Hybrid and in-person events are officially on the books, and we have to say it’s making things feel a little more normal these days. The only problem is marketing in-person events in 2021 is a whole different story. The usual selling points that organizers might hype up — like a packed auditorium, or a giant indoor concert, are just not super appealing right now. Not only that, people will be looking for events that can stand out from all the other events that are coming back every day. It’s a tall order. But, with a little planning, it can definitely be done. Here are our top tips for marketing your hybrid or in-person event in 2021 and beyond.
Smaller brands are making a big splash in 2021.
The New York Times recently pointed out that Eurovision’s 2021 event (which was the first major in-person awards show in 2021) lacked any visible big-brand marketing. There were no hosts talking about Chanel dresses or Tom Ford tuxedos. There were just talented artists wearing amazingly unique outfits almost entirely created by independent designers. This feature not only gave the event a unique voice, it actually made it better, and made the whole thing feel like a fresh start to a new event world. Organizers looking to emulate this concept should consider partnering with lesser-known brands for visual designs, food, or just about any kind of sponsorship. Think local. Bring in partners who will give your event an original look and connect with the community. Also, it never hurts to help small businesses as we all start to meet again.
Exclusivity is appealing right now.
The Protect Chicago Music Series is creating maskless outdoor dance parties for anyone that is fully vaccinated. For some Chicagoans, this event couldn’t come soon enough. “When they put this together for everyone that’s vaccinated, we rushed to get our tickets,” said Dean Bowie, one of the attendees at the dance party. While a vaccine requirement may limit the number of people who can attend, and make it more exclusive, it does add a level of safety that people actually want right now. Not only that, the smaller crowd will create a more relaxed environment where people can more easily chat and connect. Which might be just what people need to ease back into meeting maskless and in-person again.
Offer a little bit of everything.
The SoBo (South Boston) Brew Fest will be held in-person this year, but in addition to drinking brews, there will be a 5k run, a block party, and a concert, all on the same day. On the surface, a 5k may seem like it clashes with a drinking festival, but it actually gives people a totally different way to enjoy the same event.
Additionally, it promotes health and fitness and gives people a safe option to get together. As organizers plan and market events in 2021, think about ways to get people together beyond convention halls and auditoriums. Consider outdoor sessions, like yoga, mediation, bike rides, or movie screenings. In our recent article about networking in-person in 2021, we pointed out that attendees will actually make better connections with each other when doing activities that are simply fun to do together. Also, if a Brewfest can have a 5k, then the possibilities are endless, right?
Big events should start marketing today.
CES will be coming back live and in-person in January 2022, and while that’s still a ways away, the event’s organizers are already hard at work getting the word out. A press statement was just released a few days ago sketching the event in broad strokes, and the event’s commitment to keeping everyone safe. But before that, all the way back in January of this year, CES started putting out a trickle of social media posts and trailers, all designed to get people excited for the event. It will take time for big, in-person events to get back on everyone’s radar. Some people might not even know that they can happen right now. This is why it’s best to start reconnecting with your audience today, and letting them know everything that’s possible in the months ahead. Which should be a lot!
Show people what an in-person event looks like in 2021.
Art Basel Hong Kong posted numerous pics and videos of their most recent hybrid event in real-time, while it was going on. Most of the posts showed people wearing masks and chatting in small groups — and it was clear everyone had lots of space to move around and check out the art. Since most people in the world don’t know what an in-person event even looks like in 2021, these kinds of marketing posts are essential to showing how it all works. Not only that, if it’s a multi-day event, updating people with pics and videos will bring in more attendees each day as the word about the event travels. It’s been a while since we could all get together, so when it finally happens, make sure to show it off!
Make use of your amazing hybrid content.
Hybrid events create massive amounts of recorded content. Everything that you stream at your event has the potential to get posted on social media and help you connect with your followers. Use it to promote your future events, cut it up to make recap videos or share videos as weekly conversation starters. But whatever you do, don’t let this content go to waste. Check and make sure your technology platform has the capacity to save everything you stream. One of the greatest things about hybrid is that nothing gets lost. It can all be in the cloud for people to experience however they want. Pictured above is Hilton’s Event Ready hybrid event set-up — which looks like it’s ready to record just about anything!
Unsure about where to start with hybrid events? We did a recap of all our hybrid-related articles recently. Check it out!
Share your vision for the future.
2021 is a fresh slate for events. It’s an opportunity to innovate and create inspiring ways for people to connect as things open back up. Thinking local, and working with smaller brands will give the event a unique and inspiring look. Creating lots of safe options for people to meet will ensure good attendance. But however you market your event, it’s a chance to inspire, and show people your vision for the future.