Helen Coetzee

Recent Posts by Helen Coetzee

The Marketing Mix | October Newsletter

Newsletter • October 2020

Engaging Communities • Project Management • Skills Development

We’re still in very challenging times.

Fortunately, the members of our ‘community of community leaders’ are a resourceful and innovative bunch. We’ve grabbed hold of a host of digital tools to engage with our communities and keep them talking to one another to solve problems in every industry – in virtual spaces.

It has also been an inspiring time. We have some real heroes achieving incredible things. I will never forget the many emails arriving in my inbox in the middle of the night from event organisers working tirelessly to deliver their virtual events. I will also never forget how bravely and smartly some businesses have pivoted to focusing on revenue streams they can rely on while live events are not possible.

In this month’s newsletter we highlight some important areas where marketers make a critical contribution – from building hybrid communities, to generating leads for sponsorship sales teams and owning the project management that enables the monetisation of the products and services we build for our communities.

Enjoy!

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INSIGHTS

Helen Coetzee | 30/09/2020

MPG’s advice and predictions: 2021 – the year of Hybrid Communities

2021 will be another unique year for the world of B2B events, media and professional associations. We warn against taking a product-centric approach at the expense of focusing on the needs of our community. As community leaders we’ve been enabled with an array of tools to serve our communities – from virtual, in person and hybrid events, to digitally delivered business intelligence. We need to use these in the right way to help our communities work together in the fightback against Covid-19. Read more here >

Helen Coetzee | 25/09/2020

10 tips for growing revenue from sponsors and clients

MPG’s latest Insights webinar focused on how marketers should play a key part in identifying and drawing in new revenue from sponsors – especially for virtual events. Marketers should be generating and nurturing leads to help your sales people focus their efforts on those most likely to buy. The content package of webinar replay, slides, full Q&A write up and poll results are all available now for anyone to download (for free!) – get yours here >

READ MORE INSIGHTS


WEBINAR

Building B2B Communities: an Industry Trend Accelerated by Covid-19
LATEST WEBINAR:

Building B2B Communities: an Industry Trend Accelerated by Covid-19

Our latest webinar explored how leading B2B community builders have aimed to best serve their communities over the past 6 months – and how they hope to continue engaging, monetising and scaling their communities going forward.

Webinar guest speakers:

Anna Knight – VP Licensing, Informa Markets

Anna Knight
VP, Licensing
Informa Markets

 

 

Adam Parry – Founder & Director, Event Tech Live and Editor, Event Industry News

Adam Parry
Founder & Director
Event Tech Live & Editor, Event Industry News

 

 

Ashley Friedlein – CEO & Founder, GuildAshley Friedlein
CEO & Founder
Guild

 

 

 

FIND OUT MORE

 


PROJECT MANAGEMENT SPOTLIGHT

Project Management Spotlight
Whether focused on events, subscriptions or memberships, a high-performance marketing function relies on strong project management.

Without effective project management, you miss key campaign opportunities and limit the return on investment from your marketing function.

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

Here are some key elements that contribute to good project management in marketing:

  1. Planning – a marketing manager should always work to a solid campaign plan, with key deadlines and tasks visible to all stakeholders. The plan should show the full picture of all channels being deployed, specific timings, key milestones or significant dates – and should always be up to date. Project elements should be broken down into individual project tasks, always with clear deadlines.
  2. Communication – a marketer’s strong communication skills should help bring together a diverse group of stakeholders, drive projects forward and hold individuals accountable for essential contributions to marketing success.
  3. Keeping track of progress and make it visible – regular reports and briefings for stakeholders are an effective way to ensure everyone understands the priorities and progress in achieving marketing goals, while ensuring all contributors to marketing efforts are aligned.
  4. Project management system – when used well, project management tech can be a game-changer! It enables highly efficient and effective marketing planning, delivery and analysis. Clickup, Trello, Smartsheet and Asana are some examples that MPG has seen used well in marketing teams.

To find out more about how MPG’s team of expert marketers use strong project management as a key contributor to the success of the outsourced marketing delivered by MPG, get in touch.


Attracting New Subscribers Masterclass
Join our next Academy masterclass for a deep dive into MPG’s tried and tested methodology to create and optimise a high-performance marketing funnel to attract a strong and steady flow of relevant leads for your sales team.

  • Identify your ideal subscribers: develop personas and map your target market
  • Analyse your value proposition: from the perspective of your ideal subscriber – define your unique selling points and benefits
  • Communicate effectively: develop a powerful messaging strategy and multi-channel, integrated marketing campaign plan
  • Build your marketing and sales funnel: high performance tactics to create awareness, engage prospects and generate good quality leads for sales
  • Measure ROI & improve: track results, analyse and adjust for best outcomes

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VOICES

An MPG community member’s feedback on a recent Academy training course:

“I recently attended MPG Academy’s Digital Marketing Intensive course focused on the marketing of B2B virtual events. I found it very valuable – a great way to update the marketing knowledge and skills that are so important right now. I would certainly recommend this course to anyone who is hoping to attract a good audience to their virtual events!”

Gurveer Vasir, Marketing Manager, Waterfront Conference Company


We have a big year coming up of ongoing, rapid change. Marketing has such an important role to play in the Covid-19 fightback as we continue transforming our organisations and marketing functions – and start growing again. Please get in touch if you would find it helpful to talk through your marketing plans for 2021.

Topics:

MPG’s advice and predictions: 2021 – the year of Hybrid Communities

We’re starting to get a better view of what 2021 will look like for the world of B2B media, events and professional associations.

Many organisations drafting their plans for next year are considering whether to run hybrid events – essentially virtual events with a limited in-person element, as a further bridge back to the physical events. Others are considering launching a paid-for subscriptions model, having successfully engaged their audiences in a digital world via virtual events. Some are even planning for a ‘full return’ to in-person in late 2021.

Take caution in this product-centric approach. We’ve become so enamoured by the exciting challenges and new technologies that have arisen over the past 6 months – as well as for many a deep-rooted desire to return to our familiar old formats – that we risk losing track of what really matters…our communities!


Taking a step back

Any marketer worth their salt will understand the crucial importance of putting your audience first. It’s foundational to marketing itself.

Right now we need to be taking a step back and considering what our communities really need from us. How can we help them solve their most pressing problems and take advantage of their greatest opportunities?

We discover and understand this by really listening to them.

Hybrid communities

Your community is everyone that your brand aims to serve. From the ‘buy-side’ – those that come together to share best practice, discuss common problems and make connections – to the ‘sell-side’ – the businesses that want to reach the buy side with their products and services. There is a great deal of value for all parties by bringing this community together – as long as it is done in the right way.

And looking at just ‘buy-side’ vs ‘sell-side’ is quite a simplistic definition. In reality, the lines between the two parties are much more blurred. Most communities act more like ecosystems – a collection of people who rely on one another to do their jobs and grow their brands. It’s not just products and services that are exchanged – but also vital information, unique and timely insight and valuable human connections. The most successful community hosts are those that recognise this transcendence from a series of business transactions to a complex ecosystem.

This is not the only way your communities are hybrid. Over the past 20 years – and accelerating rapidly in 2020 – the way that communities interact is increasingly fragmented. In-person events, digital events, content, social media, email, calls, messaging – there are so many different ways that professionals can connect, share information and do business.

As the community host, it’s your job to figure out how best to serve your community so that members are connected with the right people, at the right time and in the right format.

Serving hybrid communities

The best way to serve your hybrid community will depend on your unique ecosystem.

To better understand yours, ask yourself:

  1. Who is in our community and how do the key relationships within them work?
  2. Who needs who – how, when and why?
  3. What are the range of problems we need to help different groups in our community solve?

When asking these questions, take a platform-agnostic approach. Avoid framing these questions as ‘how much more will sponsors pay to sponsor hybrid events compared to fully virtual events?’ or ‘how much more can I start charging for subscriptions now that my events revenue has dropped?’.

Your role is to bring your community together 365 days a year in the ways that suit them, not figure out how to sell an event or subscriptions product to them.

Once you have figured out the composition and needs of your community, then start considering which products and services will aid them best.

For some communities (or some parts of a community), large annual events are essential, serving as the best way to interact with peers and suppliers, learn about important industry trends and make valuable connections in a condensed and focused time period. People in these communities, or sub-communities, will clear their diaries for your event and attend year after year.

For others, constant access to searchable digitally delivered content and shorter, highly focused virtual events are all they need, with events simply serving as a chance to catch up with peers and stay abreast of potential industry changes. For this group, having constant access to essential information is their priority.

Most communities are hybrid, demanding opportunities to interact in-person (when possible again!) while also seeking ways to gain valuable content and connections year-round. Hybrid communities are ‘always on’ in a virtual space – 365 days of the year. And they usually also love to get together in the real world and develop genuine, rewarding business relationships with their fellow community members.

Engage. Monetise. Scale.

Once your hybrid community and their hybrid needs are understood, and once the right products have been created to serve these communities – we move in the very exciting and rewarding phase of engaging, monetising and scaling these communities. A smart investment in the right kind of marketing and sales is essential to enable this.

We will soon be sharing MPG’s ‘Engage, Monetise, Scale’ framework. Make sure you’re subscribed to MPG’s Insights to be notified when we publish insight and resources on this most relevant of themes as we start finalising and executing our 2021 strategies.

Topics:

10 tips for growing revenue from sponsors and clients

Digitised events are here to stay. For all the challenges this year has brought event organisers, virtual events do provide some unique opportunities in terms of sponsorship revenue generation in the coming months. Sponsorships that are overall lower in cost for sponsors, coupled with global audiences, have expanded many events’ potential sponsor pools significantly. The challenge now is working out how best to capitalise on this opportunity to achieve strong event sponsorship revenues going forward.

In our recent webinar, Marketing to Grow Revenue from Sponsors and Clients: MPG’s Top 10 Tips, I outlined the 10 simple marketing moves event organisers should make to maximise the generation, nurturing and conversion of sponsorship leads.

GET WEBINAR REPLAY & INSIGHTS


Here is a summary of the top 10 tips shared, to hear and read more – including attendee poll responses and our Q&A answers – access the full content package.

Tip 1 – Know your market of potential sponsors

Analyse your target market of potential sponsors. As we enter a season of digital events, re-consider who that market is. The potential pool of sponsors may now be more global and may contain a larger pool of smaller companies.

Tip 2 – Set KPIs for lead generation, conversion rate and value of conversions

You need to know what you’re aiming to achieve. Create specific and measurable indicators of success, such as a number of sponsor leads generated or the average yield from converted leads.

Tip 3 – Measure and analyse results regularly to improve

Put in place a marketing measurement dashboard before any activity starts – to measure the performance of different marketing channels and tactics used. Review the full dashboard on a weekly basis to understand where improvements can be made.

Tip 4 – Grow your database so you can reach more potential sponsors

If you want to reach more potential sponsors, you need more potential sponsors in your database. Conduct data research either in-house or via a 3rd party to grow your database quickly in a short space of time (ensuring you comply with data protection and direct marketing regulations, depending on country). You can also grow your database daily and compliantly by having lead generation forms on your website and doing inbound marketing to push potential sponsors to these forms.

Tip 5 – Manage and nurture leads well to achieve a strong conversion rate

Your job doesn’t end when someone fills in a form on your website to become a lead. Properly managing your leads means continuing to engage with them and move them down the funnel, warming them up via targeting comms and making sure they don’t get forgotten!

Tip 6 – Define the USP & benefits of your sponsorship value proposition

Articulate your event’s unique selling point and key benefits for potential sponsors. Why should a company choose to sponsor your event rather than a competitor’s event, or choose a different channel for investing their marketing budget? What justifies the investment they will make?

Tip 7 – Make sure you have a ‘become a sponsor’ page on your event website

Your website is your most important marketing channel – both to attract your core audience and potential sponsors. You need a ‘become a sponsor’ page on your website and dedicated ‘enquire about sponsorship’ lead generation forms, plus ideally also a downloadable piece of collateral like a sponsorship brochure (behind a lead generation form).

Tip 8 – Run dedicated email campaigns to attract new sponsors

Still the champion of outbound B2B; email can be used in several ways to effectively engage, nurture and convert potential sponsors. Create autoresponders that are triggered by web form completions to provide an instant opportunity for interested potential sponsors to further engage.

Schedule in dedicated sponsorship campaigns that outline your USP and key benefits for sponsors and encourage them to visit your website complete forms.

You can also feed in sponsorship messaging to your delegate emails – perhaps by including a dedicated sponsorship banner ad. Many B2B communities have a degree of cross-over between the buy and sell side, so there’s no harm in pitching your sponsorship opportunities to your potential delegates.

Tip 9 – Use social media to attract sponsors

As with your website, weaving in sponsorship messaging to your social media will provide extra opportunities to reach interested parties. These posts should be focused on pushing potential sponsors to relevant information on the website (ideally on a dedicated ‘become a sponsor’ page).

Your salespeople should also be constantly connecting with potential sponsors on LinkedIn, so make sure they share the relevant, sponsorship specific posts with their network.

Tip 10 – Make interested potential sponsors get in touch to find out more

While marketing can play an influential role in generating more sponsorship interest (leads) – as well as keeping them ‘warm’ (nurtured) – it’s your sales teams who are ultimately responsible for selling the opportunity and closing the deal. Marketing must not steal sales’ thunder by giving too much away, or having potential sponsors make up their mind before a salesperson has even had a chance to speak to them.

Key examples of this are package pricing details. A ‘value based’ sales process, rather than price-based, should result in higher average order values.


Want to know more?

Sponsor Acquisition Masterclass – get practical training on using marketing to acquire new sponsors

Join us for a masterclass in sponsor acquisition, nurturing and conversion, delivered by MPG’s team of expert marketing practitioners. In this interactive session you will learn how to:

  • Identify all possible sponsors
  • Create a strong outreach strategy
  • Communicate the sponsorship value proposition effectively
  • Get more leads and nurture them for strong conversions
  • Measure ROI & improve your lead generation performance – to drive a stronger sales performance and grow sponsorship revenue

FIND OUT MORE AND REGISTER


Get a team of B2B sponsor marketing experts on your side

From comprehensive marketing strategies to campaign management and delivery, MPG is a full-service consultancy and agency with a strong track record in helping B2B event organisers grow their sponsorship revenue.

To find out more about our work and how we can support you, get in touch:

FIND OUT HOW WE CAN HELP YOU

Topics:

The Marketing Mix | September Newsletter

Newsletter • September 2020

Database top tips • Next MPG webinar • Most read MPG insights

The experts warned that coming out of lockdown would take much longer than going in. Anyone with a logical mindset could understand more or less what was meant by this.

But I don’t think anyone was prepared for the ‘intensity of uncertainty’ we’re all living with right now. Trying to make good decisions and create solid business plans with so many unknowns pressing down on us is incredibly difficult.

So, this month’s newsletter is focused on the ‘knowns’, most notably:

  • The importance of having a strong marketing database
  • How to proactively grow revenue from sponsors and clients – with marketing lead generation programmes producing visible and strong returns

Let’s get going!

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VOICES

“We’ve worked with MPG since early 2019 and I cannot recommend them highly enough. The MPG team’s commitment and unique expertise in data-driven, digital and integrated marketing has been a key success factor for our business – across various products and facing a range of challenges and opportunities. We’re delighted to have MPG as part of the SMW team”

Toby Daniels, Co-founder & CEO, Crowdcentric Media, Founder & Executive Director, Social Media Week

Toby Daniels


INSIGHTS

What has been keeping your peers awake at night?

At times like this, we’d all love to have a strongly retained, high value subscriber base. This is a worthy end-goal to strive for and one that every brand should be taking very seriously.

But, there is still a great need and important place for events – whether digital, hybrid or in-person. Most organisations that have traditionally had events as a strong and growing revenue stream continue to invest in their events through these tricky times.

So, it is not surprising that MPG’s second most popular insights article this year is all about how to make sure registrants tune in to your digital event. This was published in early May and, as we head into a very busy and crowded events calendar in September, it is more relevant than ever.

Interestingly, MPG’s #1 most read insights article in 2020 was published in April and is focused on our advice and predictions for overcoming the crisis and winning in the new world. The guidance we gave five months ago still stands, with the following 6 points being critically important to any B2B community-focused organisation:

  1. Make understanding the shape, size and needs of your community your #1 priority.
  2. Don’t think about your events just as events. ‘Events’ are just a format. Think about what goes into your events and what makes them valuable.
  3. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Keep your valuable content and networking opportunities you can facilitate, in-person or online, front and centre.
  4. Only choose your tech once you’ve worked out what your new value proposition needs to be, based on what your community needs.
  5. Double-down on marketing. Invest in the skills you need to make content marketing, marketing data and marketing technology work in the way you need it to.
  6. Help your clients – sponsors and exhibitors – understand and realise the value of digital event formats.
  7. See the full article here.

READ MORE MPG INSIGHTS


WEBINAR

Marketing to Grow Revenue from Sponsors and Clients – MPG’s Top 10 Tips

Marketing to Grow Revenue from Sponsors and Clients – MPG’s Top 10 Tips


MPG Founder and CEO Helen Coetzee shared how marketing can (and should!) support revenue growth by:

  • Identifying and reaching out to potential new sponsors and clients who will gain value from sponsoring your events and/or content packages
  • Effectively communicating the value and ROI you can deliver for them
  • Persuade prospective sponsors and clients to qualify themselves as leads for your sales team
  • Increase the volume and quality of these leads over time to feed a strong sales pipeline
  • Efficiently nurture and manage leads so that marketing and sales are ‘joined up’ in driving revenue growth

SUBSCRIBE FOR WEBINAR FINDINGS

 


SPOTLIGHT

Virtual events: common mistakes to avoid when preparing your database

Virtual events: common mistakes to avoid when preparing your database

It’s easy to focus on ‘shiny new things’ when planning for your virtual events: the clever tech platforms, exciting new formats for delivering content, unique networking opportunities – to name a few.

Some of the underlying fundamentals, however, can be pretty mundane – in the same way they always have been. The most important of these less-exciting areas is your database: the structured data you hold on existing and prospective delegates and sponsors that enables you to select the right audience to reach out to – and then reach out to them, usually with an email address.

We’re seeing many virtual events falling short due to mistakes being made in this most fundamental of things. Your database is the life blood of your marketing – especially for virtual events. Here are the mistakes to avoid:

Mistake #1: You’re not reaching enough relevant people in your target audience

Typically, in-person events that charge an attendance fee would see an 85%+ conversion rate from registrants to attendees, with free-to-attend events achieving anything between 40% and 70%.

For virtual events, this conversion rate is a LOT lower. With some exceptions, stats we’re seeing tell us that you can expect 30% – 50% of payers to show up and 20% – 30% of non-payers to tune in when virtual events run.

And on top of this, virtual event organisers are typically promising sponsors a much higher registrant and attendance rate than their in-person events achieved.

What is this telling us? It’s simple maths. You need MANY MORE relevant contacts in your database to make this work. By our calculations, your database needs to be at least 4 times bigger for a virtual event.

If your database is not big enough, your virtual event will struggle to hit its numbers. The only antidote here is a huge effort and investment going into inbound marketing, including a combination of content marketing, leveraging advocates, pay-per-click advertising and social media.

We recommend growing your database as fast as you can via a combination of inbound marketing and data acquisition – always making sure your targeting is very strong to reach only relevant contacts.

Mistake #2: You’re not taking full advantage of your global audience

The need to expand your database can seem daunting at first, until you realise there is now a literal world of potential contacts waiting for you. Going virtual opens your event up to an international audience in a way your in-person event did not. Targeted data build and PPC are just two ways you can capitalise on this to quickly increase the size of your database on a global scale.

Mistake #3: You’re too focused on outbound marketing (mainly email)

Outbound is generally more effective and efficient in generating high volumes of registrants fast, but outbound activity only reaches contacts you already have on your database. Incorporating inbound marketing techniques, such as content marketing, social, PPC and advocacy, will enable you to reach new, relevant contacts and convert interested leads through the marketing and sales funnel.

Mistake #4: You’re not introducing newly acquired contacts to your event in the right way

If using research agencies or bulk data purchases to increase the size of your database, you’ll be contacting people for the first time who may have never heard about your brand or event. Slotting them into the existing email schedule will leave them confused, frustrated and looking for the unsubscribe button. It’s also illegal in most countries to do this.

Make sure you have an email campaign built specifically for new contacts, ideally incorporated into a wider automation campaign, introducing them to your brand and your event, explaining why it’s relevant to them and what they need to do to get involved. Make sure you also invite them to unsubscribe at any time.

Also, make sure you don’t add people to your database who are based in countries where data protection and direct marketing rules do not permit this. Here are two useful references for country-specific rules: one which neatly splits by B2B and B2C, and another which covers more countries.


Managing and growing your database in the right way, day in and day out, may not be as exciting as some of the other aspects of digital events, but it is essential. If you don’t invest enough attention, time and money into your database then your virtual event won’t achieve its potential and may even be at risk of failing. So don’t let the shiny new things distract you too much. Ignore your database at your peril!

MPG’s team of data specialists have carefully crafted a host of data management and development strategies for some of the largest B2B media and events businesses globally. To find out how we can help perfect your database so it’s ‘virtual event’ ready, get in touch.


MPG Services

GENERATE A STRONGER ROI FROM MARKETING

No matter your marketing needs, MPG can support you in improving marketing performance. Whether you require a revenue-driving marketing strategy, full-service campaign delivery, marketing operations optimisation or skills training; our team of seasoned B2B marketers are at your disposal. Get in touch to discuss how we can support you.

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MPG Academy

UPSKILL YOUR MARKETING TEAM

MPG Academy offers B2B community-focused organisations the opportunity to invest smartly in their marketing function, upskilling marketers who are taking on new challenges in a new world.
Through skills training and team development, we can help you build a stronger marketing function that consistently delivers high performance marketing.

FIND OUT MORE


Times are tough for many. Now, more than ever, we need to keep moving forward positively and with purpose.

In October we will publish MPG’s ‘secrets of success’ in project management – that all-important but often overlooked element in delivering successful marketing programmes.

As always, please get in touch via helen@mpg.biz if you think we can help you move forward in the right way.

Topics:

The Marketing Mix | Summer Newsletter

Newsletter • Summer 2020

Virtual Event Marketing • Website Optimisation Guide • Marketing Training

The pace is intense.

In our last newsletter we shared the story of MPG’s work with Social Media Week – a remarkable eight week pivot to create and successfully deliver #SMWONE. The pioneering spirit and ability to think fast, act fast and deliver a great, innovative virtual event experience inspired many. We thank Toby Daniels and Brian Leddy for their vision and leadership in a very challenging time.

Since #SMWONE’s successful delivery, the MPG team of marketing strategists, martech specialists, data specialists and digital marketers have been working with Toby and Brian on the launch of their new SMW+ live and on-demand streaming service. This rapid product and marketing strategy development to deliver a digital subscriptions service for SMW’s community has once again been an exciting and inspiring journey. And the important work of strong execution and ongoing improvements to the approach for ongoing improvements to outcomes is only just beginning!

More MPG clients and community members have been moving rapidly through ‘test and learn’ cycles. The analytics and data collected over the past months on how professionals are engaging with digital offerings – and the marketing of these – has surfaced some interesting benchmarks. We shared some of our key learnings in our latest webinar.

MPG’s Summer newsletter focuses on four important areas that present great opportunity for every organisation focused on growing, engaging and monetizing their communities:

  1. Attracting new sponsors for digital content packages, including virtual events
  2. Attracting a great, engaged audience to your virtual events
  3. Ensuring you have the best combination of ‘must have’ marketing knowledge and skills to successfully take to market your digital events, subscriptions and memberships
  4. Optimising your website to do a great job at engaging and serving your community, while also delivering conversions to customers and revenue

So, take a break from your desk, step out into the August sunshine – and have a good read!

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INSIGHTS

Helen Coetzee | 16/07/2020

How to use marketing to get new sponsors for your digital events

Growing digital revenue by sourcing new sponsors is a great opportunity for many organisations. Marketing has a key role to play here in generating marketing qualified leads for your sponsorship team. Our recent blog gives you a step-by-step approach to acquiring new sponsors via marketing. Read more here >

Helen Coetzee | 19/06/2020

Creating a robust, sustainable marketing function: a strategic, hybrid approach

In these financially stressed times, the question should not be ‘should we use internal or outsourced marketing’, but rather ‘what does the most effective and cost-efficient marketing function look like for us?’. Read more here >

READ MORE INSIGHTS


VIRTUAL B2B EVENTS WEBINAR

Marketing Virtual B2B Events: 9 Key Success Factors

Marketing Virtual B2B Events: 9 Key Success Factors

In our latest webinar, which took place on Thursday 6th August, MPG’s Founder & CEO, Helen Coetzee, uncovered the ‘secrets of success’ in developing the right marketing approach to attract the audience of the size and profile you need to your virtual B2B events.

You can now download the comprehensive content package including:

  • Presentation slides – including additional detail on 9 success factors
  • Full webinar video replay
  • All Q&A responses
  • All poll results

ACCESS CONTENT PACKAGE

 


SPOTLIGHT

How to optimise your website

How to optimise your website

Your website has always been your most important marketing channel. As the end destination that all other marketing activity pushes to, the hub for your content and the place where your target audience converts to leads or registrants; getting your website right can mean the difference between success and failure.

But how can you improve your website, generate more traffic and, most importantly, get more leads and revenue?

  1. Know your user: As with all marketing, the key to success is understanding your audience. Put yourself in the shoes of a new visitor to your website. Does the site load quickly and look professional at first impression? Is it immediately clear who you are and what you do? Are there obvious and compelling CTAs that will pull them further into the site? A user will be considering all these points within seconds of landing, and if they encounter any friction with their journey they may leave, so first impressions really matter.
  2. Create great website content: Once you’ve hooked them, it’s time for your website content to do the heavy lifting. Write copy that communicates the value of your product, focusing on benefit-led copy. How does your offering address a particular challenge your target audience faces? Avoid focusing too much on the ‘what’ and instead focus on the ‘why’.
  3. Understand the rules of design: Design is crucial, and not just because it makes your website look attractive; it’s fundamental to the quality of the user experience. Avoid overly-cluttered pages. Use size, position and colours to emphasise important elements and create a structure. Visitors won’t read line-by-line, they’ll skim read to the parts they’re interested in. Keep it simple!
  4. Create a seamless journey: Effective navigation is what ties it all together. You are taking your visitors on a journey, so make sure you never leave them at a dead end. Link content together naturally, provide CTAs to related pages and push them to a lead gen form or booking page when you think they may convert. Users visit your website to achieve a goal, whether that’s to find out more information, submit an enquiry or make a purchase – make it easy for them to move through your content and present them with things they can’t help but click. The smoother the experience, the more conversions you’ll get.

These are just some of the points you should have in mind when upgrading an existing website or creating a new one.

The MPG team has been designing and building high impact websites for 6+ years. To find out how we can build a great website for you, get in touch.

MPG Newsletter Summer 2020
MPG Newsletter Summer 2020


VOICES

“MPG delivered a great series of tailored marketing workshops for the team at China-Britain Business Council. This training helped us formulate our membership growth strategy and gave us some very useful, practical guidance on improving our digital marketing and sales tactics.”

Claire Urry, Executive Director, China-Britain Business Council

CBBC


The world is presenting every organisation with significant challenges and great opportunities in our quest to innovate and transform to become more resilient and sustainable. The global economy is relying on each of us playing our part. As dramatic as that may sound – it’s true!

The MPG team is grateful to be working with the fantastic people that make up our community. We sincerely hope to help you find the best way to push forward – with strength and confidence!

Topics:

How to use marketing to get new sponsors for your digital events

As companies finalise their 2020 H2 digital event schedules and begin planning for 2021 – a year which will undoubtedly also feature a significant digital element – the question of how best to generate sponsorship revenue via this new format now takes centre stage.

Within this issue lies several challenges. First, existing sponsors will generally be reluctant to pay the same to sponsor a virtual event as an in-person one, and secondly, some will simply not want to sponsor a digital event at all.

Event organisers now face a pressing challenge to find a large number of new sponsors for their virtual and hybrid events – in a narrow space of time.

Fortunately, the online nature of digital events has inherent benefits. The lack of physical venue means a potentially global market of sponsors, and the reduced cost of sponsoring such an event (no physical collateral, travel, accommodation or out of office expenses) opens the floor to many smaller companies.

The desire is there too. Potential sponsors have also been affected by Covid and must generate sufficient leads via their own marketing to ensure their business can survive in these challenged times. They’re on the lookout for promising new opportunities; digital events’ focused content, engaged audiences and relatively low cost for good reach and a large number of relevant leads may just be the answer.

This short-term revenue challenge for events relying on sponsorship therefore doubles as an opportunity to invest in long-term event and brand growth. Event organisers can grasp the chance to expand globally, diversify their sponsorship base and put their event firmly on the path to growth.

So, what is the best approach to attracting companies from this now larger market? And how can it be done quickly?


Generate marketing qualified leads to help your salespeople acquire new sponsors

Sponsorship sales teams have traditionally focused on – and are generally most skilled at – the retention and upsell of existing clients. They will recognise the significant opportunity to find new sponsors in a larger potential client pool, but they will need help in efficiently and rapidly surfacing this new revenue.

This is where smart and effective marketing becomes the key to unlocking the potential of digital event sponsorship. Your marketing function should not only be focused on attracting event attendees, they should also be reaching out to, engaging and converting potential clients into relevant and qualified leads via targeted, personalised and data-driven marketing campaigns.

Here’s a tried and tested process for your marketers to follow to generate great sponsorship sales leads and bring in new revenue:

Step 1: Define your target market of potential sponsoring companies and key decision-makers within these companies

Use demographic profiling, considering company type, size, sector and location, as well as the job function and seniority of the individuals within these companies responsible for marketing budgets. Consider how the reduced price point may make sponsoring your event feasible for smaller companies and how a more global audience may attract sponsors from a more global market. Create a map of this new market to understand its size and composition.

Step 2: Create routes to market

Once you know who you’re targeting, you need to reach them with relevant marketing messages. First, analyse your existing database to understand how many contacts you can already reach within your target market. Identify key gaps and fill these with targeted database research, then get started on your outbound and inbound marketing activity to attract the right people to your event website.

Make sure the benefits of sponsoring are well presented on your website, alongside (ideally multiple) lead generation forms, such as sales brochure downloads, enquiry submissions and ‘send me event updates’ requests. This is an essential first step, as your website is the end destination where most prospects will convert to a lead.

Create integrated, multi-channel marketing campaigns, incorporating email, PPC and social media, to reach out and push relevant people to your site. Make sure your messaging is informed by persona analysis and includes at least one clear USP with some compelling benefits.

Also, consider using account-based marketing if you are confident on who the ‘top 20’ (or more) companies are that should be sponsoring your event. Feed them personalised comms specific to their organisations, and where possible reach out to decision makers on a 1-to-1 basis with highly relevant and compelling messaging to elicit a response. Once key contacts are engaged via this kind of marketing it will be easier for salespeople to approach and convert them.

Step 3: Use marketing to nurture leads – to ‘warm them up’ (or keep them warm!) for the sales team

Don’t focus only on acquisition of leads. A key part of winning new sponsors is nurturing these leads and effectively growing engagement so they become even hotter leads, eager to start a conversation with one of your salespeople. To do this, build in automations such as triggered emails when forms are completed on the website (e.g. a sales brochure download) directing them to more relevant content. Your sales team won’t be able to reach every lead quickly, so automated emails can be used to keep them ‘warm’. Remarketing via Google and social channels can also be used to share relevant content and product messaging with individuals who are already engaged. Don’t let them go cold!

Step 4: Measure, measure, measure

Every campaign is a learning opportunity, but only if you measure the impact. Make sure you understand who is completing the lead generation forms and what type of lead is most likely to convert to a sale. Also, measure and analyse the average order value and length of sales cycle achieved via various lead types – sales KPIs can be improved with intelligence-led marketing.

Some marketing channels and activity types will work better than others. Make sure you focus on what works best for your audience and event.

Consider how much visibility you have of the marketing and sales funnel. Do you know how leads are coming in at the top (where they first engage)? How are they engaging near the middle? How many are dropping off when hitting the sales team at the bottom of the funnel? What does the conversion look like for each stage? Understanding these points will help you plug any gaps and improve overall performance of both marketing and sales functions.

It’s important to note that not all of the leads you generate will convert within the first few months, but there is a long ‘sell-by-date’ on sponsorship leads and you may be able to convert them for a future event (with all the hard work of identifying them and collecting their data already done!). Keep their info safe and retain them in your communications, it will pay dividends in the longer term.


Wrapping up

Employing these steps effectively will not only secure the revenue for your next digital event, but also provide you with a solid foundation for growth in years to come. Your audience will have expanded geographically, your event will be attracting new and exciting sponsors and – most importantly – you’ll have battle-ready marketing and sales teams with the know-how on generating new sponsorship revenue; whether that’s for digital or in-person events.

As we’ve mentioned frequently over the past 4-5 months; we believe the companies that invest proactively in marketing now will be the winners in 2021 and beyond. There are many opportunities in digital events, you just need a good strategy to grab hold of them.

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Creating a robust, sustainable marketing function: a strategic, hybrid approach

Marketing is on the chopping block. As businesses seek cost savings, marketing spend is reduced (once again) in favour of what are often seen as more ‘core’ areas like sales and product development.

Although marketing is a vital driver of both short and long term performance, it can be frustratingly nebulous in various ways: how much resource is needed, what skills are most valuable, and most importantly – what ROI can be expected. It is no surprise that Finance Directors usually look at reducing fixed costs on marketing before looking elsewhere.

Building more flexibility into marketing investment is the way forward for most organisations.

External partners, such as marketing agencies, are an attractive alternative to build in this flexibility. But how do you balance and integrate internal expertise with 3rd party support? Do the benefits of working with external partners outweigh the risks? How do you select and integrate an external partner (or more than one partner), effectively, for short and long term gain?


In-house vs (and) outsourced: the structure of a winning marketing function

If you can only afford a single marketer (or FTE) and no – or very limited – agency spend, then a mostly outsourced marketing approach is likely best. A single marketer will not have both the breadth and depth of knowledge that is needed in modern marketing. Expecting one person to handle all strategic, tactical, digital and technical responsibilities is a recipe for failure.

If you can afford multiple in-house marketers (or FTE) and/or have a decent budget for agency spend, a hybrid model is probably your best option. Appoint an internal ‘generalist marketer’ (or have someone in your team take this on as part of their role) and then bring on board external marketing expertise and muscle. This should enable you to extract maximum value from your marketing function (as long as it is done in the right way of course!).

This will allow you to ramp up resources when needed, assuming your external partner has a team of a decent size. Larger agency teams (10+ people) should have the flexibility, breadth and depth you’ll need. Agencies are most effectively deployed when their skills complement what you have in-house, so make sure have access to both extra (flexible) capacity as well as expertise or skills that don’t exist within the business.


The hidden costs of in-house marketing

While you may feel having a fully in-house marketing team is a less risky and possibly more cost-effective solution, consider the myriad of hidden costs involved. Recruitment processes are often lengthy and costly, and ‘maintenance and overhead’ costs like IT equipment, HR, training, management, holidays/sick days, PAYE etc. must all be covered. Consider the risk of a new hire under-performing, and how draining and distracting this could become on the business.

Agencies can remove, or at least simplify these issues. Agencies carry all the recruitment, training, management and overhead costs themselves. They also have to make sure the people working on your marketing are performing well – and if they aren’t, the ‘people management’ issues will not be yours to deal with. A good agency will be able to offer tangible evidence of past performance, often spanning various industries, geographies and specialisms, and will also hold themselves accountable for marketing ROI.

Perhaps most valuable of all is that full-service agencies are the ‘perfect’ marketing team. They can expertly deliver all elements of marketing, constantly honing their skills by being involved in so many projects with a range of clients. Small, in-house and mostly ‘generalist’ marketing teams often can’t match this level of experience and expertise, as they’re usually stretched too thin to develop deeper knowledge and better skills. Some businesses can afford to support these marketers with in-house specialists in more technical areas like data and digital – but this is quite rare.


The case for a hybrid approach

The issue is not binary. You do not have to choose between in-house marketers and external partners; the best approach is probably hybrid (if you can afford more than one marketing FTE). Even if you favour a fully-outsourced model, you will still need some level of oversight of, and support for, the agency’s delivery.

The demand for marketing resources within most businesses tend to vary over time, with some periods where internal teams are not paying their way due to being over-resourced, and other times where they can’t keep up with demand and become over-burdened. A hybrid approach is the best way to maintain the ‘minimum viable’ internal resource while having the option to ramp up capacity and expertise when needed.

The best kind of external partner will work in a transparent and collaborative way, enabling your internal team to gain valuable marketing knowledge and skills while working in an integrated way with your agency.


How to make outsourced marketing work

Employing external resources is not simply a case of signing a contract, throwing some money across the table and watching the results coming in. Careful selection and diligent support for, and management of, your partner will ensure optimal returns. Here are 4 things to always do when outsourcing some or all of your marketing:

  1. Look for expertise and a proven track record. Don’t fall for flashy sales pitches and hollow promises. Look for the proven substance in a track record and clear approach to make an astute decision on who you should work with.
  2. Onboard your outsourced team as strategic partners. A big mistake is to think of, or position, your agency as ‘a supplier’. From day one, treat them as part of your team, enabling them with the same kind of support you would give an internal marketer. Make sure everyone in your business understands their purpose, their skills and how to utilise them. A good strategic partner will see your business goals as their own goals, and will strive to help you achieve them by playing an active role in your business.
  3. Give an internal person overall responsibility for ensuring the partnership is successful. This does not mean this person is the main or only point of contact for the agency. The role of ‘partner relationship owner’ is ensuring the required outcomes are achieved from the partnership. This is achieved via strong, open communication and ensuring each party is delivering according to their role and responsibilities. Both sides need to be collaborative and accountable.
  4. Insist on transparency and accountability. As you would with an internal marketer, make your expectations clear from the start. Set clear objectives and agree specific deliverables to align on desired outcomes. Ask for weekly reports and hold weekly meetings to ensure the required progress is being made and good, visible results are being achieved. This weekly meeting is also essential to ensure the project team is working well together.

In these financially stressed times, the question should not be ‘should we use internal or outsourced marketing’, but rather ‘what does the most effective and cost-efficient marketing composition look like for us?’.

A hybrid solution is – in most cases – the answer. This offers the flexibility of external resource, while maintaining the baseline internal marketing function required. Marketing is a critical function. Maintaining your marketing strength now, and being able to scale up when opportunity knocks, may just give you the competitive edge!

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The Marketing Mix | Monthly Newsletter

Newsletter • June 2020

#SMWONE Case Study • Subscriptions Marketing • ROI Measurement

In these tumultuous times, we’ve been heeding the very same advice we give to our clients: listen to your community.

Every industry, and every business, is bearing the brunt of their own unique set of challenges right now. Those that see the other side of Covid-19 will have faced these head on and embraced change and new opportunities – taking on short term financial pain, or making previously unplanned investments in the process.

MPG has been no exception. We are investing in transforming and upgrading our value proposition to meet our customers’ new needs in a new way. In today and tomorrow’s world, having a relevant value proposition is essential, and having an essential value proposition is the ultimate goal!

This monthly newsletter is one of our new initiatives – to share with our community a digest of the most recent and relevant case studies, insights and product updates. MPG Academy and MPG’s Analytics & Intelligence Dashboards are two new offerings we’re excited to share – both designed to help you drive more revenue with smart marketing investments.

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INSIGHTS

A smart strategic play: growing subs revenue

It’s been a fascinating time for the MPG Insights team as we’ve worked with marketing practitioners to get to grips with how marketing can make the best impact in these times. In May’s expert-led webinar we focused on marketing to grow revenue by acquiring new subscribers. About 25% of organisations that tuned in don’t currently have a subscriptions product but are looking to create a subscriptions model for their digital events.

Achieving strong audience engagement – in a very crowded space

We’re heading into a time like no other: the world will be awash with virtual events. In Standing out from the virtual conference crowd: MPG’s top 10 tips we’ve shared our guide to achieving what is essential: getting a great audience for your events.

If you aren’t measuring it, you can’t improve it

You sprint towards your next virtual event. You breathe a sigh of relief when it’s done. But what have you learnt? Apart from how the tech worked, did you gather the data you needed to work out the marketing formula that will drive good attendance to your next virtual event? How to get more intelligence into your marketing for a stronger ROI is a must-read for every business leader.

One of MPG’s biggest investments over the years has been in developing a marketing measurement dashboard ‘like no other’. It draws together key data points and delivers the kinds of insights that these days you cannot do without when marketing events, subscriptions and delivering lead generation campaigns for clients. Read our blog to see why we’ve done this.


STORIES

MPG Stories will continue to share real-world marketing case studies in what seems to be an ever-popular webinar format. Our next big MPG Story will be livestreamed in July 2020 – stay tuned!

MPG Insights

SEE ALL EVENTS


CASE STUDY

Social Media Week’s Virtually Unstoppable

As you may know, MPG is the marketing partner for Social Media Week. As such, we worked with the Social Media Week team to develop the marketing strategy for their ground-breaking virtual event: #SMWONE. In executing this strategy together, we learnt some valuable lessons we’re happy to share here.

    • Content marketing was more important than ever. The audience needed familiarity with the new virtual format to truly understand its benefits. The #SMWONE Show achieved just that. Hosted weekly in the run up to the main event, the show helped the event community know what to expect. Previews of content via speaker interviews provided real value, and the show doubled as a chance for the Social Media Week team to iron out any technical kinks. The #SMWONE Show was a top generator of leads and proved that content really is king.
    • Ensuring a strong attendance relies on ‘heavy’ conversion marketing. The online nature of the event (which means no commitments like travel and accommodation) meant a big effort was needed to encourage registrants to attend. MPG focused on a dedicated conversion strategy, with a multi-armed approach that included email, social, PPC and SMS and various automated notifications (like session reminders). This activity ran throughout the event and was critical in keeping the audience engaged, the discussions energised – and sponsors happy!
    • Selling tickets during a virtual event delivers incremental revenue. The extended timeline of the event, and on-demand nature of the content, created the opportunity for ticket sales to continue far into – and even beyond – the event date. The price point was reduced at intervals throughout the event to encourage these late ticket sales, with dedicated email and PPC campaigns highlighting the chance to buy these tickets and the savings available. FOMO kicked in and the ticket revenue kept coming..
    • Marketing measurement is essential. The marketing approach was adjusted regularly based on learnings gathered from MPG’s data-rich marketing performance reports. Having a strong grip on this intelligence helped boost the tactics to achieve a successful outcome.

HEAR THE FULL STORY

We look forward to continuing our journey with the Social Media Week team and hope to share more of what we learn as we go along!

MPG Newsletter June 2020
MPG Newsletter June 2020

VOICES

MPG has done a great job introducing and embedding better digital and data-led marketing practices into our business, meaning we can now target and engage our audience much more effectively. We really like MPG’s transparent and ROI-focused approach. Their regular analysis and intelligence reporting on marketing activity and performance is quite unique and has delivered a lot of value to our business.”

Alex Williamson, Co-Founder & CEO, Bio Market Insights

BioMarketInsights


There is great hardship in the world today. We are in a unique time where revival, reconfiguration and reinvention of almost every industry and institution is underway.

The positivity, dedication, creativity and innovation MPG’s clients and wider community have demonstrated is truly inspiring.

Thank you for sharing this journey with us. Enjoy the sunny summer days. Remember to breathe – deeply. And let’s crack on!

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How to get more intelligence into your marketing for a stronger ROI

“I see investing in more and better marketing as the best way to gain a competitive advantage and proactively drive my business forward. But I need the marketing to be more accountable. We need marketing ROI to be better measured and more visible.” The words of a senior business leader in conversation with MPG’s CEO.

What’s missing in this business are the tools and processes needed for good, consistently delivered marketing measurement and reporting.

At MPG, from day 1, we have always put marketing intelligence at the heart of our business. We’ve just released the 4.0 version of MPG’s Analytics & Intelligence Dashboard – now covering virtual events, sponsor lead generation and subscriptions acquisitions.

If you don’t currently have marketing measurement and reporting in your business – here’s a guide on what it is, why it is important and how it’s done.


What is marketing reporting?

Marketing reporting is the process of recording and presenting marketing performance data in a dashboard.

This should cover the revenue or bookings being generated by marketing and sales, as well as the detail on channels and tactics, such as social media, email, PPC and website.

To ensure the focus is on the most strategically important metrics, we work closely with our clients to understand what’s important to them and tailor our reporting tool to give them the most valuable intelligence.

To make sure they have the right marketing reporting tools and processes in place, it’s important for senior decision makers to know what ‘good’ looks like when it comes to reporting formats and metrics to focus on. Armed with this knowledge, they know what to expect from marketing teams and how to ask the right questions about marketing ROI measurement.


The value unlocked by marketing analytics and intelligence reports

1. See how marketing is performing in achieving commercial goals

The simplest, but arguably most important, benefit is providing high-level insight of marketing’s performance overall. Tracking how many sales/bookings are being made and/or how much revenue is being generated compared to forecasts and the previous periods provides a high-level understanding of how marketing is driving results.

2. Understand how your audience is engaging with content and products

Marketing data can provide invaluable insight on how your customers are reacting to your products and content, revealing what is of most interest to them, what their concerns are and what else they may buy/engage with.

3. Understand the profile of your audience

Who is reading, registering, and buying? Where are they from? What company do they work for? What is their job function? These are all important questions that regular reporting can answer. Understanding the composition and behavior of your audience enables not only more effective marketing, but also more effective data-led decisions across business as a whole.

MPG Insights

4. Enable better marketing performance

Reporting provides regular, valuable insights on the marketing channels and tactics that are performing best.

This gives marketers ownership, showing tangible results for their efforts and providing context on how they are performing against targets. They will also feel more confident in making decisions, as they can base their thinking on data instead of a ‘feeling’.

Reporting also holds marketers to account, challenging them to explain how they are making decisions and how they plan to address challenges and make the most of any opportunities.

5. Highlight any potential issues, even outside of marketing

Sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint issues or inefficiencies – things that are holding a business back from engaging with their audience and achieving more revenue.

Reporting should show all elements of the sales pipeline so you can find these issues. For example: low engagement across all marcomms could indicate the product not being right for the market, or you could find leads are dropping off when passed to the sales team because a key step in the lead management process is not working as it should. Identifying the problem is the first step towards fixing it.

MPG Insights


So, what does good marketing measurement and reporting look like?

Added insights and intelligence

A marketing report is of no use if it only consists of ‘a whole lotta numbers’. The stats on their own are not valuable. What makes a marketing report valuable is the insights you can pull from the numbers and the important actions you can take based on these insights.

So, before sharing a report with the business, a marketer should spend time analysing and interpreting the data, putting numbers into context and drawing out insights and recommended next steps. This is the ‘intelligence’ element that unlocks all the value and should therefore be on ‘page 1’ of every report.

Updated at least once a week (or even better, in real time)

Feeding intelligence into your marketing should be ongoing, so reports should be produced weekly, at a minimum. This consistency and frequency will allow you to react to opportunities and challenges as they arise and keep marketing ROI front of mind.

Simple integrations between your marketing dashboard and martech stack can enable real-time reporting and reduce manual updates.

It is also essential to have a weekly meeting – a firm commitment in the diary for all key stakeholders – to review key findings and agree on next steps. This keeps everyone aligned and committed to marketing ROI.

MPG Insights

Mapping against predictions, targets and benchmarks

It is essential to know what ‘good’ looks like when analysing and interpreting marketing reports. Without this important context, you can only guess at what the various data points really mean for your performance.

The following three data sets will help you add the all-important context:

Predictions/targets: tracking performance against targets is essential in understanding how likely you are to achieve your end goals.

Historical data: comparing against your past performance is also important – even if a lot has changed.

Benchmarks: comparing results to your relevant internal or external averages allows accurate performance ratings.

It is best to use as many of these points of comparison as possible as they can be tied together to reveal the full picture. For example, you may find your revenue generation is tracking below your target which prompts analysis of the individual channels via historical data/benchmarks. This could then reveal a specific channel, for example email, is under-performing. Deeper analysis may reveal that recipients are opening emails at a high rate, but not clicking anything. You now have a specific, actionable insight: we need to improve our email messaging and layout to encourage more clicks.

MPG Insights

Marketing intelligence reports are essential for understanding the performance of marketing and the ROI it is delivering. CEOs benefit from greater visibility, allowing them to make informed decisions on marketing investment, as well as to hold marketing accountable for ROI.

Marketers gain access to the stats that matter most and can respond practically and with a sense of confidence and ownership.

Marketing reporting and analysis has been at the heart of MPG’s philosophy and our core methodology since our inception. We are proud that our clients are able to hold us accountable for results and push us to continuously improve and innovate. Our data-led, scientific approach to marketing has revolutionised the marketing of many businesses. We look forward to continuing to help our clients make intelligent marketing investments in the months and years ahead.


MPG’s Analytics & Intelligence Reports are custom-built to meet your requirements. To learn more about how we can help you develop an intelligence-led approach to marketing to drive more growth and value for your business, get in touch.

Topics:

Standing out from the virtual conference crowd: MPG’s top 10 tips

In every industry, the second half of 2020 is going to be packed with virtual conferences. With all the postponed events from H1 now crammed into H2, along with most of the events that usually happen in H2 still planning to go ahead, we’re entering a unique six months of an over-abundance of virtual events – at a time when the world is coming out of lockdown and people won’t be spending as much time staring at screens as they have been over the past few months.

So, how will you ensure your conference stands out from the crowd of digital events and keeps your audience glued to their screens? The most engaging events will be those with the most relevance – in content, speakers and attendees. Having decent tech that works should be a given. Tech is not your point of differentiation.

The winning virtual events will be those with:

  1. The most relevant product
  2. The most relevant marketing

Product and marketing usually go hand in hand, and as we enter the virtual events world, the two will become more blended. Where virtual events are free (or very cheap) to attend, your digital event is essentially a substantial content marketing initiative. As has always been the case with content marketing, attention and engagement relies on relevance. The more relevant your content and marketing is to your target attendees, the more likely you are to get, and keep, their attention. And if you have the audience’s attention, you have the sponsorship dollars (and hopefully also some delegate revenue!).

To stand out from the crowd, here is what you need to do:

#1 Know what is keeping your audience awake at night right now

Put together event sessions and marketing messaging that specifically address the issues that are most important and relevant to your audience at the moment. Not only will your registrants turn up to your digital event if it’s highly relevant, they’ll also share your content and marketing with their colleagues and network.


#2 Get a speaker line-up your audience really wants to hear from at this moment in time

The people who have the most relevant and important things to say about the current situation faced by your audience will be your ‘must-have’ speakers. Pay them if you have to – at least you won’t need to also cover flights & hotel costs! For virtual events, having fewer, highly relevant speakers is better than having lots of mediocre speakers. In fact, don’t have any mediocre speakers – only invite the very best and most relevant onto your digital stage.


#3 Create a good customer journey

Your customers need to move seamlessly from landing on your event website, registering for the event, receiving registration confirmation, being updated/reminded of the event, attending the event and then receiving the post-event comms. So, once you have chosen your event product tech, make sure it integrates well with your marketing tech. At every touchpoint, make sure your brand identity is strong, consistent and feels relevant to your audience.


#4 Invest in developing a robust, content-led marketing strategy

A marketing strategy is not only about how many emails you send out or whether or not you use PPC. It’s about so much more than that. It should focus first and foremost on the following two things:

  1. A detailed market map and market segmentation plan: ensure you reach the most relevant audience in large enough numbers, with the most relevant messages
  2. Strong messaging strategy: focused on relevant USPs and benefits addressing your target persona’s needs and motivations at this time

It is essential to nail down these two strategic priorities to make your marketing relevant.


#5 Deploy an integrated, multichannel campaign – focusing on the most relevant channels

A businessperson – regardless of industry – probably spends most of their time hanging out in three places: their email inbox, on LinkedIn and on websites (found via Google). So, when you’re trying to get the attention and build ongoing engagement with your audience, focus on these relevant channels – ensuring all the words & images you put out there (your marcomms) are relevant, consistent and reinforce one another.


#6 Have a great project manager on your event team to make sure things get done

When running a virtual event, you will have many plates spinning and a very long list of tasks that need to be completed in a highly co-ordinated way – at speed. It’s great if your team is using good project management software, but it is even more important to have a person responsible for ensuring the right things get done at the right time. The most relevant content and marketing will fall flat if your execution is not synced. Project management software is not accountable to anyone. Put an actual person in place who is.


#7 Measure all your marketing and make data-led decisions

As you move through your event cycle, measure the impact of all your marketing across all channels. Do this in a granular way and make sure you pull out the most important, relevant insights on at least a weekly basis to inform your marketing going forward. The beauty of digital is all the wonderful data it gives us on audience behaviour and engagement. If you’re ignoring this data, you’re ignoring your customers.


#8 Make sure your marketing database is well structured and includes enough relevant contacts

You cannot reach out directly to the right people with your relevant content and messages if they’re not on your database. And you won’t be able to find them in your database or pull them into a targeted email list if they’re not correctly categorised. The competition you will face in the coming months from other virtual events will be very intense. Having a strong, well-structured database so that you can run effective, targeted email campaigns will give you the edge.


#9 Automate as much of your marketing as possible

Virtual event marketing campaigns work best with a shorter lead time than what we typically would plan for face-to-face events. This means you need to push out your marketing messages in a shorter space of time at a faster pace, and this needs to be highly responsive – so automation is essential. If your marketing is all manual, it will feel clunky and less relevant to your audience and will put a huge amount of strain on your team.


#10 Follow through with strong conversion-focused marketing

Don’t stop your marcomms to an individual once they have registered for your virtual event. Make sure that once they’ve registered they continue on an engagement journey with you – remind them regularly of the value and relevance of your event content and speakers, update them on any valuable new features, such as new networking opportunities, and encourage them to log on at the right moment to participate in your virtual sessions. It is in the last few days and hours before an event when automated marketing really comes into its own.


Nobody said creating a great virtual conference and marketing this effectively would be easy. If it was easy, you’d have started running virtual conferences years ago!

We know that conference organisers, sponsors and attendees are pining for ‘the good old days’ of simple, face-to-face events. But these are not coming back. For the rest of 2020, the world will have an abundance of virtual events to choose to attend and sponsor. Beyond 2020, the standard format will be hybrid events – taking ‘the best of virtual’ and combing this with the ‘best of face-to-face’ to create some very valuable experiences for our customers.

So, at this moment in time, you now have a choice: either embrace the challenge and aim to make your virtual event’s content, speakers and marketing more relevant and valuable than your competitors, or don’t – and get lost in all the noise – in 2020 and beyond.

For further insight on virtual events and advice on how to maneuver the ‘pivot’ from live to digital, read about our webinar case study looking at world-leading B2B events brand, #SMWONE.

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Key insights from MPG’s ‘Pivot to Virtual’ webinar series

With large in-person events unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future due to Covid-19, Toby Daniels and the team at Social Media Week decided in March to launch a new, completely virtual event – #SMWONE – in place of two large scale, flagship conferences that were due to run in New York (May) and Los Angeles (June).

Toby generously offered to share the #SMWONE journey and learnings with MPG’s community (thank you Toby!). So, last week, over 100 of MPG’s ‘friends and family’ joined us for a 2-part webinar series breaking down ground in our industry (thank you friends and family!).

In part 1 of our webinar series, I had a ‘fireside chat’ with Social Media Week founder Toby Daniels to explore the strategy and practicalities of ‘going virtual’.

This was followed in part 2 by a marketing-focused session, where MPG’s Kirsty Joynson and Alicia Drew shared unique insights on how they developed the marketing strategy and then executed an innovative, fast paced marketing campaign to launch #SMWONE – with only a 4 week lead time.

Due to popular demand, we’ve put together a ‘content package’ to share with you:

 

Our top 7 takeaways:

1. Social Media Week have always had a strong digital presence and 365 content-led offering for their community. They’re just taking digital up a notch with a fully virtual, large-scale event – at a time of crisis, when their community really needs the knowledge and networking #SMWONE can deliver.

The most forward-thinking and ‘future-proof’ event organizers think first and foremost about their purpose around serving the needs of their community. Then they think about how best to serve that community – be it delivering and creating value via a 2-day in-person event, or a 4-week virtual event. The format/platform is there to serve the community’s needs in a way that is practical and engaging at a point in time. In 2020 – that’s digital.


2. It’s very important to focus on how you can create something new that is truly valuable for your community, instead of obsessing over when you can ‘go back to how things were’.

Brands that view adversity as an opportunity to innovate for long term success will be the winners. Event organizers that focus purely on cutting costs and damage limitation over the next 6-12 months will fall (far) behind. Our ‘new normal’ will inevitably look different and we should be embracing the unavoidable change, not shying away from it.


3. Virtual and hybrid events are here to stay. The tech you choose must support the needs of your community.

Virtual meetings are not a new idea, they have been around for a long time. We all have a vast (and often confusing!) choice in digital event platforms. Social Media Week chose a new platform from Bizzabo to run #SMWONE because it promises the best combination of features to best serve Social Media Week’s community. Work out your community’s needs first, then choose the tech.


4. A virtual event creates new opportunities (and challenges) for marketing

With the physical constraints of an in-person event removed, marketers can now reach out and engage a truly global audience.

However, virtual events demand marketing that is more digitally sophisticated and precision-targeted, at a higher volume and a much faster pace than live events. This can create significant operational challenges if the right skills and level of resource is not in place.

Plus, event marketers are facing a very new, essential requirement: planning, setting up and running automated and effective conversion campaigns to ensure a high percentage of registered attendees turn up to the event and engage with the content and networking opportunities.


5. There are 5 pillars to marketing a virtual event…

…and they aren’t dissimilar from marketing a live event. These are:

(1)  An effective marketing funnel – with the right message, sent at the right time to the right audience to generate and then convert leads
(2)  An optimized pricing strategy – to achieve the right balance between revenue, delegate volume and attendee quality
(3)  Effective positioning – around your event’s USP and key benefits
(4)  Excellent execution – with a strong focus on digital enablement and automation to achieve the relevance and volume of marketing activity needed
(5)  Ongoing measurement and analysis of results – to ensure ongoing data-led decision making can enable a responsive and high-performance marketing campaign

These will all be familiar to event marketers, but their application must be adjusted to fit the virtual environment.


6. Test and learn is the name of the game

With a shortage of ‘case studies’ on how large, paid-for conferences have successfully transitioned to virtual formats, we need to be brave and truly agile. It’s essential that senior event professionals and their marketers quickly embrace tech and get stuck into working out how to deliver value to their communities digitally. The only way to really know if something will work is to do it. We don’t have time to wait for someone else to do it first to reduce our risk. Move fast and break things. Test and learn. Then quickly switch your focus to building stable infrastructure.


7. Have a back-up plan

Technology will always be prone to hiccups, as the MPG team discovered when our chosen webinar platform encountered technical issues 45 minutes before we were due to go live for ‘part 2’. The world’s fastest platform switch (citation needed) commenced and the stream started on schedule on a different platform. Digital event organizers should be prepared with some ‘Plan B’ options and the ability to make a quick switch if needed. The show must go on!


Part 1: Strategy – Replay

Part 2: Marketing – Replay

During part 1 of the series, our audience members’ combined challenges were prevalent as we saw an influx of questions surrounding both the short- and long-term considerations when taking a previously large-scale conference fully virtual. With input from Toby Daniels @ Social Media Week and MPG’s Alicia Drew and Kirsty Joynson, we have reviewed all the questions and provided full answers here for you to download.

We hope you found the webinar content package useful and that you have been able to gain some valuable new insights on how to approach your virtual event strategy and marketing approach going forward.

MPG contact us

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MPG’s advice and predictions: overcoming the crisis and winning in the new world

The last two weeks have been very busy for my team. Not because we’ve been swamped with new business enquiries, unfortunately. I hope these will come in in a few weeks once the world has worked out that nobody can ever cost cut their way out of a crisis in customer confidence. Especially if most of those cuts are in marketing investment!

So, what have we been so busy with? The phone has not stopped ringing. Clients and others in our network have been calling us to ask the following three questions:

  1. What is everyone else doing with their live events for the rest of 2020? Are they still running them or cancelling them? Or making them virtual or hybrid?
  2. Do you think we should be planning for virtual or hybrid events?
  3. What tech should we buy to ‘digitize’ our events?

 
And in response to these 3 questions, I have said three things:

  1. There is very little, if any, precedent here. So, whatever advice we give you will be based on our best judgement and what we think is logical and sensible. Anyone who claims to have the absolute answers right now is probably someone writing a blog to flog a virtual event platform (I almost got taken in by one of these very well-disguised pieces just this morning…it was the ‘request a demo’ at the end that gave it away…)
     
    AND…
  2. You may be asking the wrong people, and…
  3. You are most certainly asking the wrong questions!

But before we proceed any further: it’s important we’re clear about our very strong views on the future of events. Events will HAVE to either be fully virtual or hybrid in 2020. And from 2021 onwards, anyone who wants to continue running their events in the same way they did before Covid-19 is being at best unambitious and at worst oblivious to how much our world has already changed.

If you’re planning to run live events in late 2020 or early 2021, your PLAN A should be to run these as hybrid events. So, keep your in-person offering on the table and build livestreaming (for content-led events) and digital directories (for tradeshows) into the fabric of your event, making it clear to all stakeholders that all content, showcasing of products and many of networking opportunities will still be available digitally alongside the in-person experience. And also make it clear you have a strong PLAN B to just run with the digital event, should it suddenly become impossible to host large gatherings, or gatherings of any size due to a further ‘waves’ of the virus making more lockdowns necessary.

But to get back to the issue of ‘are you asking the right people the right questions?’…

The conversations I’ve had over the past few days have gone something like this in terms of my response:

“Before you called us, how many of your customers did you call?

Of these customers, how many were in your ‘end-user audience’ i.e. the ‘core’ of your community as attendees, visitors, delegates to your events – the people you attract to your events to buy from your sponsors and exhibitors?

And for those end-user conversations you did have, did you ask them the following questions?

  1. What do you think you’ll need in the coming months in terms of learning, knowledge sharing and networking?
  2. How can we help you get what you need here?
  3. If we were to run all or part of our events in digital format, possibly alongside some in-person events – how do you see yourself participating and benefiting?”

My team and I will always encourage you to ask the above three questions of your community before doing anything else.

And then we will offer you the following six pieces of advice that we think could help you not only save your events and your business, but more importantly, help you take advantage of the immense opportunities facing B2B media and events businesses in becoming ‘community first’ brands:

  1. Make understanding the shape, size and needs of your community your #1 priority.
     
    By this, we mean ‘end-users’ – that valuable audience that you sell on to sponsors, exhibitors and advertisers. Because we tend to ‘follow the money’ and most of this tends to come from vendors selling to our audience, we’re putting the cart before the horse by starting with tactical responses to their needs.

    This can degrade our content and the value we’re creating for the valuable members of communities who make up our audience. Audiences WILL disengage and they will disappear. And then what do you have to offer your clients?

  2. Don’t think about your events just as events. ‘Events’ are just a format. Think about what goes into your events and what makes them valuable.
     
    Ask your core community members what they value most and work out how to serve this up digitally – to replace in-person experiences in the short term and be the ‘core’ of the events product in the long term, with in-person experiences then added on (not the other way around!).

    We’re working on some strategic projects where clients have seen great opportunity in either rolling digital event content into their subscriptions product to create a more community-focused membership offering, or launching a membership with digital event content they’ll be creating (and in some cases have already started delivering).

    The thing to do here and now is to ‘think different’. Essential innovation happens by turning your current formats inside out and upside down and shaking them about to see how you can get the most valuable stuff out and serve it up in a way that gives your community what they need – digital for now, then digital-first with face-to-face added on in the longer term.

  3. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Keep your valuable content and networking opportunities you can facilitate, in-person or online, front and center.
     
    What is hugely valuable right now and potentially unique, is the relationships you have with the ‘biggest names’ and senior decision-makers in the community you serve, along with their confidence in your content and ability to help their businesses move forward.

    Continue to invest in these relationships. They are the key to collecting valuable knowledge from these ‘top minds’ and then curating and packaging up this up for your community – along with facilitating important connections and discussions between people who really need to talk to one another right now.

    You hold a privileged position and have an important role to play in helping your community face their current challenges and identify potential opportunities that may present themselves in the coming months.

  4. Only choose your tech once you’ve worked out what your new value proposition needs to be, based on what your community needs.
     
    Tech companies have fantastic salespeople who usually won’t ask you what you really need before they sell you their kit. So, it is up to you to first figure out what your value proposition should be, then what your requirements are, and only then evaluate what is out there in terms of tech solutions.

    And remember – it is the content you put in to the tech, how you manage the data and customer journeys around and in through the tech and how your people make the tech work for your communities and clients that matters most. No tech can make up for poor content or bad operational delivery.

  5. Double-down on marketing. Invest in the skills you need to make content marketing, marketing data and marketing technology work in the way you need it to.
     
    Of course, I do have a vested interest in recommending this. But the truth is that now is not the time to be cutting investment in the internal people and external partners who probably understand how to make digital events work better than anyone else in your business – the marketers!

    You need strong marketers now more than ever to make your 2020 events portfolio work. Digital and hybrid events need even smarter and a higher volume of digital marketing than traditional live events ever did. Getting your audience to notice, commit to and engage with your virtual and hybrid events will take strong marketing skills and lots of hard work. If you under-invest in marketing over the next few months, you’re making a fatal mistake. Your delegates and sponsors won’t want to invest in your events going forward unless they can see you’ve invested first. And what more obvious way to show them you’ve invested than with good marketing – which stakeholders will notice. And they will certainly notice absent or bad marketing even more.

    Looking ahead to 2021 events: it’s nearly May! If you want your large annual events in the first half of 2021 to succeed you have to start working on the marketing now. Start now in building the strategies, databases and pipelines of sponsor, exhibitor and delegates leads if you want to make 2021 events a success. If your events in 2021 fall flat after the pain you and your event stakeholders have experienced in 2020, you’ll most certainly enter the dreaded ‘event death spiral’ that is almost impossible to reverse.Not investing in planning and marketing your 2021 events – starting now – could cost you everything in the long term.

  6. Help your clients – sponsors and exhibitors – understand and realise the value of digital event formats.
     
    What they may lose in the ‘intimacy’ of in-person events they will almost certainly gain in scale. The digital reach of your events will be far greater than your live events could ever be (if you invest in marketing of course).

    Also consider how you can help sponsors develop and execute their strategies to qualify, nurture and convert leads generated by digital event formats. Instead of taking direct enquiries, orders or doing deals in the live event format, as they’re used to doing, sponsors and exhibitors will have to work out how to identify and engage with their most likely future customers in different ways. So, take the initiative! Set up a ‘sales and marketing taskforce’ to help your clients build and optimise their lead funnels so that they end up with a good and measurable ROI from your events.

We all know that most of the money in the world of B2B events comes from clients. It will take some time to shift our models towards the safer subscriptions-led, recurring revenues. You will notice in our list of top six areas to focus on – I have still put ‘clients’ last. Because that is how the value chain works. Whatever you do, don’t let short term tactical moves to ‘keep our clients happy now’ sabotage the strategic priority of putting your audience first and in so doing creating and looking after your community.

Play the long game. Focus on delivering community-first value and hold your nerve. Don’t let the bumps in the road and inevitable setbacks knock you out of the premier league of the smartest and most valuable B2B community organisations. Like top athletes, winning is about being determined, intelligent, psychologically resilient and laser focused on the end goal.

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