How many virtual events do you think you attended in the last year and a half? From family social hours on Zoom to business networking opportunities through the screen, when the world stayed indoors, events moved online, and Bari Baumgardner has the strategies and systems for hosting a profitable live event down to a science.
Bari has been in the events business for 17 years but In March 2020, she began producing virtual events and launched a tech company to create a truly immersive, interactive experience for hosts, speakers and attendees. Let’s put it this way, if you’re in the event industry or you want to host an event for your brand in this new virtual landscape, Bari is the guide to help you do it seamlessly and with success.
This conversation will cover event planning in the virtual world, how to take your in-person events online, and ways to leverage live events to create another income stream for your business.
Served, Not Sold
Bari Baumgardner’s business is built on the philosophy that, “People like to be served, not sold.” These days, her company, Sage, specializes in enrollment events for high ticket offers of $6000 and above. She creates live event experiences where the structure of the event does the selling for you.
Bari explained, “The attendees are having such a great sense of content, connection, and community that what naturally happens when you have an amazing experience is ‘I want more of this.’”
When you sell in this environment, it’s not about pitching. It’s about the invitation and presenting the opportunity for attendees to get more from the host with the paid offer.
2020 Gave Her a New Idea
It’s no secret that 2020 changed the landscape of in person events. Bari went from 30 scheduled events in 2020 down to zero due to the global pandemic. With the cancellations of these events, Bari spent hours and hours on the phone trying to figure out how to get out of contracts with venues and hotels and do the best she could for her clients, while also recognizing that she had staff and vendors who relied on these events taking place.
Bari had to get creative, and it started with a warehouse full of AV (audio visual) equipment. She approached one of her clients who had an event in early April 2020 and suggested the idea of a virtual event. Luckily, he said yes.
For the first time, this client was able to reach a global audience with a virtual event. It was a lightbulb moment. Bari shared, “[His audience had] always been a domestic US audience. He’d never even tried to have a global audience. When we announced the virtual event, 1200 people [registered] and a huge percentage were from around the globe, not just from around the country.”
Beyond expanding the audience for an event host, virtual events expanded access for people who otherwise would not be able to attend. Events are an expense, but beyond that, there’s the cost of flights, hotels, cabs, food, child care at home, and more. With a virtual event, those additional costs are eliminated and the event becomes more accessible to those who wouldn’t be able to attend in person.
Virtual Event Tips
“It’s just content, connection, community,” Bari summarized. You don’t need a long, complex list of action items to host a successful and profitable virtual event; you just need those three things. Bari recommends a 3-day structure to drive home these three key elements.
Day one is about serving so much amazing content that by the end of the day, they’ve had so many “a-ha” moments that they can’t wait for day two. She explained, “They are fired up about the opportunity and about what’s possible based on your unique ability to show them something that they couldn’t see before.
Day two is the tipping point. According to Bari, “What ultimately is going to happen is there’s a tipping point in the afternoon of day two, where they go from ‘I am so excited. I can’t wait to start implementing,’ to, ‘oh no, I have so many ideas. I’m scared to start implementing, there’s too much. I don’t know where to start.’”
This tipping point is the first window for your invitation (read: pitch, but softer). You’ll let the attendees know that you have an opportunity to work with them and provide more guidance for their implementation.
By day three, you’re serving more content and making the invitation known, while creating a community around the attendees. Day three will bring decisions, commitment to a timeline, and a celebration of that decision.
More from Bari Baumgardner
Want to learn more about how to plan and launch a profitable virtual event? Bari Baumgardner and her company, Sage, have more resources and even a virtual event for virtual events. Learn more at TVE.live.