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The Silver Lining of a Canceled Event

Canceled events are a main point of conversation this spring. From small gatherings to large-scale conferences, companies are scrambling to minimize their losses and find ways to salvage some value from the efforts of event planning. While some are still trying to stick to face-to-face, others are accepting that it’s time to get thrifty.

The jump from an in-person event to a digital event isn’t easy, but any repurposing of your canceled event can still add value to your company’s digital presence and future processes. So, now that your time isn’t spent communicating with venues and catering, double down on updating and sharing your event content to bring surprising benefits to your team and customers.

Before completely giving up on the value of your canceled event, consider these upsides:

A canceled event is not the end of the world.

Canceling an event is painful. It feels like all that time effort and money was wasted for nothing, and it feels like you damage your reputation even if the canceled event was due to outside circumstances. It’s important to remember that while it seems like it was for nothing, you have gained value from the planning process. You learned lessons, fostered connections, and created processes that will all lead to smoother, higher-quality events down the road.

Canceled event content can be repurposed into digital and social marketing content

Having canceled event content is like having a beautiful gown with nowhere to wear it. So, why not just plan your own ball? Event content is usually in-depth, current and engaging points of view that are relevant to your audience. Those are the key factors of high-quality digital content.

Your digital presence and domain expertise will experience long-term benefits from quality informative presentations. Turn your canceled event content into tutorial videos, infographics and white papers to share and incentivize within your inbound marketing strategy. You can even reach out to your keynote speakers to see if they want to do some version of their presentation through a powerpoint or video interview. All of these strategies will strengthen your industry authority in the eyes of your audience, and those benefits can grow for years to come.

The event can be reproduced digitally or virtually

First, it’s important to determine whether a digital event would bring you and your event attendees maximum value. Even if your content can be translated to digital easily, that doesn’t necessarily mean it should be a scheduled live event. If the main driver for people to attend the event is the event itself, that would be hard to replicate through a computer. You need to determine if the value you bring through a digital event is worth the monetary value that the event costs to attend. When you skip this important thought process, you may be left with a lot of unsatisfied event attendees.

If the event’s main value driver is the presentation content, and you are confident you can offer equal value for ticket price, then there is a good chance that content can be translated into a digital format. Planning a digital event with the right resources, platforms and general interest can still instill excitement and relationship building in your clients, sponsors, speakers and attendees.

Postponing an event is not as straight-forward as it sounds.

Postponing an event can lead to a whirlwind of logistical nightmares, but if your event experience is the main driver for support, it may be the only option besides canceling. Postponing your event can seem like the easy, no-brainer option, but there are things to consider before sharing an “Event postponed: date TBD” message with your audience.

For example, we’ve seen tons of postponed events due to COVID-19. A reoccurring mistake we’ve seen is events are not being pushed far enough into the future. There is not one person in the world who knows when an event will be possible to hold again, but companies are assuming things will go on as normal come summer. In unprecedented times like these, that is asking for a second postponement and a second logistical nightmare.  

But, let’s say you have a promising date. Before announcing a postponement, Consider:  

Make sure first have the availability to execute the postponement. Make sure all vendors, sponsors, and supporters agree on the postponement, or you have alternative options for support if those falls through. It can be embarrassing and hard on a reputation when you make big promises for the original event that you can’t fill at the postponed date.   

Make sure that you can set a realistic date for your audience to adapt to and offer logistical support. If your attendees are coming from around the state, country, or world, you need to keep their travel limitations in mind. Make sure the date is far enough in the future for attendees to wrap their heads around the travel plans. Work with hotels and transportation to make the travel logistics as seamless as possible, so attendees will go through with the updated travel plans.  

Especially in the tech world, info can expire fast. Make sure your theme, content, and presentations are still relevant at the rescheduled date. If the information you promote seems outdated or behind the times, why would people want to tune in? Update your information that you will present so even though the event is pushed, the information and examples are fresh.  

If you decide that the show must go on(line), then there are ways to make the transition as seamless as possible.

Digital events can succeed (when best practices are followed)

Digital events can seem daunting to say the least. Even people who consider presenting to an audience second nature can be weirded out by totally different obstacles that webinars produce. The main blockers that may stop companies from testing a digital event is lack of attendance, lack of engagement, and issues around quality control. 

While most of these are a concern even for large companies, here are a few tips that can help you jump those digital event hurdles.

  1. Troubleshoot, troubleshoot, troubleshoot.  

    There will be technical difficulties before and during the event. For yours and the event coordinator’s well-being, embrace this inevitability. All the preparation in the world can’t assure you won’t run into problems, but it can help sort out any of the annoying or silly snafus that can happen when working with online assets the first time.   
    Run dress rehearsals of presentations not only to work out any technical kinks but to make the presenter feel comfortable and confident during the performance. A dress rehearsal helps indicate whether more enthusiasm in a voice needs to be used, or if they are showing their face, where they should focus their eye contact. It can help with understanding where questions will be coming in, how to address the awkward introduction process, and how to seamlessly end an interview.   

    Addressing all of these small, nit-picky details can add up to a much more streamlined and professional digital presentation experience for both the presenters and the viewers.  

  2. Use your presenters to help promote the event  

    One of the big hurdles for live online events is drumming up excitement and registrations for online webinars and presentations. The faces and planned themes of your headliners can stimulate excitement and involvement around your event. Ask your presenters to promote your event and their involvement therein with a promo video. This video can be used on their platform, yours, and for paid ads.  

    See if the presenters with large social audiences will promote their talks on their accounts, so their audiences are informed and you can repost to your own. Your event can get new increased engagement from 3 channels instead of just your own: The people that care about your event, the people that care about the presenter, and the people that care about the presentation topic.  

  3. Offer per presentation pricing as an alternative to full access.  

    One of the advantages you can offer with a digital event is the ability to pick and choose the events they want to purchase a seat for. That means, you may be able to drum up more involved attendees than if you just had one all-access ticket option, as is the norm for many conferences and events.  

    With an a la carte pricing strategy, there is less of a commitment from the attendee side. They may be more inclined to be involved both physically and financially if they are only paying for the information that is relevant to them.   

  4. Plan questions, talking points, or just morale boosters  

    Crowd engagement can make or break a webinar, but being the very first person to engage can be intimidating. By plugging in friends and colleagues to break the ice during Q+As, round table discussions and tutorials, they can open the gate for other attendees to engage with the presenters. This type of conversation can be the main source of value people glean from online events, and on top of that can boost confidence and in turn the performance of the presenter. So, have a plan of attack in place for instigating the back-and-forth.   

Ready to find the value in your canceled event content? Reach out to our team for help with a great digital content strategy!

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