Don't underestimate the impact of live events

Cannings Purple 13 Feb 2018
3 mins

Want to make a splash with clients and stakeholders? There’s a lot of value in a live event – despite the challenges — writes Emma Britton.

In a world where we connect online at an ever-quickening pace, hosting a live event or holding a face-to-face catch up can seem … outdated. It’s inconvenient. You have to juggle calendars. People might not show.

Why host an event when you can blast out an EDM to your contacts to get your message across? Why bother with networking when you can sit at home and tweet (or even pretend you were at the function #HowToNetworkWithoutReallyNetworking)?

The benefits of hosting a live event don’t just include the business development, networking and promotion that happen in the room.

They include the opportunity to leverage that interaction, through things such as live social streaming and shared or repeated conversations that can reach an audience far beyond those physically present.

Just think of how often you hear someone start a story with the phrase “I ran into X the other day” or “I caught up with Y at a conference”.

The effort involved in real-world attendance at an event makes everything last longer, whether it is memories of a launch, the details of an announcement, or discussion around an important idea.

So why should you be looking at hosting a bricks and mortar event over a virtual gathering?

1. They facilitate relationships.

Hosting an event gives you the opportunity to meet new people, build relationships and promote your business to a new audience. You also provide a platform for guests to network and build relationships, which is a value-add for your clients. If your guests enjoy the event and have managed to connect with interesting people, chances are they will come to your next event and invite others to come along.

2. They build trust with your network.

Putting a face to a name is always a good idea (and I’m not talking about LinkedIn stalking; that doesn’t count). This is a great opportunity to show your appreciation for your clients, suppliers, contractors and industry community. If audience members find the event inspiring, or find the speakers insightful, the kudos is reflected on you. The corollary is that you need to provide an event that engages. Participants want to learn something new, be provoked or be entertained, especially if the event is ticketed.

3. They can establish you as a thought leader and industry expert.

Live events are a great way to show stakeholders that you have your finger on the pulse of the industry. Publicly commenting on the latest developments in your industry is a great way to build your thought leadership profile and even gain media attention. For this reason, your topics and your activities should be new, provocative or persuasive. Too many speakers at events rely on a retrospective look at what most of the audience already knows. Try to push boundaries and open minds.

4. They are great for building your brand on social.

Events can create significant social media traction, particularly if you promote a hashtag for participants to use when posting. You can capture the story of your event on social media and display it to the crowd via a live social feed, which lets you leverage the buzz people get out of seeing their posts on the big screen. Concentrated social media exposure will get your brand trending for a period of time, showing followers and friends what they are missing out on if they aren’t in attendance. Regular events will grow your social reach and can boost your share of voice in other forums.

5. They create content for the future.

Whether your event is a panel discussion, involves a keynote speaker or is a Q&A session, this is an opportunity to create genuinely unique content, which can be used for the future marketing of your brand. Event content can be written up as an event wrap-up, revisited in blog articles, used as the foundation for press releases, captured as podcasts, turned into a series of videos, spark a set of infographics or prompt a white paper. At the very least, a series of quotable moments and photographs should give you a few days’ worth of healthy social feeds.

It doesn’t matter if your event is a networking function, sundowner, conference, seminar, lunch, Q&A or an industry panel discussion. If done well, the return on investment from running an engaging live event is far greater than just the revenue from ticket sales.

Our social and digital experts collaborate with event management specialists to make sure every event is amplified across channels. If your company is thinking of hosting a forum or conference, or running a series of networking functions, talk to us about how to turn a good attendance into great content that converts into clients.