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In the Era of COVID-19, Virtual Events Surpass Expectations

Going Virtual Fills Void of In-Person Events  says Lehigh Valley Event Firm 

LEHIGH VALLEY, PA (October 15, 2020) – In the landscape of a pandemic, going virtual is the ‘new norm.’ Now more than ever, hosting a successful social, business, or fundraising event is imperative. 

“Virtual events will continue to drive communications and event planning strategies through 2020, into 2021 and beyond,” says Deb Rice, Founder and Principal of Fun-Nominal Events and Marketing, a Lehigh Valley marketing firm. 

Fun-Nominal began implementing special events on a virtual platform for clients early during the COVID-19 lockdown. Since then, more than a dozen success stories have resulted. Several more benefits are in the works, including a virtual fundraiser for KidsPeace on November 13 ( Rice believes the virtual trend has staying power. So do her clients. 

“Although skeptical at first, we held our first online fundraising event with Fun-Nominal events. The result was our most extensive participation in history, and we raised almost $5,000 for the Literacy Council,” says Ryan Breisch- Executive Director, Reading-Berks Literacy Council. 

The shift online has opened opportunities for larger audiences. The digital world does not limit attendees by geographic location. “Most of our clients expressed great satisfaction with larger than expected reach and revenue through virtual attendance,” adds Rice. 

“We greatly valued having virtual event support for the Author Discussion Panel with Meryl Ain to benefit The Lend A Hand Project of Long Island. Hosting a virtual event is important to keep our donors and members engaged in our mission,” says Lisa Pollack, Executive Director, The Lend A Hand Project. 

“Getting information out during the COVID lockdown was extremely important and challenging. We were pleased to have Fun-Nominal Events host an online panel to discuss local, regional and state news, policy, and information with area nonprofits,” says Tina Smith, Director of Community Economic Development, Northampton County. 

It is essential to engage your audience in a personal, unique, and meaningful way continues Rice, whose clients report higher engagement, revenue, and reach than expected.

“When the State Theatre was closed due to the pandemic, it was wonderful to log into something as fun as the weekly virtual bingo event Debi created for women in business,” says Jamie Balliet, “SVP VP., Marketing State Theatre Easton.

  “That “for fun” virtual bingo endeavor opened doors for local and regional nonprofits to fundraise online,” recalls Rice. She adds, “We planned to reach 10 to 20 friends virtually through social media – however, the event quickly grew to 150 virtual attendees in less than two weeks.” 

Also participating in various new virtual happenings:

Next on the virtual auction block — a fine contemporary regional art auction to support the Judith Adele Agentis Charitable Foundation’s new palliative care scholarship program in partnership with St.Luke’s Health Network. 

Fun-Nominal Events and Marketing is a full-service event planning and marketing agency. For events we provide logistic services, event planning and support, and complete event management. With over 20 years of event experience the staff of FNE has planned large galas, 6,000+ attendee ticketed festivals, numerous grand openings, hundreds of trade-show set-ups, and countless private client events including open houses and sporting events. Fun-Nominal Marketing provides strategy planning, digital marketing, social media posting (including content design), blogging, e-newsletters, video, and creative solutions to grow the virtual identity into sales and business growth.


Power of True Partnerships

Contributed by Mary Jo DiSalvo

“Why Don’t We Just Call Them?”

Prior to COVID-19, our marketing team was discussing a sponsor that we had been unsuccessful connecting with via email or text.  When someone suggested, “Why don’t we just call them?” the laughing could be heard throughout the building.   Within two minutes, we had a great conversation with our sponsor. The relationship was back on track. 

Since that day, our team proudly wears T-shirts with the words, “Why Don’t We Just Call Them?” to remind us of the importance of using all communication vehicles to keep connected with our key stakeholders. Sometimes, the most obvious answers are the ones we overlook.

Today, with the challenges presented by the pandemic for event marketers and sponsors, we have returned to a healthier mix of communication forms to keep our relationships strong.  Here are a few examples of what we do:

  1.  Make phone calls every day to various sponsor contacts.

With many people working remotely, everyone seems happier to hear from us than ever.  Each conversation offers us a chance to ask how the pandemic is affecting their business and their loved ones.  After asking about them, we do our best to listen well and take notes.

  •   Write personal notes on branded stationery to key stakeholders.  Letting people know we are thinking of them and value their relationship is a great way to stay connected.
  •  Recognize efforts our sponsors are making on social media vehicles.  This includes sharing the marketing promotions as well as activities they are involved in to help the community.
  • Share our plans for future events and discuss their possible role in them.  

Virtually…Think Outside the Box

As the shape of future events evolves, we are doing our homework.  We research what others in our industry are doing, and we ask sponsors how virtual events would be of value to them.  Then, we go to work to create innovative, custom packages designed to deliver benefits and measurable results.  Here’s what we do:

  1. Create virtual activities on the date the on-site event would have taken place.  If the virtual event matches our sponsors demographic, we talk about branding opportunities and benefits of value to them.
  •  Design custom sponsor packages based on input from our sponsors.  As much as we love cookies, we never use cookie cutters because no two sponsors are the same.
  •  Follow up with sponsor activation reports that are as big on meaningful metrics as they are rich in compelling images.

Here’s One “FORE” the Future

Because of social distancing and the cancelation of our large-scale events, our team talked about ways to safely get together with key stakeholders and help fund our annual scholarships.  The result…a golf outing is now being planned for the fall. 

Where did we begin to plan an event unlike anything we had done in the past?  We began by calling potential sponsors to see if they had an interest in participating in this type of event at any level.  Our conversations gave us an education, enabled us to be more inclusive and keep relationships thriving.  The level of respect and trust we give others is the level of respect and trust that returns to us.

The day will come when this pandemic is behind us.  Then, we will share more of our event marketing survival stories and invite you to do the same by using all forms of communication.  In the meantime, or anytime at all, we’re here for you and happy to help.

 “Why Don’t You Just Call Us?” 

The Social Distancing Logo- Temporary Branding

If you are listening, you are spending time social distancing at home with your immediate family and pets. There is a lot of marketing to help encourage folks to do their part in flattening the curve. Corporate companies have taken on the challenge to show their support of the movement.

Hyundai has made their “H” a fist bump as the middle, NBA is on the laptop, Starbucks has a mask, Nike just isn’t doing it, heck- even the McDonald’s arches have separated. Locally, thanks to Marketing Director William Childs now Kitchen Magic has joined the trend with their signature gnomes Stanley and Yost working farther apart.

These are temporary logos. In time we will be back in business and celebrating at events together. Logos will go back to normal. Until then we continue to watch how businesses marketing and brand during these circumstances.

Message As If The World Is Watching

Now more than ever your company and organization’s brand are being tested. Your logo, images, messages, and how you treat your customers & staff is being evaluated. We are facing uncharted times with everyone figuring out if they are essential/non-essential and how to stay safe.

There are companies like the State Theatre of Easton that closed gracefully keeping the public and staff safe. They are working to postpone for the future and send us good morale community messaging. Their Facebook page has become a go to for feel-good posts and videos about the Arts.

Kitchen Magic followed the decision to close and helped their staff navigate what it means to be separated. They even have a family (Employee) Facebook group page to stay friends/connected. They have launched a video to feel good about the time spent in your kitchen now especially, and over the years. No sales – just warm fuzzies. (Give it a watch –

Facebook has posted a video about reconnecting when the time comes but the importance of seeing faces. Clearly about their product but never mentioning their services.

Kaplan’s Enterprises (Kaplan Awnings) is open with waiver but is paying their staff to make masks for first responders and medical personnel. To date they have donated over 750 masks working hard to keep the community safe.

Then there are other companies. Tales of forcing to make employees working in unsafe environments or quit/be fired. Overstaffing departments and unnecessarily crowding instead of making the smart business decision to part temporarily with staff.

When this comes to and end and we return to whatever will be the new norm who will you do business with? The company that helped feed your family. Cared for their employees? Gave back to the community? Will you avoid companies that treated their employees unsafely?

Let us know if we can help you with your online messaging and brainstorm strategy for your business during these strange times.

Taking the Chance & Coming Back Again and Pluto

A lot of us are toying with new ideas, new business opportunities, and completely new directions. We all talk about them and look for encouragement when really we all need to, in the words of NIKE, “Just Do It”.

Without sounding like a veritable fortune cookie there are so many “Just Do It”, “You Can’t Succeed If You Don’t Try”, “Every Accomplishment Starts with the Decision to Try, and of course Disney with “Keep Moving Forward”.

Why are there so many quotes? Because we are all afraid to take the next step. What if I fail? What will people think? At the end of the day you need to stop the questioning and think what if I succeed and what will think of my accomplishments?

Then there are the second chances. The reopening of a business. Opening a second business when the first one doesn’t make it. Sometimes things just don’t work and it’s beyond your control. If you know you are filling a need, have a customer base, and can do the work. DO IT.

Take Pluto. Pluto hung out as the smallest planet. Pluto was fine doing his thing when he was declassified. Pluto didn’t stop spinning or leave the universe. People cheered for Pluto and is sounds like it is making a comeback to planet status.

Taking the next step is hard and scary. I’m sure Lilly Disney wasn’t keen on her husband buying swamp land, mortgaging his successes for a film studio. I’ve never made a leap that great (yet?) but we all need to try.

When you take your next step, take it with Fun-Nominal Events & Marketing. We would be happy to help you with initial marketing, grand openings, and a continued marketing strategy to fulfillment. We are here waiting to hear about your next adventure!

Engage Your Customers Today

Today with the global world at your fingertips it is easy to search online for the best deal, sale, or flashy eye-catching product or service. More than ever you need to stand out. You can’t keep lowering prices or you will start losing money. You will lose your mind trying to keep up with every competitor video, ad, and sale, One way to keep your customers and grow your base is brand loyalty.

Recognizing your customers and letting them know you are appreciative and aware of their use of your services. Not inviting them to hard sell the next best thing, but bringing them out for a fun time. I have watched a dealership invite their customers out for an annual party. No sales folks are working other than serving drinks, food, and running games. They are mingling and building personal relationships outside the normal “wheel-n-deal’ relationship. (pun intended.) Yes there are cars on the premises but that isn’t the focus at all. The customer and their families are the focus. They do receive calls the next few days about cars they saw that lead to sales but the important fact is the dealership has one of the best experiences with referral purchases and multi-generation purchases. If they grow up visiting and partying in a dealership and getting to know the staff you are comfortable and that is where they want to go to spend their money.

The take-away? Make your customers feel appreciated beyond something tied to a purchase and get to know them. Do it for the right reasons and the loyalty will build and in turn show you the return business you are looking to increase. While we can’t come together currently now is the time to find a way to connect online and plan for gatherings in the fall when we are ready to reconnect our relationships.

Finding the Right Fit For Everyone

Everyone organization faces the employee or volunteer with the unique personality. Like Dory they may have their quirks or challenged, but like her they may loyal, passionate, and helpful.

Find the right fit. Find a place where they shine and are able to use their talents. Especially when man hours are tight don’t loose good help just by refusing to see what might work.

Example 1- I worked with a volunteer who was extremely social. Sitting behind a table selling tickets didn’t work for either of us. Customers had to wait for her to chitchat and she didn’t like the frustration of being “stuck” in one place. After talking about the event we found that being a shuttle host was a much better fit. She got to talk to everyone and share her enthusiasm for the event.

Example 2- A few years back a local business lost a long term employee with special needs due to a new hiring process. Their position didn’t exist but the business knew the tasks he performed were good for the company. The HR firm didn’t know the history or see the fit so they didn’t keep the employee. Both the individual and the community were hurt. Once the HR firm saw what they did, the employee refused to return even after the mistake was caught.

Just like the expression a round peg in a round hole is true but with a job and hiring know you might just be able to bend to an oval hole and peg. Keep an open mind, be flexible, and hire the best candidates to fit the needs you have despite any quirks or challenge you might find.

(PS- Not every person has a fit. Sometimes it JUST doesn’t work )

No Business if You Aren’t Open

If your business isn’t open no business is happening.

The spring sidewalk sales and community festivals are soon approaching. I am amazed at the two models that businesses make.

The first is the business that knows they may not get sales during the event but by 1) having open doors lets attendees see what the business has to offer so they can come back even to the point of offering a coupon and 2) they create a sale or specific way to offer something targeted to those attending that event.
Then there is the business that sees the event as an inconvenience and closes their doors. All the people that come onto the doorstep are turned away. There is no interaction and no reason to return.

While active downtowns can be overwhelming who can afford to not embrace the events that are happening and open your doors. Creative promotions can grow your business.

The Fun-Nominal Team has worked with numerous downtowns and individual store fronts helping them maximize their local events. Let us help you “open your doors” to more business.

He’s Back!

The Festival and Events world has a touring promo mobile crossing the country this year because the Nut Mobile is back! You better believe I will be watching to see what cities and events make the tour!

Two things to consider-
1) Do you take advantage of traveling promotional tours for your event as a source of revenue and activity for your attendees and

2) Does your company interact with events to promote and make memorable experiences for your communities?

Fun-Nominal Events has over 15 years in promo tour experience and Fun-Nominal Marketing would be happy to help you engage your local festivals and events. Send us a message to chat ideas today.

The New Buzz Word- Networking

It seems everyone is talking about networking. And of course they are- it is ESSENTIAL for your business. Getting to meet new people, new businesses, and new opportunities.

There is an old adage that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. You can sit in your business and hope someone new walks through the door or the phone rings but what are you doing to instigate the action?

Of course marketing is key- social media, emails, ads, etc (we can help!) but getting out of your business and networking is important too. No one can sell our business like you can so start representing it to new audiences. Even if you are just attending one or two functions a month make time to grow your business.

Now, there are people who attend multiple networking groups and functions a week and to that I say “Kudos” but how are you getting any work done if you are always meeting new people? The goal is to meet one or two people at each event who have growth opportunities which you can follow up with properly. If you are not finding good leads it may not be the right group for your business.

Looking for networking events to attend or tips to get more out of your networking? Send us a message and we would be happy to send you some upcoming networking events and resources.