Business as Unusual: Shifting Live Events to Digital and Hybrid Experiences

It is no secret that when the COVID-19 pandemic started, everything changed. Unlike the crises of the past, there is no clear idea when we will all be back to normal. And, in fact, how “normal” this is.

But as marketers are adapting and rapidly developing their approach to dealing with the impact of the pandemic, it is clear that the fundamentals and intentions of innovative experience design remain the same – it needs to be involved. It must be powerful. It must inspire action.

Like the world-class brands you create, the best experiences – live, digital or hybrid – are designed and executed with a clear purpose. Focusing on the laser is the key to a successful experience and influencing customer behavior.

A basic structure

Creating rich, brand-oriented experiences with a goal that drives people to action is obviously not an easy task. The application of a central structure allows the most important elements:

  • Agenda and substantive structure. Collaborate on a multi-touch content strategy with a focus on agility, flexibility, and growth capacity, taking into account the long tail of the content lifecycle and the ability to deliver sessions on demand for a more personalized experience.
  • Quality production. In the battle for attention, the value of production is an important consideration as we design and develop different types of content, including “quality live streams”, smooth and vibrant moving images, and thoughtful and engaging interstitials.
  • Including interactive. The design and delivery of interactive elements are essential to achieve a value exchange between the brand and the public: a solid set of resources is needed to allow individual expert meetings, peer learning, interactive demonstrations, digital meetings, and fun moments.

Once this structure is established, the focus may shift to the history of experiential content.

A story about content and digital design principles

Like the traditional narrative, the content approach can be divided into three parts:

  • Phase I includes access points for major brands and “wow” with landing sites that guarantee a comfortable trip.
  • In phase II, the main content is provided. Messages focused on the brand, from the establishment of executive goals to presentations focused on the product, mixed with life and some live conversations between external speakers and sponsors. This content is serialized to gain engagement and relevance.
  • Phase III is a call to action, personalization, sponsorship, and sales integration through serial content tracks, qualified leads, data acquisition, and CRM integration.

When applying content stories to our experience structure, we highlight a few key principles for digital design:

  • Daily planning. Digital and remote experiences are not limited by the usual limitations of personal experiences. Brands must therefore invest strategically to create clear and engaging journeys for their audiences during the viewing experience. Brands that do not threaten the short attention span, that disappoint the public, lose KPIs and damage the brand’s reputation.
  • Moments of association. Recent restrictions on community gatherings and socialization have created more than ever the desire to engage with people and the public. By creating several unacceptable moments of connection within the experience, they become shared meeting points in the midst of fluid travel.
  • Serialized stories. If the story and content are engaging enough, people will keep coming back. Through the content of the “chapter”, we can create compelling stories that meet the expectations, learning styles, and behaviors of unique visitors.
  • Custom connections. Serving individual members of the public and their needs makes the experience much more memorable and engaging. It can be supported by curated chats, as well as support and service at any point of contact with the right technology and content.

When working with posts, content, and experience, keep your platform in mind at the same time.

Platform Considerations

One way to see this is that it is a decision between “renting” or “owning”. When renting, you have many options in the market to meet the needs of your business. When you do, you commit to a brand environment that is likely to integrate well with your existing technology stack and strategically into your marketing portfolio; you will also have the opportunity to continuously evolve according to your specific needs.

Hybrid events or smaller satellites with digital and virtual extensions will undoubtedly be the first to return, especially when organizations desperately engage their customers and their sales force.

Important considerations

Regardless of where you are in your planning or review process, the following considerations should be kept in mind:

  • The needs of the public, companies, and brands have changed dramatically, as well as the role of events and experiences in this relationship. Understanding and prioritizing how to get back to the market is an essential consideration.
  • The difference in physical involvement requires a change in format, delivery, and structure. Planning, coordinating, guiding, and collaborating also takes more time than ever.
  • Many contents that were relevant only a few months ago are no longer applicable or appropriate in the future. It is essential to maintain relevance and context with your message and material.
  • The possibility of enhancing experiential programs are not digital or physical, but people. Designing and delivering our experiences with a sense of empathy and attention is critical.