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Events are vital in creating a complete brand experience during a recession
(Part 2 of 4)

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Use online events to enhance the live experience during a recession.

Technology has certainly made it possible to provide a more interactive experience for your brand. Digital events are much less expensive to produce, provide an opportunity for easy measurement and attendee tracking and they tackle the travel problem. However, virtual conferences, online workshops and webinars should be used to supplement but not replace live events. They can be used to stretch your event budget and, ideally, they can promote your live event more effectively and extend the overall experience to the period before, during and after your event. In fact, 32 percent of respondents in the previously mentioned “EventView” study say they will transition from event marketing to experience marketing (integrated live and online experiences that drive deep-brand interaction through highly relevant storytelling and brand immersion) in the next 12 months—28 percent say they have already transitioned.

Keep in mind, however, that attendees expect different outcomes from an online event. They are expecting interactivity, choices and brevity. They have a lot of other things they can do online and you will rarely have their undivided attention even if they elect to participate in your web event. Unlike live events where your customer is immersed in the experience, web attendees may also be answering calls, responding to emails and dealing with a variety of interruptions during the online event.

But there is no denying that there is a convergence of live event and digital marketing. A strong digital presence and the use of digital tools are essential to the success of your events.

For example, you can find people where they congregate on a daily basis by utilizing social networking sites. Your prospects and customers are networking in very different ways today than just a year ago. Though still rare in Russia, successful international event marketers today are adding blogs and sites like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, to the list of event promotion strategies to cost-effectively target customers in a more meaningful manner than via conventional media. Russian social networks like Professionals.ru, Moikrug.ru and Vkontakte.ru can be exploted in the same manner. In addition to driving attendance to events, social media can also be used to create a buzz during a live event to engage attendees and others in your brand’s universe that could not travel to the event. Most importantly, social media may be used to keep the experience alive long after the attendees have returned home, as well as to obtain feedback and build enthusiasm for the next event.

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