It looks like Change of Plans is the defining theme of 2020, with Replacing Revenue running a close second. Here’s what you can do to adjust your event marketing theme without blowing the budget.

  1. Define your new position—what is changing and what is not? Is it just a matter of the dates and/or the venue, or are you going from a live event to virtual? Assess any changes to your prospective audience and discuss how you want the event to be perceived. (For example, many live events are focused on regional markets, but virtual events can blow out those boundaries.) Answers to those questions will help define next steps.

  2. Bring new people into the process to help you get as many ideas onto the table as quickly as possible. Fresh perspective is valuable, even when slightly off base, because it can help you recognize what you really want to communicate.

  3. Evaluate your current creative; you probably don’t have to go back the drawing board. Identify what elements you can keep and what definitely has to change. The less you change, the better for your budget—and for continuity. Plugging in a new tagline, swapping out photos or adding a new color to the existing palette may be all that’s necessary. New visuals and taglines will set the tone for how people interpret the updates. The bottom line is resetting the expectation and details of the event while maintaining brand and positioning.

  4. Keep the messaging flexible—generic value statements are your friend right now—in case there’s another change of plans. Focus on the “why” more than the “how.” For example, you might want to stay away from crowd shots or from saying “We’ll all be together again,” but still convey the value of person-to-person interaction.  

Overall, make sure to balance change with familiarity. If your revised creative looks too similar, your customers might not realize anything has changed. If it looks too different, they might not realize it’s the same event they know and love.

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