For most event marketers, the answer is no. Having been trained ’by the book,’ they tend to struggle with responding to negative results in a timely, proper way. Too often, they persist with plans that are not working or, as the event looms ever closer, they become paralyzed with fear.
Then what happens? Senior staff must get involved and muster the resources needed to salvage the situation. Given the surging and receding of the different COVID variants, your professional reputation and the value of your brand depend on your marketing staff’s ability to attract a crowd to your events. That remains true irrespective of the outside factors that make it difficult to do.
How can you equip your staff to be successful? Here are my six keys:
1. Ensure that you hire people who can pivot or are capable of learning how to do so. If it’s the latter, make sure there’s a plan to train them.
2. Have at least one marketing staff member who has got the creativity – and the dispensation – to change course as needed.
3. Require that your entire marketing staff is plugged into the market your event serves. They need to have the right connections with whom they can brainstorm new approaches or adjust tactics as needed. The “right” connections include your prospective attendees, as they can provide a true sense of their needs and how those needs could be addressed by your event.
4. Insist that the entire marketing staff is up to date on the latest tools and techniques, making the necessary investment in the training needed to achieve this. That is, when you are not fighting fires.
5. Have a marketing plan with milestones and metrics so you can analyze results and take appropriate action if the established targets (e.g., attendee registrations, page views, email opens, and click-throughs, etc.) are not being hit.
6. Ensure that every event marketing budget has a ‘Plan B’ allocation, representing the money that only gets spent if things are going wrong.
The New Normal for successful event marketers requires the agility, boldness, and absence of fear that can handle the turbulence that COVID has thrown at us. And there’s no end in sight to that turbulence.
Given that, will you do what’s needed to prepare and provision your marketing staff to succeed?
As you can tell from my interview and the success of Super Niche, Ryan has become an instant industry leader by knowing, anticipating, and becoming an authentic part of his industry. Hats off to him. Hopefully, the rest of us can adopt a similar approach, one that will bring our own events out of the dark.
Good luck with your own!
- Information – Ensure these companies have all the details they need about your event when they are determining their marketing budgets. Although not every company’s fiscal year coincides with the calendar year, make sure that all the information for your next year’s event(s) is available by the current year’s Labor Day. This will help prospective exhibitors as they conduct their planning meetings for the upcoming year.
- Access – Make yourself available to prospective exhibitors for discussions about the different ways they can make an impact at your event. Your event is a multi-faceted experience, but your exhibitors may not be aware of all the options available to them or the different packages. And engaging with them directly (vs. just providing published material) may allow you to adjust or offer discounts that increase their overall spend.
- Advice – Provide guidance to exhibitors on how to position themselves within the context of your event. Gauge their aspirations: do they want to merely have a presence, be competitive, or do they want to dominate.* How they answer will determine what options – and the associated costs – you choose to offer them.
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!
Learning to Eliminate Distraction is just another skill that will help you rise above your competition.
There are four types of companies:
- Sales Driven – Motivated by revenues, the sales staff are the stars in these companies. The products may not always be the best, but sales can sell the hell out of them, putting a price tag on every inch of the trade show floor or any digital property. Customer service may come in second or it’s managed by sales to ensure that it’s done right, since the rest of the company is ‘beholden’ to the sales team. Frequently, CARING PROGRAMS (see this link) are a must. The amount of revenue generated often helps subsidize other ventures like riskier launches.
- Product Driven – They don’t always make money, but the product is first-rate. They lack the application of success or profitability metrics other than those focused on how to make the product more spectacular. Marketing is what makes or breaks this kind of company because if no one knows about the product, the company will go out of business. Customers are usually quite satisfied with the product, but money and opportunities are left on the table. Event owners are seen to be part of the market and not ‘carpetbaggers’.
- Marketing Driven – Can find every customer in every crack. The product is not always up to snuff and therefore they may run a series of “one and done” events. Every new marketing technique is explored and tried, but if the sales staff isn’t aggressive with their follow-up on leads, the company can fall flat on its face. Usually win lots of event marketing awards.
- Operations Driven – Everything is done well in terms of the execution of marketing, sales, and service. In terms of the product, there’s not much focus on innovation. The concentration is upon cash cow events, with little to no business development. Business expansion comes via the acquisition of existing events rather than organic growth. Everything executes on time and is carefully crafted and presented. Event owners are frequently prominent members of the market (though not always.) The environment can be quite an assembly line – dominated by production charts and similar tools.
- Part of the market-they can ‘talk the talk
- Dedicated to building first class events which are profitable
- Have a killer sales team which focuses on nurturing customers for the long term
- Have a first rate marketing team which can pivot when milestones are missed
- Execute well
- Have a business development team which can launch new events quickly
- Have an eye on the bottom line, but are willing to take some risk
- Make decisions based upon positive cash flow
- Do their analysis on current and launch events
- Have succession planning for the CEO to new hires
- Can stand in the customer’s shoes