According to Markletic, for large virtual conferences, 65% of marketers need more than 6 weeks to promote the event and drive the desired amount of registrations. Which means, whether your event is coming up yet this quarter or later this year, you need a strategy and a virtual event planner.
But “virtual event planner” can mean different things to different people, and for those who are working on putting together their very first virtual event, you likely weren’t aware that you had virtual event panner options to even consider!
Some folks hear “planner” and think of calendars and spreadsheets and workbooks, while others think of virtual event consultants who, like a wedding planner, handle all of the event day logistics and details.
The good news is, we’re going to break down all of your virtual event planner options in this article to not only help you understand what kind of help is out there for you and your next event, but also where to get that help, and whether it’s free or for a cost.
DIY Event Planner
The first option is one that most first-time event planners employ but don’t realize that they’re doing it. Maybe they’ve decided for themselves that they need to host a webinar or organize a virtual summit, or perhaps their boss gave it to them as an assignment. Either way, they start thinking about and planning the virtual event without any real assistance or guidance.
They’re winging it, and maybe that sounds familiar?
The DIY Virtual Event Planner is someone who is researching blog posts, not unlike this one, watching YouTube videos, listening to podcasts, and reading books. They’re educating themselves on what they need to know to put on their event and learning as they go. And there’s nothing wrong with this approach!
If you’re resourceful, if you like exploring new technologies and tactics, and you have the time (as well as limited budget), researching and becoming your own virtual event planner can be a successful strategy. Heck, that’s how I got started!
When my boss told me to put on a virtual summit in 2018, I knew next to nothing. I managed to pull together 16 speakers and sessions and figured out how to use the virtual event platform we had for webinars at the time, and brought in over a thousand registrants. I figured it all out on my own, learned from that event, and continued to improve and iterate for each successive event. And you can do that too!
Now that you’re here on my blog, you already have a ton of resources literally at your fingertips. I have dozens of virtual event articles you can read and The Virtual Event Strategist podcast you can listen to. I also highly recommend you check out the blogs of the top virtual event platforms, as well as a few other sites I’ve found below, as those are treasure-troves of information to help you put on a successful virtual event.
- Airmeet’s Blog
- BigMarker’s Blog
- Bizzabo’s Blog
- BuzzIt’s Blog
- Cvent’s Blog
- Event Marketer
- EventCombo’s Blog
- Glisser’s Blog
- HeySummit’s Blog
- Hopin’s Blog
- Hubilo Blog
- Kaltura’s Blog
- ON24’s Blog
- OneVenue’s Blog
- PheedLoop’s Blog
- Remo’s Blog
- Run The World’s Blog
- Skift Meetings
- Swapcard’s Blog
- Whova’s Blog
Downloadable / Printable Virtual Event Planner
The second option that many DIY’ers actually discover in their research process is to get a downloadable, printable virtual event planner.
If you’ve never used a printable planner, they’re similar to the kinds of planners you’d buy at the bookstore or online and have shipped to you to help you plan your day/week/month. They typically have calendars and To Do list pages and perhaps goal-setting pages.
What’s fun is that the internet is rife with different kinds of planners that have been designed specifically for your needs, whether that’s blogging or social media, launching a product, or planning a virtual event. These planners though are typically delivered as one or more PDF files that you can either edit on your computer or print out and write on.
A virtual event planner of this sort would be designed to help you plan out your online conference or webinar and have worksheets specifically for that purpose. Instead of monthly calendars, you might have brainstorming pages for agendas or session topics. Instead of quotes or words of affirmation, you might have an event promotion checklist.
The benefit of a virtual event planner that you can print out is that it can give structure to your strategic planning. Often such planners will include prompts for aspects of your event to consider that you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise, such as having a backup plan.
While some virtual event planners are available for purchase, I’ve set one up for you to download for free here.
The drawback to any downloadable virtual event planner is that it doesn’t come with training – you still need to answer a lot of questions for yourself or get additional help.
Virtual Event Agencies or Consultants
That’s where a virtual event consultant or agency comes in!
Professional event planners are experienced at handling every aspect of your summit or webinar. They can facilitate the planning as well as the production, so you do not have to.
What’s great about a professional virtual event planner is the terrific amount of experience they bring to the table. They’re going to be positioned to offer you ideas and easily handle most issues and emergencies that come up.
Perhaps best of all, they’ll deal with any crisis often without having to take even a moment of your time.
I recall when my wife and I got married, we’d handled the vast majority of our event planning, but we still hired a wedding coordinator to handle the mountain of logistics during the day itself. Late that evening after we’d successfully navigated a tea ceremony, bridal party pictures, wedding, cocktail hour, and reception, I asked our planner if there had been issues. And she said to me, part of her job was to ensure I remained completely unaware of any problems.
That’s always stuck with me. And if you hire a planner for your virtual event, hopefully they’ll give you the same piece of mind and reassurance.
The drawback to a professional virtual event planner is that their knowledge and experience is not transferred to you and your organization. When the time comes to plan your next event, you’ll need to hire them again. And again.
Personal Virtual Event Planner
The final virtual event planner option is a strategist. This personal virtual event planner is a trainer who mentors you through your first virtual event, helping you to make it a success, and preparing you to handle all your future events yourself.
As the proverb says, hand a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
A virtual event strategist is designed to walk you through building a complete plan and virtual event strategy that is customized for you. A workbook or printable virtual event checklist would be utilized, but the strategist would complete it with you, rather than you having to sort it out on your own. And as you proceed through each step of planning process, this event expert will lend you their experience and insight.
The best part is, a personal virtual event planner will often cost less than a consultant or agency since the time commitment is less.
When I work with client brands to build their virtual event strategy, we knock it out in a day. My time isn’t stretched out and used over weeks, and you don’t need me on event day. You will have everything well in hand on your own and can put that agency retainer to use in advertising budget for more registrants.
If a personal virtual event planner sounds like the kind of investment you’re looking for, the kind of help and planner you need, take a look at my VIP Strategy Day and let’s book a call to talk about your upcoming event.