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10 Tips for Developing Effective Hybrid Event Strategy


In-person trade shows are making a rapid comeback, which is great news for all of us event marketers! However, much like with a lot of other industries – we can expect some changes the past year brought upon us to affect the traditional way we do things. One key example of this is incorporating an online element to live events to both broaden our potential audiences further, as well as accommodate for those who are not yet travelling to in-person shows. According to CEIR 2021, 70% of exhibitors still plan to blend both digital and physical communication into their event marketing plans moving forward. 52.7% of exhibitors list engaging 2 audiences or networking between 2 groups as their top concern moving forward (Swapcard 4/21).

With that being said, developing an effective hybrid event strategy requires leveraging both rational and emotional appeals to motivate today’s buyer more so than ever before. Immersive experiences connected to your brand message must be driven by metrics – while still rooted in human connection strategy.

Evaluate your current event marketing strategy by asking yourself the following 10 questions:

  1. Is the conversation all about you?
    • Convert 1-way communication into 2-way conversations with your target market.
    • Identify the voice of customer and base brand objectives from the outside in.
    • Create one-to-many experiences that feel like unique one-on-one connections.
  2. Are you speaking the same language as your buyer?
    • Identify your audience’s preferred channel to minimize sales funnel leaks.
    • Build a cohesive and concise marketing campaign across all available marketing mediums.
    • Update buyer personas and curate messaging around solving your client’s challenges.
  3. Are you planning for a sprint or a marathon?
    • Visualize your marketing program as a defined journey (or marathon) with unique singular events that link to overall brand objectives.
    • Think beyond individual events to leverage investment across an entire marketing program.
    • Successful marketing programs are not built on a foundation of expediency – plan early and revisit the plan often.
  4. Are the troops trained?
    • Audience interaction evolves differently along digital and physical attendee paths. Equip your sales team with the tools they need to engage with audiences across all marketing mediums.
    • Clearly define expectations and lead qualifying models for both.
  5. Are you afraid of the unknown?
    • Make sure you understand the symbiotic relationship of digital and physical marketing to maximize their unique strengths.
    • Abandoning one channel over the other leaves too much opportunity on the table. Be careful not to ignore one audience by focusing too much on the other one.
    • The “new” digital marketing world may be intimidating at first. However, turn your fear into focus by seeing the unknown as an opportunity to redefine your brand voice and approach to event marketing.
  6. Are you speaking clearly and intelligently with your audience?
    • Deliver information in easy-to-digest tidbits that have clear calls to action.
    • Utilize incentives to drive users toward the next step in the event journey.
    • Invent long-term strategies based on the lens of the customer and their decision-making process.
  7. Are you creating brand experiences that mirror your audience?
    • Event marketing is only as strong as the strategy guiding it. Focus on the human connection over the tool delivering the message.
    • Focus on immersing your audience into a story rooted in a human connection strategy yet driven by metrics to engage both rational and emotional thinking.
    • Increase engagement by connecting education directly to your brand story in a fun yet informative way.
  8. Are you growing brand champions?
    • Internally, collaborate with all levels of marketing and sales personnel to gain alignment and eliminate redundancies.
    • Include your top customers and defined focus groups to increase brand loyalty and gauge brand comprehension.
    • Grow customers from users to influencers to brand ambassadors.
  9. Are you following the metrics?
    • Think beyond just return on investment (ROI) and track return on experience and objective throughout each event campaign.
    • Regularly analyze the data and recognize trends for evolving your program.
    • Pinpoint key performance indicators directly linked to brand objectives.
  10. Are you ready to push the status quo?
    • We are in an experience and participation era allowing us more freedom to push boundaries, redefine success and elevate programs.
    • It takes more touches across more mediums than ever before to meet audience expectations. This requires an immersive and integrated marketing plan.
    • The time is now to curate education connected to a strong brand message to deliver measurable results.

If any of this feels overwhelming – or perhaps like we are speaking a different language – reach out to Skyline to help blueprint and maximize your hybrid event strategy!

About the Author

Chris Ybarra is the Creative Director for Skyline Blueprint. With over 17 years in the trade show industry, he has not only developed extensive creative talent but has been instrumental to implementing team selling and building creative strategy for client programs. His leadership background positions him perfectly to unite sales, design, and project management to elevate the client experience at every level. Laurie Young has over 16 years of experience in the trade show industry with roles including sales, project management, operations, show floor management, training, and strategy development. She is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with a primary focus on integrated program management and immersive experiential marketing. Her diverse experience allows her to completely understand the challenges in front of clients and coach them through the process of creating successful event strategies.

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