Let's face it the events industry is no exception to the challenges we're facing right now with the Corona Virus - in fact we're one of the industries being hit the hardest. Hearing about Mobile World Congress, IMEX Frankfurt and SWSX cancelling just as a couple of examples .. of course creates this anxiety for the whole industry.
I've been in the events industry for over 20 years now and I've seen some of the difficult times with September 11, SARS in 2002, the Credit Crunch and now COVID-19 is causing the storm. Those that survived these challenging cycles know that strong, positive action, firm decisions, effective planning, flexibility and openness are crucial for survival!
With events being cancelled and others being postponed until H2 or even next year, I feel a positive fighting spirit is needed to help us get through. So in true resilient style taught by my event industry Jedi's and other mentors along the way, these are 18 actions that we can take today to pick ourselves up, push forward and come out stronger.
This post is split in three parts:
- Considering cancellation or postponement of your event(s)
- 18 ideas on what to do now that you postponed/cancelled your event
- Very important resources you must check now / subscribe
Considering cancellation or postponement of your event?
If this is a situation that you are currently facing, our dear friend Piers Bearne and the team Collingwood Advisory have put together this "Decision Process Chart" which we strongly recommend you take a deeper look at, if you haven't done so already.
18 ideas on what to do now that you postponed/cancelled your event
Please take this as a creative braindump on what could be done, every business, region is different, so please take whatever you find useful. If you at least action or find one of these ideas I will be very happy.
1. Keep calm and carry on, keep your relentless positivity!
All of us that have been in the industry for a while know that, cancelling or postponing an event (especially if the event is large) is financially painful, mentally draining and morally challenging for everyone.
Mindset - you need to be mentally strong and stay extremely positive to carry you through a tough period
This is the time to remain 100% positive and resilient, we people in events are extremely resilient.
This resource is packed with extremely useful discussions and resources related to this particular topic.
Use this link to join: https://guildco.page.link/XQqfbZXQCZHbhiwPA
3. Provide extended refund policies for future events
This is a great way to continue promoting your event while everyone is sitting on the fence - and if you are able to combine this with really interesting early bird offers there is no reason why those that are really interested will not be able to join.
4. Double and treble up on your marketing communications and exposure
You might ask... BUT we've just cancelled our biggest event / we've just moved it to H2, what are we going to say?
Develop Thought Leading Content - thought leading articles + posts + infographics for your audience.
FOCUS on adding value, dig out as much content you have from previous events, videos etc... and start adding value to your audience, share knowledge, help your customers and your prospects. Remember staying POSITIVE that is the tone of your communications overall.
This is the period when some particular departments that would otherwise be very busy are able to help out with developing content, speaking to your audience, collecting thoughts, helping out by amplifying messages through social media.
5. Pivot to a virtual event or whatever digital platform or format you want to use.
What does this mean? The obvious and more common option is to do a series of live webinars, but there are many other types. (see a list of virtual event solutions here)
We favour webinars as it allows you to manage registrations, acquire leads and track their digital behaviour on your CRM and marketing platform.
So, ask your presenters and speakers if they would be happy to do their presentation live and give your attendees the opportunity to get the value of what they already signed up for.
The key here is maximising on the YESES that your speakers have already given you and still try to get them to deliver the presentation they committed to do. IF it can't be live, do not worry... there's still an opportunity to record it and amplify it later.
Our friend William Thomson from Gallus Events shares 5 ways in which you can take your event virtual:
Now more importantly check out which platforms can help with each of these options, watch the video or see the descriptions in it on YouTube.
If you want to see a virtual event on "Going Virtual" you might also want to consider joining our very good friend Julius Solaris from EventMB.com - "Pivot to Virtual – a Two-Hour Special Online Event"
6. Start an online community!
Do it on your blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, WhatsApp, Guild, Slack or whatever suits your needs. The name of the game is get STARTED .
Guild is offering its platform free for 6 months to all event organisers that have cancelled an event. Here is their site, a guide on how this could work for you, and if you need further I am sure Ashley Friedlein will be happy to help.
7. If you already have an online community for your events - leverage it for revenue opportunities
Use this opportunity to pivot your sales and sponsorship offering to lead generation campaigns, joining you on the virtual events options journey etc, smaller digital events etc. Both sponsors and attendees need for knowledge, learning and networking will still be very relevant.
8. Involve your speakers by getting them to send "Cheer up" videos and snippets of the content.
Encourage your speakers to spread the positivity.. the ripple effect. Everyone would have booked that time in their diaries, so ask if they will still be willing to do their presentation.
9. Consider organising local meet-ups
If people are not travelling but still want to have the benefit of the networking event, your company can help facilitate local meetups, run by a key partner. Bear in mind that some local authorities will be having restrictions on public gatherings of certain size. Having said that, that doesn't mean that you will not think of this as an option once the storm has settled.
10. Arrange for satellite gatherings with local experts, even better if it is at a sponsor's offices / HQ.
Might not be relevant for all types of events and in certain regions but we're in the spirit of exploring all options here!
11. Run live interviews / Q&A's with speakers
Not as complicated as a webinar or virtual event but something that you can use using your online meeting platform (We love Zoom - so simple and fast) and invite people to sign up or simply stream it live via YouTube, Facebook or whatever social media tool you use.
12. Run intimate round tables with segments of your audience with local experts / this can also be done virtually
It might not be your core business but you can provide the benefit of thought leading discussions amongst a small group of like minded professionals.
13. Bring back early bird discounts / special offers
The event marketing cycle simply starts all over again - except you will have the benefit of more lead-time, it is also an opportunity to drive revenue still.
14. Do video or do more video
This is not only your chance to embrace video to promote your future event and share value add content to your audience, but also to maintain that personal touch with all of your stakeholders.
I am talking about video for Marketing, for Sales, for Speaker engagement etc. This is an opportunity to stand out from your competitors.
15. Embrace remote working / Get your free book
Many businesses are not being forced to consider remote working for their staff. This is genuinely one of the approaches that I think will be left as a positive legacy once this is over. Remote working is here to stay. Now is the chance to do it and to do it right.
Love this initiative by Jason Fried (founder of Basecamp) - out to benefit the collective and help change organisations and peoples approach.
He is giving away their book free. Well, you need to buy it and they will refund the money. More on this here.
16. Sort out your CRM and Database
With remote working being one of the most popular business actions being taken by almost every organiser, having a central database and CRM that can be accessed from anywhere is super critical.
For some sorting out their CRM means changing platforms, for others it means sorting out their databases and the insight they derive from it. Whatever it is this is your chance to tackle it.
If you need help with HubSpot's Free CRM, we can get you up and running fairly quickly. Book a time to chat here.
17. Take the opportunity to launch your podcasts
If your marketing team has been sitting on the fence about launching podcasts and spending time generating content, then this is the time to make the jump. It's an extremely good opportunity to get started.
18. Embrace marketing & sales automation
Many companies put off key projects due to the current workloads. But implementing marketing automation in the marketing department, sales departments and content/production teams is very important and this could be the time where you can simply devote proper time to get these key projects off the ground.
These are key resources and discussions that you must be checking and taking part.
EventMB.com - "Pivot to Virtual – a Two-Hour Special Online Event"
Non definitive list of virtual events solutions curated by Adam Parry from eventindustrynews.com
Conversations and movements on the net worth checking
UFI on the other side are also rooting and supporting with the campaign WE ARE OPEN FOR
Together we stand. Our industry exists to provide businesses with opportunities to learn, educate themselves, network, connect and do business.
Let's keep in that spirit and use our resilient focus to drive creativity in how we are able to deliver these experiences to our audiences. Replacing the one to one aspect will never be the same but in light of the current circumstances we need to adapt and keep going.
We ourselves are running our own webinars on Marketing Automation and Event Sales Automation which we welcome you all to join.
Finally if you want to bounce off ideas on how you or your team can use any of these opportunities to your advantage, lets schedule a call and I will be very happy to help.