The Virtual Expanse; Your Marketing Event as a Digital Experience

The digital era has shaken up the event marketing playing field. Between the hype of social media and looking for the next great thing, your event’s time to live is shortened with every iteration of a news cycle. Creating content that has staying power and is heard over the noise from content mills will help maintain your return on investment.

Maybe we aren’t being sucked into the network through a mysterious machine to be entirely immersed in a virtual world, but current technology allows you to build virtual experiences to enhance your event marketing platforms.

Regardless of the content you create for you exhibition or event, your ability to translate that into something far reaching is unprecedented. If the idea of using a virtual tour or 360 video does not peak your interest, you might need to spend some time with the technology. How much more captivating would a 360 video tour of your product be than a simple powerpoint presentation?

Capitalising on VR and AR technology gives you the advantage of creating a memorable experience, discover a new reach, and increase your return on investment.

Interactive Storytelling

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

People experience life through stories. Each day has its own narrative and plot lines, guiding our perceptions and memories. Think about events or times in your life that really stand out in your mind. Are they the moments which elicit strong emotions? Probably. That’s just the way human brains are wired.

Too often, we lose sight of this basic concept when we build an event to showcase our products or our services. We fall into the same patterns we have always known. Our events are just a collection of people, gathered around a speaker or milling around some booths.

Your event is there to build up hype and drama and buzz for your product or service, or whatever it is you do. If that were not the case, maybe a poster would suffice. It’s the participation in an experiential story which brings people to an event.

According the marketing company, Marketo, one of the biggest event marketing mistakes is “Not standing out from the crowd.” It’s easy to stick to the same formula we think we know from our past experiences. But to make an event stand out far beyond that of your competitors, you have to provide something more tangible, something more memorable.

So how do these two things, storytelling as an advertising tool and being interactive, come together to make a lasting impression in your customers’ minds?

Let them see what they couldn’t see before. Give them access to the dangerous places.

Handling your toxic waste-scooper isn’t the safest plan or there just isn’t enough room in your event hall to showcase your cutting-edge energy production facility. It’s the 360° technology that builds this bridge. Now you have the ability to really showcase your product, which you could otherwise not.

You no longer have to rely on descriptions and salesmanship to sell your product. Instead, as part of your experiential marketing, people can immerse themselves to fully appreciate the product and virtually kick the tires.

The Long Arm of the Internet

Once you have digitized your event, it graduates from being a local party to a global opportunity. The reach of your platform can now touch potential clients all over the world. They will be able to not only to see the exhibition, but also be able to simultaneously participate.

A shared experience is a powerful tool.

It is an absolute given that people will be Tweeting, Instagramming, and Facebooking for their friends and clients during your event. Others will be there to report on the day and its presentations.  Done right, you will have a strategy in place before launching.

At the other end of the social media chain, people are waiting for these posts. This is a way to participate in the shared experience.

The greatest coup will be providing exceptional 360 video for the different social media platforms. It is no mystery that social media is a brilliant way to have people share your message for you. Assuming, of course, that the message is done right and organically. May the internet be merciful if you get it wrong, a la Pepsi.

Now that your message is being transmitted across the web and directing people back to your media pages and website, you can convert those visits into leads. Sure, there may be a lower conversion rate than the in-person crowd, but now your reach is exponentially greater.

Be prepared to respond to tangential requests for your product, too. In that space between what you have set out to do and what people need, there may be opportunity to use your product in new ways as people are able to get up close and virtual.

But things aren’t going to end there.

The Long Tail

Your event is done. Everything is packed up and everyone has gone home. In the coming days, you will start chasing down the leads on the scraps of paper and business cards that were left behind. Inevitably, though, that buzz will die down as people chase new memories and experiences. The time to live is short.

What if you could extend the length of your event? What if you could encourage people to relive it?

The Long Tail is an idea coined by Chris Anderson in his 2004 Wired article. He describes it as the market share not held by the current and most popular media. With the advent of digital accessibility of everything, people are able to purchase much more content that would otherwise be entirely unavailable. He specifically highlights the profitability of documentaries through Netflix, while Blockbuster could not afford to give them the shelf space. There’s no need to go into how that turned out, now is there?

So how does this relate to you and your event? If you have built a 360 environment or a virtual tour, your event lives on and this attracts two kinds of clients. Those who missed out and want to see what you’re all about and those who were there and want to relive the experience.

The cost of maintaining the virtual tour or 360 view of your product can be as low as your bandwidth from your web host provider. It’s now a totally passive tool which people can visit and revisit. Yet, everything you have poured into the hours of preparation for your event is there, except for the heat of the crowd.

What starts as an interactive experience turns into an ongoing and indefinite lead generator.

While you have moved on to the next campaign, or just simply the day-to-day tasks of running the business, this virtual reality experience continues to run in the background. Visitors to your site will be interested in what you do and can now get a virtual presentation. Customers are twice as likely to respond to online content with photos and four times more likely if there are videos. Your 360 videos and virtual tours will likely have a greater conversion than both of those elements. It’s not too soon for the data;

“Magnifyre found that 29% more people viewed a 360-degree video than the same video in traditional format.”

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/visual-content-marketing-strategy

The End of the Tail

Regardless of how you slice it, there are benefits to expanding your event to include a parallel, digital experience. Since the advent of the net, you have a new opportunity to show off your wares to a global population. It may be that is a much larger market than you’re prepared for, but it at least gives you a greater opportunity.

For each visitor, both virtual and in person, you will have created a memorable experience for them to take away. It’s this feeling that will trigger their memory when it’s time to buy your product over your competitor’s. It’s the edge you need.

With the increased range of the digital world, you are both able to reach a larger market and allow that sales tool to continue building revenue. All the work has been done, allowing you to work on the next innovation and follow up on the leads as they come in.

It’s an exciting time to learn and use the new tools as they become available. Are you ready to launch your event to the next level?

By Aaron Perras – Perrasink.com

Aaron is a programmer and dreamer. He would rather be reading the next sci-fi adventure, but needs to make a living. After completing a second diploma in the information technology field, Aaron decided the idea of working with computers was much better than the practice. Preferring to write, he has built his freelance business around what he knows. He spends much of his day thinking and writing about future technology and how it will affect our lives.

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