Webinars have been around seemingly forever, but it took 2020 to really see them truly thrive. The reason: the move of industry events from physical presences to online entities that include not only trade show booths and chat rooms, but fully fledged conferences featuring individual keynotes and multi-person panels.
So the question remains: Should your marketing dollars be spent on your company’s own webinar series to a known audience of prospects or should you invest in the one-stop shop of virtual events? The answer, of course, is both, but how much of one over another should be based on how you plan to meet both your marketing and business goals.
But first, let’s define the two and highlight their similarities and differences:
A webinar is a smaller event, generally involving one of your subject-matter experts and possibly one or more outside experts. It is promoted to your own audience, including your list of prospects. Any additional speakers may also promote to their audiences. Webinars are generally an hour or so in length, which can limit their scope and your ability to provide a complete message to your audience beyond the one focused topic of the webinar.
Webinars are more intimate settings and generally have one-click access. Today’s webinars are different from those of early days – many have chat rooms and other ways for speakers and attendees to connect, and most have the ability to show more than just scrolling slides. They can include streaming video of speakers and white boarding, among other features.
Upside of webinars:
A virtual event is more all-encompassing and much less personal. They go well beyond the “Hollywood Squares” static booth format of years past, and now include complete conferences, networking events, tutorials, and other types of interactive activities. Virtual events can also take place over multiple days.
With virtual events you have less control of the overall event. Your booth design and content are all yours, but any speaking slots you gain – unless it is a keynote – may not let your full message come across. Depending on how the virtual trade show is set up, it might be harder to find your complete “presence” at the show amongst the hundreds of exhibitors and speakers.
Upside of virtual events:
So, where should you spend your marketing dollars? We recommend a healthy mix of both. Ask yourself:
There are more factors that can help you decide where your focus in 2021 will be, but the questions above should give you a good start. Just a reminder: Keeping a firm focus on your marketing and business goals is key!
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