Toy Business Insights: Managing Virtual Events For The Toy Business
As the pandemic has put many major trade shows in jeopardy for the short term, we are all working on virtual alternatives to get in front of people in the business, especially our customers.
To be successful though in these different circumstances takes some thought and planning. We can’t presume we can do things the same way but just via video. We caught up with leading Virtual Events Consultant – Catherine Gresty of RG Events to find out how toy and games companies can find competitive advantage by running their virtual events more efficiently than their competitors:
TOY INDUSTRY JOURNAL: What common mistakes do you see toy companies & others making with virtual events?
CG: We see companies thoughtlessly pushing out information without connecting and engaging with their audience first. It has become the standard to run a basic and unplanned Webinar in one flat format without thinking enough about interactivity and not thinking enough about the customer experience and customer journey. How are you going to reach and influence them most effectively when they have other distractions at home and when you aren’t physically in their presence. We advise our clients that they need to think about the psychology of engagement as much as their presentation content and message. Getting your customer to pay attention is critical.
Do you need to restructure what you want to tell your customers around the online media available to you instead of presuming you can just do the same old thing but via video feed.
TOY INDUSTRY JOURNAL: Ok, so what is the psychology of engagement and how can toy and game companies use that to their advantage?
CG: It begins with taking full and proper consideration of your customers situation and mindset.
Don’t expect people to spend the whole day online with you, because that is exhausting, and they will have other things to get done that day. It might be the case that they normally will visit you for a full day for product previews in your showroom, but online is a different experience. Try to think about what it will be like for them to sit there in one place for days on end viewing product after product. You don’t want to keep them online for too long and you definitely do want to try to standout versus everyone else’s presentations.
The quality of your visuals and the information to be presented needs to be really high, but also professionally succinct.
The golden rule we work to with our clients is that a virtual presentation, even for the largest of product lines should last for a maximum of 2 hours, so maybe plan to present category by category split over a few sessions, or just present the topline & highlights with follow up communication with videos and sales sheets to cover off all the information.
TOY INDUSTRY JOURNAL: What opportunities or advantages can virtual events present that physical ones can’t?
CG: Normally when we manage selling events the clients who are most successful are the ones who tell the best stories and who make things fun instead of just droning through presentations in a monotone voice.
Perhaps you can take these unusual circumstances as an opportunity to add presentations from people at a higher level in your organisation, so think about what you can record your senior management saying or doing in a way you can’t easily replicate at a physical trade show when there are hundreds of people to meet. Perhaps your bigger customers are due to meeting your CEO, but maybe you can introduce her or him to your other customers by recording a message as part of your virtual presentations?
When people aren’t travelling to events and rushing round and aren’t exhausted they probably do have a more time available overall, but it will also need to be more structured and you need to take account of their attention span.
TOY INDUSTRY JOURNAL: How else can people use virtual communication around events to help them achieve better results?
CG: We often hear how it is the informal meetings in the halls of exhibitions with contacts in the trade which can sometimes be most valuable. So, you will have to work harder to replicate those passing conversations in absentia. This is a relationship driven business as well as being a product dependent business. Without the after-hours bars, restaurants and entertainment which are normally such a focal part of trade show attendance you have to consider how to reach out to more people and retain and build those informal relationships.
TOY INDUSTRY JOURNAL: Obviously virtual events will mostly be significantly cheaper to run than physical ones. Can you think of any good ways toy companies can use the budget savings to deliver greater impact from the virtual events?
CG: Obviously we would recommend engaging expert professional support from a company like ours!
But you can also look at how technology can help you deliver additional interactivity. If you look belong the standard off the shelf technology platforms you can use live feeds, hybrid studios (purpose built studio with green screen), you can invest in animation or simulation with products and you can upweight the typical production values on your product ‘sizzler’ videos.
For sure companies should enjoy the cost savings which virtual events can offer over physical events, but don’t forget your objective is to effectively sell your products and your company, in which case, sometimes a little bit of extra spend can go a long way in selling both the products but also your company capabilities.
TOY INDUSTRY JOURNAL: What advice would you give to people attending virtual trade shows arranged by another company or organisation? How can they make the most of those opportunities?
CG: Start by looking at how you can adapt your physical showroom to the format offered by the organisation managing the virtual event you plan to participate in. This takes pre-thought, planning and potentially some lateral thinking. Above all though, how do you plan to draw people in to engage with your team and your presentations?
On a more practical note, make sure you understand the platforms before you present to your customers. Make sure you understand the presentation formats and contact opportunities. You can also check if the events have an educational strand or platform – can you promote your business and products in these spaces?
TOY INDUSTRY JOURNAL: Do you have anything else to add, and how can people get in touch if they would like to find out more about how you help clients deliver more effective virtual events?
CG: Prepare for change. This is not business as normal, so be flexible and ready to take advantage of opportunities that are offered in a different way or format from what you are used to.
Challenge yourself, your colleagues and your company to think and act differently as this new circumstance we find ourselves in necessitates.
The fundamentals don’t change though, in planning any event we should always start from ‘What are our objectives & how can available events formats allow us to meet our objectives?’. If you start with your objectives and a plan based on meeting those objectives then you shouldn’t go far wrong.
For more information on our business or for help and advice on how to run your virtual events more effectively, please ask your readers to visit www.r-gevents.com for more info, or via LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/catherinegrestyeventsmanager
Catherine Gresty is a highly experienced Events professional with 20+ years experience of planning, executing and evaluating major events across the world for companies including The Financial Times, Coca-Cola, The Imperial War Museum, The National Trust and others.