Building a virtual marketing community

Our client, a global pharmaceutical firm, asked us to help bring their global marketing excellence programme to their entire global marketing team. The programme aimed to support the business achieve its vision, and help marketing realise its potential.

A fully virtual conference for 300 marketers in 25 countries

Our client team wanted to bring the whole marketing community together, to share and learn as one team, for the first time ever. To reach the entire team together, they challenged us to do it virtually. The goal was to inspire marketers about best in class marketing, consider the bigger picture strategy, and share and discuss how to put this into practice for their brands.

We designed and delivered a 3-day virtual conference that gained a net promoter score of 9.5 from participants. 

“What a fantastic three days it has been: fun, interactive, and inspiring”

How did we design and deliver an event that inspired the marketing team and created a sense of community for the first time?

10 elements for a successful virtual event

1. A big idea to engage hearts and minds 

We developed a creative theme around unleashing the talent of the marketing community. This helped engage leaders and participants alike and inspired activities, energisers and made the event feel cohesive.

2. Engagement, communications and pre-work 

Endorsement from senior leaders, engagement with participants and well thought-out communications were critical in the build-up to the event. Pre-work gave a base level of theory and knowledge. Learning e-modules got participants up to speed on key content areas. As participants digested key information before the event in advance, there was less need for content be covered in the sessions.  

3. ‘Hub host’ model of engagement and facilitation 

Local hosts were identified in each key region and market, and were supported with comprehensive briefing packs and a full schedule of briefing calls, rehearsals and 1-1 discussions. On the day these hosts played an invaluable role in engaging local teams. They ran working sessions, fed back ‘live’, and ensured time keeping. 

4. Dynamic session design and content 

Detailed session plans and running order gave a backbone to daily 3.5 hour sessions. These ran twice a day to accommodate different time zones. Sessions had a mix of plenary and presentation, multi-media content, quick fire interactivity – polls and competitions - breakouts, working sessions and live debriefs with the hubs.  

5. Hubs having a voice 

Following working sessions, each hub gave a live debrief. This created a real sense of a networked marketing community, hearing from each other, learning and sharing experiences. It drove ownership and a tangible output from breakout sessions. Cue words helped presenters and hubs not to talk over each other – “OVER TO YOU” and “BACK TO THE STUDIO!”  

6. Front and back of studio ways of working 

Clear ways of working between the presenting team ‘front of house’ and the team ‘behind the scenes’ enabled smooth running. Timing cues and direct handling of questions on the live feed by the ‘backstage’ team, helped the presenting team keep the event running smoothly. ‘Signalling’ visuals helped participants and the technical team know what was coming next.

7. Dedicated full breadth technical team 

IT support from a dedicated technical team within the central studio, was critical. The technology platform allowed the presenting team to appear alongside key slide content.

8. Voxpops bring to life input from other presenters 

Voxpops were an engaging way to include other presenters without being physically present. It was also practical, given that each daily session ran twice. Each contributor received a clear brief to ensure the messaging made sense within the context of the broader session. 

9. Little touches! 

Little touches injected fun and helped drive engagement and adherence so everyone was ready for sessions to start and recommence. Local hubs received a physical ‘prop box’. An opening signature soundtrack welcomed people and cued that the session was about to start. Countdown clocks helped teams know how long they had left for a working session.

10. Planning, rehearsing and more planning

The whole event was underpinned by excellent planning, logistics management, and attention to detail.

The success of the project shows that virtual conferences can align teams around a common way of doing things, convey key content, and reach bigger teams than face to face meetings. They can also create a sense of community and the opportunity for teams to share and reflect together.

Get in touch to talk to our team about how we can help deliver virtual learning experiences.





"We are inspired, knowing we are not alone with our challenges: a strong community.” Participant
“I felt very engaged the entire time and learned so much that will help me moving forward in my role.” Participant
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