There is a particular fashion in the world of business conferences. And this fashion dictates that business events can be broken down into two classes: hybrid and physical. The second type is everything we’ve always known them to be, with an audience listening quietly to speeches from various experts about various topics related to their particular field.
The first type, meanwhile, may contain some elements of digital and physical, but it’s different in many ways, too – particularly when it comes to how delegates perceive them and what they expect from such gatherings.
So today, we’re going to look at what sets hybrid business events apart and why these products are becoming increasingly popular among corporate organizers and end-users alike.
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The End of the Short Talk
To a certain degree, a hybrid event is the complete opposite of a short-talk business conference. While in the latter case, experts discuss important topics in their particular field for twenty or thirty minutes before an audience of professionals from various fields who are only there to listen and ask questions.
With a hybrid convention, you have an entire day where experts talk about their work for two hours each.
In other words, when it comes to hybrids, specialists spend their time explaining how they do what they do rather than talking about what they do. We may debate whether this approach benefits anyone involved, but one thing’s almost inevitable: no end-user will complain that a specialist talked for too long on stage.
After all, they came there to learn more about increasing sales by 10%, improving their website’s conversion rate, and much more.
Creating an Informal Atmosphere
What makes hybrids different from classical business events is that they’re created with an entirely different audience in mind: end-users who want to learn something new and be inspired, entertained, and network simultaneously.
For this reason, as far as speakers go, hybrid conventions tend to attract those people who are well-known personalities in their particular field.
But apart from big-name speakers, hybrids also have a few other tricks up their sleeve. For example, each speaker will usually give a presentation, after which they’ll spend some time answering questions from the audience in a more informal setting.
But there’s also a difference in pre-and post-event entertainment: many hybrid events include parties or other social gatherings to help delegates get to know one another better and make new contacts.
Benefitting from Networking and New Contacts
In business, it’s not what you know but who you know that matters most, and this is something end-users understand well when attending hybrid events.
This is not just about searching for new leads or having your website receive more traffic from returning visitors from different industries. It’s about forming long-lasting friendships and contacts that will last you a lifetime.
And it’s because people who attend hybrid events tend to be those with firm social skills and the ability to network effectively, which is something business relationships can’t do without.
That said, let’s now look at two different kinds of businesses: online and offline ones. What kind of organizations would benefit most from hosting such an event? Which industries could attend and learn something new while maybe making some new friends in the process? Let’s find out by looking at some hybrid event examples:
1. Professional Services – from law firms to IT consultancies
If your company provides services rather than products, then attending a hybrid convention may prove beneficial for many reasons. For one thing, these events are great places to meet people from other established companies, especially if you want to find potential partners for your own business or need help with a unique project.
2. E-Commerce – from retailers to start-ups
But if you’re in the e-commerce field, then attending an event like this could turn out to be even more helpful. While professionals in any industry should know how important it is to increase sales, many online stores still think SEO or other factors make websites sell more products.
Attending a hybrid convention could thus prove very enjoyable and beneficial for both old hands and newcomers alike.
3. Software Development – from apps makers to web producers
If you happen to work in the software development field, then attending a hybrid convention could lead to some great opportunities down the line. After all, many businesses that hire developers or need custom-made apps will be present and looking for new talent and ideas.
This means not only will you learn something but meet like-minded people who might become part of your team soon.
4. Web Hosting Companies – from colocation centers to virtual server providers
If you own a web hosting company of any type (be it colocation services, data center management, or cloud hosting), then an audience of end-users is precisely what you’re after at such events.
After all, these are usually very advanced individuals whose companies can thus benefit from your expertise and knowledge. Plus, they’re people who might want to sign up with you in the future.
5. Big Online Businesses – from social media platforms to digital marketing agencies
Last but not least, attending a hybrid event is also something that all big online businesses should do at least once in their lifetime. Not only will they learn much about the current state of internet technologies, but they’ll meet people from other thriving enterprises.
This means potential partners or even buyers for their own company down the line. It’s an investment that pays off!
Are Hybrid Events Appropriate for Your Business?
Here are hybrid events examples scenarios:
So, you’ve been invited to a hybrid event. As the name suggests, it’s a cross between an inbound and outbound campaign. The catch is that what this means depends on your perspective.
On the one hand, if you’re a B2B company targeting SMEs through outbound campaigns – what you’re doing isn’t very different from running a classic live event for these prospects. It’s just another way of showing up at their place of business to spark the interest of decision-makers within those businesses about your offering.
The problem is that once there, they may be met by confused looks or, worse yet, indifference as everyone tries to figure out why these salespeople have turned up.
In this case, the hybrid event is almost perfect. It fits in with outbound strategies and allows for a unified look and feel to be maintained at all targeted SMEs through an “outbound” theme implemented across all channels. This includes direct mail, email marketing, and the live component of the hybrid – your event.
On the other hand, if you’re a B2C company using outbound marketing to connect directly with customers – then what you’re doing isn’t so different from throwing a huge party where people come to hear your salespeople talk about their offering while enjoying free food and drinks – which also happens to be available off-site or delivered somewhere else.
In this case, if your primary objective is signing up new customers, it probably won’t work. Just like throwing a gigantic party in the middle of the office, if your business revolves around generating leads for new customers or perhaps even selling to existing ones – it’s unlikely you’ll see many results from this approach.
And if that’s what you’re hoping to achieve – great. Go ahead and throw that huge party.
The problem is that hybrid events aren’t suited for either use case (the B2B one where they act as another face-to-face way of getting into SME businesses or the B2C one where they act as an extension to more traditional outbound marketing campaigns).
They do have a place but only in specific situations when marketers are trying something entirely new and want visibility of what’s known as the “full-funnel.”
The full-funnel is where marketers have visibility of every interaction their audience has with their offering. So rather than just focusing on conversions, it can be used to track awareness, interest, and signups, allowing marketers to see how new trial users are performing or which piece of content is fueling demand.
This allows brands to engage at each of these stages without having to do so through multiple campaigns.
It works by making use of an event-based campaign by sending people who may not know who you are (or nothing about what you do) right into your sales process.
They will experience a series of events that take them from awareness and interest (for example, running a press event) to signups and even more advanced interactions (for example, running a customer conference).
While it may not be the right solution for everyone, it’s an excellent way of showing up on your audience’s radar from a brand-building perspective.