As we surface for air from our hectic digital lives, it’s worth remembering that old-fashioned face to face engagement can also allow conversations and ideas to flow.
Buyers can use events as part of their purchasing journey as they research your brand and collect their own impartial comparative data. If you choose to run an event, make it part of your 12-month plan or at least one element of a fully integrated, content driven, multi-channel marketing campaign. You risk minimising impact if you view an event as a standalone item with no related activity.
Every time a delegate attends an event, they are choosing to engage with your brand. Provide them with a positive experience that is aligned to your corporate strategy and specific campaign goals.
What are you trying to do and how will you measure it?
Objectives. The starting point of any marketing activity. Guess what? That includes an event! There are many reasons an event can be suitable, including:
- to educate existing customers or channel sellers on a product upgrade
- to launch a new product
- reward top sales teams
- to showcase a new factory facility or demo centre
- or to generate leads and drive brand awareness
Be clear on what you are trying to accomplish at the outset and set expectations about what can be achieved according to your investment.
If your main objective is building brand awareness, then metrics to measure that could include the number of delegates attending the event, the amount of press and social media exposure and monitoring change in your net promoter score post-event.
Post-event you may also consider building out a nurture campaign encompassing the event delegates as part of your longer term integrated approach that continues the engagement process.
Define who you want to attend. If you own the database of existing customers or channel sellers make sure your data is up to date and you have consent to contact them (think GDPR). Will the event be technical, or sales focused?
Or as an example, if you are targeting new CIOs from enterprise customers you need to understand their buyer personas and what problems your event can help them solve.
Getting people to attend
Time is our greatest resource! Convincing people that your event is worthwhile and valuable to attend is the key. Take time to craft an event value proposition and imagery relevant to your target audience and on-brand. With all the effort and finance you are investing it's imperative you inspire people to register their attendance.
"if you are targeting new CIOs from enterprise customers you need to understand their buyer personas and what problems your event can help them solve"
Think hard about charging an entrance fee for attendance. This can put people off immediately or it can mean they really want to attend and you could attract high quality delegates, plus it can help cover some event costs.
If you want to attract brand new delegates to your event consider investment in digital banners, media placement, engaging social influencers, organic and paid social activity in addition to the usual email invite. Think about a hashtag strategy that can be used before, during and post event. Confirm a date that doesn’t clash with school or religious holidays and fits with internal stakeholders and potential speakers to maximise attendance.
Do not publish an event invitation without an event agenda, even if you have to point to a web page that has more details. List out speakers and defined topics. Of course, there is scope for tweaks or reveals of keynote speakers or exciting destinations. Keep in mind that people will want to establish what the event includes, confirm the relevance and value or convince their boss they should attend.
Think about independent or analyst speakers too, adding to the overall authority. Even more effective is a customer who is willing to stand up and speak in front of his or her peers and wax lyrical about how your product or solution has helped them become more productive.
Delegate experience is key
Pre-event, make sure your microsite is attractive, on-brand, simple to use and effective. Headline the event value proposition and consider a star asset on the site. It also needs to contain all the basic information of date, location, timings how to get there and have the functionality to capture delegate registration information. Clearly ask for consent if you are thinking of capturing data for future follow up. If you are running a series of events in multiple locations a lot of the content can be created to be re-purposed and rolled out accordingly.
Venue type and location is important too. Check the venue capacity, is the room big enough? Does the venue need to reflect your brand to resonate with your target audience? Logistically, is it near an airport or train station, does it need suitable parking space? Can you add on fun/networking activities nearby? Do you need to hire in external catering or can the venue provide it? Is there free Wi-Fi? The list goes on… importantly, it needs to be within budget and you need to understand the contract you are signing with the venue.
During the event, from the moment a delegate arrives to the moment they leave, give them the best experience possible and keep them engaged. Live Q&A panels, tweet walls and live voting polls are great ways to interact with an audience as opposed to just delivering presentations. Investing in an event app can also drive engagement and interaction, before, during and after the event.
Ask for delegate feedback. Types of feedback could include, rate the venue, rate the speakers and the content, and what they would like to see next time.
Debrief with your agency and suppliers. What worked well and what could be improved? Finally check against your objectives, for example did you hit the attendance rate you were looking for and how far was the content amplified across the social networks?
This isn’t an exhaustive summary and there are many more topics to think about on your way to organising the perfect event that satisfies both delegates and internal stakeholders.
We're experts in this area, so pick up the phone and call us on +44 (0)1373 469270 or email [email protected] and tap into TBT’s event management expertise to help you create the perfect event.