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Choosing Between Hosting Live Or Remote Marketing Events

Apr 17, 2008
Remember the old days? Back then, relationship-building meant hopping into a car or plane, or picking up the telephone to chat one on one.

Technology has changed all that. So called 'remote' events allow new forms of events for locating and influencing buyers. These high-tech formats have many advantages, and can be more convenient, cheaper, and less time consuming for both the host and the attendee.

However, in some instances in-person events can be better; for example, an important group discussion at a 'lunch & learn' seminar. The choice to go live or remote should depend on a series of factors including running time, your prospects' needs, and your geographic location. When deciding how to best reach your intended audience, keep these important pros and cons in mind:

Live events include breakfast meetings, executive briefings, seminars, and lunch-and-learns. Let's look at some of the 'pros.'

* Your audience can meet you and your team, and vice-versa. The great thing about live events is that they provide the chance to meet people and make personal connections. Invite satisfied customers to your event and let them mingle with your hot leads; these happy customers often work as ambassadors by helping to vouch for you and your product.

* You can show your attendees more, and the venue itself can be a draw. Live events allow you to show what goes into making your product or service, and you can even offer a tour of your plant or site so customers can see your team in action.

* Hold audience attention longer, and gauge their reactions. Unlike most 'remote' events, which should run an hour long or less, a live event lets you get into topics at greater depth. This is especially true for decision makers or technical users who need to dive deeper into the details of your solution before they are convinced. Buyers who are further along in the decision-making cycle tend to be more willing to commit to longer attendance times. Meanwhile, are your attendees falling asleep? Do they seem confused? By addressing individual lapses in understanding, a presenter has the opportunity to communicate practically and effectively with prospects.

Now, some of the 'cons.'

* Live events are usually more expensive. You will need staff people for registration, hospitality, and to administrate event logistics. Additionally, expenses for audiovisual equipment, food, parking and meeting rooms add up quickly.

* Live events take more time. Both you and your prospects will need to invest a little time in order to attend, including time spent traveling to and from the location.

Remote events include teleconferences, webinars, and video conferences. Let's have a look at some of the 'pros.'

* Less time, lower cost. It can be easier to make it on to people's calendars if you're asking for a smaller time investment. Usually these events are not as expensive, often just around fifteen dollars per hour, per participant. Compare that to the costs of space, equipment, travel and refreshments for live events. For prospects who are geographically distant, remote access is an important plus.

* Speakers, live demos and archives. If an invited speaker can participate from their own home office, they often charge less for their services and may be more likely available. Web conferencing software allows you to broadcast right from a participant's own computer. Additionally, the archive of the event gives you another chance to reach no-shows or those who are unavailable for the initial webcast. After the event, send the archive on CD or refer a website where the event can be reviewed at the prospect's convenience.

* Prospects can invite others at no additional cost. A small group can huddle around a PC to view a remote event or webinar. Because of the reduced time commitment, participants are more likely to invite others, or refer others to the archive when the live event is done.

However, let's have a look at some of the 'cons' of the remote event.

* May I have your attention? The anonymous format of the teleconference makes it easier for attendees to become interrupted or distracted by other inputs. Often, a teleconference attendee is multi-tasking. Additionally, webinars should not last longer than an hour. If the material requires more time, consider a live event.

* The right stuff. Most but not all people have the fast 'net connection and technical tools needed to view a webinar. For those who don't they could be excluded or turned off by the format. Also, sending a proper video conference signal requires compatible equipment in proper order.

So, should you choose a live event, or remote? The ultimate decision should depend on several factors, including available time and resources. The primary criterion should be the preference of your attendees. Busy senior execs may prefer the convenience of a quick hour-long webinar. A technical user group may prefer the live interaction of an in-person event or seminar. Always remember to present your information in the way your audience wants to receive it. In doing so, you will increase the likelihood that your message will be understood, retained, referred, and acted upon.
About the Author
M. H. "Mac" McIntosh is a leading B2B sales and marketing consultant and speaker. Mac helps companies generate qualified leads that drive sales: http://www.sales-lead-experts.com.
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