5 marketing shifts to create disruptive virtual events

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Posted on September 14, 2020

Innovative technologies are empowering. You have to know them to stay in the market. But the real shift you have to take to create disruptive virtual events that are more attractive and disruptive is about the business model. The way you sell your virtual events could be the main innovation.

There are still agencies and event professionals wanting to hold events just by transferring the content of their face-to-face versions to online. Taylor Estes, CEO @ Apple Box, recently talked to us and revealed why it doesn’t work.

Did you know, for example, that the overwhelming majority of virtual event goers believe that each session should take approximately 30-40 minutes?

At this moment, after more than half a year living under a global pandemic, it is already possible to point out trends based not only on consumers’ digital behavior, but also on benchmarks of the event industry itself.

We recommend the article Virtual Events Benchmarks if you want to see before your competitors do if you want to compare your performance with other virtual events.

Strategy in virtual events: what's your attendee's job to be done.

2. Strategy in virtual events: what’s your attendee’s job to be done.

“When we buy a product, we essentially ‘hire’ something to get a job done. If it does the job well, when we have to do same job repeatedly, we hire that same product again.”

Clayton M. Christenssen, former Business Management professor at Harvard University, author of The Innovation Dilemma and creator of the Disruptive Innovation theory.

The job to be done

What really makes a customer understand a product instead of relying on its attributes?

Focusing on the client’s job to be done. It’s a simple, but powerful message.


Demographic data such as age, gender and income are important. But they are not necessarily related to your attendees’ habits.

Let’s say we have Julie, an experienced Event Pro. She knows all things about in-person events and can organize one from the inside out, upside down.

But one day, she suddenly sees every single virtual experience being cancelled. Because of that, she had to migrate her whole event portfolio to virtual formats.

Being in a leadership role, her job to be done can now be split in two clear tasks:

  • Understanding what has to be done.
  • Being able to clearly communicate that to her team and to any other stakeholder she is supposed to report to (clients, sponsors, upper management, etc).

To achieve it, Julie is now consuming a lot of content that can keep her up to date.

Thus, Julie’s job to be done is to be informed about the lasts best practices, strategies and tools about virtual events.

Formula = Who + Has to do what + about what

Notice how saying that Julie’s job to be done is be informed could sound way to broad. Everyone’s job to be done is to keep up to date.

The more you can be specific about your client’s job to be done, the more you’ll be able to serve a basic necessity that they repeatedly have.

Therefore, this is the way to potentially design a virtual event that better sells your product, service, technology or whatever you can do to help this person.

Disruptive strategies for virtual events

3. Disruptive strategies for virtual events:

Plan or execution: what’s the priority? Planning is crucial, but no plan will resist the execution phase.

The simpler is your client’s job to be done, the better. But finding it might be not so easy.

You’ll need to experiment in short cycles that alternate planning and execution. In between this continuous stages, you’ll find results that will reveal to you what is the iterative step to be done next.

Agile Planning and execution
Agile Planning + Execution

Let’s get back to Julie.

She’s been spending a lot of time consuming content on the. But she still needs to be productive, besides attending to lots of meetings.

So, she now has decided she’ll choose to dedicate no more than one hour per day to her self development.

Therefore, your virtual event is now competing not only with other virtual events, but also with the podcasts she’s listening, blogs that she is reading and on-demand videos that she is watching.

A typical journey that Julie and other event pros go through over and over.

Typical journey of a virtual event attendee (generic)
Typical journey of a virtual event attendee (generic)
Five shifts to create disruptive virtual events

4. Five shifts to create disruptive virtual events

five steps to create disruptive virtual events
  • Map your client’s value chain.
  • Identify what type of value (monetary, time saving, effortless, etc) you can add on each step.
  • In which of theses activities this client is clearly unsatisfied?
  • Tackle the weak spot. Whether is a weakness of your competitors or something that your own virtual events could do better.
  • Anticipate the response of your competitors.

5. In conclusion

Still according to Christensen, these are the main characteristics of those who are leading disruptive innovations:

  • Capacity of associating not so obvious ideas.
  • Questioning attitude.
  • Being observant.
  • Building networking.
  • Having the practice of experimentation as a work method.

And how does that apply to virtual events? In each and every touch point.

70% of marketers don’t see virtual events a short-term fix. Firstly, because they are saving a lot of money to corporations.

Also, because they’re now fighting for space among other popular means of content consumption such as podcasts or YouTube channels.

It’s not that virtual events will replace in-person experiences. They’ll just add up as a very good choice and we’d be silly to think they’ll go away at some time.

Hybrid events are the future, regardless of the virtual / in-person proportion of any given event.

ebook about the impact of covid-19 on corporate events

Keep learning!


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