Creating Effective Field Marketing Events in a Virtual World
Updated: Nov 22, 2021
Field marketing. What is it?
Field marketing is a marketing activity where people go out in "the field" to meet with clients or potential clients through in-person events. With the pandemic, in-person meetings have largely not been possible. As the pandemic has dragged on, many field marketing teams have been able to adapt what were previously in-person events to virtual ones.
What are the Pros and Cons of Virtual Events?
Here are some of the major pluses of going virtual:
• There’s no need to find (or pay for) a space for your event.
• There is no set-up, take-down, or clean-up as is often required with in-person events (and no need to be out of the event space by a certain time).
• Similarly, travel time and expenses are nonexistent.
• You might be able to reach a new geographic market that you wouldn’t normally be able to target.
• Virtual events allow for more flexible scheduling. You can potentially offer multiple sessions throughout the day, week, or month; which should make it more convenient for your target audience and increase their likelihood of attending.
Now for virtual event cons:
• Typically, it’s easier to build excitement for an in-person event than for an online one.
• There is less opportunity to offer tasty food and drinks, which guests normally enjoy.
• No incentive exists for the attendee to go someplace new or exciting (and there’s a reduced chance of meeting new people).
• It is harder to get your audience to interact online (especially if all the host sees are black boxes with people’s names).
• It might take longer for people to register for the event. Since it is a virtual event and people do not need to plan for travel time, they may choose to wait until closer to the event to make a commitment. They also may not feel the same kind of urgency to register as they would for an in-person event.
• It can be difficult to come up with a good event concept that appeals to your target audience.
So, How Can You Make Virtual Events Feel More Personal?
Field marketing teams need to be aware of prospects’ living situations and accommodate accordingly. Not every person has a quiet home working environment. Your customers or prospects may have kids, pets, parents, or grandparents requiring their attention. "Zoom fatigue" is real and many are juggling even more demands than before. So, what do successful event organizers do?
Here are a few suggestions.
Get a good host. Find someone with the right personality to keep attendees interested in the event. Attendees will not be as attentive if the event host is monotone and low-energy. Perhaps have the host put on a fun or business-appropriate background to make it feel more like an in-person event.
Keep it interactive. Give your audience plenty of chances to interact with the host and/or the other attendees. For example, you could make breakout rooms so that prospects/customers can get to know each other. Or you could have a Q&A session where attendees can ask the host questions.
Get creative. How do you come up with an idea for an event? If you are targeting a specific geographical area, look for ways to give it a more local feel. To draw more people to your event, get a well-known, local or industry expert to speak at your event.
Include kids in the event. Make the event child-friendly. How about making it a cake or cookie decorating event so both the parents and kids can get involved? Or brainstorm another activity both kids and parents can enjoy. Perhaps there’s some kind of game (possibly one that involves pictures and matching, or maybe a variation on Pictionary™, for example) that children will find fun.
Note: It will likely be necessary to consider the age of the kids that will be participating. Perhaps that’s something you can find out in advance and then plan accordingly.
After you do the family/kids event you’ll probably say something like, “Well that was fun, kids! Now we need to move on to something that is more for the parents. But we’ll have you join us again at the end to say good-bye!” At that point you can begin your business presentation.
If you can make it fun for the whole family, that’s a real plus!
Provide materials. Send the items (or a list of the items) needed for the virtual event. People cannot participate in the event if they don’t have the required materials. For example, if you're planning a flowerpot painting event, send the flowerpots, paint, brushes, and other materials 2-3 weeks in advance.
If you do a game, you might send game materials or possibly some individual prizes for the kids that the parents can pass out at the end. Another idea would be to send a food-related or other prize the family can share (but do be careful about food allergies)!
When sending a list of materials needed for the event make sure the items are inexpensive and widely available. Also, be sure to send it early so they’ll have time to purchase the items (especially since some might order them online and need to wait for delivery).
Include suggestions of which stores typically carry the required items (but be aware not everyone has access to the same stores). If possible, include a gift card to cover the cost of the supplies.
Bottom line: The more you can provide and the easier you make it for your prospects, the more likely they are to participate and appreciate what you did.
Take notes! As you gain some experience with your virtual events, record what worked best with your attendees and things that can be improved. That will help build success in planning your next one!
Whether your virtual event is flowerpot painting or a seminar about how to start a small business, make sure you're listening to your existing and potential customers about what they want to see and hear from you and your organization.