Truly hybrid – the only strategy that matters now

By Christopher Bo Shields, Chief Creative Officer and Co-founder, Totem.

What is your marketing and events strategy looking like for the coming year? How does the prospect of a return to real life events affect the shift to 100% online that you arrived at after many late nights and Zoom calls?

It’s tempting to think that there will be a return to the good old days before the pandemic turned the world upside down. But the savviest know that things have changed forever, offering huge challenges but also great opportunities for those willing to think boldly.

That boldness needs to be focused on one word, and how seriously we take it: ‘hybrid’.

Sure, it’s hot right now, but beyond the terminology, does anyone have a truly hybrid strategy in place?

The following three suggestions will help you to develop one.

Get bingeable 

As we shake off the shackles imposed on events by Covid, corporations must continue to build on the virtual event strategies they’ve developed, not neglect them in a rush to the nearest conference hall.

The answer is to be Netflix. The future of corporate events and marketing strategy is that companies will become as adept at maximising the use of their content as streaming giants and TV channels. Events organisers must develop their virtual offering by making them bingeable.

You’re creating content at a rate of knots, so you need to be making sure the content is chunked up, allowing you to pull out powerful bits that are easily digestible and watchable. For instance, split your panel discussion into short slots for each question that is put to the panellists, providing bits of bingeable content.

A blended experience

But companies will need to go even further than becoming TV channels. They need to build into such an approach the ability to seamlessly curate and blend the physical and virtual, ensuring the two have a symbiotic relationship that is complimentary, not competitive.

We need a mindset change, towards the acknowledgment that an event can be physical or virtual – whichever way you cut it, it’s an event.

In the coming months as companies cater for varying levels of audience readiness to re-enter physical spaces, they will have to ensure that neither physical nor virtual audiences feel they are excluded from a truly optimal experience.

A true hybrid event is one where both audiences have been considered right from the start.

The delegate rules

The experience should always come before the technology. So, think about how you are going to orchestrate the event in order to help the delegates to navigate the experience, friction-free. Because the potential for distraction is huge.

The dream of a perfect delegate experience must be at the centre of the world you construct. An individual should be given a full suite of truly interactive experiences. They should feel cared for – and catered to.

The past year has changed everything. As much as we think life will go back to the way it was – it won’t. Companies should be aspiring towards creating seamless hybrid experiences.

The audiences of the future will only know that kind of experience, so we should be prepared to cater for them.

Christopher Bo Shields is Chief Creative Officer and Co-founder at Totem.

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