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How to Create An Effective Virtual Event Common Mistakes Event Managers Should Avoid White Paper


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How to Create An Effective Virtual Event Common Mistakes Event Managers Should Avoid Introduction Virtual events have spread beyond tradeshow exhibitions to encompass a wide range of strategic events based around business needs. In the process, they’ve become powerful corporate collaboration business applications for virtual sales conferences, product demonstrations, analyst and press briefings, and even internal corporate events. Virtual technology marketing solutions are proving a cost-effective digital marketing channel ideal for social marketing interactions that are instant, dynamic, fluid, and relevant. Around the world, web-based virtual applications are becoming an increasingly important platform for corporate and brand marketing organizations. Unlike traditional media channels, virtual experiences combine interactive brand, strategic, creative, and technical elements that initiate and respond online to customer behaviors. This white paper will review proven methods for maximizing an investment in a virtual experience.

Website for Cisco Live! Virtual.

As a leading provider of virtual experience technology to organizations of all sizes and categories, 6Connex makes the following recommendations.

Plan Enough Time Enough planning and development time is, without a doubt, the most important foundation for a successful virtual experience. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for companies to wait as little as three weeks before an event launch to contact a virtual technology provider. The effects and demands of planning and preparing an event in such a compressed timeframe can be significant. With less room to design, build, and test, there’s more stress on your resources and teams before and during the launch.

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Allowing the time to design an effective content strategy is especially vital. Packaging and presenting content requires distinct planning, creative, and technical considerations. The consequences of not having enough time for this can have a domino effect that results in information not being as streamlined, accessible, or helpful as it could be. If available, take advantage of your virtual technology provider’s strategic event planning services and allow at least several weeks to plan and shape solid content that addresses key attendee groups. As with any dynamic, interactive communication, there will always be tweaks that need to be made. In addition to collapsing important design, production, and QA cycles, a lack of time often results in event stakeholders being unable to check the entire event and make critical last-minute changes. All content should be loaded several days before the launch date and all presentations should be thoroughly tested before going live. Links and promotions should be checked to ensure everything is running correctly. Also, collecting content and creating promos early in the process allows more time to organize and load the Content Management System (CMS) which is the central tool for creating and managing any virtual experience.

Content Management System (CMS)

These issues can almost always be avoided by initiating event development no later than six weeks before launch with planning, promotion strategy, budget, and objectives completed and already in place. In the kick off, set deadlines and commit to holding to them. One of the greatest shared elements of successful virtual events is having enough planning time and avoiding large last-minute changes.

Plan Your Promotional Banner Strategy While this relates to lack of time, it’s also about mindshare. Many event owners see promotional banners as an afterthought because of an emphasis on content creation and upload. Promotional banners are, in fact, an important element and can be linked to many different items and locations in a virtual event. If they’re not utilized, event owners can miss a key tool for informing attendees about, and driving traffic to, presentations and specific content.

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Promotional graphics for the event should be designed early in the Planning phase. Determine how many banners are needed for the lobby, exhibit hall(s), booths, and networking lounge promotional area. Make sure they’re prepped and ready several days before the event so you can preview them in the environment and determine timing and click states.

Website for Navistar Virtual Event

Create Digestible Content That’s Manageable in Your Booth In a virtual tradeshow, each exhibitor can have a customized booth with anywhere between one to six “nodes” or screens for displaying and accessing content. It’s important that each exhibitor organizes their content and determines its distribution across the nodes in advance of booth creation and build. Many exhibitors realize too late that they need a larger or smaller booth and have to completely recreate a booth and reload content at the last minute. This can be easily avoided if each booth owner considers the different booth node options available ahead of time and determines how their content fits appropriately across the available nodes.

Avoid Having Multiple Booths for the Same Exhibitor Giving an exhibitor with too much content a second or third booth is not an optimal strategy. More than one booth with the same name can be confusing for attendees. If additional booths for one partner are needed, be sure to name multiple booths from the same company with uniquely different modifiers. Event managers should always think in terms of one booth to one partner. In fact, we advise clients think of each partner in terms of a booth early in the planning process. If not, bugs, confusion, inconsistent load times, and inaccurate metrics could plague the event.

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Don’t Train Too Early on Content Management and Chat Systems For every virtual event, the Control Panel Content Management System (CMS) is the primary tool for creating and managing design elements, content, promotional messages, booths, exhibit hall structure, and design, and other featured elements. Understanding and knowing how to use this technology is paramount and, naturally, event owners want CMS training to learn how to build their event. But, if done too soon, they often forget how to use the tool and need retraining. To avoid this, complete CMS training as close as possible to the actual build of the event instance. The same goes for the live Chat System—the central element in interaction between attendees, exhibitors, and partners. Like learning the CMS, going through chat training too far in advance of a live event can result in the need for it to be repeated. We recommend event administrators, product specialists, subject matter experts, and booth representatives are trained on chat within seven days of the launch to keep it fresh and top of mind.

Group Chat

Don’t Assume Attendees know Keynotes are in the Auditorium When most visitors enter a virtual environment—especially if they’re new to virtual experiences—they usually like to explore and can miss an important presentation or an executive keynote in the auditorium. While there are many similarities between a physical and virtual tradeshow exhibition, if attendees haven’t been informed, don’t assume they know where to go. This can be easily remedied with a promotional banner or a broadcast message displayed fifteen minutes before a key presentation. As in a physical event, simple awareness can be a strong attendance driver.

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Booth Reps Shouldn’t Wait for Attendees to Chat Advanced chat technology gives virtual booth representatives and stakeholders the ability to determine when a visitor enters their booth in real time. And, too often, they err on the side of inaction and assume visitors will reach out to them. This can reduce valuable interaction and relationship opportunities and undercut sales. Significant money, time, and effort are spent getting visitors to a booth and each is a potential customer. Like a physical tradeshow, making the decision to “cross the line” and enter an exhibit connotes a fundamental level of interest. And if they don’t wish to chat with a booth rep, they can always decline or not respond. For an attendee, a lack of inquiry or an invitation to chat can be interpreted as disinterest or lack of awareness. For event and exhibit sponsors, this mistake can be avoided by regularly reminding booth reps to proactively network with customers through the chat functionality.

Be Assertive On Lead Generation When a booth representative does interact with an attendee, they often forget to ask them to “swipe” their virtual badge. This is an excellent way to obtain their personal information, and connect it to their interests, needs, and in-booth dialogue for follow up at a later time. Like an invitation to chat, visitors always have the option to decline having their badge swiped. If they do, exhibitors are in a unique position to drive the relationship dynamic. Instruction-based communications are typically more effective in a virtual event than in a physical one.

Virtual Badge Pop-up

This mistake can be mitigated by consistently reminding booth representatives about the importance of this lead-profile tool. Asking visitors if they can swipe their badge so they can be sent information that can be viewed at their leisure should become second nature in virtual selling environments. However, if this isn’t successful, it’s important to promote the ability of exchanging automatically generated vCards in one-to-chat. While not as comprehensive in terms of data gathering, this is still an effective way to get a visitor’s name and email for follow-up later.

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Conclusion Around the world, event-based virtual marketing experiences are benefiting from increasing attention and attendance. And the most successful virtual events result from the coordinated and timely integration of strategic planning, creative, and technical elements. We strongly suggest taking these recommendations into consideration to get the most from your investment in this important emerging social media platform.

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6Connex, a wholly owned subsidiary of Design Reactor, is the pioneer of virtual experience technology marketing solutions. Our Virtual Experience Platform enables businesses and individuals to connect and engage virtually anytime and anywhere using a dimensional environment-like architecture for B2B or B2C social networking whether it’s as a tradeshow, event or conference, and beyond. 6Connex has developed award-winning, results-oriented virtual technology marketing solutions for industry leaders such as Cisco, HP and Proctor and Gamble. Visit http://www.6Connex.com.

Web3D Host Co. is the one stop solution to hosting virtual trade shows, conferences or symposiums. Leveraging the 6Connex Virtual Experience Platform, Web3D Host Co. offers the tools and technical support needed to host a successful virtual event. They provide their clients with industry best practices and also give companies the tools to track potential prospects with a state-of-the-art data management system. Call them today and start planning for your next virtual event and avoid the frustration and expense associated with physical trade shows. Consultants are standing by. For more information, call 617 849-3428 or visit their front office at http://web3dhost.com.

6Connex, Inc. (“6Connex”) and Web3D Host Co. (“Partner”) are each independent contractors, and nothing herein contained shall be construed to imply the existence of a partnership or joint venture between them, nor to make either one an agent of the other. The use of the term “Partner” is not intended in any way to constitute any type of legal partnership whatsoever between 6Connex Inc. and Partner. The relationship between 6Connex, Inc. and Partner is that of independent contractor only, and is NOT employer-employee, partner, principal-agent or joint venture. 6Connex does not make any representations or endorsement of any of the products or services listed here which are provided by non-6Connex sources. Such information was provided by the named source, and 6Connex has made no effort to independently verify the products or services. Users of this information are responsible for checking with the non-6Connex source to confirm the specific implementation of their system. In any event, 6Connex shall not incur any liability as a result of the listing of this information by the named source. ©2009 Web3D Host Co. All rights reserved. Certain portions of this document were prepared under license using copyrighted material and content of 6Connex Inc. (“6Connex”), and may not be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of 6Connex. 6Connex reserves all rights and ownership in the 6Connex material and content used, and in contributions made by its employees, in the preparation of this document. 6Connex, the 6Connex logo, Virtual Experience Platform, “Where Virtual is the New Reality,” and other trademarks, service marks, and designs are registered or unregistered trademarks of 6Connex in the United States and in foreign countries. Web3D Host Co. is a trademark of Web3D Host Co. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

P 000487

10-09-2009

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