Putting you a step ahead of the competition │ Virtual events that celebrate the positives of 2020 and strategize for 2021

The Canadian Business Resilience Network brings together a vast network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade and more than 100 of Canada’s leading business and industry associations, from all regions and sectors of the economy. This network represents diverse viewpoints, and the CBRN blog provides a platform to share ideas with other members of the business community and the federal government. The opinions expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of CBRN or the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. 

By Meghan Banys
The Agenda Events

In 2020, the COVID‐19 pandemic clearly showed that Canadian corporations, associations and small and medium‐sized businesses rely on events as a critical component of business engagement and marketing, sales activities and revenue streams, and provide the ‘value‐add’ that leaves people talking.  Without them, the cut is deep — for the business, the brand and its people. 

As we come to the finish line of 2020 and reflect, business enterprises are looking, more than ever, for creative yet economical ways to celebrate, show appreciation and spread joy during the holiday season among their networks, client and customer bases, and communities. With face‐to‐face holiday galas and receptions now a seemingly distant memory, businesses need to adopt new ways of doing, to speak to the collective yet individual interests, values and needs of their key people. This will happen through the use of innovative formats, tailored programming and big personalities that provide both that personal touch and the ‘value‐add’ of doing business with your organization.

The Good News?

The opportunity to share your value has never been easier — thanks to ‘going virtual’.

Interestingly, the pandemic has demonstrated that the virtual world is not as daunting or restrictive as some may have thought pre‐COVID‐19.  In fact, going virtual has enabled nearly 50% of the Canadian population to work remotely since March 2020 and the first half of 2020 saw an 8.8% reduction in carbon emissions as compared to the same period in 2019. In addition, working or meeting remotely has shrunk the distance, no matter how far, between customers and clients through the tap of a device screen.   

Similarly, while not always embraced pre‐pandemic, the full shift towards virtual events in 2020 has forced event designers and producers, and clients alike to think outside‐of‐the‐box and harness the world of opportunity that going virtual offers. This means providing the ultimate event experience to everyone through virtual events that are reimagined and infused with creativity to strategically tell your story, eliminating geographical barriers to gain access to new markets and business partnerships and the great opportunity provided for clear cost savings, that can free up funds to be redirected elsewhere.

But Where Do You Start?

Move Away From Templates and Get Customized: No Hiding Behind the Room Décor Now!
Your virtual event needs to be tailored to your brand, your strategic objectives AND speak directly to your target audience [whether that be your conference, tradeshow, networking function, capacity‐building seminar or a milestone celebration] should you wish to see a return on investment, set yourself apart from the competition and get people talking. This does not change in a face‐to‐face or virtual event environment. In fact, if anything, the pandemic has reinforced how critical it is to tailor your event so that your key people overcome meeting fatigue, sift through the noise and spot you above it, dial‐in and engage for the duration, and walk away talking about the event experience and raving about your brand to others. 

But How Do You Do It?

Step away from the “tired and true” way of doing events; you’re not in Kansas any more!
The ‘new normal’ has different requirements and realities— everywhere —including events.  As such, simply taking your face‐to‐face event and transferring it over to a virtual platform will not work. The pandemic has clearly demonstrated that by taking this approach to virtual events will not inspire meaningful engagement, ignite passion or generate impact.  Standard face‐to‐face formats, agendas and slide‐deck driven presentations are simply not enough to keep people sitting in front of their screen for hours without feeling like there is something in it for them.  Because of this, your switch to virtual means you need a hook — something that keeps people tuned in. In a face‐to‐face event setting that can be a challenge to pinpoint, in the virtual world, it is a whole new ballgame.

The truth is…

… as business owners or CEOs, many of the same issues keep us up at night – how do we go beyond maintaining our bottom line; stay connected with our key people and continue to expand our reach; and spread awareness about ourselves to stay relevant and ahead of the competition?