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Multiplatform Events: Digital, In-Person or Both?

How to create multiplatform events that serve both the in-person needs of your customers, but also your bottom line.

When a user conducts research to inform a decision, whether about where to hold a wedding, what car to buy, or how to spice tonight’s soup, she may want to consult her peers, or look to the foremost experts for guidance. If searching for medical guidance or other critical information, she may want a second, third or fourth opinion, as well.

Today’s online researcher can gather and assimilate information from both other users and experts. The Internet has made the process both easier and more complicated, owing to all the available options.

When searching for niche information, users most highly value a first-person experience from a combination of experts, colleagues and peers. The best high-fidelity user experience is a live event that can be any in-person event, from a cocktail party, to an industry conference, to dinner with friends. As a publisher, a live event is likely to be the most expensive product you sell, but it also comes with an array of costs.

The most desirable alternative to a live event is an off-line experience such as a webinar, or an on-demand video library. In the digital age, any downloadable or streamable media is the best alternative to a personal experience. And while webinars might not be your highest grossing product, a subscription library of streaming video could very well be, and the cost is much less than orchestrating a large conference.

When determining which multiplatform events to create, which comes first?

You’re either in one of two positions. You already have one type of event and want to try the other, or you’ve never created events before that tie into your publication and existing audience.

If you’ve traditionally hosted live events, you might be seeking digital events as a way to cut costs and earn a similar profit. But removing the in-person experience could take away one feature that most people enjoy when they go to a conference: networking! We’ve seen a few publishers try to take their events online, and the ones that we believe do it best are the ones who sell both live and digital access. So you can attend live, or you can get access to the conference live as it streams, with access to the sessions after the program ends.

This also gives you an opportunity to re-promote and sell access to the recorded programs after the event is over and also use them as promotional material for next year.

If you’ve always hosted digital events and are considering live events, I might suggest the same thing to recoup more of the costs of hosting a live event without deserting any frequent digital customers who enjoy your webinars.

What kind of multiplatform event should you create?

For a B2B, consider a conference for networking purposes or a seminar for intensive training. For a B2C, consider a class, competition, trade show, craft fair, concert or whatever event fits your product best.

A large percentage of our clients sell events as part of their business model. Farm Progress is the leader, hosting the Farm Progress Show, the largest outdoor farm show for North American and International farmers, ag businessmen and ag related companies.

An event website like Farm Progress Show sells one or many events, but may also have many different price / package tiers or number of attendees. Additionally, it publishes regular event updates and has its own social media channels, so it truly is an all-encompassing event website.

Events aren’t just for businesses though, Harvard’s Program on Negotiation is another example of a publisher who has turned events into a huge percentage of their online revenue.  They sell Executive Education programs where they have a catalog of ongoing seminars, courses and master classes.

One online media business we’ve worked with started generating more than half the company’s revenue from online seminars, with a 25-person staff that produces 60 online seminars annually.

Are multiplatform events a road you want to go down?

Even though travel budgets have been cut significantly, and some of our clients have seen a drop in international attendees due to the current state of political affairs, employers still need to provide education and training. Digital events are a great way to provide training to their entire staff for one low price.

To be successful, you will need an automated system to accept and track registrations, process payments, and issue confirmation emails with invoices attached. On the technical side of production, you have many style options including audio, web, streaming, video and on-demand solutions. The same content can also be used to produce white papers and live events.

If you’d like to discuss how Mequoda can help you transform your magazine into a multiplatform publishing organization that includes live and digital events, please schedule a time to chat with me.

 

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