In an increasingly competitive events industry, marketers can no longer take a tactical or ad hoc approach. Strategy is now king. Here, Kirsty Joynson launches a new blog series dedicated to helping event marketers deliver effective, world-class event marketing strategies, plans and campaigns. Putting an event marketing plan together is a bit like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle. But with this jigsaw, the pieces you need are held by many players with different agendas. To succeed you need to not only plan strategically, but start planning early. You need to have a clear vision of what you are setting out to build, how you are going to get there and who you need to work with along the way. With events making up an ever-larger chunk of the marketing budgets and often also revenues across a range of industries, it’s never been more critical for marketers to take a strategic approach for success. Nine pieces to the puzzle As the events landscape gets busier, event marketers cannot stand still. A successful event today does not guarantee, however prestigious, that the next event will be successful. Strategic thinking and influence will increasingly be the differentiator for winning marketers. There are a number of blogs and conferences out there addressing some of the tactical components that go into event marketing, such as email marketing, content creation, social media and the like. But it’s very hard to find a source that approaches event marketing from a strategic perspective. In the coming months I’ll be using this blog to break down the nine-step approach we take at MPG when marketing an event to deliver an excellent ROI. Following this methodology, our most recent project has delivered, on an already hugely successful, world-leading event, a stunning 40% revenue growth YOY to deliver what is now a £3m+ event. For every pound the client spent on MPG’s strategic marketing support, they got £48 back. And this is a common theme when applying this methodology. And because we like to share, we will reveal all of MPG’s nine success factors today. They are: An excellent, content-driven event value proposition – focused on end-users (the ‘buy-side). It is almost impossible for even the best of marketers to ‘put lipstick on a pig’. A full and proper strategic marketing communications plan – for at least 12 months of marketing activity leading up to the event. If your event marketer does not know what SOSTAC is make sure they Google it – fast! A strong marketing database and third party partnerships for best possible reach with your target audience. This needs early planning and in many cases building from the ground up. There are no shortcuts here. A well-positioned event brand with a clear USP that your target audience cares enough about to leave their desks for a day or more, and in some cases hand over cash An integrated multi-channel campaign – where all activities across all channels are integrated and, every marcomms element is deployed in the right way, at the right time The creation and distribution of high quality, valuable and unique content for a genuine content marketing-led approach. And no, this is not about sending out the event agenda or speaker list (the event content), but rather creating stand-alone content strongly linked to the event e.g. an exclusive interview with a keynote speaker A robust and granular measurement and reporting process – ensuring every marketing investment and activity is measured and success is monitored constantly to dial up what is working and dial down what isn’t. Excellent project management – bringing together all stakeholders in & contributors to the event project and ensuring communication and delivery across the whole team is effective at all times. Rigour. Rigour. Rigour. There’s no slacking off in event marketing where you have a limited window of opportunity to market and sell an extremely dynamic product with a non-negotiable sell-by date as a deadline. You either love the almost constant adrenaline rush and obsessive attention to detail – or you are not an event marketer… Let’s be clear, a strategic approach works. We’ve bet our brand on it – we implement this approach consistently across our client portfolio and it continually delivers results. So whether you have an in-house event marketing team or support from an external partner, please make sure you use it too. A big challenge (and even bigger rewards) As well as giving insight into the best way to build a strategic approach to marketing, this blog series will also tackle another big challenge event marketers face: being influential enough to make it all happen. Having the right strategy in place is one thing, but it’s nothing without strong leadership. Marketers need to fight their causes with conviction. We are strong advocates for marketers standing up to be counted, using data and measurement analytics to demonstrate their true value and becoming key leaders in organisations. Planning, preparation and rigorous execution is the key to event marketing. Join us as we help you put the pieces in place to solve your event marketing puzzle.