Helen Coetzee

Recent Posts by Helen Coetzee

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.
Sign up to event updates to join our community:

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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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Saying no to business to gain the competitive edge

In January 2018 MPG will be four years old. My baby is growing up.

When we launched MPG, a friend – who had been on a similar journey – told me it takes a business at least five years to ‘find itself’. I now believe her. At the start we had a strong sense of the kind of business we wanted to run, but no idea it would evolve into what it is today.

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B2B marketers: ‘start and own a movement’ (and how to do it)

‘Starting a movement’ isn’t just for B2C marketers, it’s something B2B practitioners should be setting their sights on too. After all, that’s what drives change, progress and success.

Marketing never stands still. Take a look at the programs sitting on your computer or your phone right now. Some of your most used applications for work probably didn’t even exist a few years ago and yet now form a major part of how you operate day-to-day. (more…)

Doomed to fail: too many marketers can’t distinguish between strategy and tactics

Helen Coetzee looks at why the inability of many marketers to understand the difference between strategy and tactics is not only failing clients, but also marketers themselves.

We have a big problem in marketing. It’s something many of us are afraid to admit and some aren’t even aware we have. It’s a problem that crosses pay grades and is one of the biggest factors in failed campaigns. (more…)

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