Why you need a marketing audit, and how to do a good one.

As with every function in your organisation right now, marketing needs future-proofing. But, in a very uncertain world, trying to prepare for ‘what’s coming next’ is really tough. How do we identify and manage our greatest risks? And how do we spot and invest in your biggest opportunities?

Marketing needs particular attention in your strategising and planning because it requires significant and ongoing investment, and is (or should be!) a key driver of revenue. In a recession, marketing becomes even more important. According to a 2020 Harvard Business Review article:

Companies that have bounced back most strongly from previous recessions usually did not cut their marketing spend, and in many cases actually increased it. But they did change what they were spending their marketing budget on, and when, to reflect the new context in which they operated.

#1 Why should I do a marketing audit?

The question you should NOT be asking yourself right now is “How can I cut my marketing spend?”.

The CORRECT question is “What marketing investments should I be making – to survive and thrive?” To answer this question, you probably need a marketing audit.

A marketing audit helps you ensure your marketing approach and investments fully support your business strategy. A well executed audit focuses attention on the data points and benchmarks that show you what’s working, what isn’t, and where your key opportunities are to bring more efficiencies, economies of scale and effectiveness into your marketing function.

#2 How should I approach a marketing audit?

To have impact, a marketing audit needs to be rigorous, and based on an analytical, evidence-based approach.

A marketing audit should consist of the following distinct stages:
Stage 1: Definition of objectives and scope
Stage 2: Information and data gathering
Stage 3: Analysis and benchmarking
Stage 4: Delivery of findings and recommendation – including an operational plan to ensure the right investments are made in the right areas, at the right times, and with the required measures in place to ensure a good ROI.

#3 What should I include in a marketing audit?

The following elements of marketing should be reviewed within a marketing audit:

  1. Your overall business strategy and goals. It is essential your marketers have a thorough understanding of what you are aiming to achieve as a business, otherwise your marketing efforts won’t be well focused.
  2. Your target market, especially their profile, size (total addressable market, aka TAM), and your current penetration of TAM. Your TAM should ideally be divided into market segments that are then prioritised.
  3. The value proposition of your brand(s) and product portfolio(s). What are the ‘problems to be solved’, or ‘jobs to be done’ that mean your highest priority target market segments need and value your product?
  4. Your competitors, and your positioning against your key competitors, with a focus on your core differentiators and USP(s). These should relate directly to the ‘problems to be solved’ and ‘jobs to be done’ – as per above point.
  5. Your marketing objectives, and how success against these objectives is measured and visible at all times. Remember that these need to line up behind your business goals, with marketing metrics that should tie clearly and directly into financial results.
  6. A ‘warts and all’ SWOT analysis of your marketing function – incorporating an evaluation of:
    1. Insight on your customers i.e. what 1st party data you hold on customers, starting with the most basic information stored in your database about your TAM (see point 2 above), and also covering the most advanced useful information you have about levels of engagement and propensity to purchase.
    2. Your marketing systems and integrations for data flow i.e. martech platforms, digital marketing platforms, analytics tools, etc.
    3. Your brand assets i.e. visual branding, messaging, consistency of touchpoints, customer experience of your brand.
    4. Marketing channel and tactics deployed to date, and how these have been optimised to date and how they have performed so far.
    5. Your marketing processes i.e. manual and automated, within your marketing function, between your internal marketing function and external partners (e.g. marketing agencies) and between marketing and other business functions. This includes how marketing strategies and plans are created, and how campaigns are managed and executed.
    6. Your marketing people i.e. overall level of internal resources, skills and team structure (also considering that some ‘marketing tasks’ may be done by people not in the marketing department); external resources/expertise you rely on for marketing to work; and how your marketing function communicates/integrates/collaborates with key external parties and other functions for overall synergies,

Key activities a marketing audit process should include are:

  • 1-2-1 interviews with key stakeholders
  • Group Q&A sessions to gather all the information (sometimes called ‘workshops’)
  • Review of relevant documentation and reports, including org charts, job descriptions, financial data, customer survey findings, process maps, supplier agreements, samples of collateral and content, etc.
  • Review of system set ups and relevant data within systems (via direct access into systems)

#4 Who should conduct a marketing audit?

There is no escaping personal and/or confirmation bias if someone ‘internal’ conducts a marketing audit. Therefore, a marketing audit should be conducted by a suitably qualified ‘3rd party’ i.e. someone not involved in the day-to-day of a business (or business unit), but with a strong background in marketing, in a similar kind of organisation, with a similar business model or product set.

This 3rd party could be a central marketing resource within a large organisation, or a trusted external partner.

#5 What should I expect the output to be?

The party conducting the audit should present findings and recommendations within a comprehensive report, including:

  • Executive summary
  • For every relevant area of marketing (as above) – key findings and recommendations, with clear link between recommendations and ROI to be expected from implementing these. These pages should link to detailed appendices, examples, templates, and analysis as relevant.
  • A recommended investment plan for filling gaps and ensuring marketing is set up for success.
  • A high level recommended operational plan, or ‘roadmap’, on how recommendations should be executed in terms of priority, sequence and timeline.

Be prepared: conducting a marketing audit will in itself require investment and time as it needs to be approached skilfully, and with a good level of rigour. A ‘half baked’ audit will probably do more harm than good, but a well conducted audit should give you incredibly valuable insights, and help you make good decisions about how to invest well in marketing – which should pay for itself many times over.

If you’d like to have a chat about how best to approach your marketing audit, please drop us a note on info@mpg.biz.

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Google Analytics is changing – in a big way. GA4 is coming and you need to pay attention

By this time next year, you won’t be able to collect any more tracking data via your Google Analytics account – unless you have implemented GA4. On 1st July, 2023 Google Analytics will only process new data via their GA4 (Google Analytics 4) properties – meaning you can no longer track any new data via UA. Google Analytics 360 properties will receive a one-time processing extension ending on 1st October 2023, instead of 1st June 2023.

Because GA4 is VERY different to UA, it is very important you pay attention to this change now and start putting GA4 in place as a matter of urgency. If you assume you can just ‘switch’ or ‘upgrade’ with a click of a button, – you’re wrong. If you want to continue tracking, you will need to set up GA4 from scratch, including new filters, conversions, ecommerce tracking etc. Because GA4 data is structured differently to UA, depending on your set up, this may require custom development to ensure everything is tracked according to your business needs.

After 1st July, 2023, you will still be able to access your previously processed data in your UA property for at least 6 months – during which time Google suggests you export your historical data. Eventually, they will stop giving you access to your UA reports in the analytics interface or access to your UA data via the API. This is a big change, so make sure you have an analytics expert – with specific training/know-how in GA4 working on this for you – asap.

The 3 most important things to be aware of:

#1GA4 is a brand new system

GA4 is a brand new system and has to be set up from scratch (you can’t just ‘migrate’ or ‘upgrade’ your current GA set up). It will also take time to get it properly set up and optimised for your business to give you the data you need.

#2No historical data from UA will be available within GA4

No historical data from UA will be available within GA4. So if you require easy year-on-year comparisons, you need GA4 at least activated at a basic level now to start capturing data.

#3You should set up GA4 now

You should set up GA4 now so it starts capturing data straight away, so on 1st July, 2023 you have historical data to use in the reports. We recommend running GA4 alongside UA for a while so you can use UA for your existing reporting while you fine-tune your GA4 set up.


Do you need help putting GA4 in place and optimising it to capture the data you need to run your business well?

MPG’s web analytics experts are trained and experienced in GA4 set up and optimisation, so we’re a safe pair of hands to help you make this critical transition well.

Please get in touch with Team MPG.

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Why marketing events and subscriptions are different (and why this matters)

As business leaders start looking ahead to 2023 and take stock of their full product portfolio, many are asking the same question: “Can – or should – the same marketers work on both events and subscriptions?”

(Within this: events include in-person, hybrid and digital events, and subscriptions also cover memberships.)

As with many important and quite strategic questions, the answer starts with “It depends…”

So, what does it depend on? The following three things:

  1. How important annual revenue growth is to your business.
  2. The importance of subscriptions revenue within your growth mix.
  3. The ‘size of the prize’ and, therefore, how much you should invest in marketing.

If annual revenue growth is very important to your business; and if subscriptions revenue growth in particular is important to your business; and if the ‘size of the prize’ is large in terms of growth, profit and/or exit multiple, then we recommend NOT having the same marketer working on both events and subscriptions – unless they’re well supported by an agency with extensive skill sets and resources.

One of the main reasons why inhouse marketers should only focus on events or subscriptions (but not both), is that events have a hard deadline and need a high volume of marketing delivered in a specific timeframe. This means that if marketers are working on both subscriptions and events marketing, the subs marketing tends to be ignored for a number of months every year – with events getting all (or most) of the attention. This can have devastating effects on recurring revenue as there will be a number of months every year when subscriptions, acquisitions, and renewals dry up due to a lack of attention from marketing. This has an overall negative long-term impact on renewable revenue (with serious consequences for business valuation).

Another reason you should have dedicated marketing resources on events, is that a strong event in a strong market can double in size year-on-year – if your dedicated event marketing effort is planned and executed well. This rapid revenue growth from events is usually very important to strengthen the overall revenue growth rate, and can also deliver highly profitable revenue, providing funds to then invest in growing subscriptions.

When looking for consistent, sustainable growth, it is also worth considering the following 4 aspects of marketing – and how they relate to events and subscriptions:

#1Messaging, marketing automation and the marketing funnel

Event marketing

For events, it is important to remember that most elements of the product (often including pricing) change rapidly in the months and weeks leading up to the event. Therefore, the key messages you need to put out about features, benefits and offers also change over time e.g. this week you may be announcing first speakers confirmed, and next week the key message is about an early bird discount that is about to expire. A couple of weeks before the event, you will want to be pushing out info on the full speaker faculty, and who else will be attending (information you just won’t have 12 or even 6 weeks before an event..).

As the event product is created throughout the event cycle and marketing campaign, fresh new messages will need to be created. The important detail in messaging changes from one week to the next.

On top of the important product-led marketing efforts, content and inbound marketing need to be running consistently throughout an event campaign cycle to constantly draw new customers into the top of the funnel.

Event marketers need to be masters at the top, middle and bottom of the funnel, with direct outreach via email still the most important tactic as customers need to be ‘forced’ down the funnel so they engage and convert in good time ahead of the event.

This highly dynamic messaging means that the opportunities for automated campaigns are very limited. Where you do need to set up automated campaigns to achieve scale, a large amount of manual marketing work is needed to set these up and optimise them, to ensure that an up-to-date (and therefore effective) message reaches the right person at the right time.

For event marketing, all manual and automated marketing requires very intricate planning, strong project management ‘at pace’ and highly efficient tactical marketing delivery – to get a large amount of high quality marketing collateral created and sent out within narrow timeframes.

So, the truth is that for event marketing to be successful, a large amount of manual work needs doing in a highly organised way. How these manual processes are set up and managed makes all the difference to event marketing success.

Subscriptions marketing

For subscription marketing, the product features and benefits tend to remain the same over a long period of time – usually for a number of months at least.

Marketing messaging at different stages of the funnel can remain the same for a longer time period. Automated marketing is therefore not only viable, but usually the most practical and efficient means of achieving strong awareness, engagement and conversions – at the kind of scale that subscriptions should be striving for.

Your marketing should automatically move potential subscribers down the marketing funnel at a pace that suits the customer. This more ‘customer-led’ approach is viable for subscriptions marketing in a way that it isn’t for events, as – unlike events – the subscriptions product doesn’t have a hard deadline, after which it will no longer be available.

Due to the scalability and time factors, automated subscriptions marketing should be personalised with well timed messages, based on what the customer has indicated they are most interested in, and where the customer is in the buying journey.

Subscriptions marketers need to be very strong on branding, positioning, thought leadership, and content marketing. And they must have the ability to map out and set up automated campaigns, and then constantly optimise these for best results.

#2Impactful, mostly manual tactics delivered at speed for events vs. perfecting automated campaigns for subscriptions

Event marketing

Event marketers need to be very strong in planning and executing a range of marketing tactics – at speed. They need to be good at setting and understanding the overall strategy, be very well organised in their day-to-day work, and really great at execution – keeping all the tactics in line with the strategic direction.

Due to very hard deadlines faced by event marketers, they face urgency to convert customers. This means that event marketers need to thrive on pressure and a fast pace. Strong event marketers tend to have a broad skill set, and agile habits that tend to transfer well and can be applied quickly and easily to all types of B2B products.

Subscriptions marketing

In comparison, subscription marketers have ‘softer’ (moveable) deadlines, and therefore, they don’t need to ‘churn out’ high volumes of marketing in a short space of time in the same way event marketers do. They can – and should – spend more time on perfecting every piece of marcomms before it goes out the door, considering and optimising every touch point within the marketing funnel .

The truth is that often the best subscriptions marketers find the pace of event marketing disconcerting and uncomfortable. This is because subs marketers are used to spending a lot of time considering and perfecting every element of a tactical campaign at a pace that is not driven by the urgency and hard deadlines that exist in events.

#3Highly visible outcomes in events

Event marketing

The number and profile of customers that event marketers must attract is highly visible to every event stakeholder – including sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, attendees and internal senior managers. And they need to deliver this audience in a very fixed time frame with a very hard deadline. Unlike subscription marketing, there isn’t time for running trials and testing best approaches before a ‘full roll out’. Testing needs to happen ‘in campaign’.

However, the marketing performance of an event is relatively simple to analyse and report on, because results can be viewed on a like-for-like basis within an event cycle. Results are visible very fast, with a clear ‘end point’, and predictions are easier to make about what final results will be.

Subscriptions marketing

When it comes to subscriptions marketing, the number and profile of customers is pretty much invisible to all external parties. Internally, core KPIs are set and monitored over a longer period and tend to focus on revenue and renewals – rather than who is buying.

In terms of measuring the results, because there are no like-for-like results, and tactics change over time, the success of subscriptions marketing tends to be evaluated by more high level results tracked over a long period of time. It is more difficult for subscriptions marketers to include meaningful benchmarks and comparisons for the results of their tactical marketing.

#4Skill sets matter

The core skill sets of event marketers and subscription marketers are quite different.

Event marketers tend to have a broader skill set, directly handling multiple channels and tactics themselves for both acquiring and winning back customers. In order to do so, these marketers need to be highly organised, excellent project managers and strong in a range of digital tools. They thrive on working at a very fast pace.

Subscriptions marketing tends to work best when a group of specialists work together – each focusing on different channels and tactics. Usually it is also best to have some subscriptions marketers focused on acquisitions, while others focus on retention, because two very different approaches are needed to acquire subscribers, compared with retaining and upselling subscribers.

It is very important that business leaders understand and accept the differences between the marketing of events and subscriptions when considering how best to invest in marketing, and how to get the best structure in place for marketing resources.

At MPG we believe having focused marketing resources is essential for success – which is why a large number of our clients wholly outsource the marketing of their flagship events to MPG, ensuring that these events can grow fast.

Depending on size and circumstances, some B2B media brands also outsource their subscriptions marketing to MPG – especially if their subscriptions and events share the same umbrella brand. This tends to work well because Team MPG includes marketers with the skill sets that cover both events and subscriptions – which is a rare combination, and one that can be very expensive, time-consuming and difficult to build inhouse.

If you would like to discuss how MPG’s marketers handle event and subscriptions marketing – achieving strong results across the board – please drop me a note on helen@mpg.biz. I’d love to have a chat!

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Leveraging the power of advocacy to make your business more resilient

There has never been a fiercer battle for the time and attention of B2B audiences. As B2B offerings become ever-more digital, and B2B customers become smarter and more discerning in how they find the information they need, as well as peer networks they tap into to inform their decision-making, getting and holding the attention of your precious audience is not as simple as it used to be!

As the battle gets hotter, the noise grows – and so does the scepticism of the B2B buyers and their decision-making unit members, all of whom you’re trying to influence with your (expensive) marketing efforts.

So, how do you get ‘cut through’? How do you get on to the list of ‘daily reads’ and ‘must attends’? Just because you tell your audience that event is the largest and best, it doesn’t mean they will all believe you, especially if they have never attended your event before or never heard of you.

Human beings, especially with their professional hats on (i.e. in B2B settings) are a cynical species! And as brand trust becomes more important than ever, they look hard for reasons to trust you before they’re willing to get involved with your brand.

The viewpoints and actions of trusted colleagues, peers and community thought leaders have a huge influence on purchasing decisions. The individuals you are hoping to attract as customers will be watching and listening, to see what others they relate to and respect are doing and thinking.

Someone who is respected in their professional life, and who buys your subscription or registers for your event – and is seen to do so – immediately becomes an ‘advocate’ for you. Your very best salespeople are those who actively share their decision to become or remain your customer, or deliberately recommend your product to their network. They are also probably your cheapest sales people to ‘employ’ and motivate! (That’s not to say you shouldn’t also have salespeople – you just want to make their lives easier, and help them make more money for you, by getting others to warm up their targets first!)

Advocacy marketing, sometimes called referral marketing, is incredibly powerful. But, sadly, it is often not recognised and usually under-valued. Every marketer should have it as part of their toolkit!

Here are some specific ways in which advocacy marketing can help your business be more resilient at the very least – and at best, grow fast and far:

 

#1 Advocates extend your brand reach and build more brand awareness

LinkedIn alone has over 800 million users, with an average user having at least a few hundred connections. These connections are usually highly relevant, meaning anyone advocating for your brand via LinkedIn is reaching 100’s of people who could be your customers.

Other community platforms and social channels such as Guild, Twitter, and Facebook also give your advocates a platform to spread their views – and often these views will be about a specific brand or product/service.

Advocates also spread the word via email by forwarding on the best stuff you send them – so make sure you create emails people want to forward on!

 

#2 Activating advocates is a quick, easy and cost-effective way to find new customers

Your speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, and repeat customers have already bought into your brand and value proposition. You have a direct line to these people, so why not use it? With a bit of extra effort and very little financial cost, you can successfully encourage these people to spread the word.

 

#3 Advocacy increases loyalty with existing customers

Recommending a product to a friend reinforces the buying decision of the advocate, making the referrer think more about why they bought the product in the first place and how it’s adding value to their lives.

Where referral marketing programmes offer rewards and incentives that customers truly value, they also grow the trust the customer continues to place on their brand.

 

#4 You can semi-automate your advocacy efforts, so your reach via advocates can be huge at minimal effort and cost

In our next MPG Insights resource, we will be providing a practical guide to the methodology and tools to put into action to get great results from advocacy marketing. This will include some top tips about marketing automation tools that Team MPG deploys on behalf of our clients – to great effect.



So, make sure you subscribe to MPG Insights so that you get the next resource (and every resource after that!) as soon as it is released. 

And in the meantime, if you’d like to speak to MPG about how to tap into your valuable marketing resource of brand advocates to drive long-term, sustainable growth, please get in touch.

 


 

MPG’s marketing strategists provided us with clear direction on how to establish strong brand positioning. Having MPG as collaborative and creative marketing partners, who focused on delivering marketing assets that we could immediately put into action and gain ROI from, really helped us move forward as a business.

Alex Ayad, Managing Director & Founder, Outsmart Insight


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Database optimisation for a resilient marketing function: a practical guide

Creating robust processes can sometimes feel like you are ‘over engineering’ your marketing. But, creating a step-by-step approach to building, maintaining, and enhancing your database, and then following through consistently with rigour and attention to detail, is what will get you where you need to be.

At MPG we approach database optimisation using a 5-step framework based on the widely used Database Lifecycle Management framework. Here we share MPG’s database development and optimisation processes, with a downloadable resource to use when growing your B2B marketing database.

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF MPG’S DATABASE OPTIMISATION PROCESSES HERE

#1 Data Cleaning

Over time, data can become unusable and may need to be suppressed, refreshed, or removed from your database.

If your database needs a lot of work now, clean and enhance existing contacts via a batch process.  Then set up ongoing processes to regularly review and ensure good database hygiene at all times.

Research ‘email bounces’ for people who have left the business: for every contact that has left a company, you can obtain two new records – the replacement person and an updated record with new contact information for the original record. 

#2 Data Collection

When growing your database, it is important that the right types of data, both basic contact data (such as name, job title, company name, sector, company size) and enrichment data (advanced demographic data that allows for smart segmentation) are collected.

Data collection should be approached via three methods – ideally always running in parallel: 

  • Inbound lead generation via website lead generation forms should produce a steady trickle of relevant contacts that are highly engaged. Web forms are an excellent way to constantly grow contacts, as well as intelligence on your contacts’ interests and demographics. You need to have all other marketing channels performing well to push relevant new people to your website for this to work, especially social media, PPC, and advocacy – as these are the best ways to reach more of the right people currently not in your database.
  • New data acquisition through data research, either using your in-house database research team or a third-party specialist research agency, can generate higher volumes of new contacts more proactively. Although these people should be relevant, they will not be engaged. Adding new relevant contacts to your database through an iterative/batch process approach means you can start directly targeting the right people with engaging email campaigns. Drip feeding new batches of data into your database will ensure good email deliverability – avoiding the spam traps that look out for large new data sets being pushed into email campaigns. 
  • Data cleaning should be ongoing – researching contacts already on your database who have previously bounced or are no longer engaging. As mentioned in #1 Data Cleaning, this method allows you to collect both data for where the contact has moved to, as well as their replacement. 

The performance of newly acquired contacts should continually be assessed. Monitoring the conversion rates of researched data as well as new contacts acquired via inbound marketing, will mean you can adjust your marketing database growth approach in a responsive and intelligence-led manner. 

Database KPIs to consider include: 

  • Number of contacts and % database growth, ideally broken down in to prioritised data sets
  • Conversion rates – of web visitors to both leads and purchasers
  • Total revenue generated from newly acquired contacts
  • ROI in terms of revenue over cost = % age pay back

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF MPG’S DATABASE OPTIMISATION KPIS HERE

#3 Data Usage

Understanding how database contacts will be used by marketing is an important consideration when deciding what data to collect. 

Once a new person has been added to your database, you should send them an intro email to introduce your brand and provide an overview of your relevant products. As a first effort, a content-led email is a fantastic way to warm up new contacts as it is a much softer – and more welcome – approach than immediately sending them a pushier product or offer-led message. The focus should be on lead generation and the email should be positioned as an ‘invitation’. Depending on jurisdiction you may need to include some data protection information, e.g., how you are going to use their data going forward.

New contacts should then be fed into your marketing campaigns so will receive all future emails.

Deliverability of the above ‘intro emails’ should be monitored closely. If below 85%, there is something wrong with the data and the source of that batch should be re-examined. 

Another way to raise brand awareness with your new contacts is to upload them to a PPC channel for retargeting before they receive an intro email. This will warm them up and familiarise the contacts with the brand or product before they receive a direct communication.

#4 Data Storage

When it comes to marketing data, where and how it is stored and organised is incredibly important.

One key rule of thumb when considering your marketing database and tech stack supporting it, is that customer and prospect data should all be stored in one place – or at least in an integrated stack that allows you to manage data properly.

From a marketing perspective:

  • If data has multiple uses (e.g., email, direct mail, telesales), use a dedicated CRM system connected to the marketing automation platform. Salespeople should work with the data stored in the same CRM.
  • If data is only to be used for marketing email campaigns, a marketing automation platform can be sufficient to use on its own. 

The systems used, and how they are configured, will affect how the rest of the data lifecycle is managed. Your systems should include data redundancy strategies (such as backups) and data security strategies (such as storing data) in a way that it cannot be accidentally altered.

#5 Data Maintenance

Properly maintaining data is essential to ensuring that it remains accessible between different teams, and that it is always ready to be used for its intended purposes.

Data can be maintained through both automated and manual processes. Automated processes could include: 

  • automating population of company specific information, such as company type, for contacts where these values are already known, for existing contacts at the same company. 
  • automating the population of relevant segmentation properties based on engagement with your website content and email communications.

Automations should be used wherever possible, but some manual processes such as ensuring the whole business – especially salespeople – are always updating contacts (basic data like email addresses, and enriched data like job titles) as they communicate with customers are just as important. 

If you have robust processes in place to make sure each of these 5 steps is being covered consistently well, then your marketing function, and your organisation, will be well placed to support a resilient and growing business. 


Do you need help optimising, or growing your existing database? 

MPG’s database and martech experts know what it takes to develop and grow a database for high performance marketing that converts. We also know how to optimise existing databases on an ongoing basis in a practical, systematic way that keeps your database in ship shape for highly targeted campaigns.

Get in touch today to find out how MPG can help you attract and convert enough of the right customers to help your organisation be more resilient – and grow.


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4 Things marketers should focus on for international growth

As Chair of Renewd International, I recently had the privilege of chairing the first Renewd International virtual roundtable. These roundtables, as with other Renewd International events, are designed as a confidential space for senior executives from specialised media and events businesses to meet and share insights – with a focus on international growth strategies.

You can read the full ‘key takeaways article’ written by Renewd International Committee Member Carolyn Morgan here. Following Chatham House Rule, Carolyn has only directly referenced, with permission, the contribution of one of the speakers – Andrew Hatcher, Mentor in Residence, Cambridge Judge Business School. Andrew shared some very useful and relevant frameworks and models that apply to growing internationally. These got me thinking about how marketers need to support the international growth of a business. Four important things stood out:

#1 Marketers must have a deep understanding of the ‘What, Why, Who and How’ for an international growth strategy to work, with a focus on the ‘Why’ and the ‘Who’.

What? Who? How? Why?

Having marketers who understand your customers very well is business critical. Every person in your marketing team should know exactly WHO your customers are in terms of demographics, so they can identify and target the right people.

And then having ‘deep knowledge’ of what your customers value most about what you have to offer, and, therefore, WHY they buy from you when they do, is essential for every marketer. 

It is impossible for your marketers to get the right message to the right person at the right time (i.e. do effective marketing), if they don’t take full responsibility for always having a strong understanding of the WHO and the WHY – especially as these change as a business grows and enters new markets.

It often surprises me how many business leaders don’t hold their marketers accountable for gaining and deploying this knowledge in the right way – especially if they’re looking to grow internationally, and as the stakes get higher.

#2 Marketers need to understand how customers currently perceive your value proposition, and what value attributes customers see as priorities.

A good marketer can list the value attributes implicit in your value proposition. A great marketer knows that in order to do great marketing, customers need to be asked how they rate a range of value attributes. 

What is most important to the customer in what you do and how you do it? What is least important? And, as we well know, it’s all about perception..

How do your customers feel about you?

The only way to fully understand the value a customer places on specific attributes of your product, is by doing good customer research. The very best marketers I have ever worked with will push for and champion this kind of research – for very good reason. 

The Renewd International discussion group had some quite firm views on research methods that deliver the most valuable findings – included in the article

Having an optimised martech stack, will also provide you with analytics and behavioural data that should give you some valuable customer insight as you see how customers are engaging with your products (the beauty of digital!). A good marketer gets this and makes it happen.

Using findings from your customer research, along with behaviours visible with a good martech stack and data setup, will enable your marketers to not only target the right people, but also develop a very effective marketing messaging strategy to engage them well. 

When growing internationally, customer insight is especially important as new customers in new markets may well value different things and behave differently to your more traditional customers.

#3 The best marketers know how to leverage your existing value proposition and existing market presence to build ‘growth marketing’ strategies.

There are several ways a product/brand can grow, and leveraging what you already have in place is often the smartest move.

Growth choices

Marketers who can successfully leverage strong engagement and support from existing customers to gain new customers in new markets are winning! 

A key success factor for marketers is being able to capture customer data in a marketing database that makes their marketing work better over time. 

See the recent MPG Insights article on how a well-structured, growing database supports a resilient and growing business.

#4 Marketing leaders, and business leaders, know that good marketing skills are valuable and in short supply. A progressive approach to building a hybrid marketing function can support international growth.

When launching new or existing value propositions into new markets, the question is often raised about whether or not to hire people based in those markets, particularly sales and marketing people. The normalisation of remote working through the global pandemic has changed the game, meaning it doesn’t really matter where your marketers are based. The most important thing is to have the right marketing skills and resources applied to your growth opportunity.

And building a high-performance marketing function doesn’t mean that you need to increase your head count or overheads. We’ve seen a hybrid approach to strategically building a high performance marketing function working well for many organisations, all over the world. 

A hybrid approach, executed in the right way and with the right partners, means that you can focus on maintaining a ‘minimum viable’ internal resource while having the option to ramp marketing activity up and down, and adjust expertise plugged in to your marketing, as needed – with carefully selected, well embedded and well supported external partners . This approach allows for a much greater focus on the ‘science’ elements of marketing, such as marketing strategy development, data, and analytics – which are absolutely critical when enabling any kind of growth, and even more important when ‘future proofing’ international growth initiatives. 

At MPG we believe the marketing function should be held accountable for directly supporting a business strategy, and that a strong investment in marketing is essential for growth. If your strategy is focused on international growth, and you have the best marketing skills integrated into your planning and execution, you’re more likely to get a great return on your international growth investment!

If you are a senior executive in a specialised media/events business, with an interest in international growth strategies, make sure you join Renewd and sign up to our next Renewd International virtual roundtable.

 


 

Working closely with our internal team, MPG developed a strong marketing strategy focused on achieving revenue growth for a key product in our portfolio – including recommendations for a virtual offering. We were impressed by the science and rigour they put into the process. I would recommend MPG as a good strategic marketing partner for a B2B brand.

Anna Knight , VP Licensing, Informa Markets

 


Do you need help defining a marketing strategy that drives growth and delivers strong ROI?

MPG’s marketing strategists have a wealth of experience and expertise in developing high impact marketing strategies for B2B brands. Get in touch to find out how we can help you build a robust marketing strategy that drives revenue growth and consistently delivers against business objectives.

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Topics:

Building a resilient marketing function: do it with data

In our most recent MPG Insights article, we covered why having a high-performance marketing website is so essential to success when it comes to building resilience into your marketing function.

Driving traffic to your website, and engaging your potential customers to ‘pay you with their data’ and make purchases online is just the first step. If you want to be a resilient and growing business, a well structured database that is diligently maintained, and continually growing with relevant contacts is vital to success. 

Your database should be part of a finely tuned ecosystem, integrating with your website and other systems where data is collected, to allow data to flow automatically, and be stored in a way that makes it easy to use in impactful marketing. 

One of the most common mistakes we see when it comes to data, is having lots of the wrong data. The quality of the contact data you collect and store is as important, if not more important, than the volume. 

A database consisting of exactly the right contacts, organised well, allows you to target the right people, at the right time, with the right message. The following basic demographic data and enrichment data needs to be held with each contact record for this to work: 

  • Basic demographic data – this includes data points that you would find on a company website or on LinkedIn such as name, job title, company name, sector, company size (revenue and/or headcount) and company location (country, and also state if in US at a minimum to be compliant with data privacy/protection laws, if nothing else).
  • Enrichment data – this is the data that is going to allow for smart segmentation and includes advanced demographics such as job function (this is different to job title, and is especially important where job titles don’t provide you with a true understanding of the ‘jobs to be done’ by that person), as well as behavioural data points that indicate interest (e.g. attending a webinar, downloading a particular piece of content, visiting a certain web page etc)

So, how does having a strong database help you have a more resilient business? A strong, well organised, database allows you to: 

#1 Grow multiple revenue streams

By being able to identify and target specific market segments, you can quickly create and successfully take to market new products such as webinars, round-tables, memberships, reports and digital products.

#2 Drive higher, more consistent engagement

With a well-segmented database, you can ensure that your marketing communications are highly relevant to the people receiving them, and therefore have maximum impact. High relevance = stronger and more consistent engagement over time. 

#3 Make smarter investments when growing your database

A well-structured database, with robust processes in place, helps provide a clear picture of which potential customers you already have for the target segments you can reach. This means you can quickly and efficiently identify where the gaps are – so that you can take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

If your database doesn’t have enough relevant contacts, and if it isn’t continually being monitored, updated and refreshed, your data will quickly become fatigued, and your marketing won’t have the impact that a growing business needs.

 


 

Next week we’ll share a practical guide to structuring, growing, and maintaining a database that delivers consistent revenue and drive growth for your business. Subscribe to MPG Insights to get notified when the next article is published. 

And in the meantime, if you’d like to speak to MPG about how to optimise or strategically grow your database, please get in touch. Team MPG includes database and martech specialists who have a deep understanding of B2B media/events business models and marketing, and can help you acquire the right quality and volumes of data to achieve your commercial objectives. Read more about MPG’s database development and optimisation services.

 


 

I cannot recommend MPG highly enough. Their commitment and unique expertise in data-driven, digital and integrated marketing has been very valuable to Social Media Week. They’ve been instrumental in helping us build our brand and community online and offline, and their product marketing performance has also been very strong. We’re delighted MPG has been on our team!

Toby Daniels Co-Founder & CEO, Crowdcentric Media (acquired by Adweek)

 


Topics:

Building a high-performance website for a resilient marketing function: a practical guide

In the last MPG Insights article, we covered the role your marketing website plays in ensuring you have a resilient marketing function – and therefore a resilient business. This week, we’re sharing a practical guide to building a high-performance website.

Helen Coetzee Quote

Here are our recommendations for following a common-sense, practical and systematic approach to building and maintaining a website that will deliver strong marketing results, and strengthen your business:

#1 Process, process, process

We can’t emphasise enough how important process is – in every area of marketing. If you follow the right process, you’ll get good results.

Mapping and following processes can sometimes feel tedious, but creating a step-by-step approach to building, maintaining and enhancing your website, and then following through consistently with rigour and attention to detail, is what will get you where you need to be.

Like so many necessary things, having a high-performance website is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration!

Here we share MPG’s step-by-step processes focused on ensuring you get the right website built in the first place, with a downloadable resource of the processes that Team MPG has used time and time again, for consistently good results.

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THE STEP-BY-STEP PROCESSES

Once you have the right website, built in the right way, including the customer journeys and functionality your customers and your team needs, frequent website reviews and ongoing optimisation should be baked into your ongoing marketing performance review and marketing channel optimisation procedures.

This will rely on
(1) Google Analytics, or a similar tool – set up in the right way
(2) A marketing performance dashboard – which we recommend you build in Google Data Studio

 

#2 Optimising for conversions

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) isn’t only needed on your web pages focused on registrations, subscriptions and lead capture. Here are the four main areas of your website where CRO plays a very important role:

(1) Your homepage

This is where you make your first impression with many of your visitors and should clearly articulate your value proposition. Your unique selling point (USP) and value-focused benefits for your customers need to be very clearly and simply laid out high up on this page.

Your homepage should also include clear signposting to further content and information to keep your web visitors clicking deeper into your site, including prominent CTAs pointing to conversion-focused pages e.g. Subscribe Today, Book Now, Download Brochure etc.

(2) Content pages

Content pages should also be focused on conversions by pointing visitors to:
(a) Lead generation forms for downloadable sales materials e.g. Download Marketing Solutions Prospectus
(b) Lead generation forms to access premium, gated content e.g. Request a Demo
(c) Subscriber acquisition forms (free subscriptions) – where your audience can volunteer their data to have free or sample content emailed to them via a newsletter, or other types of email updates.

(3) Pages displaying your ‘packages and pricing’

Focus on simplifying the process for your user to understand what’s on offer and choose the best option for them. You need to make it easy for them to buy from you!

If there are different categories of purchasers with different prices e.g. for events you may charge vendors more to attend events, make sure you display the prices clearly.

And remember to signpost web visitors from this page to the landing pages dedicated to conversions and including forms…see next point.

(4) Landing pages dedicated to conversions i.e. with forms

These are the pages that need the most attention for CRO and where you should focus your testing efforts. Include eye catching, brand-enhancing visuals and engaging copy that compels the user to complete the form, highlighting the benefits to them of taking the time to complete the form and giving you their data (What’s in it for them to complete the form? What will they get?).

Avoid lengthy forms that request unnecessary information, or requesting the same information multiple times.

 

#3 Helping potential customers find your website

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is an ongoing process to ensure your site is always ranking well for the keywords that are most relevant to your audience and product.

SEO is influenced by a number of factors like content, time on site, pages visited and device optimisation. Generally speaking, a good website means good SEO.  Here are some of the key components of the ‘good website’ as far as Google is concerned.

(1) Content, and UX around your content

The accuracy and relevance of your content, frequency of updates, how well your content is tagged, and how seamlessly it aligns to what a visitor is expecting to see (i.e. customer experience), all impact your SEO.

When producing content for your audience, you should always have top of mind both the customer needs and the objective of the content. And then you need to ensure that your marketing campaigns make the most of the content and the overall customer journey you have built.

(2) Technical set up and performance

You need to continually review the technical performance of your site. There are many tools out there, such as Lighthouse, which are an easy way to assess this aspect of your site.

Here are some of the key things to look out for that will impact technical performance:

  • Images and videos: search engines can’t ‘see’ what an image contains, so make sure that all images on your site contain alt text and captions. It is important to bear in mind that images and videos can sometimes have a negative effect on your SEO – especially when video and image files are large and take a long time to load, or when they are low quality.
  • Mobile responsiveness: if your websites are difficult to read and use on a mobile phone, your SEO will definitely be badly affected. Always consider all elements as they appear on a mobile, such as navigation, size of font, length of text, and usability of forms. Getting this right is a combination of good digital design, good functionality and good front end development.
  • Navigation: specifically for SEO, you need to consider how search engines’ bots crawling your website to create their rankings ‘understand’ what your site is all about. To make this work well, include keywords in your navigation elements such a URLs for specific pages, menu items, CTAs and headings.

SEO covers a lot more than what we have shared here, but what we’ve covered should help you get the most important ‘fundamentals’ on place!

(3) Back-links (or links from other websites to yours) are a sure-fire way of increasing your ranking – as long as they are linking from relevant sites. That’s because Google considers relevant back-links to be like positive recommendations to your website. Try to encourage advocates such as event speakers and sponsors, authors of articles you publish and partners to add links to your event on their websites, wherever appropriate.

 

#4 Creating a good customer experience on your website

User experience (UX) of your website will impact your marketing performance, and therefore your business resilience and performance.

The more favourable an interaction your potential user has with your site, the more likely they are to purchase from you and also refer your products to others. The key elements to be mindful of in creating a positive customer experience are:

  • Navigation: the age old adage, ‘don’t make me think’ is well known in the world of UX. Your website user should be able to very quickly and easily find exactly what they are looking for on your site, with minimal effort.
  • Design: when we talk about design, we are not just talking about having lovely imagery on your site. Good site design also includes fonts, colours and imagery that are consistent with your brand guidelines, are visually pleasing in how images are combined with text, and contribute to telling a story that will lead them down the path to conversion.
  • Customer journey: mapping out the customer journeys (the paths users take through your website content) is essential in creating a site that converts. Always consider how different entry points affect the experience. As other marketing channels are pushing users directly to specific pages on your website, it is important to consider the full customer journey including all their touch points with your brand, even before they hit your site.

If you get all of these things done consistently well, your marketing function – and your organisation – will be more resilient!


Do you need help optimising your existing website? Or maybe the time has come to build a brand new website?

MPG’s digital marketing experts and website team of web project managers, designers and developers know what it takes to create and optimise a website for high-performance marketing that converts. We also know how to optimise sites on an ongoing basis in a practical, systematic way that keeps your website in ship shape, and high up in search rankings.

Get in touch today to find out how MPG can help you attract and convert enough of the right customers to help your organisation grow and be more resilient.

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MPG built a great marketing website for HBI that integrates our membership and flagship event. We’re very pleased with the design and functionality, the automated data flow between our website and other systems, and the user-friendly CMS. Team MPG has also set up analytics to give us good visibility of the performance of our website and our other marketing channels. A recommended solution for an B2B membership-led brand.

Julian Turner, Chief Executive, Healthcare Business International


Topics:

B2B marketing is broken. To grow, we need to fix it.

Have you built some great new products over the past 18 months? Are you monetising them as fast as you would like to? If not, what are the blockers? I expect one of them may be marketing.

Like a lot of things in this world right now, marketing in many organisations is broken – or at least, it’s not fit for purpose, and marketers know it. Harvard Business Review conducted a survey in late 2020 where only 20% of marketing managers said they were satisfied with the effectiveness of their departments.

This is a very negative viewpoint, and we try to avoid too much negativity in the content we create for our community. After all, we’re all about working on marketing projects where there is positive investment in marketing to drive revenue and unlock growth. We don’t usually spend a lot of time dwelling on ‘the brokenness of marketing’.

But, in too many organisations, the lack of marketing capability is currently a pressing issue. It is crucial to acknowledge and tackle ‘the marketing problem’ in order to fix it. Simply put, marketing needs fixing if you want your business to survive, let alone grow.

In a pertinent article from HBR, one of the ‘new truths’ about marketing after the pandemic is that marketing is at the center of the growth agenda for the full C-Suite. To quote a key part of this article:

during the pandemic, marketing has been elevated within the C-suite as a driver of digital transformation, a key leader of the customer journey, and the voice of the consumer — all of which are of paramount importance to other functional leaders. Without understanding the zeitgeist of the marketplace, in good times and bad, the C-suite cannot adjust to the threats and opportunities at hand and successfully navigate the future.


Strong marketing starts with strong marketers

To attract and retain good marketers, you’re going to have to think hard about the function that marketing serves in your business. 

If you want the best marketers in your team – whether they are in-house, freelance, or if you’re partnering with an agency/consultancy like MPG, you need to give them the opportunity to make a real impact on your revenue and growth. 

The question we always ask ourselves when deciding to work with a potential new client is: do the senior executives in this business see marketing as a key driver of revenue and growth? Or, do they simply see their marketing team as the people who ‘update the website and send out emails’?

The best marketers know that marketing is a revenue and growth driver, and want to be strategic in their approach. 

In May 2021, Mark Ritson wrote an excellent article for Marketing Week about how marketing tactics without marketing strategy is dumbing down the discipline. Not only is this damaging to marketers’ careers, but it is a serious threat to businesses in general, as strong marketing is essential for survival and growth, now more than ever. 


Fixing marketing starts with a strategic approach

A good marketer will become demotivated very quickly if forced to spend all their time delivering tactical marketing activity without a proper marketing strategy in place, with no sight of marketing strategy development being supported by the business. 

There is nothing more soul destroying for a good marketer than having to send out email campaign after email campaign, knowing they’re are not reaching the right people, with the right message, at the right time; knowing that content marketing and inbound channels are being neglected; knowing this is resulting in disengaged audiences; knowing that not only are they being ineffective, but that they are also being hugely inefficient due to a lack of investment in marketing automation, data and analytics. 

A good marketer will want to fix marketing, and fixing marketing needs to start with strategy. As Mark Ritson says in his aforementioned article, “we need an urgent re-centering of marketing back towards strategic fundamentals.”

But, a marketer (even a good one!) cannot fix marketing without executive support. Fixing marketing starts at the very top of the organisation, with initially acknowledging that a more strategic approach to marketing is needed to monetise products and ensure strong, sustainable revenue growth. Having a great sales team is always a key revenue driver (of course!), but investing in sales alone (or mostly) is very short sighted. Strong, robustly delivered, and consistently strategy-led marketing is essential for success. 


What does ‘strategic marketing’ look like?

There are eight areas of marketing that are typically neglected by a highly tactical organisation. They don’t get attention, they don’t get investment, and very often, they’re not even understood. 

These areas form the basis of strategic, growth-focused marketing. As you read about these eight things, be sure to make an honest assessment of whether these get enough attention, or are even properly understood, by the senior executives in your business.

To be a strategic, growing business you need to: 

1. Understand your total addressable market (TAM)

Know how much of your TAM you currently serve; how you want to grow your presence in your TAM (especially in your ‘core’ TAM); and what headroom remains for future growth.

Here is a helpful resource from HubSpot on what TAM is and how to calculate it.

2. Set SMARTER marketing objectives

Pin down what success looks like. Make this specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound, evaluate, and re-evaluate.

See SmartInsights’ Dave Chaffey’s article about how to set marketing objectives.

3. Have a differentiated, clear and compelling position in your TAM

Understand your full competitive landscape, and define what makes your value proposition unique in a valuable way to your core TAM.

Forbes recently published a great piece about the practical process to follow for effective brand positioning.

4. Divide your TAM into meaningful market segments

Prioritise these segments for targeted messaging, and have the marketing tech, digital and data infrastructure in place to track and analyse engagement and conversions for key segments.

5. Create and deploy targeted, relevant messaging

Know what jobs your customers need to get done, what their personal work goals are, and what is holding them back from getting these jobs done and achieving these goals. Create well crafted, benefit-led marketing messaging that specifically addresses these pain points, and deploy this consistently throughout all your marketing channels and campaigns.

See MPG’s step-by-step guide to building a winning messaging strategy.

6. Optimise ALL your channels

Deploy a multi-channel approach to generate brand awareness, brand understanding, engagement, and conversions.

Invest in every part of the funnel in the right way, making sure every social post, every email and every landing page is a compelling touchpoint that your customers just can’t ignore, guiding them on a journey they find informative and interesting.

7. Measure it to manage it

Define metrics that will help you track your progress against your marketing objectives. Set up your martech and digital marketing to measure how every part of your marketing is working.

Constantly use these metrics to make evidence-based, data led decisions about where to invest for growth.

See MPG’s blog: How to get more intelligence into your marketing for a stronger ROI.


Get marketing engineers to build a sustainable marketing function for sustainable growth

In so many areas of business right now, ‘sustainability’ seems to equate with ‘hybrid’. Marketing is no different. 

These days, I find myself saying (many times) to senior executives:
Marketing is now big, and deep, and wide. You need a hybrid marketing function that includes marketing generalists and marketing specialists. You therefore need a combination of internal and external resources (also a hybrid approach), or at least a dedicated team of marketing operations and digital specialists within your business to support your generalist marketers.  

Generalist marketers are essential for strategy development and overall management of marketing activity. 

But, there are definite marketing specialisms that require dedicated expertise and resources to enable marketing activity that engages and converts. These specialisms cover data, martech, analytics and digital channel optimisation – usually in 3 or 4 different expert individuals. These are your ‘marketing scientists’ if you like, the highly logical, analytical and technical gurus – the ‘engineers’ in your marketing team. Without these engineers your marketing will break, and no one will be able to fix it.

See MPG Insights article about creating a robust, sustainable marketing function: a strategic, hybrid approach.


Marketing strategy + marketing engineers = long term revenue and growth

To wrap up, here is my plea…

Take the right steps in your business, right now. Invest deliberately and effectively in marketing for the long term. Marketing, utilised properly, is an investment with measurable ROI. 

Get skilled, strategically minded marketers on board, no matter if they’re inhouse or external. Or, at least hire someone with the potential to become a great marketer, and invest in their training and development. Avoid, at all costs, hiring a lacklustre marketer with a very tactical mindset, just because you’re desperate. You will be taking your business backwards, and you will regret it. 

Motivate your marketers by making marketing important in your business. 

If you don’t invest in marketing strategy and a scientific approach to your marketing over the long term, you will stay in the frustrating hamster wheel. 

Marketing, done well, unlocks growth. Please believe in it, and support it.


Working closely with our internal team, MPG developed a strong marketing strategy focused on achieving revenue growth for a key product in our portfolio – including recommendations for a virtual offering. We were impressed by the science and rigour they put into the process. I would recommend MPG as a good strategic marketing partner for a B2B brand.

Anna Knight, VP Licensing, Informa Markets

MPG have been a valuable marketing strategy partner to Kademy’s leadership team. They have helped us decide how best to invest in marketing based on the stage we’re at with our business, and have also given us very practical advice on various marketing initiatives around ABM, content marketing, social media, PPC and website optimisation. Having MPG’s marketing expertise plugged i to our business gives me confidence we’re moving our marketing function forward in the right way.

Alex Hentschel, Managing Director & Co-Founder, Kademy


Do you need help honing your marketing strategy?

MPG’s team of experienced and skilled marketing strategists can provide your business with specialist advice on how to boost your marketing ROI. Get in touch to find out how we can help you get ahead.

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Topics:

Conference marketing: brand, community, data, technology and skills

The pandemic rages on, but we keep moving forward. Since the start of last year, conference organisers have been severely challenged and many have risen to this challenge with great courage and aplomb. 

Some conference-focused businesses are now even more profitable, and certainly stronger and more sustainable, than before Covid-19 entered our world. 

Team MPG has been looking hard at what has differentiated the pandemic ‘winners’ from the ‘losers’ in the conference world, especially when it comes to the marketing to attract an engaged, high-quality audience, and the right kinds of sponsors. 

We have found the following five key success factors:

#1: Brand

From the day the pandemic struck, there was a flight to safety. Conferences with well known, well-positioned brands, and a strong reputation for delivering something uniquely valuable and important, found their audiences following them online as they pivoted to virtual. 

These well-branded and smartly positioned conferences also found that:

  • They attracted a vast number of new customers who were delighted to be able to access content and networking opportunities that were previously inaccessible to them.
  • A brand-new group of sponsors cropped up who were very keen to invest in new, digital offerings.
  • New products spun out in the digital space gained good traction quite fast.

#2: Community

The ‘family and friends’ of valuable conferences recognised very quickly that what was going to be offered online by the brands that had relied on and trusted to that point, was going to be incredibly important as they navigated the stormy seas of Covid-19.

Conference organisers that had already invested in their brands, and building meaningful relationships with their communities, had the upper hand when moving online. However, there was one caveat – what they delivered online had to be tailored to the needs of their audience, and not to the needs of their sponsors.

The Zoom calls, webinars and conferences that went online became an important place for humans in lockdown to find solace, friendship, safety, and a way forward – as part of a community that became even stronger with online interaction at a time when in-person meetings were just not possible.

#3: Data

Data is a vast and daunting topic, but the most successful conference organisers always utilise it fully.

Those who had strong marketing databases that are well-structured and surrounded with good processes, have generally found their transformation to becoming more digitally-led businesses much easier and more rewarding than those running their email campaigns out of spreadsheets…

And, conference organisers who know how to use analytics to track audience engagement and user behaviour were in a great place to test and learn, fast. They have been able to observe, in real time, how and where their audiences are engaging, and act fast to make the most of the best opportunities to scale their digital offerings.

The conference organisers that continue to invest in their database and analytics going forward will be the definite winners in the race ahead.

#4: Technology

It seems almost unnecessary to mention technology as an important success factor in the response to Covid. Of course, tech has played a huge and central role.

What we have observed is that the companies that have been smart at investing in implementing and optimising the right marketing tech, integrated with their virtual event platforms, have a distinct advantage. We expect they will reap the rewards from these smart tech manoeuvres for years to come.

#5: Skills

All the above relies on the right marketing skills applied to your brand, community, data, and technology. What has the pandemic meant for conference marketing people and skills?

Marketers are now being tasked with marketing a whole array of products and delivering much larger, engaged audiences. To do this, they must ensure that: 

  • The value and user-friendliness of their digital and in-person offerings are well communicated with compelling, relevant messages delivered via multiple digital channels, many of which needed to be automated (more on that later in this blog).
  • They have well-structured and large enough database of relevant contacts for impactful email marketing.
  • They are using inbound tactics and channels effectively to reach out to much larger audiences, extending well beyond the relevant people on their database. Content marketing, social media, PPC, advocacy marketing, conversion rate optimisation, and SEO have all become incredibly important.
  • They are automating a large part of their marketing, especially for digital events where audiences need highly responsive, highly personalised messages landing in their inboxes at exactly the right time.

A large volume of data-led, digitally enabled, compelling and engaging marketing of new products has had to be delivered in a very short space of time.

At the same time, marketers have also been given many ‘product’ and ‘logistics’ areas to look after. Being the most digitally savvy function in a conference business meant that conference marketers have been put under tremendous pressure, while also being given the opportunity to make a huge difference to ‘surviving and thriving’ in response to Covid. 

It’s a shame that so many conference organisers saw marketing as the place to cut costs as the pandemic took hold. 

It appears that the conference organisers that decided to increase their marketing investment instead, and deploy their marketing assets in the right way, not only did better in their pivots, but are now also in a stronger position to bounce back faster as live events return and the world economy starts recovering.

MPG predicted this would be the case at the start of the pandemic. We warned businesses not to let their marketers go, to double down on their marketing investment and take their branding, communities, messaging, data, and tech very seriously. This is of course not surprising we are, after all, a team of devoted and zealous career marketers! 

But, I think we’re right. 

We will watch with great interest and excitement as live events start to return, and the reborn and brand-new conference businesses emerge from their ‘Covid-era states’. 

We firmly believe the winners will be those who have made strong and smart marketing investments to deal with the challenges and grab the opportunities presented by Covid and will continue to do so.

 

“I cannot recommend MPG highly enough. Their commitment and unique expertise in data-driven, digital, and integrated marketing has been very valuable to Social Media Week. They’ve been instrumental in helping us build our brand and community online and offline, and their product marketing performance has also been very strong. We’re delighted MPG has been on our team!”

Toby Daniels, Founder, Social Media Week (Acquired by Adweek)

 


Do you need some marketing muscle to grow your conferences?

MPG has a team of experienced and highly skilled conference marketers who can give your events a boost. Get in touch to find out how MPG can help you get ahead.

Find out more

Topics:

The future of event marketing

In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the world of B2B events into a very sudden and deeply disrupted state, which is continuing well into 2021.

The Share Theory’s recent expert-led report ‘Re-imagining B2B events, How has 2020 changed the way event companies will operate in the future?‘ includes some excellent insights from senior events professionals on the profound changes that will shape the future of events.

As a marketing consultancy and agency, Team MPG has worked with a range of event organisers globally to not only cope with this rapid change, but to also make the most of emerging opportunities. And it is quite clear, from MPG’s vantage-point, that the disruption to B2B events is still peaking.

In our day-to-day work with senior executives in the events world, many have asked us the following question: “To future-proof my events business, how will our event marketing approach need to change?” To find the answer to this question, here are some key things every events leader should consider:

  1. Event marketing (not just your event) should now follow a community-first approach
    Some leading events were already moving towards a more community-focused, year-round offering; COVID-19 just accelerated this trend and has turned it into a necessity. So, when building your event marketing strategy, consider first and foremost how you need to build your community. MPG’s recent blog on how to approach building communities will be a good guide for you here.
  2. Building digital-first, community-led, hybrid brands is the way forward.
    In a well-balanced portfolio of digital and F2F products, events of various types are likely to always play an important part in how brands engages with their audiences throughout the year. But, digital needs to come first and we need to switch our thinking from ‘event’ to ‘brand’. See MPG’s blog on how 2021 will be the year of hybrid communities.
  3. Marketing databases need more attention and investment than ever before
    Focusing on ensuring you have a very strong, well organised and compliant database to use for email campaigns is not ‘old school marketing’. It is more essential than ever. For virtual events, email is still one of the best ways to engage and convert people to turn up and stay tuned in. And there is little point to investing heavily in content marketing, inbound marketing and lead generation via data capture forms if the data you capture does not feed into a well organised database.
  4. Digital event content is rocket-fuel for community engagement and lead generation
    Virtual events deliver easily created videos, slide decks and intelligence captured via audience interactions such as surveys and polls. If you’ve got your virtual event content strategy right, these will be very relevant and valuable to your community, resulting in extended digital engagement and sharing within the community. This ultimately results in a good number of high quality leads (if your marketing is set up properly to capture and manage these!)
  5. Optimising customer journeys via journey mapping, data and analytics is essential for success
    Content, messaging and medium need to be as personalised as possible in terms of relevancy and convenience. Your digital offering and F2F events will be most ‘sticky’ if you give the audience what they want, where they want it and when they want it – in a seamless and integrated way. Event marketing campaigns and event consumption need to be more deeply integrated with other products i.e. memberships or subscriptions and other events.
  6. A strong messaging strategy is needed as virtual events become more than just online versions of their in-person counterparts.
    A poll conducted during MPG’s recent webinar on B2B event marketing found that three-quarters of event organisers plan to run virtual events even when COVID restrictions no longer demand them. We should expect virtual events to continue to evolve and improve. Event marketers will need to focus on developing strong messaging for virtual events focused on value, benefits and the enjoyment factor – all important for convincing easily-distracted office workers to commit their time and attention (and in some cases money).
  7. Optimised websites will become an even more important focus area for marketing.
    Website performance should be a key KPI for event marketers – demonstrating how both inbound and outbound channels are performing to attract, engage and convert customers online. And how the event website is integrated with the product delivery platforms will be a key part of enabling strong performance. A lot of this is very new to event marketers, so this is likely to be a very challenging area for some time to come.
  8. The right skills and mindset are critical. Event marketing experience is more optional, but definitely helps.
    Event marketers need to think strategically and execute with sharp digital skills. It is essential they grasp the concepts above and have the ability to incorporate what is required into their virtual event marketing approach.

The disruption to B2B events over the past 12 months has been as painful as it has been exciting and rewarding – so the change to how event marketers need to work will be painful, exciting and rewarding. And, as with all change, this needs to be carefully managed and your marketers need to be supported through the change.  Having a strong event marketing function, backed with the right level of investment and executive support, will be critical for success.

If you’d like to explore how your marketing can achieve a stronger ROI as the ‘future of events’ becomes a reality, please get in touch here. We’re always happy to have a chat with anyone who is as passionate about great events and high performance marketing as we are!


How will you grow your event and community revenue in 2021 and beyond?

With strong audience acquisition and commercial marketing knowledge, MPG delivers all aspects of marketing for virtual, hybrid,  in-person events and B2B communities. From strategy development to delivering digital campaigns, MPG is the chosen marketing partner for organisations who want to achieve strong revenue growth.

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Looking to upskill your team in events or community marketing?

Upskill your whole marketing team with direct access to our trainers in our digitally delivered, interactive masterclasses:

Want something bespoke? We can create a training programme for your team that is specific to your needs – in a format that suits you best.

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We’ve worked with MPG across a range of our most important events for a number of years. They are a key part of our team. Operationally, they are knowledgeable, focused, open-minded, creative and disciplined. Strategically they are good thinkers, blending an ambition for the possible without losing touch with the practical. I highly recommend the MPG team as value creators and a safe pair of hands!

Tim Lucas, Managing Director B2B, BAUER MEDIA GROUP

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The Marketing Mix | The Best of MPG

At MPG’s ‘virtual HQ’, we’ve been working hard at creating and sharing the resources we believe are essential for:

  • Transforming your marketing function – to give you the most ‘future-fit’ marketing team possible
  • Turbocharging your marketing performance – so that your marketing investments deliver a strong ROI

Your free MPG Insights blogs, webinars, e-books and guides have hopefully helped you grow your B2B audience engagement, while also enabling strong monetisation via events, memberships and subscriptions.

We’ve created every resource to deliver actionable and practical insights and tips to make your marketing work better.

This newsletter collates for you The Best of MPG – a summary of all of our most popular blogs and resources into one easy to read email digest. Please pass this on to your colleagues and friends!

We’re also delighted to let you know about our free Strategy Chats Webinar Series, taking place on the first 3 Fridays in March. Joined by an exceptional line up of guest speakers, these quick-fire briefings will cover ‘all things marketing strategy’ for B2B Communities, B2B Memberships and B2B Events. Register for free today.


Our top MPG Insights Blogs


Useful Resources


Not to be missed – upcoming webinar series


FREE WEBINAR SERIES
MPG Strategy Chats: Marketing for B2B Media and Events
5th, 12th & 19th March 2021

March will see MPG hosting a series of free webinars focused on strategies, ROI metrics and key success factors for B2B community marketing, B2B membership marketing and B2B event marketing.

To find out how to ensure marketing is a key success driver in your business, come along to this ground-breaking, 3-part Strategy Chats series.

MPG’s marketing strategists will be joined by the following expert guest speakers:

  • Andrew Brown – Co-Founder & Chairman, FUTURE INSIGHTS NETWORK
  • Mike Hepburn – MD, FT Forums & Board Director Programmes, FINANCIAL TIMES
  • Anna Knight – VP Licensing, INFORMA
  • Tania Marshall – Global Marketing Director, FINANCIAL TIMES LIVE
  • James Mayes – Co-Founder & CEO, MIND THE PRODUCT
  • Laura McQueen – Managing Director, LEADERS IN SPORT
  • Carolyn Morgan – Managing Consultant, SPECIALL MEDIA
  • Simon Murray – Head of Marketing, Money 20/20, ASCENTIAL
  • Julian Rose – Director & Co-Founder, ENVIRONMENT ANALYST

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Get essential marketing training for your team

Whether you’re looking to upskill your whole team through tailored, in-house training, or want to join fellow marketers from around the world on one of our open courses, MPG Academy has a training solution to fit your needs.

MPG recently delivered very relevant training for me – helping me a lot with my marketing planning and practical implementation of best practice marketing. The course materials they provided were phenomenal.

Claire Clilverd, Global Head of Commercial Marketing, INFOPRO DIGITAL


Your B2B Marketing Partner

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Our Areas of Marketing Expertise

Delivering winning marketing strategies, outsourced marketing and training to help B2B-community focused organisers engage, monetise and scale their target markets, audiences and customer base.

  • Marketing strategy
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  • Marketing technology
  • Online event technology
  • Marketing performance analytics & reporting
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MPG are true experts in their field. The work they have done for our business to date has been of tremendous value.

Robert Stead, Managing Director, SENSE MEDIA

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