Taking your first event online – what you need to consider
Many organisations are scrambling to get their next event online. For some their ‘next’ event will also be there first online event. So what do you need to consider if you are taking your event online for the first time?
If you simply don’t know where to start with going online, then I’d suggest you watch our Five Options for taking your event online. That short video also suggests some platforms to get you started.
If you are here because you know you want to take your event online and you are looking for some more support, then you can look at this article as a kind of checklist.
As well as a list of things to think about before you take your first event online, I have loosely suggested the order of things that you should look at.
So ten things to consider BEFORE your online event goes live!
Will the event generate income? Or is it for lead generation or another business objective?
What price will you charge or will it be part of a subscription or membership offering?
- What timeline do you have to work with?
What will the online product look like? What parts of a physical event will you try to replicate online? Can you move parts of your event to a different physical environment, or offer different forms of engagement? How will all of this play out online?
Gauge and evaluate the ‘digital suitability’ of the content you will broadcast
What is the value proposition for each and all of your stakeholders?
What will your Marketing/Communications contain? What should you say and how do you sell?
What tech do you need inc. platform, recording, hosting and making available for later?
Do you need to give guidance and guidelines for participants?
- What skills are currently within your team, in what areas can you quickly upskill, and where can you find additional support?
Pause, it will be worth it
It is totally understandable that you will place this kind of planning and strategic thinking beyond the horizon of your next event (I have a client who has an event in 10 days!) and I have my own event in May in London for 250 people. So I promise you I GET IT.
I don’t want you to stop planning that event, however, I do want you to pause.
Maybe that pause is for a few hours or maybe it is one day, but that pause is crucial.
Maybe it is your senior team getting together and crunching some numbers. Or maybe it is a more structured support call with an online events expert?
No matter how you use this time it is crucial that you pause.
During that pause I want you to take the time to look at the following ten areas in as much detail as you can.
Without exception, every company that is taking its first event online should find the time to work through these ten areas.
If you don’t pause, and don’t work through these areas, your first digital event may be your last!
What you have to consider if you are live streaming your first event
1. Are you going to generate revenue from it, or are you going to use it for lead generation (that someway down the line) leads to revenue? Or with it be both? Is it the plan to boost your thought leadership position?
2. The next thing and related to your income generation is pricing. I am not just asking if you are going to charge or not, but to look at this in much more detail.
So, if you are charging, what price do you change for someone who has booked to attend your physical event? What price should you charge now? Are you offering a different price for groups and do you have a price for company wide access?
Do you bundle this content or do you include it in a subscription model?
You need a pricing matrix and you really need to take some time to make sure you have this right.
3. Exactly what will you be able to achieve ‘successfully’ in the time period you have?
If you have more than a few weeks you are likely to be able to recreate and deliver more of the physical event online. If you have less time, this might well lead to less of the event going online. So look at what you can do successfully and not bite off more than you can stream!
4. What are you going to offer as an online product?
Will you try to replicate your physical event as much as you can, or should you decide to only host the content and add some moderated Q&A? The options are out there. You can create a digital exhibition, you can have 1.2.1 meetings: this is all possible. But is it right for you? Check out a list of platforms that can help you do this.
This is a big decision for you to take, and there are options. Again, the five options video we posted will help you decided on what is best for you and recommend a few platforms.
5. If you just point a camera at people on stage and have no consideration for your digital audience, you are unlikely to be operating in the digital space for long.
You have to look at the content you plan to take online and think ‘will people watch this’, ‘will people engage with our booths’, ‘will they actually meet online’.
You need to look at your content and think how will this translate to a digital audience? We created the ultimate guide to briefing online speakers and this is a great template to get you started!
6. What is at the heart of your online proposition? Put another way, just because you offer it as an option to your stakeholders, doesn’t mean that anyone will want it!
Your online event is a very different proposition from your physical event and as an organiser, you have to consider the role that each stakeholder will play.
You can’t just assume that taking it online will mirror the offer to those who wanted to take part. Taking your event digitally means you HAVE to offer a different value proposition to your stakeholders.
7. How will you tell people about your shift to digital?
This is a crucial element and it is easy to get caught it in the doing and forget about the telling.
If you are taking that first event online it is unlikely that you have the marketing comms ready to go. Exactly how are you selling this new proposition? How are you marketing digitally and how are you encouraging your stakeholders to help you amplify your event?
If you look at your online product as a ‘new product’ you are likely to come up with a better marketing approach than if you simply think it’s a similar product, just delivered differently.
8. What you shouldn’t do, is find a platform that you like and then fit your event into that.
I have left platforms towards the end.
In reality, many organisers think that this is the first thing that should be on their list.
Well, I hope to persuade you, that there are a lot of great tech options now and your event decisions don’t have to be driven by the technology.
You should decide on what you want to replicate online, what you can ‘sell’ to your attendees, what you can actively support considering the timelines and THEN find the most appropriate platform.
You may be surprised by how good the online tech actually is! Check out our small list of must see online tech tools.
9. What support are you able to provide for those new to online events?
You may not be the only one who is jumping online for the first time.
It may be the first online event that your speakers have taken part in.
It may be the first online event your exhibitors have been involved in.
And it may be the first online event that your attendees have joined.
So what support do you have to offer those stakeholders to make sure they make the most of your event?
10. Skills gap analysis
Online is a new territory for many businesses.
It is not a physical event just made digital.
There are specific skills that you will need if you are going to take an event online successfully.
Some businesses will make this pivot quite easily, we know how flexible event professionals are, but we can’t underestimate the differences from physical to online.
So what skills do you have in-house and how can you quickly find support that can make all the difference?
Pause, and then get cracking
You can hopefully see why I have suggested a need to pause before you take your first event online.
The above list might look like an incredibly long list of things to do.
To clarify, not every area is one that you have to do BEFORE you go online, much of it can be done alongside your other decisions and actions to get online.
The important thing is that you have to consider all these things if you want to make that first event a successful one.
We are here to help.
And in order to help more organisers get online, we have halved our day rate and are able to work on an hourly basis. Get in touch if you want to discuss how we can help you take your first event online.