Virtual events - A viable marketing strategy
Virtual events are gaining ground as a viable marketing strategy. What constitutes a virtual event? It is considered to be any live or recorded presentation of information using the computer, telephone or video. It includes webinars, teleseminars, Internet live TV and Internet live radio. I can attest to its gaining popularity as my online radio show has significantly gained momentum and a following over a short period of time. This is because of the quality of the content, which has to be useful and valuable to the audience, as well as have a professional delivery. The same rule applies to any virtual event. It takes meticulous planning when doing any type of event, whether it is the traditional live event or virtual event.
Let's take a look at it from varying perspectives. From the small business person trying to get their name and business out there to the large corporations, who are trying to maintain their brand.
As a small business person, one of the common challenges is finances. Employing the strategy of virtual events with simple free technology such as Skype can go a long way. You don't even need a webcam, but if you want to video conference, then having one will allow you do that. A basic headset will do and computers nowadays come with a webcam installed. I use Skype to conduct my business meetings locally and internationally, and it is free once you speak from PC to PC, therefore saving you call charges. Even if you have to pay charges to make a landline call from your Skype account, you can order a minimum of US$10 and I assure you, the credit purchased will last a very long time!
Did you know that you can create your own video and movies using MS Windows Movie Maker? Yup! You already have it installed. It's free, so why not use it? You have to be the creative type, though, and be able to put some PowerPoint slides together, add some music or audio or even use your own voice and, viola! You have just created your own movie, book trailer, ad, sales pitch, product demo or whatever your goal is translated on video. Having some visual form of marketing helps to grab the audience's attention and get them to take action.
How about some recording? Ok, there is this free software that is easy to download called 'Audacity'. I use that too. As a matter of fact, anything I suggest I use as well, for I will only recommend the products and services I use.
Creating your own audio is just as simple as using Skype, just use your webcam microphone or headset with Audacity, record what you want to say and then save the file as an MP3 or WAV file. What can you do with this? Share this and/or your video on YouTube and iTunes to gain visibility and followers.
How about transcribing the audio into an article or blog post? Oh, wait! What about coming up with some tips or resource sheet or, as a business person, you may want to record a customer or client testimonial via audio or video as to why your product is the best product on the market or the results they received from using it? Simply use your phone and upload. Work some magic by integrating it with some PowerPoint and you will have a simple, yet professional, testimonial from your customer that can go a long way in you and your business gaining credibility in the market.
As a small business person trying to make it on a limited budget, some other places I would suggest you take a serious look at - which are also for free - are http://goanimate.com/ and animoto.com. So push some video and audio out there and see what happens.
Ok, now on to the big guys in the marketplace. Those businesses that are already established and doing well in their estimation, but need to maintain their position.
Virtual events help to separate you from the rest of the competition. It shows you are at the forefront and on the leading edge of technology, willing to look at new ways of reaching your customers, therefore increasing accessibility in both directions - to you the organisation and to the customer.
You definitely will be saving chunks of money in the long run. Yes, it will cost you to bring in or contract someone to help you out when planning and coordinating your virtual events, if there is no one in-house that is versed with the technology and skills to moderate and deal with trouble-shooting and after-event activities. And, yes, it can be stressful (not on you, if you contract someone) but it is worth it. Your return on investment will be multi-fold as from one event you can earn multiple streams of income. That's called repurposing and that's the game plan utilised by many successful individuals and businesses that use virtual-event technology.
It will interest large and small businesses that there is a cost saving of 50-75 per cent when you use virtual events as opposed to live traditional events - you save on food, hotel fees, airfare, per diem, food, printing documents and so much more. And if you were concerned about having giveaways, you can conduct giveaways with virtual technology!
higher completion rate
Not only is it convenient, but companies can benefit from a higher completion rate when it comes to activities, as well as a higher conversion rate if you were selling or promoting a product or service online.
Companies and businesses also open up themselves to an untapped audience that can be reached globally, and by allowing attendees the option to either listen, call in or chat, it opens up the diversity and increase in attendance even further.
Having a live audience allows you, the companies and large business, to really get to know your target market, for there is direct one-on-one contact, which, by the way, is the direction the world is moving toward: greater interaction and real-time responses. This is the reason Facebook and Twitter are doing so well.
As a certified virtual-events specialist, this is something I use everyday for my own business and for my clients. I also volunteer my skills for what is called 'coffee chats', which are conducted online through webinar technology, that I manage and moderate with attendees from all over the world. It is great to connect live and in real time with a diversified audience that shares the same or similar goal. Why not consider virtual events as a viable marketing strategy in 2013 and beyond? Believe me, if you don't start now, you will be left behind.
Corine La Font is an author, certified author assistant and online book marketing specialist. Get a copy of her book at http://amzn.to/TFHQka. Tune in to her radio programme at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/helpdeskjaShe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.helpdeskja.com.