A New Competitive Edge: The Hybrid Experience
A hybrid: a mixture of two different things, resulting in something that has a little bit of both; like the rare zedonk, a hybrid of a donkey and a zebra.
Of course, most of you already are familiar with the zedonk, right?
You’ll recall it attracted attention at a wildlife preserve in north Georgia back in 2010. This hybrid species’ competitive edge is speed and power. Its physical health is astounding.
Its key weakness? They can’t reproduce … no control over keeping themselves in front of its audience. They’re like a one and done experience.
Don’t be a zedonk.
Can Hybrid Events Play Into Your Strategy?
What’s your current competitive edge in today’s event and brand experience game? Does your overall event strategy include being able to reproduce panel discussions, fireside chats, live Q&A sessions and uniquely structure them to the venue format you decide to host? Or are you a zedonk?
It’s an established fact that more than 80% of marketers firmly believe that live events are critical to their success. It can be the single most powerful marketing channel over digital advertising, email marketing, and content marketing.
Equally intriguing is to know that 42% of event marketers claim a hybrid approach to events for 2021 will be their strategy. How do you weigh in on this claim?
What do they know that you don’t?
It’s not what they know, it’s how they think.
Building a solid hybrid event strategy now, positions them for the ultimate pivot – offering an in person or online option without requiring a complete rebrand of the entire event.
Those that made the move first to host events virtually in Q2 of 2020 saw it. Halting events wasn’t the answer. Hosting them differently was.
Keeping the flow of business communications as consistent as possible through events lets you connect with audiences about what’s happening.
For example, in Q2 of last year, virtual events communicated how COVID would affect business transactions and decisions, and what changes would be coming as a result of the pandemic. Likewise, its connection power positioned companies as someone that could be counted on in a time of global stress and disruption.
Early adopters used the virtual experience right away to inform, engage, and sometimes celebrate successes, amidst a lot of difficult global news. They didn’t take 10 steps back, they didn’t freeze, they executed on the future.
So now we see a corner ahead, which requires a decision. Do you turn it, embrace a hybrid strategy, and explore a new competitive edge?
A Hybrid Strategy
What is the competitive edge in rounding that corner from virtual to hybrid?
Putting a hybrid strategy in place now with specific goals gives you the ability now to start exploring what the future holds. You’ll answer important business questions like:
- What should in person events look like for your company
- What do safety protocols look like
- Does your event team need to grow or learn new skills
- Should you explore outsourced options for production skill sets
At the same time you’re exploring a hybrid strategy, you continue to keep the virtual component a focus. When you already have the virtual event components for your hybrid event sorted out, it’s easier for attendees and you to pivot between attending in person or online without rethinking the entire event.
When you explore the future while maintaining a solid hold on what’s working well now, your competitive edge swells. Hybrid events allow greater flexibility. With flexibility comes speed, which makes you nimbler, and naturally more competitive.
Expand Your Reach
Hybrid events offer the best of both worlds since they easily connect offices and individuals located on opposite sides of the planet. When you remove obstacles like location and scheduling, you open up a myriad of engagement options for potential event participants and sponsors.
The travel distance often requires a lot of time and money, forcing more than you think to say no to attending. Hybrid removes all those boundaries and gives you immediate lift – the more attendees, the bigger your reach.
Everyone is crazy busy, juggling different constraints on time than they may have before. Give them the chance to feel connected, have access to your material and connect with industry colleagues. They’ll remember you for it.
A broader audience means bigger impact for sponsors. They get a larger lead pool and their message is being distributed to industry minded people at more levels and locations. As long as they can effectively reach both audiences, 72% of corporate sponsors are interested in participating in a hybrid event.
The Bridge Between Virtual and Live
Do you know which version of an event, virtual or in-person, your audience prefers to attend? Some want back to live right now, and some won’t return to live even when it’s an option, for a long time. Meanwhile, there’s a large group in the middle who will decide based on a series of factors that aren’t concrete yet.
In today’s environment where businesses are working extra hard to stay in front of internal and external stakeholders, connect with customers and network with like-minded professionals, the entrance of hybrid events and their soon to be booming popularity could be a competitive advantage to accomplishing those business goals.
Hybrid events increase your reach to connect with audiences and they can skyrocket your engagement with participants. They continue to reduce travel costs and provide an improved return on investment. Offering greater flexibility for attendees and giving you valuable data and metrics you just can’t get through a live event only will feed your marketing pipeline for the year.
What are hybrid events?
Hybrid events are, quite simply, a mix of live and virtual events.
You take your live event, complete with an audience, content, and more, and you add a virtual component to it so your audience can participate and engage with your event, no matter where they are.
Engagement is the essential ingredient in hybrid events. Don’t miss it. This isn’t new. Connecting, sharing, exchanging and following up with interested prospects, untapped market segments, current customers and unknown future buyers is the fuel for business stability, growth and a competitive edge.
Your audience has shifted their needs, and your event needs to adapt to continue providing them what they want. Keeping only live events in your portfolio is not a safe play anymore – it’s a gamble. Bring them in with good content and let them decide how they want to engage.
We’ll close this one out with a quick snippet of a You Tube video from The Streaming Network, recapping a recent virtual event audience poll. Attendees were asked, if there was not a virtual event would you have come to the in person.
The number of yes’ astonished me! What did you think?