As many of you know, one of the things that sets Sequence apart from other agencies is the wide-range of projects we produce for a variety of corporate and nonprofit clients. This approach not only keeps things interesting for us, but it allows us to blend elements from one type of event to another and take a more holistic approach to strategy and creativity across the board. This has delightfully been the case not only for our live events, but also for our virtual and hybrid events.
Last week, we were thrilled to work with the team at Advisen who were willing to take some chances and try new things to make their first ever virtual Cyber Risk Awards one to remember.
“When the premier event of our year could not be held due to the pandemic, we made two crucial business decisions. With four weeks to go, we pivoted to a virtual event, and we engaged Sequence to consult and advise us on this path. We leveraged Sequence’s ‘we do this every day’ experience to outline our most vital decisions ahead and aspects outside of the bounds of our capability. Sequence walked us through various ‘what if?’ possibilities, outlined production choices, platform options, and delineated pros and cons which we would never have thought of.
The true Sequence value for us was tapping their deep knowledge of every type of event, and their ability to steer us toward desired outcomes while redlining risk factors with proactive solutions. Our result achieved a revenue number at the high end of our range, along with an out-of-the-box effort which engaged our audience, pleased our tower of 19 sponsors, and contributed very positively to our brand.
One attendee wrote this on social media: ‘Fantastic job, Advisen! You just put on a clinic about how to run a successful virtual event in the age of COVID. Well done and congratulations.’”
— Jeffrey M. Cohen, President, Advisen® Ltd.
Here are just some of the elements we think our teams got exactly right in approaching this program:
Don’t wait for event day to engage your audience! To retain the element of surprise, the Advisen team requested a short acceptance video from ALL nominees. In order to see if they won they still had to tune in. And, as a bonus, (#spoileralert) the videos they did not use may have a second life to kick off the 2021 live program with some more comic relief :)
Leaning into the DIY at-home vibe, we also sourced content from other industry personalities. Knowing that they would be onscreen encouraged their peers to tune in and stay tuned in. The idea was to embrace the realities of the moment rather than create content that felt too slick.
Rather than requiring all brand new content, some favorite clips from past live Cyber Risk Awards made their way into this year’s virtual program. A great way to connect the virtual experience to live!
Value in Sponsorships
Obviously the biggest value in Sponsorship is the revenue. Advisen wanted to retain existing event sponsorships, but use this as a chance to leverage new ones too.
The plan from the beginning was to offset costs for the virtual event via sponsorships so we didn’t have to charge guests an admission fee. This was both a courtesy to guests during a difficult time, and a wonderful opportunity to increase the reach of the program (and a boon to sponsor value! A win-win-win!)
We started by brainstorming uniquely-virtual opportunities for sponsorship offerings within their selected platform (Perigon) and event format. Some ideas were derived from elements of the live event (ie. Red Carpet, branded cocktails) translating to a virtual setting and others were brand new (ie. Platform Sponsor, commercial breaks)
From there, assessing the value and providing packages and costs was critical to get the asks out as soon as possible. A simple one-pager was a great way to communicate this information.
The strategy was also clear from the beginning: smaller, less expensive packages with more sponsors was the way to go for their industry segment. Making the barrier to entry lower proved to be very effective with 19 sponsors coming aboard (way more than expected!).
Some Other Key Points
Make it fun! Despite Cyber Risk coverage being no laughing matter, Advisen not only embraced but encouraged a unique brand of quirky comedy which brought so much fun to the program. You didn’t even have to be clued into the “inside jokes” of the industry to thoroughly enjoy the experience which was such a home run.
Keep it short & mix it up. The ROS for the virtual program was roughly half of the live event (excluding cocktails & dinner). Because we kept the ROS svelte, the show never dragged. Virtual also lent to a more varied ROS order, whereas the live program had typically grouped the types of presentations together. This also kept the experience more engaging.
Audience-facing rehearsal is a MUST! Not only did we rehearse every single minute, click, G-O, and moment of the show production we did so from the back-end Green room experience for Speakers AND the front-end experience of the audience. Doing this a few days pre-event gave us time to cut the script even more and smooth out any rough patches.
These are just a few of the standouts from the event process and execution, and the audience’s reaction only reinforced all of this! Accolades rolled in post-event, including from the Perigon team itself saying “[We’re] really glad I got a chance to sit in on [your] event, and I hope you and your team are incredibly proud. That was one of the best and most well-constructed events [we’ve] ever seen, and you had fantastic audience participation through the chat. Clearly a ton of work went into it, and it all looked really, really good. Well done.”
Virtual high fives, everyone!