Virtual Events: What Your Small Business Needs to Know

virtual event indoor media
Recently, thousands of companies replaced their large in-person parties and conferences with virtual events. While many hope to move back to hosting regular events soon, the truth is that virtual events are a format that is here to stay.  Hosts and guests alike have found that these events are easier to organize and attend and promote greater accessibility for those who may have struggled to make it otherwise. They also offer more flexible invitations for families and can be recorded and shared with others later.  Plus, most consumers don’t want to leave the comfort of their homes. It’s important to plan around this factor instead of hoping for it to change because many small businesses and national brands are already designing virtual events.  There are many ways in which restaurants and salons can get involved and start hosting their own experiences online, so read on for everything you’ll need to know.

 Gifts, Products, and Incentives 

 The best virtual events are those that come with a bit of merch. Of course, you don’t want to give these products out for free so consider hosting a ticketed event.  If you have a large following on social media, advertise your event and tell fans where to buy tickets. Depending on the type of “experience” you want to host, you may decide to send out a meal kit for a cook-a-long, a bundle of self-care goods for a spa day tutorial, or branded merchandise to thank your customers for buying tickets.  Many brands have already moved into the virtual event space to partner with other companies and advertise their products. Try reaching out to another local business in your area and asking them to donate to the gift bags.  You can offer to feature them in the broadcast, print their logo on a watermark, or even give them their own segment in the show. As long as you’ve got a good following, this should be enough to incentivize their partnership.

 Virtual Events for Restaurant Owners

 If you are wondering how to move your culinary expertise onto the world wide web, don’t stress. Think about your best-selling dishes and which of them consumers could put together at home.  When you decide on one, gauge your fans’ interest on social media. In your stories, you can create a “poll” and ask, “Would you attend a virtual event where we teach you how to make ____.”  If you’re between two dishes, you can always adjust the poll so viewers can vote on which dish would be their favorite. Then, if the responses flood in, you know you’ve got an audience for your event.  If you’re worried about disclosing your secret recipe, you can always send your spices out in mystery bags or jars labeled with “A”, “B”, “C”. Your fans will love the mystery and be all the more excited to cook along with you.  The perks of hosting this event locally are that you can put the “cook-along” kits up for sale through your regular delivery apps or take-out forums.  Assemble them in-store, so all consumers have to do is order their own the day of the event — but make sure to advertise for at least a week leading up to the big night.

 Virtual Events for Salons 

 Now, more than ever, people love a spa day. Many consumers are practicing avid “self-care” and would jump at the opportunity to secure a spa bundle.  Contact your clients and take to social media to ask if anyone would be interested in attending the event. Make sure to reach out to your regular vendors to ask them to donate products for your care packages.  You can offer makeup tutorials or demonstrate to viewers exactly how to pluck their brows during the event. Try to coordinate with vendors well before selling tickets so you can design your event around the products that will be in your “swag bag.” This way, you can advertise to fans exactly what they can expect with their tickets and get them excited about everything they have to look forward to.  The best part of virtual events is that you can essentially host anyone on your feed. If there is a beauty YouTuber or makeup, skincare, or hair care influencer you love, reach out to them and see if they would be willing to do a segment for your event. They may be interested in the exposure, especially if they’re a local star in your town.

 How to Make Money Off the Event 

 Of course, the easiest way to make a profit is through ticket sales. If you’d rather go live on social media, you can sell your cook-along kits or spa bundles from your website ahead of time, but keep in mind that consumers are more likely to cash in when there is a level of exclusivity.  You can also record your event and make it available for future views behind a paywall. This means that consumers can visit your website and watch your content after your event happens; they’ll just have to pay per view.  During your broadcast, you can also post a Venmo link so users can “tip” speakers during the event. Make sure to give a shout-out to anyone who tips throughout the broadcast, and make an effort to engage with all your viewers throughout the broadcast.  Whether you’re hosting on Zoom or social media, live events are great because users can actively comment or ask questions throughout the show. Emphasize this accessibility when you’re advertising, so consumers know they’ll have the rare chance to pick an expert’s brain!

 How to Advertise the Event

 Whether you’re advertising the live event a few weeks out or want to get the word out about your recorded content, grocery store advertising is a great way to remind your customers about your brand. When consumers see your supermarket advertisement, they’ll be reminded of your small business and may be surprised to see you’re hosting virtual experiences.  While these events may seem intimidating at first, they’re an excellent way for local businesses to compete in the same forum as national brands.  Highlighting this move with the right supermarket advertisement may be enough to rebrand your business as an efficient, forward-thinking model. Still, with grocery store advertising, you’ll retain a local feel for your VIPs.

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