Helen Coetzee

Recent Posts by Helen Coetzee

Excellent project management: a game-changer in event marketing

Why is project management so important in event marketing?

Marketing an event is a complex process. The end deadline is immoveable, multiple channels must be kept aligned and firing at optimal times, the product evolves daily with new speakers, updated sessions and new features and customer data must be continually updated to ensure marketing messages hit the right people, at the right time.

With all this complexity, it isn’t surprising when event marketers struggle to meet deadlines, or sometimes don’t achieve or demonstrate a good return-on-investment in their marketing efforts

A high-performance event marketing function relies on strong project management.

Without effective project management, you’re missing key campaign opportunities and limiting the return on investment you get from your marketing function.

In this blog post we outline best practice in project management for event marketing campaigns, and how you can ensure that your marketing team has the right skills, support and tools to deliver high performance marketing campaigns – on time, every time.

What does good project management for event marketing look like?

  1. The marketing manager is given full ownership of project management to enable their campaigns
  2. The wider event team – content producers, sponsorship salespeople etc. – are encouraged to support the marketers as project managers
  3. The marketing manager always works to a solid campaign plan, with key deadlines and tasks – visible to the whole team
  4. The marketing manager takes responsibility for coordinating the campaign contributions of all stakeholders
  5. The marketing manager works well ahead to build in all the steps needed to develop and deliver strong marketing collateral and campaigns – incorporating the contributions of various stakeholders.
  6. The marketing manager breaks down project elements into individual project tasks, with a clear brief and deadline for each task.
    Top tip: invest in a project management solution for your marketing team. These are not expensive and are highly effective in driving efficiency and effectiveness into your marketing – when used correctly. We use ClickUp, which has been game-changing for MPG and AGNC!
  7. The marketing manager runs a weekly project meeting, for each event, for all key internal stakeholders – usually the event director (P&L holder), content producer and head of sales. Ahead of this meeting (ideally the day before), the marketing manager should circulate a report on event performance and an agenda of key points to discuss to ensure marketing stays on track.

If you put these essential ingredients of good marketing project management in place, you will start seeing results.

But do be mindful of the top three things that could prevent your marketers from being effective projects managers:

1. They’re not fully supported or enabled by senior management or the wider team
2. They don’t have the skills or experience needed to create a strong event marketing plan, or run complex campaigns effectively
3. They lack the confidence and/or gravitas to lead a project team

Well-supported, rigorous and disciplined project management can make all the difference to the performance of your events. Enabling your marketers as project managers helps them gain the support and input they need from other team members to deliver effective campaigns. They will be able to hit deadlines and manage their workloads effectively across multiple events.

By ensuring your event marketers are also good projects managers, you’ll improve marketing productivity while also preventing marketers from burning out. It’s the best (and possibly the only) way to improve your return-on-investment from marketing and to ensure you retain your best event marketers!

About the author

Helen has over 2 decades’ experience in the B2B events space. She is now the proud CEO and Founder of two high-performance marketing agencies – MPG and AGNC – designed to address the most pressing exhibition and conference marketing challenges facing organisations today.

How to find new sponsors & exhibitors with smart marketing

How to get new sponsors & exhibitors to invest in your event

Sponsors and exhibitors are essential to the profitability of an event, but too often sales teams rely on the same few clients that return year-after-year, neglecting the opportunities available in ‘new business’.

Why acquiring new sponsors and exhibitors really matters

Events need a variety of partners to work. Attendees expect to see new companies each time they return. Part of the value proposition of a successful event is that the event presents new and innovative suppliers and vendors in the sector. Mixing up old and new faces also protects your event long term; even the most reliable clients can change their marketing objectives and end their commercial relationship with your event, putting a key source of revenue in jeopardy.

Why sales teams neglect new business

Sales teams’ natural process doesn’t usually focus on sourcing and nurturing new business – especially for an established event. Most go first to their tried and trusted contacts to renew their contracts and secure quick wins. It’s often only when the event looks like it might miss its targets, that the urgency arises to reach out to new prospects. But by then it can be too late to source, nurture and convert clients before the event happens. This can be compounded by sales teams lacking an established process to generate new sponsorship leads.

How a sales lead generation process can deliver a 500%+ ROI

What is the solution to the ‘new business’ challenge and this often missed opportunity? You need to invest in good ground-work and forward planning in sponsor and exhibitor lead generation. This can often generate faster growth than pushing harder on your delegate marketing. Specific marketing programmes focused on generating new leads for sponsorship and exhibition sales could deliver as much as 5x on your marketing investment, based on the KPIs we have been tracking on events MPG has supported over the past year or so.

Here are the steps we recommend you take:

1. Define the sponsor value proposition

Be clear about the USP and benefits of your event from a sponsor or exhibitor’s perspective, especially the key gains for them if they commit at an early stage many months before the event.

2. Define your target market and decision making unit

The decision to sponsor or exhibit at an event is usually made by a group of people. CMOs or CEO’s may be the final decision-makers, but senior sales people and marketing managers are also key influencers. You will need to reach and convince them all that their presence at your event is worth investing in.

3. Build your marketing database & inbound channels for lead generation

Map the market, deciding the ideal size of business, geographical location, sector and job titles. Then research your database, ensuring you include all the decision-makers within one organisation. Consider how you can quickly build your database to reach out to them, using data research for rapid growth and by also feeding engaging and relevant content in to your inbound channels and optimising your website for maximum ‘enquiry form’ completions.

4. Set up your marketing funnel

For outbound marketing, plan your email campaigns, with tailored messages for different audience segments. Get your inbound marketing working well by pushing compelling messaging and content via the obvious inbound channels – PPC and social media. Optimise your sponsorship landing page (with enquiry form) on your event website and also offer carefully crafted sponsorship options and event attendee profile PDF’s behind forms for lead capture. Optimise the rest of the website to direct sponsors who land anywhere else on the site to your sponsorship page.

5. Leverage your delegate marketing

Add sponsorship and exhibition lead generation elements to your delegate marketing by including in delegate emails and on delegate focused web pages some calls-to-action pushing people to the sponsorship opportunities page. Also consider adding to all lead generation forms on the website – including those focused on delegate marketing – the option for people to tick what they are most interested in (e.g. attending, speaking, sponsoring or exhibiting) before submitting the form. Those who choose sponsorship and exhibition options are clearly very good people for your sales team to call straight way.

6. Nurture your leads

Use marketing automation to track incoming sponsor leads and set up a nurturing programme. This is an easy win as you are earning more revenue from the investment you have already made in your marketing automation systems for your delegate marketing.

7. Incentivise sales teams

Monitor how quickly sales teams follow up on marketing generated new business leads. Offer enhanced commission rates for acquiring brand new clients to reward the extra effort, or nominate one person in the sales team as the new business specialist.

8. Learn and fine-tune

In the first year, measure everything and find out which types of leads convert fastest and for the highest average order value. Consider how profile (e.g. company type, country etc) and engagement behaviour (e.g. what they downloaded or clicked on) when ‘scoring’ leads. Even if you can’t convert a new business lead for the event it was generated for, you still have a good chance to convert it for the following year’s event.

It is important to consider that generating leads for your sponsorship and exhibition sales team requires a different approach and skill set than what is required for delegate marketing. You might need to set up a specialist marketing team to generate sponsorship and exhibitor leads, or consider engaging an agency to initially run a pilot programme for you to assess how to proceed longer term for further investment in lead generation for your sponsorship and exhibition sales teams. A steady stream of new business leads is bound to make any sales person happy!

About the author

Helen has over 2 decades’ experience in the B2B events space. She is now the proud CEO and Founder of two high-performance marketing agencies – MPG and AGNC – designed to address the most pressing exhibition and conference marketing challenges facing organisations today.

Kirsty is MPG’s Marketing Director for events globally, and a seasoned event marketing campaign manager, strategic expert and marketing function leader. Her team of conference and exhibition marketing pros deliver outstanding, high performance full-service campaigns for some of the world’s most prestigious events and brands.

What will make your event marketing pay in 2020?

Rapid revenue growth from conferences and exhibitions is a high priority for many B2B media businesses. ‘Flagship’ events often generate much of this growth. The momentum and profit generated when a flagship event grows fast creates business value in the short and long term – especially if a chunk of the profit is then invested in strategic development of a B2B community and subscriber base served by the flagship event.

But, in many cases, a flagship event won’t grow as fast as it should – or grow at all – due to under-performing event marketing. A very common complaint I hear from CEOs is that they’re investing more in event marketing every year – but they’re not seeing the return they hoped for.

 

Why is this problem so prolific? Usually because of one or both of the following:

  1. The event product isn’t strong enough
  2. The event marketing function is not set up as it should be to deliver growth.

If your event product is strong – it’s your event marketing function that needs attention.

But how do you fix this? Which areas should you invest in? And how do you ensure your investment in marketing your events delivers a good return?

We can answer these questions by looking at the essential ingredients of high-performance event marketing.

 

1. Create a solid strategy to market your event

  • Marketing decisions should be based on analysis. One of the best things digital marketing has given us is the ability to measure marketing performance – in every channel and at every level. Analyse all the data points you have available and if needed, invest in a customer insight project to ensure you’re on track with your strategy.
  • Making sure event marketers are always focused on clear objectives is critical. What are we trying to achieve in terms of event attendee and sponsorship/exhibition revenue and number of attendees? What profile of audience do we want to attract to the event to make it super-valuable to all attendees and sponsors/exhibitors? How do we want to grow the event in the long term? How do we want our brand to be perceived?
  • A clear, well-defined and well-understood event audience makes or breaks an event campaign. Does your event solve pressing pain points? Can you group your audience into segments based on job roles, company function or experience levels to deliver highly targeted and relevant messaging, at the right time? If you can’t answer these questions with a resounding ‘yes’, it is time to invest more in truly understanding your target audience.
  • A strong messaging strategy ensures you’re positioning your event and brand as you want them to be perceived. The first step to developing a robust messaging strategy is making sure you have a firm grasp on your USP (unique selling point). From there, you can craft a strategy that communicates the unique value your event offers – with authenticity and confidence.
  • Develop a pricing strategy that ensures you achieve your revenue targets. Finding the right pricing is a delicate balance, but by analysing competitors and crunching your historical data around how your customers’ buying patterns respond to pricing changes, you can determine the best pricing to maximise revenue.
  • Developing a strong multi-tactic & multi-channel strategy to effectively reach, engage and persuade your audience via multiple touchpoints. There is no single winning channel or tactic for event marketing – you need to reach your audience via multiple channels and means, with the emphasis on what works best for your customer. By consistently monitoring, measuring and analysing the performance of channels and tactics, you will determine the winning formula for your event.

 

 

2. Measure your event marketing and evaluate performance regularly

What does effective event marketing measurement look like?

It starts with the ability to collect and compare the metrics that matter – starting with sales and revenue versus targets, then looking at engagement level across channels, and then drilling down into the detail of what is driving results (e.g. email click through rates, website bounce rates etc).

The insights gained from this kind of regular and robust analysis will be gold dust and make all the difference in the return you achieve from your marketing investment.

 

 

3. ‘Safe hands’ in your marketing team covering the range of marketing skills you need – ideally in the following defined roles:

  1. Event marketing manager
    To provide direction and objectives for all marketing efforts, communicate on behalf of the marketing team with all event stakeholders and deliver strong campaign project management to ensure objectives are achieved.
  2. Marketing communications assistant
    Providing the ‘muscle & speed’ to execute the marketing – making event website updates, setting up and email sending emails, keeping your social media channels buzzing – building up the momentum of your marcomms as you sign up more speakers, sessions and sponsors.
  3. Marketing database specialist
    To keep your valuable target list of contacts on your database well organised, ‘clean’, compliant and growing.
  4. Martech specialist
    To select, join up and effectively manage all the tech you need to ensure you’re engaging your audience effectively via all channels.
  5. Design specialist
    To ensure your visual communications are of high quality & effective in communicating the value of your event.
  6. Website specialist
    To keep your most important channel functioning well and fully optimised to attract and convert web visitors to leads and customers.
  7. PPC (pay-per-click/digital advertising) specialist
    To help you reach new audiences and more strongly engage those who are already aware of your event and just need a bit more convincing to come back to your website to become a customer – or at least fill in a form to gain more information.
  8. Marketing analytics specialist
    To provide vital insights on campaign performance, so you know where you need to put your investment in marketing to generate the greatest ROI.

 

That’s eight different skill sets – some of which can be grouped together in to one role. But you certainly won’t get all the required skills in one person!

Many event organisers put in place event marketing managers and marcomms assistants and expect them to deliver to a high standard across the full range of skills needed. Some also invest in developing inhouse specialist roles & skills, and when managed well, this can be very effective.

But most event organisers, for various reasons, can’t ‘hire in’ all the skills needed. This is usually due to organisation or department size, budgets, business structure, or downward pressure on head count. Often it’s because they just can’t find the right people to hire; and once hired, retaining them can be very tricky.

The best way to build a high performance event marketing function is to strategically engage with strong external partners – to compliment what you can manage and deliver well inhouse.

These partners, like all good employees, need attention and investment to ensure they are engaged and fully integrated into your team. It’s a mistake to treat valuable and strategically important partners as mere ‘suppliers’. The right kind of partner will respond very well to being treated as a valuable ‘member of the marketing team’ – delivering the unique value to help you succeed.

The most successful events businesses are built on putting in place, investing in and effectively managing highly skilled and highly valuable internal resources and 3rd party partners. Events business leaders are acutely aware of the importance of excellent content people, sales people, venues, AV partners etc.

But when it comes to the marketing function, focus and an event leader’s attention and investment can be less forthcoming – maybe due to a lack of confidence in event marketing as a driver of growth. We need to break this negative cycle. It will be up to event business leaders and their senior marketing stakeholders to ensure the key ingredients of high-performance event marketing are put in place with the right level of attention and investment. Then, once this investment has been made, the marketing function should be held accountable for the value and return-on-investment to be delivered.

How Event Marketing Can Build – Or Break – a Trusted B2B Media Brand

What nearly all of the most successful community-focused and subs-led brands have in common is a strong and growing events portfolio – where their subscribers (or members) can come together to learn and network with their community across a range of event formats. It is at these events where subscribers also come face-to-face with the information brand they rely on, reinforcing trust and building loyalty.

And it is also at these events where much of the lost advertising revenue has now re-surfaced as income from sponsors and exhibitors – now often called ‘spex revenue’. A combination of strong delegate and spex revenues from events can drive highly profitable, high annual growth for a B2B media brand.

But events present a much greater strategic opportunity – or risk – for B2B media brands, depending on how the marketing of these events is conducted.  

Event marketing can be a frantic, siloed, highly tactical exercise (often done on the cheap) focused only on attracting the largest possible number of attendees in a short space of time to satisfy internally driven or spex-driven quotas – an approach that severely compromises the quality of communication and the audience. This is very dangerous for a brand that relies on the trust of its subscribers.

Or event marketing can be strategic – with brand trust as the starting point for developing an effective strategic marketing communications plan that, when executed well, leverages and reinforces brand trust. As with building effective and sustainable subscriptions marketing campaigns, strategically approached event marketing requires longer term thinking, planning and investment.

The best kind of event marketing not only fills venues with high quality delegates representative of the brand community, it also attracts new, high-quality subscribers, thus growing the engaged brand community.

 

The 5 areas brand leaders should invest in to ensure their event marketing builds brand trust and overall brand growth:

1. A good database and CRM

A well implemented and organised database in a good CRM will enable segmentation by demographics, behaviours and transactions – meaning communications can be personalised and made relevant. In addition to ensuring event communications are relevant to an individual’s role and challenges, it is very important subscribers are treated differently to non-subscribers.

When managing data through an event marketing cycle, the best set-up of systems and processes will also enable the identification of potential new subscribers, and push them in to the subscriptions marketing funnel.

2. A strong inbound marketing engine for events

Inbound marketing should run all year-round, driving event awareness via social channels, and shared email and event leads via a well-optimised website – while building overall brand awareness and strengthening brand positioning.

Subscriber engagement and brand-trust will often be positively influenced by what they see in social channels, especially if reinforced by a third party via likes and shares, while potential subscribers will often be drawn in by a compelling event-specific message.

The impact that the presence and engagement of high profile and well-respected speakers, sponsors and other third-party event stakeholders can have on a brand’s social channels should not be under-estimated.

3. An event website that reinforces a brand’s positioning, while integrating the event with the subscription value proposition

A strong event website helps customers extract more value from their subscriptions by engaging with event content before, during and after the event.

Highlighting and serving up unique ‘subscriber-only’ event-specific content and networking opportunities via your website is a good way to drive subscriber retention and acquisition. The FOMO factor is powerful, especially if what sits behind a paywall is highly current and relevant, as with event content.

4. A well-managed event marketing and sales funnel

An optimised funnel also ensures marketing qualified leads are followed up by sales people in a timely manner with relevant communications. Team members skilled in delegate sales, as well as solution and value-focused spex sales people, can make a significant contribution to brand building.

And if you can incentivise sales people to prioritise subscriber renewals and acquisitions over chasing down delegate and sponsor revenue, you’ll have a winning formula.

5. Ongoing measurement of engagement and conversions

It is important to understand how deeply subscribers and potential subscribers are engaging with an event, and then how customers are engaging with a brand beyond the event.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”, as the famous Peter Drucker said. The tools are now available to every business to put meaningful metrics at the forefront of making decisions and driving results.
 

Events are powerful. The way in which events are marketed, all year-round, is equally powerful. The impact of events can be extremely positive for a B2B subs-led brand, or can destroy a brand by quickly eroding customer trust.

Event Marketing Strategies to Drive B2B Media Brand Growth

MPG Breakfast Round-Table - Event Marketing Leaders: Strategies for High Performance Teams

MPG recently hosted a round-table event for some of the most senior and experienced marketing leaders in multi-platform B2B media brands. The discussion focused on how a successful portfolio of events, that are well marketed, can and should support strategic brand development.

Discussion participants were all senior marketers who oversee marketing functions that support a number of revenue streams – including subscriptions, memberships and advertising, as well as event sponsor, exhibitor and delegate revenue.

Chaired by marketing guru Ashley Friedlein (Founder of Econsultancy and most recently founder of the new professional networking app Guild), this elite gathering uncovered the key challenges and opportunities in how events are marketed, taking into consideration the role events play in growing a multi-platform B2B media brand:

Event marketing investment trendsEvent marketing investment trends

  • Overall, investment in the marketing of events is increasing – both in terms of people and direct spend, as the successful marketing of events is more resource intensive than other types of product marketing.
  • As marketing investment increases, heads of marketing are expected to provide more granular marketing budgets and better measurement of the return-on-investment of various marketing initiatives.
  • Subscriptions marketing generally requires less investment than events, relying mostly on SEO and other forms of inbound marketing – usually delivered by digital agencies. The high quality of this web traffic in turn supports events and overall brand growth.
  • As the return-on-investment on email marketing, PPC and social media becomes more transparent, event marketers are investing more confidently in digital marketing.
  • However, direct mail and telesales continue to earn their place in the event marketing funnel and spend mix – used for the nurturing and closing of prospects already engaged via digital channels.
  • Direct mail is still an important part of the marketing mix for events – especially when highly targeted and creatively deployed to achieve cut through. By matching sales data to marketing data, a return-on-investment can be ‘assumed’ (if not completely accurately measured). A well-executed direct mail campaign, showcasing an excellent event, has a positive ‘halo effect’ for the whole brand.
  • LinkedIn has become the important social channel for most events and continues to grow in importance. Building LinkedIn groups are no longer a focus, while targeted sponsored posts are becoming more effective and efficient in driving web traffic, leads and bookings.

Data, technology and the much-prized single customer viewData, technology and the much-prized single customer view

  • The discussion on data and technology centered on the need for, and benefits of, a single customer view – particularly for multi-platform brands. Senior decision-makers seek visibility of how customers are engaging with the full range of events and subscriptions products. For many B2B media brands, only a small proportion (approx. 10%) of subscribers become event delegates and vice versa, which is concerning when brands are seeking deeper engagement with their customers.
  • Some B2B media brands have achieved the tech stack and data flows that give them the much sought-after single customer view.
    • This has allowed marketers, sales people and those in product development to gain real-time information about how an individual customer, or defined group of customers, is engaging with and consuming content, products, marketing and sales.
    • This should enable co-ordinated, relevant and personalised delivery of communications and content to each individual via all touch-points with a brand.
  • In many cases, the single customer view is still elusive, with many organisations grappling with costly and lengthy tech and data projects. However, there was consensus that a single customer view is needed – even if it is not necessarily as straight-forward to deliver as tech vendors have promised, or as essential to effective marketing and decision-making as the ‘hype’ around a single customer view insists it is.

Event marketing skills and team structuresEvent marketing skills and team structures

  • There are two commonly used marketing team structures in B2B multi-platform media businesses:
    • A brand-led structure – where all products within a brand’s portfolio (subscriptions, events etc.) are marketed by the same team, usually led by a ‘brand manager’
    • A product-led structure – where distinct marketing teams exist to promote different product types, i.e. the subscriptions marketing team is separate from the event marketing team.
  • The brand-led structure is usually deployed when an organisation is aiming to be more customer-centric. However, this approach has distinct operational disadvantages as event marketing tends to dominate the marketing team’s time and focus due to the high volume of activity and the hard deadlines associated with events.
  • The group agreed that either structure can work, as long as marketing teams are well resourced and managed, and the required marketing skill sets are in place.
  • The greatest challenge faced in event marketing is the lack of specialist marketing skills required to get the most out of digital channels and data.

Most event marketers in situ and newly hired tend to be generalists who struggle with the technical and analytical aspects of ‘data and digital’. Generalist marketers are usually good at strategy, planning, messaging, project management and stakeholder engagement. They tend not to focus on mastering data and digital-focused skills due to a lack of time or interest.

Round-table participants tabled a number of possible solutions to this dilemma:

  • Hiring dedicated data and digital specialists into an event marketing team
  • Upskilling and refocusing willing generalist marketers to become more adept at digital marketing and data-related work
  • Working with external partners, usually agencies, to provide the expert delivery of ‘data and digital’ marketing elements.

Overall, participants face very similar challenges in ensuring all aspects of marketing a multi-platform B2B media brand are resourced and optimised with the right people, systems and processes.

Strategic investment in event marketing is essential for success and growth. Marketing leaders are being held more accountable for the return on this investment, which is important if marketing wishes to move up the organisational value chain. We look forward to being part of this next chapter in event marketing’s journey!


Round-Table Discussion Chair:

Ashley Friedlein, CEO & Founder, Guild; Founder & President, Econsultancy

Ashley Friedlein

Ashley Friedlein

CEO & Founder, Guild; Founder & President, Econsultancy

Round-Table Discussion Participants:

MPG Round-Table Discussion Participants

Jemma James

Jemma James

Pageant Media

Paul Gilbertson

Paul Gilbertson

LSX Leaders

Gareth Pike

Gareth Pike

Faversham House

Jonathan Perry

Jonathan Perry

PEI Media

Sophie Eke

Sophie Eke

Incisive Media

Yetunde Akinwale

Yetunde Akinwale

Last Word

Jemma James

Nik Dinning

Retail Week & World
Reail Congress

7 Strategic Predictions for 2019: Conference & Exhibition Marketing

Settling back into work as we kick off 2019 (which we all know is going to be a bit of a rollercoaster ride!), the MPG team has taken some time to reflect on the key challenges and opportunities our customers and wider community are likely to face:

1. Events will be more important than ever before

In times of extreme uncertainty, imminent change and heightened risk – meeting face-to-face with other professionals facing the same challenges is one of the best ways to proactively acquire valuable intelligence and essential contacts. Responsible companies will want their ‘fingers on the pulse’ of their customers and their industry. Many will find that sharing and collaborating with their industry peers is the best way to find solutions and opportunities.

In 2019, event marketers will need to be highly attuned to the burning questions and priorities of their customers – attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and other event stakeholders. Our deep empathy and a keen understanding of what matters most will be essential in creating and effectively communicating event value propositions and marketing messages.

2. Event customers will be more discerning and protective of their time

At MPG we have always believed that event customers will always prioritise ‘return on time’ over ‘return on money’. If an event product very effectively meets a market need – the cost of participating in an event becomes less of an issue. Event customers will demand an excellent return on the time they invest in an event and will pass harsh judgement if any of their time is wasted.

In 2019 it will be even more important for event content, speakers and programme formats to be highly relevant and very well executed to deliver exceptional ‘value for time’ and a good experience.

Event marketers will need to get products to market early. We will also need to ensure our messaging is highly relevant and compelling to stake a claim to some precious days in diaries.

3. Strong brands with excellent events will win

For B2B media brands, events will become even more important for brand engagement and value delivery – especially within ‘core customer’ groups. Brand equity will be a key part in attracting customers to events – with the confidence and trust they have in a brand playing an important part in decisions to devote some of their precious time (and budget) to participating in an event.

Events businesses will also start prioritising brand building as they recognise the importance of being more customer-focused rather than product-focused.

More B2B media and events businesses will understand that their brands belong to their customers and that being responsible brand custodians means investing in the unique and genuine value a brand delivers to the community it serves.

In 2019, event marketers should relish and take full advantage of the opportunity to strategically build brands that will help attract high quality event customers – embracing the exciting opportunities for strengthening content-led, inbound and brand-led marketing.

4. Referral and influencer marketing will come to the fore

In times of uncertainty, event customers will do all they can to reduce the risk of wasting their own time or their company’s money. They will also be more mindful of protecting and building their personal brands – carefully considering how their managers, peers and potential future employers perceive their involvement in the events they choose to participate in.

Event customer acquisition and retention will rely more on validation and referrals from trusted colleagues and influencers – to reduce risk and protect reputations.

In 2019, event marketers need to truly embrace the ‘human-to-human’ movement. Our marketing programmes need to consider how key individuals – who are influential with our event customers – will become brand advocates and publicly support our events. And we’ll need to be acutely aware of ‘WIFM’ (‘what’s in it for me’?) when putting together plans to get the right messages to the right people at the right time.

5. Customer insight and data will be in high demand for good decision-making

To be more confident in their decisions and strategies, senior managers will push their teams harder to produce valuable insight on customers and their behaviour (particularly their propensity to purchase) throughout an event cycle. Events business leaders know this data is critical to drive growth and reduce risk, and they are also aware that the required data points are readily available with the right digital marketing tools and approach.

Event marketers are the natural owners of customer insight and in 2019 will need to take more responsibility for collecting and analysing data that helps the business understand how customers are engaging with their events (and potentially the wider business). Business leaders will also have to make strategic investments in the skills and resources needed to make this possible. If this investment is made well, the return should be excellent – especially in the long run.

6. Deeper personalisation will be key to event customer engagement

Although artificial intelligence is showing strong potential for delivering a more personalised customer experience, in 2019 most organisations will still be relying on a more manual approach to ensuring the content and messages served up by marketing to targeted audience groups is highly relevant.

Getting the right message to the right person at the right time will be more important than ever. And having a well organised customer database is the first step to making any personalisation possible – whether driven by AI or more manual means.

In 2019 event marketers will need to focus on getting the most out of their CRMs/marketing database systems – ensuring their #1 priority is organising the database of customer and prospect records so that targeted marketing is possible, even if more manual than we would like it to be.

7. The full range of skills needed for event marketing will be recognised

Effective event marketing requires a team of marketers – each with specific skill sets. 2019 will be the year business leaders recognise that they cannot expect one individual to have all the required skills around strategy, data and analytics, campaign planning & project management, content marketing, copywriting, design, email marketing and marketing automation, social media and pay-per-click advertising (and more).

Marketing is a deep and broad discipline, and events require a very specific type of product marketing that is very different from other types of product marketing.

In 2019, event marketers will be recognised as a unique, valuable and scarce resource. Businesses will start thinking differently about how they acquire and retain the skills needed to create and drive effective event marketing strategies and campaigns. Upskilling, outsourcing and partnering will be explored as ways to fill the critical resource and skills gap in event marketing.


Even though these predictions take in to account the unique challenges we’re likely to face in 2019, we believe all the above would be on the horizon regardless of Brexit or Trump-fuelled uncertainty.

As consumers become more powerful, a more collaborative and sharing-based economy emerges and our world becomes fully digitally-enabled, event customers will demand more from the event brands they choose to nail their colours to.

Event marketing needs the right kind of investment to make the essential strategic contribution required to drive growth – which is possible even in difficult times. B2B media brands and events-focused organisations that can think differently about how they invest in marketing for the best return will be the winners in 2019 and beyond.


MPG accelerates the growth for conferences and exhibitions. We deliver:

Get in touch to find out how MPG’s marketing approach has consistently achieved 40%+ annual growth for events.

How are event marketing leaders creating high-performance teams? Insights from MPG’s Round-Table

Event marketing is being transformed.

Organisations are becoming more customer-focused, and attention is shifting from outbound to inbound strategies amid changing customer expectations and rapidly downsized databases due to GDPR. In this new era, where marketers have more data, technology and influence at their fingertips than ever before, the strategic impact and responsibilities they hold within organisations is growing exponentially.

It is up to marketers to ensure all stakeholders understand just how important best-practice marketing is to the future success of a business, and to build the most efficient and skilled marketing functions to deliver on this potential.

MPG’s round-table, held on 9th November 2018, brought together some of the UK’s most influential B2B event marketing leaders to discuss the key challenges involved in building a high performance event marketing team.

 

Round-Table Discussion Participants:

Nicole
Abbot

Nicole
Abbot

IQPC UK

Matt
Ackroyd

Matt
Ackroyd

The Telegraph

Babak
Daemi

Babak
Daemi

GovNet

Lubtcho
Dimitrov

Lubtcho
Dimitrov

Capacity Media

Vivian
Linecar

Vivian
Linecar

Haymarket

Hannah
McCulloch

Hannah
McCulloch

Hanson Wade

Matthew
Termlett

Matthew
Tremlett

Pageant Media

Sharise
Wilkinson

Sharise
Wilkinson

KNect365

 

Key Insights from the Round-Table Discussion

MPG have put together an overview of the key points from the discussion, providing valuable insight into the following areas:

  • The shift to more customer-focused organisations
  • How to increase event marketing’s contribution across an organisation
  • Why it is so important for the marketing function to have an investment mindset
  • The value of marketing performance measurement
  • Ongoing changes in tactical and strategic marketing practices
  • The opportunities tech and data offer marketers
  • Marketing’s evolving role in project management
  • Challenges in staff recruitment and retention

DOWNLOAD KEY INSIGHTS

Event Marketing Leaders Round-Table Series

MPG runs a series of events dedicated to marketing leaders. These gatherings enable discussion and the sharing of ideas around the most important challenges and opportunities in event marketing today, as well as important trends impacting the future of event marketing.
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‘Data Strategy’ is the New Oil

So, the world did not end on 25th May and we had a sunny bank holiday weekend to celebrate!

Although a tremendous opportunity for sound businesses, those who won’t admit they got a few more grey hairs and suffered a few sleepless nights from Friday’s GDPR deadline are either overconfident or pretending..

In the B2B events world, we wait in keen anticipation to see what our significantly smaller databases will deliver for us in the coming days. I have great hope – validated by a BBC interview on the weekend where an email marketing expert claimed GDPR will result in email open rates more than doubling from an average of below 20% to around 40%.

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GDPR for B2B: A Practical Approach and a Strategic Push

No business will be left unchanged by GDPR. Publishers and events businesses that rely on large data sets are particularly vulnerable if they lack a solid strategy to deal with the emerging opportunities and threats.

Digital brands very reliant on advertising revenue will be particularly hard hit if Google gets away with its GDPR-instigated plan to force publishers to work with a limited number of ad-tech vendors.

GDPR for B2B - Practical Approach and Strategic GuideFor B2B, legitimate interest has been seen as the ‘get out of jail’ card and provided great relief. However, this still comes with a tranche of GDPR compliance requirements and tasks.

But those companies that are focused only on ticking the boxes in their compliance checklist are making a gross misjudgement. There is a lot to be gained, in terms of sustainable growth and competitive advantage, from aligning your whole business strategy with GDPR.

Three critical insights

As the MPG team has worked through a number of GDPR projects over the past few months, we’ve identified three essential things business leaders need to acknowledge about GDPR and its impact:

  1. The individual elements of GDPR are not difficult to understand or execute. But, even for small businesses, once they are combined as comprehensive GDPR compliance project there is a lot to do, and a range of interdependencies and decisions to be made. Getting your tech, data flows and processes fully lined up to become and remain compliant takes time and money, and if done well, should reap great rewards.
  2. Every organisation has a different starting point and end goal. A good GDPR compliance strategy will take these in to account, while balancing commercial risk with legal risk. So, it’s not a simple ‘box ticking’ exercise to be swiftly delegated down the line. Those who treat it as such are missing a golden opportunity to get their platforms and data in to good shape for future success.
  3. The winners in B2B media will be those who already have a brand-led gated ‘content and community’ model or can relatively quickly put one in place. But this is only possible if your audience prizes your brand’s content and community and trusts you to use their data to consistently serve up timely, unique and valuable information and connections.

Coalface priorities

As 25th May is nearly upon us, most business leaders will want to first ensure the following most urgent compliance tasks have been completed:

  1. Decisions made on which of the six lawful bases for processing personal data will be applied to customers and prospects. Usually, current customers who have signed up for a paid for service can be dealt with on a ‘contract’ basis, whereas others can generally be processed under ‘consent’, or if B2B ‘legitimate interests’ is also an option. If you have chosen legitimate interest, make sure you do a legitimate interest assessment.
  2. Ensure you have a privacy notice on your website that explains, in plain language, what you do with personal data of customers and prospects. See the ICO’s guidance on how to do this. Link the cookies message on your website and a message below all data capture forms on your website to this privacy notice.
  3. Under the ‘right to be informed’ requirement, send an email to all customers/prospects data (not under contract) you wish to continue processing after 25 May:
    1. If you’ve chosen legitimate interest: informing them you intend to process their data and why, letting them know why you have their data in the first place, what you intend to do with it and giving them the opportunity to ‘opt out’ of the relationship
    2. If you’ve chosen consent: asking them to consent (or re-consent) based on information you have included in your new privacy notice.

Getting these three things done by 25 May will not make you GDPR compliant but will certainly help mitigate the risk around non-compliance.

GDPR’s strategic opportunity

GDPR for B2B - Practical Approach and Strategic GuideThe most successful organisations are looking beyond GDPR compliance requirements to the strategic opportunity: to build stronger, more engaged audiences that become valuable communities. To achieve this, it is essential to get your strategy right around gated content and networking opportunities for a curated audience. In other words, using a combination of free and paid for content with subscriptions products and events to attract a defined group of business people with common challenges and who get value from intelligence and connections you can provide via a ‘community-led platform’ or membership model.

The holy grail is being able to directly monetise such a membership model via intelligence-led subscription products and ‘must attend’ events, with further revenue possibilities from limited number of premium packages for carefully selected vendors to access the community.

Organisations that have, or plan to religiously pursue this holy grail will understand the value of the new regulations. GDPR rewards companies that build strong customer relationships and trusted brands, and who also put the tech and processes in place to look after these relationships.

In order to take advantage of the rewards GDPR can offer, a commitment to full compliance is essential.

A practical and comprehensive approach

Under the new laws, every organisation that handles customer/prospect data needs to comply fully with GDPR. There are no short cuts and no exceptions.

Even companies not compliant by 25 May should commit to working towards comprehensive GDPR compliance – to operate lawfully and to take advantage of the opportunity to put in place and execute a winning strategy.

So that you can understand the ‘shape and size’ of a GDPR compliance project, here is an outline of four of the main compliance project elements:

  1. A data protection plan: MPG’s template contains 48 tasks in 5 categories: accountability, external visibility, suppliers, relationships with other companies, international data transfers and staff training.
  2. A map of customer/prospect data you collect, process and store
  3. A database of suppliers, as well as a supplier questionnaire completed by and data processing agreement signed by all suppliers that process data on your behalf
  4. Documentation: privacy policy, data protection policy, data retention policy, record of consent (if needed), legitimate interest assessment, IT security policy, data subject access request procedure, data protection impact assessment procedure, data breach response plan.

To get things done you need to take the following steps:

STEP 1: Appoint a senior executive to take ongoing responsibility for data protection.

STEP 2: Set up a formal and dedicated GDPR compliance project, sponsored by senior management and supported from the whole organisation.

STEP 3: Determine the skills and resource levels you will need to plan and implement your GDPR compliance project.

STEP 4: Allocate a dedicated budget for your GDPR compliance project.

STEP 5: Start!

There are no loopholes, quick fixes or short cuts. GDPR will arrive on 25th May and will be here to stay. Those who tackle GDPR head on – strategically and comprehensively – will be rewarded.

2018 is the Year of B2B Communities

Entering a new year is traditionally a time people reflect on the future and how they plan to tackle the potential it offers.

Which is why I wanted to take this opportunity to lay out the vision which will be driving MPG in 2018. Here I make our ‘statement of intent’ – the philosophy that both inspires and drives us to help our clients not just survive in an ever-changing B2B marketing world, but thrive.

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