So, the world did not end on 25th May and we had a sunny bank holiday weekend to celebrate! Although a tremendous opportunity for sound businesses, those who won’t admit they got a few more grey hairs and suffered a few sleepless nights from Friday’s GDPR deadline are either overconfident or pretending.. In the B2B events world, we wait in keen anticipation to see what our significantly smaller databases will deliver for us in the coming days. I have great hope – validated by a BBC interview on the weekend where an email marketing expert claimed GDPR will result in email open rates more than doubling from an average of below 20% to around 40%. But what GDPR is all about really is our ‘data strategy’ – an area every organisation should be taking very seriously, as it presents so much opportunity. Data strategy is ‘deep and wide’, to be explored more in future MPG blogs. But a particularly important part of data strategy comes down to two things that are often neglected or ‘undercooked’ in terms of the strategic work that needs to be done up front – even before an event marketing campaign plan is drafted: Clearly defining your target market Understanding the size of your target market In November 2017, in her series of blogs about MPG’s 9 Strategic Success Factors of Event Marketing, Kirsty Joynson focused on an event marketing database as a critical area for strategic attention and investment in order to attract the right quantity and – more importantly – quality of event attendees. Who’s in the room? Having 100 of the right people in our event audience is more important than 500 individuals who don’t fit within our target audience. Volume should never be your primary objective. The foundations of event marketing success are built on a deep understanding of precisely who the target market is and how large that group is. To attain that level of knowledge marketers must ruthlessly prioritise long-term strategic thinking over quick (but less impactful) tactical wins. If you don’t have a crystal-clear picture of the people you are building an event for, how do you reach them or shape relevant messaging for them? And if you’re using legitimate interest for your basis for processing data for direct marketing, how will you prove this if you haven’t clearly defined your target market? A mistake event marketers often make is fixating on the attendees from previous events to inform who they target for future events. The attendee profile of previous events may not be ideal. It is far more important to focus your strategy on who you want in the room in future events, rather than just ‘topping up’ last year’s delegate list. Before putting together a marketing campaign plan, it is essential to clearly define your event’s target audience and have a very good understanding of its shape and size. And you should have these ‘nailed down’ at least nine months before your event to get the precision and coverage you need, and in many cases to be GDPR compliant. Avoid safety in numbers – target those that matter When marketers begin a campaign, it’s tempting to throw out as wide a net as possible in the hope of grabbing quick wins. Safety in numbers is misleading and in fact no longer legal! If you cast a wide net your messaging won’t be relevant enough and your event audience is likely to be ‘poor quality’. To identify the right prospects to target for your event, it is essential to answer the following questions: At company level – what kinds of organisations am I targeting in terms of: Sectors and subsectors? e.g. Finance, and within Finance, Insurance Size? By number of employees or annual revenue Then within these companies – what kinds of individuals am I targeting in terms of: Job function? e.g. Marketing, IT, Operations, etc. Seniority? e.g. C-Suite, senior management, trainees, etc. Segmentation, Segmentation, Segmentation Once you’ve identified your target audience you should then divide it in to segments based on how different groups within your target audience will engage with your event and your marketing in different ways. Segmentation allows you to craft a relevant message that hits the ‘sweet spot’ for each part of your audience. On a technical note, your marketing database must have the capability to cope with segmentation. You may need to invest in improving the way your database is structured and the way in which you can make selections for segmented, targeted marketing. This investment should more than pay for itself, and in the new world where relevance is essential to marketing effectiveness and in many cases running legally acceptable marketing campaigns, you don’t really have a choice! Marketers: your strategic opportunity awaits! Marketing is no longer the ‘colouring in department’. Don’t hide behind pretty pictures, complex campaigns and high volumes of tactical activity. Grab the strategic opportunity afforded to us by GDPR. Every event marketer should be making a significant impact on event success by: Knowing exactly who we’re targeting Understanding the ‘size of the prize’ Segmenting bravely for highly relevant messaging Be brave, be laser focused. Let’s take our events – and event marketing – to the next level.