Published: Thursday 1st October 2015

How valuable is virtual?

How valuable is a virtual relationship? Is it possible to recreate the depth of relationship digitally that we can forge just by being together, being present? 

Although a fully paid up and committed citizen of the virtual world, I sometimes wonder about the other one I also inhabit, you know, the real one. I worry that it’s being eclipsed by the mighty presence of social media and the immense importance attached to building online relationships. My preference is for dual nationality.

Keeping it real with event marketing

We need to keep it real recognising that face-to-face interactions strengthen relationships at an emotional level with prospects and clients. Which is why event marketing is a vital part of the new business programme. An agency event doesn’t have to be lavish affair, but it will take a fair bit of organisation. That said, it’s worth the extra hours if you consider the benefits.

Starting with your purpose

Events are designed to attract prospects (and engage stakeholders) by being commercially relevant and topical. You may opt for third party involvement to lend credibility, perhaps co-creating research and/or sponsoring an industry expert round table. Well designed and executed, events enhance relationships and strengthen your agency’s positioning, with an additional benefit for your marketing plan – the creation of valuable content.

Learning and interacting

Social interaction is the engine that powers ideas, and creating a live event is the fuel that ignites them – even more so if it’s interactive. In the digital world, ideas, content and sharing are common currency, so the focus of a successful live event needs to shift towards learning, retention and creating an immersive experience.

Advances in tech mean you can achieve all this and more by deploying any number of new opportunities including innovative presentation techniques and formats plus the ability to give your audience a voice. Harnessing the power of tech they can shape the agenda, vote on questions and participate in polls – light years ahead of the Q&A session.

Delivering client value

Staging an event allows you to position your agency as a valuable resource, above and beyond those reasons why your clients hire you and your prospects choose to engage with you.

You are creating additional value by identifying quality speakers who offer expert knowledge and insights on relevant commercial issues. You will also be seen as a valuable connector of people, making thoughtful introductions and expanding your clients’ networks. And these introductions will in turn be more valuable because they are face-to-face.

Pre and post event communications

Orchestrating a marketing campaign in advance of your event will help you build anticipation and shape expectations – creating interest and demand.

Post event communications should echo the in-person experience and re-enforce the key out-takes. There are many creative avenues including the distribution of photos, video and written materials. Encourage feedback and keep the conversation going.

We all advise our clients that these days, successful brands need to create a brilliant end-to-end customer experience. So I guess it’s the same advice we should give to ourselves – engage and delight across all touchpoints, virtual and in-person. If you want to build more personalised relationships, event marketing is the way to go.

Janine Abrahams