This article has been written by The Share Theory, a content agency that work with many of the same businesses as MPG’s team of marketing specialists. Key points in this post: Stop asking – it’s ruining your engagement Don’t get distracted by your new business model You see opportunity, your team sees more tasks You might be undervaluing your digital product – don’t guess what your market will pay Grow your non-event inventory In Q1 2021, The Share Theory published a series of reports on the future of events based on in-depth interviews with around 20 event CEOs and founders. They share their experiences of pivoting their businesses during the first year of the Coronavirus pandemic. Three key areas which event organisers needed to tackle were identified: ‘product’, ‘content and community’ and ‘skillsets and mindsets’. Over the last six months, The Share Theory team has been working with industry leaders and founders to help them deliver on these key areas through market research, consulting, training, and content development. It’s been interesting to see how the ideals, plans, and opportunities identified during 2020 have been coming to fruition, and which obstacles have been thrown up for event leaders keen to pivot to a more ‘shock-proof’ business model. Here are some of the things we’ve learned: #1: Stop asking – it’s ruining your engagement Regular event communications have been disrupted by a switch to digital: a proliferation of smaller, more frequent digital offerings, and increasing push communication. Paired with global inclination to Zoom and email fatigue, databases are getting tired, and engagement is dropping through the floor. Push marketing isn’t working any more. You need to ask yourself what your communication gives back to your community, and what two-way conversations you’re having with your audience. #2: Don’t get distracted by your new business model As an industry, our conversations have focussed recently on the key pillars of content, community, and events, but we need to remember these are tools for delivering value, not where the value lies. Communication with clients must deliver on their needs, and not on your planned offering – they’re not looking for formats, they’re looking for interaction, support, and expertise. Prior to 2020, your event business was focused on on-site customer experience over two, three, or four days and all other communications were auxiliary to that. If you want a 360 relationship with your customers, you need to ingrain an understanding of (and passion for) customer needs in every interaction your team has with them. #3: You see opportunity, your team sees more tasks We are usually engaged by senior management to support strategic transition, content projects, or training for event businesses. The owners and CEOs we speak to are driven and excited by pursuing opportunities in the market. The bigger challenge we face is in winning over middle management – heads of function or portfolio managers – who don’t see opportunity, they see an increasing list of tasks and new KPIs to manage their teams to. For a team that has just survived the hardest 18 months of their careers, you need to make the outcomes feel real, and tie the processes to career development opportunities bolstered by training and support to get their full buy-in. #4: You might be undervaluing your digital product The shift to digital has lowered barriers to entry, and flooded the market with digital event offerings and online content. There’s no denying that huge amounts of free content mean that charging for digital events is getting harder and harder. But, don’t assume your market won’t pay, and don’t devalue your work by giving it away with no clear return in mind. I’ve been helping several clients with research projects to test pricing, and the evidence points to the fact that customers will still pay for content driving a clear benefit for them. If your content adds value, it should generate a return and if it doesn’t – why are you doing it? #5: Grow your non-event inventory Some businesses have been able to pivot quickly to non-event inventory if they have strong sponsor relationships in place. I’ve worked on some interesting sponsored reports in particular – surveys build engagement, interviews with advocates build trust, and the reports themselves provide both provide credible market intel, and build brand capital for you and your sponsor. Making non-event inventory work starts with your sales team: get them bought into the value, build them a solid inventory, and make the benefits clear before they get on the phone. You can still access the reports in full here. The Share Theory is a content and research agency which specialises in supporting event businesses pivot to a more communicative, content based business model through consulting, strategic support, training and content delivery. If you’d like to find out more (or for a chat about any of the points made in the report) visit www.thesharetheory.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.