On-Site or Online Events? What About Both?

 In B2B Engagement Marketing, Uncategorized, Video Marketing, Webinars

There has been plenty of debate over the past few years about the comparative value of online and face-to-face events. We’ve seen some companies abandon trade shows, while others cling to them and insist that online events are just a fleeting trend. There is another group that has adopted a balanced mix of online and on-site events.

Although BrightTALK focuses on online events, it’s clear to me that there is value in both. Our San Francisco office is just blocks from one of the largest convention centers in the United States and we see hordes of professionals roaming the streets during events like the RSA Conference, Dreamforce, and the Web 2.0 Expo. I often attend in-person events and always try to make it to our local B2B Marketing Breakfasts. I also tune into a few webcasts each month, most of which have presenters speaking from other states, or even other countries.

At a recent Think Influence meet-up, I was talking about the group’s content plan with its founder, Barbara French, and we discussed the fact that group members in other cities wouldn’t be able to participate in the upcoming presentations without flying in for the day.

We decided to host the first event of the year at the BrightTALK San Francisco office, and to stream the presentation on turning influencers into brand advocates as a live video in the BrightTALK Social Media Marketing Summit. This would allow us to extend the reach of the presentation to include marketers in other regions as well as those who live locally, but couldn’t make it to the meet-up that morning.  Having it recorded will enable anyone to enjoy the content at anytime from anywhere.

We now have about 50 top local marketers coming into the office to participate as a live audience, and another 250 signed up to watch online from 31 states and 16 countries.

For everyone in the office, it will be a great chance to spend the morning with their peers, and for everyone online, a convenient way to learn from the speakers without worrying about travel, cost, or their busy work schedules. I see it as the best of both worlds, and evidence that both event formats can live in harmony.

Showing 4 comments
  • Teressa Jimenez

    While I loathe trade shows, I must confess that there are few things that replace a good F2F meeting and trade shows facilitate such interactions – sometimes well orchestrated and other times by chance. (how many times have you bumped into someone while traipsing thru a show that made a difference in your work? – for me the number is countless)…Online events are good – but they do not replace a trade show. Just as Twitter is good, Quora is better…email is good, a phone conversation more nuanced…a F2F encounter pulls it all together….it's the Opera of human interactions and should not be discounted. Each of the mediums is "good enough" for many interactions but not the sole solution to all problems. (gee, I feel like I'm trying to solve a technology problem!)

    When I return from a show I am spent – after all we must be "on" the entire time – but I'm also energized. That's a clear message for me.

  • Bill Steigerwald

    I have staged lots of interactive events/produced direct marketing experiences (HP, Tysons Foods) and I don't think anything will replace them, at least till robots are doing our sensing for us. Just as print advertising throws a big net, streamed video will communicate much of the message to a lot more people, so it has its place. But I believe, as this technology gets more commonplace, its impact will lessen. The closer a marketing event gets to a "special event", with people one cares about, in a carefully designed environment, for an occasion with build-up, … the longer and deeper the memories.

    The other thing I'd add is, you have to match the message with the medium. If the product or service is experiential, the more one can approximate it with interaction, the better. Ppt me re. SEO; let me test drive a car.

  • Kathy Condon

    Great question and I am sure can be debated for a very long time. I'm the author of a new book called "Face-To-Face Networking It's All About Communication." I was one of the early user of social media so I understand its' impact. However, I continue to do my speeches and presentations without the use of technology for the actual presentation. They are very interactive, the lights are up high and I can change on a dime if I note I am not reaching people…..the human touch remains important to an audience….this sometimes this means calling on the person in the back row by name.

  • pankaj saraf

    Hey this is really very good post. I liked it.

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