The traditional model of adult education relies on the currency of time — lots of it. As meeting professionals outlined plans for events, they budgeted many months for planning and producing conference programming. While some organizations still operate on the one-big-annual-meeting model, today’s digital landscape offers opportunities to connect with attendees and members without the need for a lengthy lead time.
“One of the biggest benefits of virtual is that you can be very nimble,” Mary Beth Micucci, DES, Director, Digital Events, HIMSS Media, says. “We’re able to develop programming almost immediately. So, if something big happens within the medical space that impacts our audience, we can offer a webinar within a week or two.”
For example, Micucci references a recent HIMSS Media webinar about ransomware in the healthcare industry. After a hospital in Hollywood made headlines with its own challenges in dealing with ransomware, Micucci and her team jumped on the chance to offer education for their audience. “It’s been a hot topic,” Micucci says. “Once the industry was talking about the news in New York, we knew it was too important to miss the chance to help continue the conversation.”
This particular webinar is a reflection of the larger right-here, right-now education mentality. “Instead of having one single point-in-time event, we have aimed to diversify our education offerings,” Micucci says.
They’ve accomplished their goal. HIMSS Media runs approximately 200 virtual programs throughout the year.
Dollars And Sense
For many meeting professionals, the concept of designing such a large number of programs raises some serious questions about the more standard definition of currency. Won’t hundreds of programs require a lot of resources? And isn’t virtual technology really expensive?
“The technologies and platforms for virtual education have come down in cost,” Micucci says. “Depending on your company and your platform, you can do a lot at a very affordable price point.”
Micucci highlights that HIMSS Media has been able to address many of the expenses that come with virtual education. Because the organization runs so many programs each year, the team has been able to achieve a critical scale that allows to buy some services in bulk. Micucci also credits HIMSS Media’s sponsors’ support for the successful calendar.
The Evolution Of Monetization
Micucci says the organization’s monetization strategy has changed since she first began working on virtual programming in 2007. In the early days, some virtual offerings had fees for everyone while other events were free for members. As the organization has experimented with pricing, she recognizes that the definition of monetization can be different based on each program’s objectives.
“Monetization strategies do not always have to equal immediate revenue,” Micucci says. “You have to think about what you want to accomplish. Do you want to increase membership? Do you want to deliver a value-add for your existing audience? Are you purely looking for registration numbers?”
While there are many questions surrounding the objectives of a virtual event, the production logistics and the tactics for audience acquisition, Micucci says there is one guiding principle that powers success, and it applies whether an organization is producing two or 200 virtual programs each year.
“Everything should be driven by content,” Micucci says. “If the content is good, you’ll see a significant jump in participation numbers.”
It’s clear that the commitment to content is paying off. Check out these impressive testimonials to see how Micucci and her team are leveraging positive sponsor and attendee feedback.