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12.10.2020

What's Next in the Future of Audience Engagement?

By Team IVC

With all the hybrid and digital events of the past year, what does this mean for the industry? Like most agencies, we were caught off guard when we found out that this health crisis had cut a hole into our bag of tricks. The elaborate ballrooms, the awesome product demos, the live entertainment—these were all tools that we had lined up to help companies create enough buzz to fuel the year’s activity. Without face-to-face we were left scratching our heads, quick to compare events without people to a nice car without gas.

What we quickly realized was that in-person experiences, albeit strong at creating unique experiences, weren’t the only methods available to connect with our audiences. In this piece, we will take you through our experience with hybrid events, what we call “Flex Experiences,” and our inspiration for pursuing an entirely new, fluid, and refreshed approach to producing events.

Hitting Refresh with Events

The silver lining of this pandemic is it gave us an opportunity to pause and reflect on where exactly we are headed as an industry. It’s well known that disruption and change leads to innovation, but in our case, it turns out that change has been coming.

Before COVID, we were already starting to see evolving event trends on the horizon indicating new audience engagement practices using digital tactics. Companies were extending beyond the traditional ballroom experience where audiences were being reached with more personalization, direct messaging, and specificity.

The onset of this pandemic forced us to embrace Flex and digital events which unexpectedly opened the door for us to redefine, refocus, and re-imagine our approach. Instead of relying on 3-days to achieve our clients’ communications goals, it became more prudent to deploy a longer, measured, and pulsed campaign strategy where a wider network could be reached with higher efficiency and better data collection. Even when the ballroom doors open again, we see this new flexible approach as a staple in the way we do things—a refresh to the industry.

Following the News & Entertainment Lead

Luckily, we won’t have to look very far for inspiration. As we’ve seen from our cousins in the B2C space, events like professional sports, late night talk shows, and news have already shifted their content strategies, acknowledging that the landscape for content consumption has changed. Late Night realized they can garner more views on a 5-minute clip while sports and news can get more interaction by broadcasting and marketing on social media.

The digital age has simply transformed the market and created an over-saturation of ideas and stories, which makes competing for attention require much more precision. Flex experiences allow us to be more agile and purposeful while continuing to focus on solving our clients’ communications challenges directly. And while the old way of doing things will never leave us completely, we feel now is the time to adapt to the current pace of our audience.

Finding What Works for You

Whether your KPIs are leads, sales, or retention rates, different brand experiences will effectively work for different purposes. Figuring out the ideal combination of digital and live means looking for the right channels and touch points in which to reach your audience. We’ve found that the effect of a Flex experience is greater than the sum of its parts and when deployed correctly will effectively work to create a bigger impact.

For example, the hotel make-shift “studio setting” of DocuSign’s SKO and Momentum programs back in March was anticipated to potentially water down the event experience, however, it didn’t affect the bottom line. Instead, it succeeded at amplifying their narrative to an audience 3x the original size. While hybrid events take away some of the F2F interaction, the digital component can work to a greater effect and stretch the event dollar further.

Embracing Change

We are not at all suggesting this change is easy. In fact, it’s disruptive to the core of what our agency was built on. However, incorporating a digital transformation will ultimately help our clients become more flexible, create more clarity around their brand, and achieve better, measurable results.

What InVision excels at is using the power of storytelling and production to create immersive experiences that influence lasting change. Regardless of platform, whether it’s a virtual micro-site, studio broadcast, or ballroom experience, we are committed to exploring the breadth of options available to us in order to bring together a new and refreshing unity of live and digital.

To explore our new Flex Experiences approach towards event campaigns, contact us at info@iv.com

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