I think of offline events as the cousin of online events. In much the same way you would think of online events -- with webinars, webcasts, Facebook Live, YouTube Live -- offline events are the brick-and-mortar offline version of those that are non-virtualized.
Offline events could be conferences, expos, seminars, breakfast seminars, lunch-and-learn seminars, classes, networking receptions, or cocktail parties. They could be as simple as taking a group of clients, prospects, or partners to a baseball game or football game. It could be an event like a walkathon or a 5K.
Planning Offline Events
Offline events help to advance your business goals. When planning your offline events, one of the most important things to think about is who the offline event is for. Who is the buyer persona that this offline event should be targeted towards? Maybe there are two buyer personas that you're trying to make this appealing to.
If we try to have an offline event that appeals to everyone, it may end up appealing to no one. Everything should be grounded in the reality of who the buyer persona is or who are the two buyer personas are that we want to make this offline event all about.
Understanding Context Through Buyer Personas
Second, we need to understand the context of where that buyer persona is in the buyer’s journey or their life cycle stage with your company. For example, is this type of buyer persona a complete stranger that has never heard of your business before, that has no familiarity with your value proposition, your positioning, and your products and services?
That's a very different kind of offline event than one that's meant for your existing customers or your new customers who’ve just come on board. We want to help them learn more about your company, about your products and services, and getting the most value out of the relationship with your company. There are very different needs.
If we try to have one-size-fits every life cycle stage or every buyer’s journey stage, oftentimes it can fall completely flat. What some people do in larger offline events, is to have a larger general session and then they’ll have tracks. For instance, everyone would be together for the morning keynote, afternoon keynote, and closing keynote.
In between the morning and the afternoon session, you have two or three smaller rooms possibly for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced sessions. Or you can segment by prospects, existing customers, and partners. With that, your sessions will be a lot more relevant.
Appealing and Relevant Topics
Think about your buyer personas and where they are in the buyer’s journey. In terms of the topics to cover, you’re trying to come up with a topic that appeals to the buyer personas. Use the buyer personas as the starting point for what topics most likely resonate with them.
Think about the topics you’d like to cover. When you have their consensus on the biggest challenges, struggles, and problems that they’re going through, that’s a good sign for what they’re most worried about. Think about what they’re going to be receptive to for taking time out of their busy schedule to drive or fly somewhere -- sometimes people travel regionally or nationally -- or even internationally to come to your offline event.
The topic has to be hyper relevant to the buyer in order to be worthwhile for them to attend. Of course if you’re charging for your offline event, even a nominal amount, the value proposition has to be super high.
Scheduling Offline Events
For scheduling your offline event, what are the best months, time of the month, or days of the week. These are all things the buyer persona should help you zero in on. Sometimes, you don’t get your first choice for day of the week or day of the year. You have to consider where you’re holding it, what their capacity is, what’s affordable, discounts for off times of the year. All of these things come into play. But when all else is equal, you’ll want to focus on your buyer persona and what’s important to them.
Just like with an online event, there may be opportunities to create content around your offline that extends the life of the event to days, weeks, months, even years after that offline event has taken place.
For example, like the conference idea above, where you have a morning keynote, a lunch keynote, an end-of-day closing keynote, bring in a professional videographer and have all of those recorded. Because if nothing else, that provides a preview when you decide to have that event again next year of what people missed, knowing what they can look forward to, the caliber of the speakers, and the caliber of content that you're having at your event.
Creating Additional Content
But it provides additional opportunities with the main general sessions and the breakout sessions by recording them. Some of them can be used as ungated content on YouTube. Some of them you may decide to have as gated content, sitting behind a landing page for lead generation purposes.
Some conference organizers that hold offline events sell access to the videos. They sell access to the workbooks. Sometimes people will take those sessions and transcribe them and turn them into printed content -- like special reports, ebooks, downloadable guides. Sometimes you can chop them up into smaller blog posts that help promote the longer recording either gated or ungated.
But if your content or the topic you're talking about at your offline event are reasonably evergreen, why not try to get a broader audience. You may have thought your event was successful with having 50 people in attendance, 250 people in attendance, or 500 people in attendance, but there's a good chance that's not the overwhelming majority of people who could benefit from watching, listening, or learning that content.
Content creation at the same time as you're offline events is a tremendous opportunity.
In terms of planning and prioritizing
- Use your buyer personas
- Use the buyer’s journey or life cycle stage
- Set SMART goals for what you're trying to get with registrations and any outcomes that you want to have from people that attend your offline events
- Think about how to get more leverage out of the event by creating content that you can use for days, weeks, months, or even years after that offline event has taken place
The Bottom Line
It's all about supporting your business goals, positioning, differentiation, improving your competitive positioning, and helping you scale revenue growth. Again all of these should be grounded in the planning for your offline events.
The more you can make your goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timebound, the more your goals are SMART, the easier it is for everyone in your company to be on the same page.
SMART goals help manage what you can expect from the event and what you can measure after that event has taken place to make sure that it’s providing you with good solid return on investment from your offline events.
Tell us about the types of offline events your company is doing? Share your thoughts in the section for comments below.
To learn more about offline events, download our eBook "3 Revenue Growth Opportunities Your Business May Be Missing."