Before you tackle your first virtual event ...

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BtoB: What advice do you give to marketers as they work with virtual events? Doyle: Look at the different form factors for the different solutions, and just go out and attend events on different platforms so you can start to match your need with the features that are available and with the type of audience that you are likely going to attract. Start to look at the user perspective and also your business case. Do you need multiple tracks? Do you need to have live-versus-prerecorded materials? Do you need an expo hall? What type of networking and inter-attendee communication do you need? Then guide your business case. How are you going to fund it? Who is going to be the manager of it? Who's going to support that person? That's the way I recommend people start, all through the process making sure they are also talking to stakeholders and getting them to try some of these platforms as well. They should start small and work through it. There are a lot of similarities to putting on a physical event, but there are a lot of differences as well. Once they get experience, there is a movement to more of an integrated approach. They're looking at creating perpetual environments where any business unit can go for all different purposes: lead generation, nurturing, support, training. They start to look at these environments as an extension of their Web site, as a much more immersive environment where customers are coming in, partners are coming in, employees are coming in. So they need more of an integrated communication and collaboration environ-ment as opposed to an event. M
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