Monthly Archives: June 2022


Event Marketers Who Focus Exclusively on Spreadsheets and Analytics Will Kill Their Events

Attendee profiles are constantly changing. Those who attended our events in the past may no longer be candidates as they are changing jobs within their current industry, retiring, or have taken new jobs in other industries. Given such changes, can we really know who next year’s attendees will be with any degree of confidence?

When I ask event marketing people what they are doing differently given these dynamics, the answer I get back is usually is an answer which includes some combination of tools, technologies, analytics, market segmentation, ad targeting, and social media outreach. The answer rarely includes telephone outreach with one on one conversations with members of key constituencies or meeting attendees walking the aisles of our tradeshows and conference rooms and engaging in face-to-face conversations. Indeed, why are so many staff members in the staff office the majority of their events talking to each other? I think that the failure to personally connect with live attendees is a huge mistake.

 
Since anticipation of the needs of and personally getting to know event audiences is something I’ve long prioritized,– as far back as when I opened for business in 2005 – I was inspired by my interview with Nicole Peck earlier this month. I particularly noted what she identified as the essential skill set for a successful event marketer
 

“The event marketer of the future will be a jack of all trades and master of many. They must be an experience curator, an expert in their community and use the data of their marketing campaigns to refine and optimize. Marketing teams will have sub-specialists or experts in data analytics. Key to the event marketer of the future remains an ability to write copy, understand how to communicate value proposition and excitement. I have said for many years, that your strongest marketers should be easily able to switch places with your best salespeople. They also must have a sense of humor and adventure. You never can fully know what will be thrown your way and must be able to flex where and when needed.” (The bolding is mine).

 

How far away is the typical event marketer from this ideal? A considerable distance. And the lack of personal insight about your attendees could well prove a mortal wound for your events. How can you create marketing plans, project milestones, production plans, and budgets solely by sitting behind a computer screen looking at analytics and click through rates? When I hear about event companies who bemoan the challenges in acquiring attendees, I am shocked when they have no plans to contact or meet their prospects. How can we talk about face-to-face events as being essential, when we ourselves don’t practice what we preach in our own marketing efforts?

 

What’s getting in the way? Perhaps it’s the nature of the typical event marketer. How many of your marketing staff could switch places with your best sales reps? Very few, I am guessing. And why is that? Because a marketer is often an introverted person, whereas a sales rep is generally an extrovert. A good salesperson is comfortable and confident in engaging with the prospect to understand what they need. For a marketer, that engagement might not come as naturally. Though there’s been considerable advancement in the quantitative elements of modern marketing, numbers and the analysis of those numbers can only take you so far. After all, numbers are merely the numerical aggregation of many individuals. Numbers don’t make decisions – people do. And those numbers rarely can capture the nuances inherent in human decision-making. The real risk is that marketers can “hide” amongst the numbers and fail to understand the true motivation behind decisions, it is ironic that those most responsible for getting attendees to an event may be the furthest away from the customer.

 

 

Don’t be resigned to the status quo. You must press your marketers to get to know your attendees personally, whether it be via focus groups, communities, walking the show floor, or otherwise being physically present where the attendees are.

 

 
If you are having problems getting attendees, please start there. Ensure that those who are tasked with setting the strategy and developing the tactics are taking the necessary steps to ‘get up close and personal’ with your attendees. Failure to do so could mean the end of your event.

A Tiger Unleashed: An Event Marketing Expert Devours the Challenge 

Nicole Peck is one of my favorite industry friends. She’s a tough negotiator who’s both smart and driven, and her career has gone from strength to strength. Nicole is the vice president of marketing for global events at Foundry (formerly IDG – a company for whom I previously worked) and she’s already in the thick of the action there. I asked whether she’d share her perspectives on what I call ‘the new marketing’ of the events industry.

Here’s what she had to offer:

Warwick Davies (WD): How has your company been doing in the past 20 months? What’s worked? What hasn’t?

Nicole Peck (NP): We’ve been doing great. The events division has modified our product offerings to reflect the needs of the market and the medium available for us to safely do so. Foundry as a whole has made smart acquisitions and our software and Martech solutions include a best-in-class Account-Based Marketing (ABM) platform, intent data platform, Data-as-a-Service and an email marketing platform built for B2B. These tools provide technology companies with buyer insight and intelligent foresight. They fuel demand generation, fill pipelines, and drive return on investment, helping technology marketers all over the world achieve their ambitions. Our events are an ideal bottom of the funnel opportunity, and in 2021, we produced more than 700 digital summits and round tables around the globe and connected buyers and sellers of technology.

 WD: How have your strategies changed in marketing face to face events?  

NP: In the past, I would have approached a group ticket order as a group buy, perhaps at a discount and not thought too much about it. Now, we are shifting tactics and building a strategy and program that appeals to groups and teams to attend events together. Our face-to-face events provide a perfect environment for disparate and geographically isolated teams to coalesce as a unit. At our events, they will learn about what is new, renew (hopefully) their passions for their profession and have an opportunity to share much-needed social time together. Additionally, we are creating spaces within our events that can be reserved by teams to meet and gather, and allowing them to sit together during meals. We understand that a shared experience is a memorable one. That benefits all constituents of an event, attendee and sponsor.

We have added education to our events that cover leadership and wellness. We recognize that the last couple of years have been tumultuous, to say the least, and we want to support our community and expand on the types of education and experience we deliver. We are transparent with those offerings at the get-go.

WD: Do you think the event marketer of the future will be someone who sits behind a computer looking at spreadsheets and analytics? If not, what are the other critical skillsets these marketers need?

NP: The event marketer of the future will be a jack of all trades and master of many. They must be an experience curator, an expert in their community and use the data of their marketing campaigns to refine and optimize. Marketing teams will have sub-specialists or experts in data analytics. Key to the event marketer of the future remains an ability to write copy, understand how to communicate value proposition and excitement. I have said for many years, that your strongest marketers should be easily able to switch places with your best salespeople. They also must have a sense of humor and adventure. You never can fully know what will be thrown your way and must be able to flex where and when needed.

 WD: What’s been your success with digital, other revenue models? 

NP: We have had a ton of success with the digital model. The format has been embraced by tech executives and they value the ease of use, non-travel time and ability to connect with others in the same way they are connecting with their internal teams. As long as the right people are in attendance, sponsors will enjoy and benefit from the pipeline intent and intelligence that can be gleaned. We achieve this through our successful virtual round-table discussions. Our expertise in moderation of these talks ensures a beneficial use of time for all persons involved. Our digital summits have allowed for a greater diversity in speaker roster and, as such, our sponsors have embraced the opportunity to get best-in class educators speaking about their products and initiatives.

 WD: What is your view to launching new events in this environment? 

NP: Same as it always was. Ensure that you have a solid value proposition for all parties involved. People will be more judicious of their time and unless the new launch offers something novel and is of real value, it won’t stick. How is it that there are still events and festivals that sell out in hours and sometimes minutes?  We can learn a lot from the consumer brands who can sell out a sneaker in seconds.  If your audience trusts you to deliver an event that will be worth their time and memorable, they will attend. If your track record includes events with the participants that sponsors wish to reach, sponsors will support you.

 WD: Has your view on innovation changed?

NP: I am not sure if I’d say my view on innovation has changed, but what has evolved for me through the years is my desire to build teams with better diversity of thought and experience. I recognize the value that all team members can bring to a brainstorm session. Those with decades of experience offer a wisdom that people new to the industry will not have. Conversely, newbies provide unjaded ways of thinking and problem solving so that when a team with diverse perspectives works together, greater buy-in can be achieved and the team will be quicker to innovate and feel comfortable doing so. I for sure, have a way of doing things. However, I am quick to recognize that I am not the smartest in the room and challenge others to solve issues and improve on processes to make us more efficient.  

 WD: What would your advice be to the rest of the industry be? 

 NP: Embrace technology and make data-driven decisions.

 Thanks Nicole and good luck meeting the challenges!