hybrid world? With 80% of recent respondents saying they would attend a live event in person and with major industry programs like CES announcing their intention to go “live” in 2021, the “if” and “how” are the hallmarks of these spaces will decide the deals are again fast approaching.

Without a doubt, hybrid events or smaller satellites with digital and virtual extensions will be the first to come home, especially as organizations desperately recruit their customers and grow their sales force.

Important Considerations

Regardless of where you are in the planning or assessment process, you should keep the following considerations in mind:

  • The needs of the public, companies, and brands have changed radically, as has the role of events and experiences in this relationship. Understanding and prioritizing how to get back to the market is an essential consideration.
  • The difference in physical engagement requires a change in format, delivery, and structure. It will also take longer than ever to plan, coordinate, guide, and collaborate.
  • Much of the content that was relevant just a few months ago is no longer applicable or will be applicable in the future. Maintaining relevance and context with your message and material is critical.
  • The opportunity to improve experience programs is not about digital or physical, but about people. Designing and delivering our experiences with a sense of empathy and consideration is critical.

Unusual times require unusual thinking and strategic commitments. To fully understand the goals and achieve the goals of events in today’s environment, follow the path outlined in this article to ultimately deliver an event experience that transcends even the boldest goals.