Before 2020, many of us dreamed of working from home multiple days a week and wearing casual attire for meetings. Of course, COVID-19 changed all of that. Plus, virtual events and meetings became the norm, rather than the exception.
Now that we’re transitioning toward something more resembling pre-pandemic life, it’s clear that online meetings and conferences are here to stay. For many people, they’ve provided a way to inexpensively network, take part in professional development and increase marketing opportunities.
For decorators who’ve stretched their client base nationally during the 2020 eCommerce boom, keeping virtual events in the marketing mix is more efficient and cost-effective. This is a trend other sectors are embracing, too, as more than 60% of marketers told data firm, AnyRoad, they planned to add cyber events to their marketing plan since they were here to stay.
Many prefer live events
There are several advantages for your audience to attend an event online rather than in person. These include:
1. Flexibility on a few fronts:
- For parents at home still teaching kids. Not every school is ready to transition to full-time, face-to-face learning. Also, working parents have traditionally had difficulty attending such events due to childcare challenges.
- For those who’ve enjoyed being at home working and those on a hybrid schedule now. Many employees have found that they enjoy working from home, and their companies are acknowledging this by adjusting work schedules to accommodate.
- National (or international) reach: Your eCommerce store reaches every browser across America. That’s why you should reach out to local and distanced customers and prospects online via virtual events. This allows you to offer more cyber opportunities and greatly expand your customer base.
For example, when S&S Activewear held its first-ever online virtual event earlier this year, it was a great opportunity to not only help bring new ideas and insights from industry experts to customers but also to connect with people who may not have known about us or have been able to see us at a trade show in the past.
BELLA+CANVAS also recently held a virtual event of their own, which allowed them to educate people on their product and give people access to insights from experts in the industry and abroad.
When you offer great education, speakers, and interactive opportunities to your customers, they’ll learn a lot and will definitely appreciate that it came from a company they’re doing business with. It also helps companies foster more of a partnership-type relationship with customers vs. just a transactional one. Another thing that’s great about virtual events is that it creates an opportunity to create a community around them, where people can share ideas and help each other.
Add virtual events into your marketing mix
Let’s look at five ways to integrate virtual events into your marketing strategy:
- Town halls: Host a virtual town hall where you invite your clients to listen to you or guest experts speak. The topics you choose could be on anything they need help with, such as marketing tips, branding ideas, or logo designs. You can even open the floor to questions at the end. For a bigger event, you can send attendees a swag bag with a logoed T-shirt or other event-related items.
- One-on-one client meetings: This option is especially great for those clients out of town or in another country. Here, you can meet directly with a buyer or prospect virtually without having to spend time and money traveling to see them. Virtual meetings allow you to meet with distanced clients more frequently and efficiently, so you can present new apparel and design suggestions based on their brand, current trends, upcoming events, and previous sales data.
- On-demand videos: Try creating and uploading your own informative, educational videos featuring yourself, employees, or experts you think they’d benefit from hearing from. This collection of videos would give them access to something they can view 24/7, outside of an event. You can host these videos on your website, upload them to your YouTube channel, or even both, and then promote them on social media to bring in traffic.
Pro tip: If you want to launch this video library as more of an event, live stream it on social media or have virtual meetings with clients to walk them through the videos they now have access to.
- Sales events: You can grab new customers with a lower time and money investment by holding virtual sales events, where you’d show off new apparel items or decorating techniques. Give people who attend an incentive, like a discount on their next order or a free sample.
- Live streams on social platforms: Take advantage of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn all at once with the help of software such as Restream. Or, focus on your favorite platform to reach your customers and prospects where they hang out and usually watch live streams and videos. It’s convenient and easy for your audience to attend these live streams. Plus, you can usually record the live streams, so you can use them for future use in your marketing efforts, too, like in emails, for example.
The growing popularity of virtual events over the past year shows they’re not just viable alternatives to face-to-face events. They can be the future of business. These digital gatherings are less expensive than an in-person event and more convenient for the customers you hope to reach with your decorated apparel business.