Tips for Producing Compelling Virtual Events from the Talkdesk CMO
3 Tips from Talkdesk's CMO Kathie JohnsonTalkdesk
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During 2020 planning, the Talkdesk team set an ambitious goal to launch “20 products in 20 weeks,” and then showcase these new products at their in-person customer conference in San Francisco. But we all know what happened next.
“We, like everybody else, had to convert it from an in-person to a virtual event,” says Kathie Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer of Talkdesk. “I just said to my team, ‘Folks, nobody can do this like marketers can. We are innovative, out-of-the-box, creative thinkers. If anybody can figure this out, we can.”
Despite the need to quickly pivot, Johnson kept her team’s focus on the event’s original objectives: announce new products, engage customers, and educate some new folks about Talkdesk.
OpenTalk 2020, proudly streamed by Brightcove, ultimately saw three times as many people attending compared to past in-person customer conferences. “We also saw participation coming from all around the globe,” says Johnson, “with people who may not have had that opportunity to attend before.”
For Johnson and her team, virtual events combine the urgency that live, in-person events are known for with the ability to stream valuable content on-demand, for others to watch any time they choose. Virtual events also create opportunities for pride. “Really, [a virtual event] is a time for your customers to come and be engaged, it's the time for prospects to create a spark of interest in you, and it's also a time for your employees to be incredibly proud of the company they work for.”
This year, Johnson plans to host even more virtual events. “If you think of the conference as the ‘one to many’ approach, we're also really leaning into a ‘one to few’ approach for virtual events. So, creating a large number of very small intimate executive events,” she says.
If you’re planning a virtual event, here are three tips to consider:
DESIGN YOUR EVENT TO BE “PRODUCTION RICH”
“One of the things we decided to do is, let's make this a production,” says Johnson. “If you're like me, you've attended events where the production was really poor, and it was really hard to be engaged, and as a marketer, I just ... oh my heart would sink thinking about the marketers who were involved in it.” So production was something she made sure to invest in right from the start. “But that doesn't necessarily mean expensive,” she says. “It means to make it an event that people are happy to be at.” For Johnson, she wanted attendees to feel well taken care of. “Once people come they should feel that you've made that effort to make that connection with them and they want to be there.”
CREATE A SENSE OF COMMUNITY
“You also have to make sure there's that community feel,” she says. “Make sure there's a way to interact with each other and you're not just talking at people, but really engaging with them.” Johnson felt strongly about fostering a human-to-human connection with embedded interactions within the Brightcove Virtual Events Experience. “We did a lot of polling, we did a lot of questioning, we did a lot of interaction and engagement during the event. I really felt that we created an environment where people wanted to stay and even come back again.”
KEEP CONTENT SNACKABLE, AND MAKE SURE TO REUSE IT
“You don’t achieve engagement with long monologues,” warns Johnson. “Your content can’t be so long people don't want to come back.” And engagement doesn’t have to stop at the end of the event. “I wanted to really help our customers understand all about business transformation, all about these new solutions we were launching, and then have an opportunity for them to still learn and engage with us going forward,” she says. Inspired by Netflix and Ted Talks, Johnson made sure to look at their event content holistically so everything could be repurposed and live beyond the event itself. “We really wanted to think about, ‘How do we create content that's not only critical in the moment but that we can also use later to continue to engage with customers on an ongoing basis?’ We took our event video and launched a whole new content series on different topics every week, Netflix style.”
If you’re planning a virtual or hybrid event, we’d love to help. Get in touch with us here.
Nick Iuliano is Brightcove's Senior Director of Content, helping to tell our best brand, product, customer, and partner stories across global marketing channels.