The Different Types of Virtual Events You Can Run to Build an Audience For a Launch

In this article, I’m going to talk you through the main different types of virtual events, what distinguishes them, along with some pros and cons for each, and finally some of the things you need to consider that will need to be done.

So you know that audience building is crucial – you’ve heard it from every Vera, Chuck and Dave (credit: The Beatles) who know anything about marketing, and there is one fine way to grow an audience (among many others), which is by running a virtual event.

In part 2 of this 2-part series, I talk about the different ways you can make these a SUCCESS. I am talking about the tech side here rather than the actual delivery of the event and content, so we will be going over how you physically build your audience, warm them up to your event, ensure that they attend, and hopefully go on to buy from you. 

Overview

So I’m sure you’ve been through the list endless times already, you could run a challenge, masterclass, bootcamp, workshop, seminar, a webinar…the list goes on.

There are so many different ways to do it and which one is right?

And what do all these things even mean?

What’s the difference?

Well actually, there is no right or wrong answer to that – you’ll hate me for this, but, it depends.

  • It depends on your audience – how much time do they have? Where do they hang out?
  • It depends on your product – how much does it cost?
  • It depends on you – how much time do you have, what time zone are you in, what is your existing tech set up like?
  • It depends on the time of year – how many competitors are also running these events at the same time as you are planning?

There are just so many things to consider, and it can seem overwhelming, which is why I wanted to put together this guide to help you on your way.

The Big Secret

So I’m going to let you in on this secret, and hopefully, it’s one you’ll be pleased to hear:

Most of these event types are the same.

Yep, you heard me. 

The Collections

For the purpose of this article, I am going to be grouping them under just 3 categories, which I have named as I see fit.

1. The Listen & Learn Collection

Webinar | Masterclass | Intensive | Seminar

I call this one listen and learn, because it’s the least interactive of the 3 collections.

Here we are talking about your webinars and masterclasses – in general, one person is hosting the event, possibly with guests, and they do online teaching using some kind of slideshow.

Normally it will be in-depth teaching of one particular subject.

For example, rather than a webinar/masterclass which attempts to teach all of Facebook Ads, it would teach one particular part of it, like the biggest mistakes to avoid, or how to find your perfect audience.

A webinar will normally last anything between 30 minutes to 3 hours.

I start with the cons so that your final thoughts are positive ones 😉

The Cons

Webinars started really kicking off a few years ago, and they did great! But things started to go downhill.

Why?

Because greedy entrepreneurs would give 20 minutes of value and then spend the next 40 minutes trying to sell their program.

People soon started seeing the word Webinar and groaning, like enough, not another one, just give it up!

Hence why the term Masterclass is now more frequently used.

Also, sometimes an hour or so isn’t really enough time for your audience to really get to know, like, and trust you – which is crucial for selling, especially if your product or service is the high ticket.

The Pros

To counter the first con – those who have been using the term Masterclass, haven’t made the same mistake, and currently, there is no bad stigma attached to the terminology.

A Masterclass is a really great way to build an audience, become the expert in your niche, and, best of all, with the least amount of work involved (this is relative to the others, of course, it still involves a lot of work!)

Things to consider to make this a success

  • Is your product or service affordable to someone who just met you?
  • You will need to promote this organically
  • You will need a way to collect email and/or phone registrations
  • You should nurture your registrants after registration and prior to the event
  • You should offer them an incentive to attend live
  • You will need a way to remind them to show up for the event
  • You will need to follow up with them after the event
  • [Optional] You will need to keep a record of how many people show up live, how long they attend, what time do most drop-offs happen, how many people watched on replay

2. The Tough Love Collection

Challenge | Bootcamp |

I call this the tough love collection, because it’s hard work for your audience, not just you. Sometimes you need to be tough and give them some tough love to help them reach where they are going. I will be referring to this as a challenge going forwards but it includes Bootcamps equally.

Now, this collection is by far the most popular as of 2020-21, and why is quite simple – many big names in our professional networks are claiming 6 figure launches from them.

The people teaching it are promising a guaranteed conversion rate of 5% (paid marketing) – 10% (organic marketing), and some people are actually smashing it with up to 25% conversion rates.

So what is this challenge/bootcamp?

It’s a multi-day live event, normally hosted in a private pop-up Facebook group, whereby at the end of the event you are guaranteed one tangible outcome.

E.g. one of the most famous ones is Helen Pritchard’s “Get Leads With LinkedIn” 5 Day Challenge. The outcome is simple and easy to understand – if you do the challenge you will get leads. Is that a no-brainer or what?

These events can be 3, 4, 5, or even 7 days but the recommended amount is 5 for a few reasons:

  • The traditional workweek is Monday to Friday – it works well with most people’s social lives but also adds to the accomplishment of achieving this goal in a workweek
  • 3 isn’t always enough to build rapport and hype the attendees enough before trying to sell to them
  • 7 is way too much hard work, both for you and your audience

The Cons

While challenges are super fun and rewarding, they are HARD WORK. With no real guarantee of success.

If it’s your first challenge, then don’t even think about using Facebook Ads, which means a lot more organic effort. The reason I say this is because without previously having run the challenge, you won’t know if the tasks are engaging enough, what things are the most important to your audience, what conversion rate to expect and so on.

Compared to a Masterclass, it’s kind of a big ask – asking someone for 5 days of their time – so you have to sell it well (yep, even though it’s free!).

And then even during the event once you’ve got all of the bits set up that you need, you will need to be active in that group and engage around the clock.

You will be spending 1-2 hours live every day – that’s 5-10 hours of live video, on top of the rest of your work.

And sadly, there is no guarantee that it will work, it simply works better in some niches than others. Or if another big name has a challenge on during that week, and your audience signed up for both, they won’t be able to put their 100% in, meaning your message will be diluted.

Or it could be a number of other things, like the tasks were too hard or the live times didn’t fit in with their social life. Live attendance is crucial for any online event.

The Pros

I think I already mentioned it before, but we are talking about BIG BUCKS if your challenge is a success.

The difference between this and a masterclass is an hour isn’t really enough time to really get to know, like, and trust someone. By the end of a Masterclass, people might really like you, but not on the same level as if they’ve been grafting hard with you over the 5 days and spending 1-2 hours chatting with you on a personal level each night during the challenge.

Normally the main upsell is announced on Wednesday evening which means they have already had 3 days of value from you, and been able to get to know you on a deeper level throughout that time.

They will have a better level of trust and understanding and know for sure whether something you have to offer is for them or not.

Also, traditionally with a challenge, people who attended are offered super no brainer bonuses if they sign up by e.g. Midnight on the Sunday or Monday following the challenge.

This extra sense of urgency often gets missed with a webinar, but is highly effective and leaves the audience feeling special that they had the opportunity.

Things to consider to make this a success

  • Does your audience have enough free time?
  • You will need to promote this A LOT organically
  • You will need a way to collect email and/or phone registrations
  • You will need to create a Facebook Group to hold the event
  • You will need to pre-schedule Welcome posts, rule posts, Task posts, Q&A posts, and more in the group prior to the event
  • You should nurture them after registration and prior to the event
  • You should offer them an incentive to attend live – e.g. prizes offered for the most engaged throughout the week
  • You will need a way to remind them to go and do every task
  • You will need a way to remind them to show up for every live
  • You will need to follow up with them after the event to remind them to purchase your upsell

3. The Interactive Collection

Seminar | Workshop

Finally, I call this one the Interactive Collection, because even though the others are interactive, this one is more of a “Same Room” kind of experience.

Rather than teaching one thing, or promising one kind of outcome, it’s more like an event you would attend in person, to learn something hands-on and hear from big names.

And it’s normal to charge to attend.

Due to the big C-19 hitting, a lot of people who wouldn’t have previously dreamt in a past life that they could teach something so hands-on online, have been successfully running these for anything you can imagine, from dance to cooking and gardening.

Now, I have also heard Seminar being used for different types of events, for example, a Speaking event which is totally the opposite of interactive, but this is just an example – there are no set rules.

Anyone could call a Workshop a Webinar or vice versa, or in fact, most of these names could be switched – for the purposes of this article they are just how I interpret them and have seen them done most commonly and successfully.

The Cons

Due to generally having a smaller size group, the revenue from the workshop alone is quite limited – if you are promoting this as a fully involved interactive experience, then you can’t really stuff 500 people into the room!

The more personal, and the more important each attendee is made to feel, the better and the more likely they will buy from you.

You also need to have a pretty strong internet connection/live streaming setup, as do the people attending from wherever they are across the globe, which could cause interruptions to the event if not.

The Pros

These events have a reputation for offering high-quality learning, rather than sleazy sales techniques.

You can charge for a workshop because people know that they are going to come out of the other side with something that can give them a lot of joy, and/or usually make them even more money afterward.

Also, the fact that they are fully interactive can be a lot more appealing to people – it’s more personal, with fewer attendees, more like a true-life classroom experience.

Finally, if no one buys your upsell afterward, you still made a few quid from your efforts as long as you charged for attendance!

Things to consider to make this a success

  • Where is everyone attending based in the world? Time differences are a huge factor and super important to work for everyone attending
  • Will you be doing this alone or have a team of experts/speakers to help?
  • What kind of internet connection do you have – enough to host 10 different people streaming from different places?
  • You will need to promote this organically
  • You will need a way to collect email and/or phone registrations
  • You should nurture them after registration and prior to the event
  • You should offer them an incentive to attend live
  • You will need a way to remind them to show up for the event
  • You will need to follow up with them after the event
  • [Optional] You will need to keep a record of how many people show up live, how long they attend, what time do most drop-offs happen, how many people watched on replay

Summary

So there are the main different types of virtual events you can run in order to build your audience of ideal clients to sell to during your launch.

The next question is, once you’ve chosen your event, how do you make it a success?

What things do you need to consider to ensure that everything runs smoothly and as automated as possible?

Read Part 2 of this 2 part series now: How to Make Your Virtual Event A Success.

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