Did They Consider Virtual?
So I was out today on a personal matter. I came home to the news that our local festival, The Apple Blossom Festival, was cancelling their annual auction.
This auction fell victim to the pandemic. It was already rescheduled once during the pandemic and now fell to the ranks of being cancelled, like so many events out there.
I asked myself this question... did they consider going virtual with their auction?
Some backstory here... I actually reached out to the festival twice... Once in August and again last month to see if they would consider going virtual and if they thought about it at all, I would love to have a conversation with them about it. I figured it was worth a shot, especially to be involved in my community.
The responses I got to the feelers were the typical, we will put it under advisement category of replies. I didn't think much about it as when you work in any sort of sales capacity in running a business, you get those responses all the time, comes with the territory.
What shocked me is I didn't even get a phone call or an email before the cancellation come out. Do they know in the short time we have been doing these events for our partners that they have been huge successes? Each group has either met or exceeded their fundraising goals!
Did they know we have connections to a network of specialists who can help them make their event a huge success? Auctioneers, online platforms, event planners who could make their virtual event seamless!
Next, I wonder... did I fail in marketing myself? Is there something I am lacking in this process that didn't allow for the organization to consider us for this. I will never know the answer to that question sadly.
But maybe the reason had nothing to do with me at all. I have had so many discussions with groups during this pandemic. Non-Profits. Theater Groups. Musicians. Politicians. Businesses. What comes up often as a deterrent is the fear of going virtual. The lack of contact with each other. Will this actually succeed?
The Universal answer I tell clients is this... It's better to do and attempt something, then to do nothing at all. Your afraid of going virtual because of technology? Let us take care of the tech to make the event go well and look great! What about our audience? The audience is knowledgeable enough by now to know what they need to do with internet streaming and video, and if they aren't, they have resources with family and friends who can help them.
The lack of contact with others? Well, you can always do a happy hour mingle virtually... I know... I know... not ideal, but what else do we have to work with during this? Heck, you could hold a small COVID safe party in your home. We provide our events great tools, such as the ability to beam in parties live into the broadcast via phone or webcam or we can utilize social media platforms to allow the audience to interact via a hashtag for the event. People love to see themselves being highlighted during an event. This is actually a trick I learned from doing commencement ceremonies at the University level in production.
Will this actually succeed? I have yet to have an event that didn't reach their goals during this pandemic. Why? Because people who come to the event are their to support the organization. But... what about those who support our organization because they want to be seen? Well, we have the tools to help with that as well to give the donor the recognition they want and deserve!
I think the biggest consideration with going virtual that needs to be addressed is the cost... I have done a lot of auctions while the only parties that are service providers being hired are the production (Skeeterbuggins) and an emcee/auctioneer. That's it! Wait... what about catering? What about venue? What about this? What about that? Guess what... you don't have those costs with going virtual!
I see so many groups get hung up on creating an experience for people at home. You know... the best events I have done so far, the focus always resides on the event and the presentation. Not whether or not people are enjoying salmon while they watch the program. You can save money by going virtual without sacrificing your reach. You can keep your same audience as well as expand to unreached audiences by including the virtual component.