Pivoting to Virtual Experiences and Events

July 23, 2020


How are brands pivoting to virtual in the age of COVID-19?


Event Marketer found that 70 percent of marketers have moved their face-to-face events partially or fully to a virtual platform, due to COVID-19. Even more importantly, many don't see this shift as a short-term fix, but rather a long-lasting change not only within the industry but in how people will work and socialize.

The resources below offer best practices, survey findings, and brand examples of how marketers are pivoting to virtual platforms for event and experiential marketing. In addition, the section on telehealth provides examples of how an entire industry has shifted to virtual as a way to meet needs now and in the future.

Prior to the pandemic, adoption of virtual doctor visits was negligible (at just 11 percent, according to a McKinsey survey). Since social distancing and quarantine, however, those numbers have rocketed to 46 percent. The comfort and ease both consumers and doctors are finding through telehealth, or telemedicine, indicate that it's here to stay post-COVID.

The surge in telehealth begs the question: If some vital services like health care can be delivered virtually, what other traditionally physical industries may also find themselves delivering via cyberspace? 

Below are helpful best practices, surveys, and case studies.

How can we help you? Email Ask the Expert at ask@ana.net.

Virtual Experiential & Event Marketing

  • Adapting Experiential Marketing in the Era of COVID-19 Using Experiential Relationship Management. ANA, July 15, 2020
    Jonathan Yaffe, CEO & Co-Founder of AnyRoad, works with brands such as retailer Michaels and brewery Sierra Nevada to transition in-person experiences to virtual platforms. In this webinar, he discussed how Experiential Relationship Management (or ERM, CRM for experiences) allows brands to capture data about experience participants to build better, long-term relationships with customers and maintain brand loyalty. From the accompanying PowerPoint, the basics of online experiential, and findings from a study of 150+ online experiences and events.

  • How to Create Engaging Virtual Events during Social Distancing and Beyond. ANA, June 29, 2020
    In this webinar video, Ben Holland, On Q Financial's VP of marketing and former president of the American Marketing Association Phoenix Chapter, shared best practices for virtual events to help you improve your presentations and engage your audience. Tips for topic selection, ensuring production quality and for promoting your virtual event. See accompanying PowerPoint.

  • The Trade Show Must Go On. B2B Marketer, June 17, 2020

    To capitalize on the new normal, B2B marketers need to know their buyers' pain points and create event content that will appeal to them. Building virtual programming requires marketers to shift their mindset, ditch the PowerPoint — a staple of live events — and instead adopt some of the characteristics of cable and network TV (and even nightclubs) to create virtual content. This type of content ranges from game shows, one-on-one interviews, online polls, and DJ-hosted after-parties. Includes examples from SAP's SAPPHIRE NOW event and UPS' role in reconfiguring aspects of the Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show.

Telehealth Trends & Examples

  • Ideas for Marketing Telehealth in the COVID-19 Crisis. Ragan's PR Daily, May 2020
    Successful technologies have their big adoption moment—the event that pushes them past the "tipping point" to become a part of everyday life. The COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding reduced barriers to virtual care are pushing telehealth further into the mainstream as many health care providers are moving quickly to implement or expand telehealth capabilities. The opportunity for health care marketers is clear: Market telehealth as a central part of your COVID-19 plan — and as an essential, accessible service to patients and communities. The recommendations in this article can help health care marketers effectively support their telehealth initiatives, across all marketing channels.

  • Telehealth Could Replace 7 Percent of Health Care Spend if COVID-19 Catalyzes Broader Adoption. Healthcare Financial Management Association, June 2020
    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and aided by unprecedented regulatory and commercial payer flexibility, providers have rapidly expanded telehealth services. According to McKinsey, as a result of this telehealth boom providers "are seeing 50 to 175 times the number of patients via telehealth than they did before." Further analysis of claims suggests that more than 20 percent of all office, outpatient, and home health spending could be delivered virtually with impacts differing by sector. The potential growth in telemedicine could be staggering assuming these temporary "flexibilities" are made permanent through legislative, regulatory, and private market changes. Obviously, this transition to telehealth will require providers to rethink fundamental questions about how they go to market and deliver services in the virtual arena.

  • Ro Learns To Sell Telehealth By Not Selling Telehealth. MediaPost's Brand Insider, June 2020
    It is hard to imagine a category more relevant to consumers during a pandemic crisis than telehealth. But the D2C company Ro was especially well positioned for a locked-down clientele because it had built itself as a full stack of solutions. In addition to three online health clinics —Roman for men, Rory for women, and Zero for addiction treatment — it also has a network of pharmacies for prescription and home delivery. In this interview, cofounder and chief growth officer Rob Schutz describes selling telehealth by targeting the ailment, not by trying to sell the idea of the D2C doctor.
  • In Sickness and in Telehealth. AMA, March 2020
    Rajesh Midha, chief strategy officer at Bottle Rocket, explains how health care marketers can undergo a paradigm shift in how they view their customers holistically, plus what the health care landscape might look like post-pandemic, and where marketers best fit in.

For help with your questions about marketing during the COVID-19 crisis, email ask@ana.net.

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"Pivoting to Virtual Experiences and Events." ANA, July 2020.