As we gladly, gleefully bid adieu to 2020, let’s pause and gaze at the sights of the season one last time before we throw out the tree and pack up the lights. The holidays of 2020 were full of glitter and similar inanimate (and some animated) objects designed to otherwise distract us from the realities of our current situation. Nice try…
This annual attempt to put a smiley face on an otherwise dreary time of year is akin to a trap we all too often fall into (like a tempting fruit cake that fails to live up to its appearance). The latest hot toy, TikTok clip or must-see binge-worthy TV show all attempt to inspire in us the same feverish urge to participate lest we fall behind the culture or, worse yet, show ourselves to be the resident dolt at the cocktail party. In the B-to-B world, designers, marketers and sales professionals fall into a similar trap way too easily if introduced to the “next big thing” promising to deliver extraordinary results, launching their company forward (past our competition).
Cue the music…enter the Zoom call masquerading as an online virtual event! Can you hear the THUD?
With Zoom taking over as our lifeline to the outside world, event marketers have done their best to create meaningful, interactive, immersive digital events. With very few exceptions these virtual events have been disappointing (to be kind). But, in the absence of an alternative, it’s become the solution du jour. If there’s an upside to this I think this “shiny new object” will continue to evolve and become some version of a cornerstone component to the future of marketing and sales. With limited travel in effect for the foreseeable future along with shrinking commercial office environments, interactive digital platforms will HAVE to improve to keep up with marketing, sales and HR needs. We can speculate as to what the “next, next, next big thing/shinier new object” will be, but suffice to say, it will have to better than what most of us are working with today. Let us pray for the day when Zoom goes the way of MySpace, at least in terms of online events. I’m optimistic that event marketers and technologists will collaborate to deliver something we can all embrace and celebrate.
Whatever this new thing looks like it will need to form a viable link between the in-person, live experience and the remote, virtual, digital universe. For years many of us in the event world have urged our clients to make a stronger connection between what happens on the event floor and the database/digital environment. Now, in 2021, this connection is a necessity and will foster the more holistic approach to creating and maintaining the ongoing conversation between companies and their target constituents. This omnichannel approach is the future…ultimate form yet to be determined, but the concept is here to stay.