2 Things We Learned Hosting a Global Virtual Event

hen the pandemic hit globally at the beginning of 2020, suddenly, we all found ourselves reevaluating our business plans for the rest of the year. Trade shows we had planned on attending were canceled or postponed, business travel was halted, and any campaigns or events we had been set on implementing in 2020 were revisited through a pandemic lens. At Control4, we typically host bi-annual Control4 Certified Showroom events called #C4Yourself Days twice a year — one in the spring and one in the fall. Control4 has over 335 Control4 Certified Showrooms around the globe, and the #C4Yourself open-house global showroom events have been great for homeowners and design-build professionals wanting to stop by and learn more about the smart home technology products and services offered in their local community. However, 2020 was not going to allow for in-person events, and we came up with the idea of turning the event virtual while chatting with some of our Control4 Certified Showrooms about how we could better support them during the pandemic.

The idea of turning our in-person showroom global event into an online, pandemic-friendly event was daunting but exciting, and so we set out to execute something we had never done before. From the sudden spike in networking needs, as people were working and schooling from home, to the need for touchless and remote home access, our professionals were looking for ways to reach out to their communities and let them know that their business could help. Knowing that, our main focus was to rally around our Smart Home Professionals and provide them with the tools they needed to better connect with and care for their local communities in a time of crisis.

We decided to adjust our event from a single day to an entire month – calling it our Virtual #C4 Yourself Month – and to encourage the Certified Showroom Professionals to try out new ways of reaching out to homeowners and the design-build community virtually. The success of the event came from Control4 and our Certified Showrooms working hand in hand to navigate unknown waters — learning, as we went along, what worked, what needed to be adjusted, and what we needed to do better.

Our Virtual #C4Yourself Month was met with an overwhelmingly positive response, and many of our Certified Showroom Professionals expressed that while they had been nervous about being on screen via video, Zoom chat, or other digital media, they were pleasantly surprised at how their new endeavors were so well received by clients. By simply putting themselves and their business out there online in new ways so their community could better connect with them, many of our Control4 Smart Home Professionals were able to bring in new business and foster new relationships.

Here are two of the main takeaways we gleaned from the experience:

Lean into Digital Platforms for Thought Leadership

Creating virtual educational content is a low-cost way to position a smart home business as an expert that customers can trust with their smart home needs

How to stay in touch with customers was one of the biggest concerns many of our Certified Showroom Professionals had at the beginning of the lockdown in March. Normally, these professionals are out in the community, educating homeowners and design-build professionals alike on the benefits of smart home technology. While the platform was different, many of our Control4 professionals realized that sharing about technology via Facebook Live or a scheduled Zoom meeting resonated with audiences in a meaningful way. Technology can be an overwhelming topic for many people, and so, offering customers a low-stakes way to join a virtual conversation and learn about technology has proven to be a great way to share knowledge and bolster a business as a thought leader in the local market—especially during a time when people are often at home with time to research a topic that may pique their interest! In fact, I know of one Certified Showroom that found making educational Facebook Live videos about smart home technology so effective, they continued to produce them after the Virtual #C4Yourself Month ended. Creating virtual educational content is a relatively low-cost way to position a smart home business as an expert that customers can trust with their smart home needs.

Give Virtual Experiences a Personal Touch
By the time our May Virtual #C4Yourself Month went live, many people were feeling the mental strain from isolation and social distancing. Having the ability to connect with others online was definitely a lifesaver, but people were missing the connection that comes from physical interaction. The Control4 Certified Showroom Professionals quickly realized that the personal touch was even more important when working with customers, and came up with some creative ways to delight clients by mixing virtual and in-person experiences. For example, a few of the Control4 Smart Home Professionals started sending their clients they were going to meet virtually a physical goodie bag via Uber right before the meeting. Then, everyone would share a ‘Cheers’ toast with their drinks on camera once the meeting started, and enjoy talking about technology over food, bringing in an in-person element even though they were in different locations. Thinking through ways to create hybrid virtual/in-person experiences enables home professionals to foster positive and memorable relationships with clients right from the start.

The year 2020 has been one of massive change for the entire world, and getting creative on online platforms and taking the time to incorporate a personal touch in a touchless environment has proven to be a rewarding strategy for our integrators. So, if you are a professional in the home industry reading this article, whether you are an integrator a design-build professional, and have been waiting for the right time to try to promote yourself in new ways online — take this as your signal to jump in and get creative! There are prospective customers and partners out there in your community just waiting to connect with you and learn from the expertise you have to share.
The Pyramid Group, hosting one of their almost two dozen Virtual #C4Yourself sessions throughout May. Each session focused on a unique smart home topic that would interest homeowners and interior designers. (Photo courtesy of The Pyramid Group, Plymouth, UK)
Danielle Karr is Certified Showroom Program Senior Manager, Marketing, and Control4 Architect & Designer Program Senior Manager.