It’s quite possible that live events (or at least hybrid ones) will make their return in Q3 or Q4. Mobile World Congress has already said it will host its 2021 event in person in late June and early July in Barcelona after being forced to cancel on short notice in 2020 when the world began to shut down. ITEXPO likewise moved its dates to the end of June in Miami, and others are likely to follow suit as vaccine rollouts accelerate. Expect temperature checks, mask wearing, social distancing and attendance limits at the events that do make it out of the gate in 2021, but that’s to be expected after the worldwide pandemic.
So, as we start to think about events again, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Have you budgeted for events, or are all your event dollars going elsewhere? If you’re like other companies in the IoT, cloud, mobile, wireless and telecom industries, you’ve held out hope that events will occur and budgeted accordingly. Companies have found it’s easier to pivot from one marketing activity to another, but pivoting from virtual events to live events requires much more planning. It’s also easier to do that when you have budget to spend.
Can you pivot your event marketing materials as needed? Preparation for live events takes longer than for virtual events and other marketing activities, so be sure you’re committing to develop those materials early enough in the process—and don’t forget to include shipping time for booth materials.
Be prepared to talk about new themes. COVID-19 inherently changed the way we communicated with our audiences, and those new ways of doing business should spill over into your event marketing materials, much like it has taken hold in your website and sales calls. Customers want to know how you’re going to help them do business in the post-COVID environment.
Look for last-minute speaking opportunities. While online events are filling their speaking slots closer to deadline, shows holding live events are still closing their call for speakers three to six months in advance. That doesn’t mean you should give up—shows will often make room for an exceptional speaker or topic. Don’t pester the organizer, though.
If an event is hybrid, make sure to find ways to engage both the live audience and remote visitors. Both can end up being stellar customers. Find ways to combine the experience without making either group feel like a second-class citizen.
Whether live events actually occur in 2021 is still an unknown, but event organizers look to be moving in that direction. Prepping for events now—at least on paper—can help you get moving quickly as decisions are made.
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