How I Grow a Local Event to a Global Summit (Audience from 29 Countries!)
Because of COVID-19, many events changed to online. The same as mine. Initially, we planned to have a physical summit in Sep. In July, we decided to change it to a virtual setting, and that’s the start of this transformation journey, which is challenging. Some key numbers here:
- Total cost us about USD1000
- Engaged participants from 29 different countries
- Workforce? One person band
I want to share how we achieve it in this story.
Be prepared for a Growth Mindset.
First of all, and most importantly, it is a growth mindset. In a limited budget and timeline, everyone will tell you to cancel the event or wait until we can do the physical event again. Even your boss will say, “simply doing a webinar is fine. Management will understand”. However, I believe that we are not just working on finishing something. There should be a WHY. If you find your WHY, you will find ways to overcome the challenges.
Also, the challenge brings opportunities.
A virtual summit means that we can involve people from different timezones! We can have international speakers without paying their flight tickets and hotel fee! What an ample opportunity!
I see the opportunity.
Therefore, your mindset decided on your outcome.
Engage global partners and community
In total, we have more than 40 partners to support the Summit, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, UK, Portugal, etc. I believe in the power of community marketing, especially for a global event. If you spent your marketing budget on paid advertisement, yes, it may work and bring you traffic. However, the cost will be super high, and difficult to tailor your story to people from different cultures and countries. Having the organizations and communities to be the spokesperson for you will be much more effective and efficient. In a growth funnel, the paid advertisement can do a lot in the “awareness” stage. For the other steps, you need some spokespersons for you to achieve it.
Community marketing means spreading out your message via a specific group, “Community.” What is a community? A group of people who shares the same goal and want to grow together. In this digital world, we receive thousands of pieces of information every day. How can we absorb the information and make our decisions? How can we choose the “best” thing for myself? Seriously, it is not a rational decision most of the time, and we relied on referrals a lot.
In simple speaking, the easiest way you can do is “find diverse supporting organizations to help to spread the message.” Some may say, “they just helped to share a post. What can help?”. It helps a lot compared to paying for an advertisement on social media.
At least, your message is going to your target customers directly, and they can see it.
Invest time in SEO. It worth
I developed the event website by myself using Webflow. It is because I did many experiments on the website to improve the engagement rate. One key number is that I improved the website bounce rate from 9x% to 5x%. The event website is the first impression on the audience. To enhance the organic reach, I also did some SEO audit for the website and ensure it is in the top search of related keywords. Back to the previous point, your community partners can bring you a “backlink,” which improves your SEO ranking.
I suggest you ask if they can help to put your event on their website.
Why should you invest in SEO? Because it is almost free of charge, just about time. Mainly you are investing time to try and find the best way for your website. Different audiences have different kinds of “language.” Language means how they tell and receive messages, not just about English or Chinese. It also about the tune, image, branding, behavior, etc. A few steps you can follow:
- Identify a few keywords for your website.
- Identify your competitors
- Do an SEO audit based on these keywords and competitors (you can find free tools on google, just search SEO audit)
- Based on the audit report and edit the content.
- Use heat map (I suggest Hotjar) and google analytics (where the user drop out) to observe the audience .behavior
- Enhance the content by what audience like most and where they drop out
Again, it worth investing time as it is much cost-effective than paying for social media advertisement. Also, at the growth funnel, the website plays a crucial role in “Acquisition.”
An international platform helps.
How to do a virtual summit? It is about the operation.
It can be about marketing as well. Some people like to hire a team and do video streaming by their platform. It works entirely given the operation. However, why I choose to use Airmeet, a third-party platform? One concern is the budget; another matter is the platform effect. A medium can bring you the audience you didn’t think of before. An international platform can bring you a global audience you didn’t get in touch with early. Luckily we chose a fast-growing outlet, and their exposure grows our event’s vulnerability as well. I appreciate the features of Airmeet (e.g., a social lounge for audiences to don’t be bored during the waiting time and backstage to prepare the speakers nicely).
Other than that, I believe it brings marketing value also.
Before you choose to conduct the event, you have to ask yourself, “what you want to achieve?” A beautiful photo shooting moment? The number of people? Or the diversity of the audience? I choose diversity. Yes, if you have the budget and build a fantastic backdrop to do the broadcasting. Also, you can put the account on promotion to do many advertisements.
If not, you need to prioritize your objectives.
Lastly and also importantly, above are suggestions only and my own experience. Your story can be different.