Nowhere have the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic been felt more than in events and field marketing. From the onset of the pandemic to the present, the scope and reach of events have changed dramatically in the past few years.
Now that we seem to have reached a “new normal,” what should event and field marketers consider as they look to the future? In this blog, we’ll break down the realities of hybrid work, how the events landscape has changed, and what innovations are needed to be successful going forward.
The Reality of Hybrid Work
One lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the workplace is the staying power of hybrid work. Although most organizations were forced to adopt remote and hybrid models at first (a mere 32% of employees were hybrid in 2019), a Gallup poll found that 53% of workers work in a hybrid environment today.
Even more workers want a hybrid environment than the current number, with 59% preferring it to fully on-site or exclusively remote options. Indeed, avoiding commutes and increased flexibility for family needs combined with collaborating in-person is an attractive point for hybrid work.
However, the ways in which hybrid work is being implemented are still a bit all over the place. Gallup’s survey found that 6 in 10 workers want a coordinated effort on how to regulate hybrid environments, but couldn’t agree on how to do that. This confusion and varied policies between organizations have led to a confusing environment for field and event marketers to navigate.
How Is Hybrid Work Affecting Events?
There’s little doubt that hybrid work is affecting how field and event marketers operate. For one thing, virtual and hybrid events are here to stay.
Statista data indicates that 40% of marketers will hold virtual events in 2022, with 35% operating on a hybrid approach and an equal 35% holding events in person. Interestingly, virtual events in 2022 were up 5% from 2020 data, where only 35% of marketers reported hosting virtual events.
Clearly, something has shifted. While all three models are in play, the cost savings associated with virtual events is hard for businesses to ignore. For example, a Deloitte survey found that 60% of businesses expect to spend less on attending trade shows and conferences in 2022 compared to 2019.
That doesn’t mean in-person and virtual events aren’t effective or worth doing. However, it does mean that marketers need to become more savvy about their approach to event and field marketing to succeed in the new environment.
How Can Events & Field Marketing Go Forward?
Hybrid and virtual events have brought on a new slew of challenges. Managing video fatigue, creating digital content that engages both an in-person and digital audience, and providing networking opportunities virtually can all be tough to balance. What’s the best way for field and event marketers to go forward? Keep your audience in mind.
A 2021 survey of B2B marketers found that 57% prefer attending a hybrid event in-person over attending virtually, while 33% prefer virtual events. Your audience will also have preferences about what events they prefer. The key is finding it out and then providing bespoke experiences to cater to their exact needs.
Depending on what your audience prefers, here are a few ideas for field and event marketing in 2022:
- Build on hybrid events with virtual communities. One of the biggest challenges for virtual events is that they don’t allow as much time for networking. By using a hybrid or virtual event to kick off building an online community (in say, a social media group or other online platform), you’ll provide ample time for attendees to network beyond the event itself to keep the conversation going.
- Co-sponsor in-person events. To boost attendance and your audience, try co-hosting an event with another like-minded business either in-person, virtually, or in a hybrid model.
- Provide virtual content deep dives. Creating engaging content that educates as well as intrigues is a challenge for hybrid and virtual events. Providing a deep dive into your content through additional resources can boost engagement.
Inverta’s field and event marketing specialists can help you strike the right balance between larger, in-person events and smaller, bespoke events. By diving into your audience, your goals, and your go-to-market strategy, we’ll help you achieve results despite changing consumer expectations. Learn more about how we do it here.