January 29, 2021

17 Virtual Event Ideas for 2021 from a Field Marketing Leader

By Sruthi Kumar

This piece is brought to you by Sendoso Associate Director of Field & Partner Marketing Sruthi Kumar. 

Here we are again. Another year, and another season of no in-person events. 

Sure, hybrid events feel like they’re just on the horizon of our reality, but the truth is, we’re still battling the same challenges we were at the end of 2020. 

What were those challenges? My fellow field marketers, demand generation marketers—heck, even my content and product marketing friends know what’s up! We’re all battling virtual fatigue, and the battle is tough. 

Most importantly, the people we care about (our customers and prospects) are tired. Zoom after Zoom, after webinar, after Zoom, and they’ve got to log back in and do it all again the next day. 

So let’s give our people what they deserve. A BREAK from virtual reality! 

You’re probably thinking, “But Sruthi, how do I do that?” Have no fear, my friends. I have your back. 

Read on for some ideas and best practices on how to win the good fight against virtual fatigue!

17 Virtual Event Marketing Ideas for 2021

Virtual Event Idea #1: Recreate a Virtual Coffee Shop

Remember when you were traveling for events and decided to work in a coffee shop before setting up on the show floor? I remember those days too, and so does your audience. 

Bring back that coffee shop feel for them by setting up a “barista” to visit your virtual event and teach your audience how to make their favorite professional coffee! Before the event, send them top-notch coffee beans along with a portable coffee grinder like this one from Amazon so they can follow along. (Doesn’t hurt if that coffee grinder has your company logo on it either!).

Virtual Event Idea #2: Do a Raffle

Conducting a raffle for your audience can be a great incentive to register for your event, and also to encourage those registrants to turn into attendees. Do you have a large virtual event with a lot of great sessions coming up? Raffle off some cool prizes in between sessions so your attendees have more motivation to stay logged on until your closing keynote.

Pro-Tip: This is such a good idea that I went ahead and used it for our upcoming virtual event CONNECTED on March 3!

Virtual Event Idea #3: Put on a Comedy Show, Magic Show, or Tiny Desk Concert

In-person events can sometimes include fun performances, and your virtual event doesn’t have to be any different! Incorporate entertainment sessions like a virtual comedy or magic show from top talent so your attendees can still take part in the fun. And the best part is, you don’t have to leave your apartment!

Virtual Event Idea #4:Use Branded Zoom Backgrounds

No matter what virtual event platform your team may use, team meetings will most likely still take place on Zoom. For our own internal events like sales kickoffs with our go-to-market teams or hackathons with our engineering and product teams, we share themed Zoom backgrounds that everyone can use the day of. It helps build some excitement before the event starts, and creates a feeling of community during the event as well. 

Virtual Event Idea #5: Host a Virtual Cheese Tasting

2020 was filled with more virtual happy hours than I would like to count, but believe it or not, the one thing that I am not sick of is cheese. Virtual or in-person, I am a fan. I am a big brie-liever that cheese brings people together.

Sendoso works with wonderful vendors like Olive & Cocoa that can send out cheese tasting kits to your top prospects and customers. Sit together virtually, taste the cheese, and talk business. I promise it will be a gouda event!

Virtual Event Idea #6: Set Up a Photo Booth

My old office desk was covered in photo booth pictures from the different events my team sponsored over the years. It was quite the clutter, but I loved the memories! Allow your event attendees to recreate those memories by using virtual event platforms like Welcome, where you can take a picture with your friends and colleagues virtually! You can even brand the photos with your event logo so your attendees can treasure your event for years to come.

Virtual Event Idea #7: Organize a Virtual Tour

Did you know that you can virtually visit museums located all over the world? Pretty cool right? Set up a museum tour for your customers and prospects to get to know them better, and hey if you decide to visit the Reina Sofia located in Madrid, you send your attendees ingredients to make their own sangria!

Virtual Event Idea #8: Set Up a Networking or Mentoring Session

A lot of virtual event platforms have lounges or chat rooms to recreate networking moments we would be experiencing at in-person opening parties or happy hours. Do not rely on your attendees to use these features on their own though, give them a reason to be there! At your next event, create a lounge focused around “birds of a feather” so you can gather people who want to talk about the same topic in one “room”. 

You can also open attendee matching prior to the event, which provides the perfect excuse for your SDRs to reach out to registrants they’ve been trying to connect with.

Virtual Event Idea #9: Host a Virtual Escape Room

As one of the cooler aspects of remote work, corporate virtual escape rooms have popped up everywhere, making them the perfect activity for team building. With a quick google search, check out the many different options to get your teams problem-solving and put those collaboration skills to the test. Make it competitive by pitting teams and departments against each other to see who can escape the fastest!

Virtual Event Idea #10: Teach a Cooking Class

Get your VIP attendees together to make a special meal! This is a great opportunity to get people to join in on something fun with their whole family, and get to experience something truly delicious when the event is over! Check out our Sendoso Experience options for more unique ideas.

Virtual Event Idea #11: Throw an Awards Ceremony

Recognize the most innovative and successful members of your community by designing fun trophies, and present them to your brand champions in a virtual ceremony. For example, our SuperSender program rewards our top advocates’ efforts and provides them with future opportunities to network and share their stories.

Virtual Event Idea #12: Create Certification Classes

Create an event around helping your customers be even more advanced experts in your product. This is a great way to not only get customers together, but to get prospects using your solution. You can also establish yourself as the expert in your field, and create “how-to” workbooks for your attendees to reference in their own time.

Virtual Event Idea #13: Put on a Game Show

Recreate some crowd favorites like Family Feud and Jeopardy. This is a great idea for Customer Advocacy Boards where you want to collect product feedback, or for sales kickoffs where you’re training your go-to-market teams on new product features and pitch deck messaging. Get the competition pumped with cool prizes if they win!

Virtual Event Idea #14: Meditation or Yoga Class

2021 has not been any less stressful than 2020, so send out the perfect zen kits for your attendees to take the peaceful breaks they deserve! Send them a package with a Headspace gift card, a yoga mat, and anything else that will help relax and recharge. (Plus, I bet they’ll be in a much better mood when your SDR team follows up with them!)

Virtual Event Idea #15: Have a Movie Night

Movie night on Netflix has been a staple of 2020, and I don’t know about you, but I am not letting it go anytime soon. You don’t need to integrate movie nights into your event, but create an ideal movie night experience for your prospects and customers by sending snack boxes filled with movie theatre candy favorites and popcorn so they cab recreate the weekend activity we all miss so much! It’s guaranteed to be the blockbuster hit of their weekend. 

Virtual Event Idea #16: Provide Branded Breakouts and Break Areas

Remember that idea around networking? Create some of the lounges in your virtual event experience to include branding from your sponsors. This is also a good idea to pitch to larger industry events when you want to help your brand to stand out! Encourage people to come to your break area with a coffee eGift and recreate the feel of a coffee break VIP lounge at an in-person event.

Virtual Event Idea #17: Send a Pre or Post-Event Gift

Sending is the easiest way to grab your attendees attention before or after the event! Do not miss out on this opportunity. Try sending your company’s branded swag to get attendees excited for the big day. Out of ideas what to send? Here is a hot tip! Send anything that is going to make their WFH set up even better like a mini desk cleaner, house slippers, or blue light glasses! And for event follow up, try this simple trick to continue your meaningful conversations. 

Make Virtual More Personal

I hope you’re feeling inspired to put on some campaign winning virtual events this year, because I am! Whatever idea you choose, just make sure to get your top industry partners together with a great theme that you know your audience will care about. Maybe something like … “Revenue teams must be nimble, with diverse strategies and a variety of ways to engage buyers and customers.”

Once you’ve settled on an event idea, the next step is to pepper your speaker lineup with inspirational speakers like Seth Godin, and great comedians like Jena Friedman and Corporate Bro. Include industry leaders like Matt Heinz, Sangram Vajre, Max Altschuler, Morgan J Ingram and invite your top prospects and customers. 

I know. That lineup sounds like a great time. Good news, it’s happening! You can join in on the virtual fun at our upcoming virtual event CONNECTED on March 3 with all the speakers above.

Hope to see you there! 

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