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Virtual Events Blue Paper

Virtual Events Blue Paper

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Published by 4imprint
Conferences, trade shows, corporate meetings, sales and marketing meetings, training sessions, job fairs—practically any event that was once limited to board rooms and convention halls is moving online at an increasing rate. What’s more, businesses are incorporating virtual components at in-person events to save time and money while leveraging the latest in technology and social media.

In this Blue Paper®, we’ll share these reasons in depth as we explore the benefits of virtual events, the kinds of virtual events, how to develop a virtual event strategy and offer tips for marketing virtual events to practically anyone.
Conferences, trade shows, corporate meetings, sales and marketing meetings, training sessions, job fairs—practically any event that was once limited to board rooms and convention halls is moving online at an increasing rate. What’s more, businesses are incorporating virtual components at in-person events to save time and money while leveraging the latest in technology and social media.

In this Blue Paper®, we’ll share these reasons in depth as we explore the benefits of virtual events, the kinds of virtual events, how to develop a virtual event strategy and offer tips for marketing virtual events to practically anyone.

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Published by: 4imprint on May 17, 2011
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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11/05/2012

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Virtual Events
 
© 2011 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
Virtually fantastic: Virtual events
What if someone told you that your business could attend a conference andyour team could mingle and network with hundreds—perhaps thousands—ofinterested professionals within your industry without ever stepping foot outsideof your office? What if you were also told that in doing so, travel expenses couldbe cut in half while sales leads would practically double and the ROI of attendinga conference would be more measureable than ever before?Skeptical? Don’t be. Instead, consider virtual events.Conferences, trade shows, corporate meetings, sales and marketing meetings,training sessions, job fairs—practically any event that was once limited to boardrooms and convention halls is moving online at an increasing rate. What’s more,businesses are incorporating virtual components at in-person events to save timeand money while leveraging the latest in technology and social media.According to a recent report by Market Research Media, the worldwide virtualconference market is predicted to grow 56 percent to roughly a $19 billion peryear industry through 2015.
1
In another study conducted by United Business Media, 68 percent of business-to-business corporations will boost their use of virtual events in the next year.
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This major growth is occurring for a number of reasons and, in this Blue Paper
®
,we’ll share these reasons in depth as we explore the benefits of virtual events, thekinds of virtual events, how to develop a virtual event strategy and offer tips formarketing virtual events to practically anyone. So pull up a chair, graba highlighter and take notes—you won’t want to miss this.
What are virtual events?
First things first: Just what exactly are virtual events? By definition,virtual events are a gathering of people sharing a common virtualenvironment on the Web, rather than meeting in a physical location. Virtual eventplatforms that can be accessed by any computer or compatible mobile device,combined with the use of social networking tools, create a highly interactiveenvironment that can look and feel much like an in-person event.Developed in the early 1990s, virtual events were held entirely online. With the
1 Olson, Elizabeth. “Growth in Virtual Gatherins Offers Marketing Opportunities.” NYTimes.com. The New Yorktimes, 1 Dec. 2010. Web. 8 Mar. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/02/business/media/02adco.html?_r=1>. 2 Hosford, Christopher. “Virtual Events at ‘tipping Point’ of Acceptance :: BtoB Magazine.” BtoB Magazine:Marketing News and Strategies for BtoB, Direct & Internet Marketing. 8 Nov. 2011. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. <http:// www.btobonline.com/article/20101108/FREE/311089987/virtual-events-at-tipping-point-of-acceptance#seeni t>.
 
© 2011 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
rising popularity of virtual worlds like Second Life
®
in the early 2000s, theseevents moved from static chat rooms to an interactive virtual gathering place thatallowed hosts to recreate virtual renderings of buildings and visitors to create life-like avatars that spoke and could move around events much like they could in aphysical space.At the same time, other businesses began exploring things like webinars andWeb-based conference calls as a means to expand reach and cut event costs.Today, businesses are continuing this trend, while incorporating other virtualcomponents to in-person trade shows, conferences and other events.These days, Jennifer Belissent, a senior analyst at Forrester Research says that themost successful virtual events “mimic the activities of their physical counterparts,including interacting with participants with live or recorded video, presentations,online spokespeople, signage and collateral downloads.”
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 It’s not just enough to call an event a virtual one. “To be a true virtualmarketing event, the meeting has to generate interest and convert that intoactual leads, and eventually sales,” she added.
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Physical events versus virtual events
Physical events and virtual events share a few common traits and both aimto achieve the same goal: To present a business, organization or individual’smessage to a targeted audience. Both types of events often feature speakersand showcase presentations. Speakers and presenters are backed by experience,clout and professional credentials and attendees of both kinds of events learnimportant information while engaging and interacting with speakers, exhibitorsand professional peers.But the similarities end there. The differences between physical and virtualevents are in the cost and time savings, and the opportunity to engage withtarget audiences and industry peers in cases where a gathering in person isn’tpractical (or in some cases even possible) to pull together. What’s more, thepresentation of content in a virtual event can offer participants convenient accessto a wider range of materials : Attendees can peruse slideshows, videos, podcasts,documents, articles and more instantaneously or at their leisure. Speaking ofleisure, both presenters and attendees can access virtual events from just aboutanywhere—their office, a coffee shop, a lounge chair on the beach, virtuallyanywhere with an Internet connection.
3 Olson, Elizabeth. “Growth in Virtual Gatherins Offers Marketing Opportunities.” NYTimes.com. The New Yorktimes, 1 Dec. 2010. Web. 8 Mar. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/02/business/media/02adco.html?_r=1>.4 Olson, Elizabeth. “Growth in Virtual Gatherins Offers Marketing Opportunities.” NYTimes.com. The New Yorktimes, 1 Dec. 2010. Web. 8 Mar. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/02/business/media/02adco.html?_r=1>.

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