Here’s What Channel Events Will (Most Likely) Look Like In 2021

Most channel companies are itching to get back to in-person events this year. Others have already written off 2021 and don’t plan to do in-person events at all. Whichever side you fall on, here’s an insider’s view on what MSP events will actually look like in 2021 so you can plan accordingly.

In-person events WILL come back in 2021. Throughout most of 2020, Technology Marketing Toolkit and Big Red Media were just about the only companies in the channel doing any in-person events (nine in total). Yes, they had lower attendance compared to previous years (~60% attendance), but there were definitely some MSPs that we couldn’t keep away. Moving forward to live events in 2021 and beyond, any event worth anything is going to have a virtual, hybrid approach.

It’s important to come to terms with this now because it may still be true long after we close the books on COVID-19. The fact is that many MSPs will gladly trade the benefits of traditional in-person attendance for the convenience of the online experience now that they’re used to the idea. Virtual events are also traditionally less expensive to sponsor, save travel time, and allow you to engage with decision-makers who normally wouldn’t get sent to in-person gatherings: technical staff, business partners, and other key influencers to buying decisions. With an online component to an event, you get access to these key influencers in the buying process whom you never had access to before.

Through June 2021, you can expect almost all non-Technology Marketing Toolkit events to be 100% virtual. After that, industry events will begin transitioning into a “hybrid” model, and you’ll start to see events take one of four shapes.

1. 100% virtual events.

2. Hybrid live in-person + virtual events. This is what our mid-May IT Sales and Marketing Boot Camp event will be. (See for details.)

3. 100% virtual “stops” in a series of events (you’ll see this during our fall 2021 IT Marketing Roadshow tour).

4. “Traditional” 100% in-person channel events: Expect lower attendance this year and — depending on who’s planning the event — less engagement with decision-makers.

Beginning in fall 2021, “hybrid” events will be the “new normal” in the MSP world, so start preparing for that. To capitalize on the full value of events, you need to start planning for this reality now. Ask your team: (1) How will we staff the virtual and in-person events simultaneously? (2) How will our booth strategies differ in-person versus online?

Want to be part of the biggest true-hybrid event in the channel? Contact us today to discuss this May’s IT Sales and Marketing Boot Camp with an expected attendance of over 750 MSPs live in-person and over 2,000 virtual attendees participating simultaneously!

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