5 areas of strategic importance for your marketing in 2023

Newsletter • Winter 2023

 

2022 was a year of recovery and return to growth for many B2B media and events businesses, achieved with a laser focus on future-proofing through building resilient marketing functions.

As we reflect on 2022, and optimistically look ahead to another year of growth and scale, we wanted to share the most popular MPG Insights from 2022 on the topics that we believe will continue to be important in 2023.

#1 GA4 – a new frontier in tracking and analytics

Enhanced analytics is coming! 10 years after the launch of Universal Analytics (UA), Google is retiring it for GA4 (Google Analytics 4). GA4 will provide marketers with better user journey mapping, engagement insights and enhanced data visualisations… but this will mean you can no longer track any new data via UA. Now is the time to be transitioning to GA4 to avoid gaps in data and insights!

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

#2 1st party data – the gold standard in B2B data

More data means more opportunities, but this needs to be the right kind of data! A targeted and growing customer data set, that is compliant, well structured and well maintained, while being enriched by every engagement with an audience member, and fed into well-designed intelligence reports, is one of the most valuable assets a B2B media or events brand could own.

READ THE FULL ARTICLEFurther reading: A practical guide to database optimisation

#3 Integrated outbound marketing – an essential tool for event marketing

Event marketing relies on getting the right messages, to the right people, at the right time – with events taking place on a fixed date, this time sensitivity is a fairly unique challenge. Any successful event marketing strategy uses outbound marketing as a key area for driving these messages to potential delegates. Email marketing needs to be used all the way down the marketing funnel and email communications need to be fully integrated with delegate sales campaigns.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

#4 Investing in spex marketing – hyper focus on your most important revenue stream

For many B2B events businesses, growth in revenue from sponsors and exhibitors has been vital to their total growth strategy. However, specific marketing to drive well-qualified, new business leads for the sales team to convert into clients has been neglected. Business leaders who want a strong performance in 2023 need to invest in spex marketing to generate and nurture new business leads for shortened sales cycles and increased spex revenue.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

#5 Advocacy marketing – attracting and converting more of the right customers

Having an amplification strategy that enables you to accelerate growth by tapping into your strongest brand advocates and most loyal customers is a cost-effective and relatively easy way to attract more of the right kinds of customers. These brand loyalists could be customers that purchase from you time and time again, key contributors to your product such as speakers of advisory board members, and your own employees. In 2022, we saw some significant developments and good results from some tech tools that automate the advocacy process.

READ THE FULL ARTICLEFurther reading: Activating employee advocacy


Get in touch with Team MPG to find out how you can add more science to your marketing – so your campaigns always hit their mark!

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The importance of investing in spex marketing

As sponsors and exhibitors come back to live events, growing spex (sponsorship & exhibitions) revenue has become an important focus for many B2B event organisers. Without strong growth of this important revenue stream, events businesses may find they don’t have the funds to invest well in the customer experience for event attendees. This in turn will compromise an event’s ability to maintain or gain a market leading position – something that will be very important as we move forward in to 2023 and beyond.

So, how should B2B event organisers go about proactively growing their spex revenue?

Consideration needs to be given to the following two realities:

  1. Spex sales people generally (and understandably!) prefer to focus on retaining and upselling returning clients, rather than trying to find new ones. And when it comes to targeting ‘new business’, spex sales people will often leave approaching potential new spex clients until it’s too late to bring them on board..
  2. In a challenging economic environment, it may not be viable for event companies to hire more spex sales people so that ‘new business’ gets more sales focus.

Therefore, the smart way to grow spex revenue may well be to do more spex marketing.

Why is it important to invest in a dedicated SPEX marketing campaign – separate from your delegate marketing campaign?

It is important to attract new sponsors so that an event can have a strong year-on year performance, and ideally grow in revenue and attendance. And to attract the new sponsors, spex marketing needs to:

#1 Start earlier than delegate marketing, due to:

  • A longer sales cycle, due to the significant investment that sponsors will be making in the event of both time and money. It is important to consider all of the stakeholders typically involved in a sponsor company, the preparation needed, and the cost – not only of the sponsorship fee but also all the other related costs of travel and accommodation of multiple attendees and shipping exhibition stands, materials etc. This longer sales cycle is especially important for new sponsors who will take longer to convince and get to commit..
  • The need for sponsors to commit early to get a good ROI from their sponsorship – so their branding, thought leadership and lead generation activities can be activated across a longer time period leading up to the event. This increases the value of the sponsorship and therefore should enable a higher average order value.
  • A higher conversion rate needed and expected for ‘lead to sale’ for sponsors, due to the effort that needs to go into a more consultative sales process compared to delegate sales.

#2 Focus messaging about a different value proposition than what is put forward for delegate marketing.

#3 Focus on lead generation – rather than closing a sale online.

#4 Include some lead nurturing activities specifically focused on further warming up and qualifying – before a spex sales person can call or speak to the lead. During the early phases of generating spex leads, marketing activity such as PPC, advocacy marketing and content marketing help to engage potential leads and “warm them up” to be ready to speak to a sales person.

#5 Be measured differently – with KPIs focused on number of leads, conversion rates, average order values, and length of sales cycle.

It will be difficult to grow event revenue and profit without attracting new sponsors and exhibitors. But, at the same time, it is important sales teams are very focused on retention and upsell of spex customers who are already familiar with the event and are already established clients. So investing in spex marketing, by using inhouse resources or an external agency, should be a high priority for any ambitious events business!


Do you need help with growing your spex revenue?

Team MPG can help you attract new sponsors and exhibitors with targeted lead generation marketing campaigns. We can also help you nurture existing opportunities to increase conversion rates, increase average order values, and shorten sales cycles.

Please get in touch with Team MPG to see how we could help you.

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Promoting your conference: the importance of integrated outbound marketing

Outbound marketing is a key area for an event marketing strategy – driving key messages directly to potential delegates to get important, time sensitive messages in front of the right people at the right time.

The most important direct marketing channel for promoting events is still email marketing, as this channel needs to be used all the way down the marketing funnel. Another important direct marketing channel is delegate sales, which needs to be fully synced with email campaigns.

Here is a ‘how-to guide’ to get the best results:

#1 Create an email plan, and sync telesales with this plan

It is essential to have a clear plan around outcomes you are looking for, and what is needed to achieve these outcomes.

Email is an essential channel for creating event awareness and driving event registrations, so an important first step when promoting any event is to map out well-timed email activity in the weeks leading up to an event, considering event programme development milestones (e.g. speaker announcements and agenda releases) and other significant dates (e.g. public holidays etc).

All stakeholders in your events team should have full visibility of this schedule of planned emails and the key messaging planned for each email, as this schedule should set the pace for programme development and all integrated marketing activity.

It is particularly important to sync your delegate sales with your email campaign schedule, as sales people should be reinforcing the most current marketing messages going out via email.

For best results, it is important to concentrate on delegate sales efforts, to ramp up just after an email has gone out, and in the week or two leading up to an ‘earlybird’.

#2 Driving online registrations, generating and converting leads

Email marketing should both directly drive online registrations and generate leads that can then be converted to registrations via further lead nurturing emails, and also by delegate sales.

Your delegate team should only be contacting past delegates, as well as the people who have become qualified leads via marketing, e.g. have downloaded an event brochure or registered their interest in attending an event. Calling ‘cold’ people who have shown no interest or have only clicked on one email won’t get a very strong ROI on delegate sales (an expensive channel!).

#3 Use delegate sales in the right way for the best ROI

Here are some tips on how get best results from delegate sales:

  • Timing and approach: align delegate sales efforts with important milestones (programme announcement, pricing deadlines, 3 weeks before the event starts) within the marketing channel plan to achieve the best engagement and messaging in calls.
  • Create clear telesales briefs: this document should include key event information from event dates, venue, prominent speakers, audience profile, sales targets, how a sale is attributed, and reporting processes.
  • Sales collateral:
  • Scripts: provide short scripts for delegate sales to reference when talking to a prospect. This script should be updated as messaging develops and changes throughout the campaign, and should also be based on the profile of the prospect they’re speaking to. Additional consideration should be given to their level of engagement and stage in the buying process.
  • Email templates: marketers should provide salespeople with email templates containing the most relevant messages. This will ensure messaging consistency and enable salespeople to be more efficient.
  • Feedback: it is very important for delegate sales to give marketers and other event team members, particularly conference producers, regular feedback on what they’re hearing directly from customers about what they find valuable (and not valuable) about the event, how it is relevant (and not relevant) to them, and what will make them book – or why they don’t want to register or buy a ticket. This important customer insight should be fed into the product development process so that the producer can continue developing the programme to be as valuable as possible, and so that marketers can ensure the messaging they’re using in all channels is relevant and resonates well.
  • KPIs: as delegate sales is the most expensive marketing (highest cost per person contacted), and because it can be an incredibly effective driver of delegate revenue and growth, it is very important for the salespeople to have clear KPIs to work towards and be measured on. KPI reporting to evaluate delegate sales productivity and ROI should focus on two areas:
  1. Outcomes – including number of sales made, conversion rate, and average order value.
  2. Activity – including number of effective calls per day, and average call length.

Within the next few weeks we will be sharing more guidance on how to use email marketing in the best way as a marketing channel for conferences, and also the role that advocacy is now playing as a highly efficient channel – especially when using automation tools.

So please subscribe to MPG Insights if you have not done so already. Subscribers are notified as soon as a new article or resource is published.


Do you need help developing a conference marketing strategy to grow your flagship event?

Team MPG has a wealth of experience in developing marketing strategies for B2B conferences. Our deep analysis and rigorous approach gives business leaders peace of mind when making strategic investments in their marketing.

Please get in touch with Team MPG to see how we could help you.

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Marketing lead time: a key success factor for every conference

A basic principle of marketing is getting the right message to the person at the right time. This is especially important when the product you’re promoting is an event, as events are so time-sensitive. They have a fixed timeline and ‘sell-by date’. If you don’t get enough marketing out early enough, you’ll miss your chance to capture the audience you’re aiming to attract to the event.

People are busy – especially the professionals and senior executives who typically form the audience for most conferences. Their diaries fill up very fast, and far in advance. So, you need to get early awareness, engagement and interest from your target delegates – otherwise you’ll miss your window of opportunity to get your event into their diaries as a firm commitment.

Ideally you want your targeted delegates to register early, i.e. weeks, if not months ahead of your event. Not only does this make it easier to plan your event in terms of logistics – it also significantly reduces your financial risk.

Another upside of bringing in bookings early is your ability to leverage early registrations to sell even more delegate places (using FOMO), and being able to leverage a strong delegate list to sell more sponsorship and exhibition spaces ahead of the event – assuming this is an important revenue stream for your business.

To commit early to your event, at the very least your target audience should know when and where your conference will take place. Early on, they should also understand why attending the event would be a valuable enough experience or a good enough use of their time, compared to other ways they could be spending their time. If it is worthy of commitment, they will diarise your event dates early on – as well as required travel time to and from the event if it’s far from where they live.

Potential delegates may also need to pitch for some budget to cover the cost, but from MPG’s experience – cost is very seldom a barrier if an event is worth attending. For senior executives in particular, their reputation, profile, network and time are the most precious currencies.

Any money a senior executive has to spend on attending an event – even if several thousand £/$/Euro – is generally a much less important consideration than the time it will take and what it will do for their reputation, profile or network. When evaluating whether or not it’s worth attending your conference, they will look for value-for-time before they look for value-for-money. And generally speaking, a senior executive will have enough room in their budget for the events worth attending.

Having said that, all of MPG’s experience tells us that everyone loves a bargain! So, even where you’re marketing to the most senior executives, early-bird discounts are a good way of getting early bookings – as long as the early-bird deadlines are well timed, the discounts are big enough, and the marketing campaigns are organised in the right way to make the most of this pricing tactic.

Coming back to the concept of ‘lead time’, all of our experience also tells us that if your conference marketing campaigns don’t reach the right people early enough, with the right messages based on where you are in the event production cycle, your attendee numbers will suffer.

Here is a simple how to guide on all things ‘lead time’ – the term we use in conference marketing to refer to one of the most important elements of timing of marketing campaigns:

#1 What is lead time?

Lead time refers to the number of weeks between the launch of the full marketing campaign, and the date of the event. By ‘launch of full marketing campaign’ we mean releasing the following information:

  1. Dates and venue of the event
  2. Event theme, key speakers and overall ‘shape’ and format of content programme
  3. Who else is likely to be attending
  4. The benefits of attending, arising from all of the above
  5. How to register to attend an event, sometimes requiring a purchase of a delegate ticket (typically this would be a self-serve online process, and/or via a sales person).

#2 What should your lead time be?

When determining the best lead time for your event, it is important to ask these questions:

  • Is your event an in-person, hybrid, or virtual event?
  • How senior is your target audience?
  • Do a large number of your delegates need to travel far to attend the event?
  • Is your event a small, quite frequent event, or does it only take place once a year, or every two years?

Generally speaking:

  • When you’re asking delegates to pay to attend events, a longer lead time is needed than when promoting free to attend events.
  • If your event is fully in-person or hybrid with an important in-person element, you will need a longer lead time than when promoting a virtual event, especially if delegates need to travel a significant distance to attend your event.
  • The more senior your audience, the longer the lead time you will need.

Here are some guidelines based on event type:

  • In-person/hybrid conference where the majority of your delegates are paying to attend – approx. 35 to 28 weeks lead time.
  • In-person/hybrid events where the majority of attendees are free (exhibitions) – approx. 20 to 16 weeks lead time.
  • Virtual event (paid delegate tickets) – approx. 28 to 20 weeks lead time.
  • Virtual event (free to attend) – approx. 12 to 8 weeks lead time.

It is important to bear in mind that it is essential to keep promoting the event with regular communications via multiple channels in the weeks between launch and the event taking place, with marketing activity needing to ramp up in the last few weeks before the event takes place to maximise attendance.

#3 What are the other milestones within a timeline that a B2B event marketer should be mindful of?

To get the best results from an event marketing campaign, especially for a paid-for conference style event, here is what we recommend (having seen a lot of evidence over the years that this is what works best – across events in all industries, globally):

  • Bookings should open and ‘save the date’ email campaigns should start at least 6 months before the event.
  • A draft agenda including at least 50% of the speakers and content should be published on the event website no later than 16 weeks leading up to the event.
  • A final agenda containing at least 90% of speakers and content should be published on the event website no later than 12 weeks before the event.
  • If you plan to use early-bird pricing for your event – which we always recommend for paid-for events to create a sense of urgency and bring revenue in early, here is what we recommend (dependent on number of early-birds planned):
  • For 3 early-bird price breaks, it is best for them to fall within the following intervals before the event:
  • 8 to 10 weeks
  • 4 to 6 weeks
  • 2 to 3 weeks
  • For 2 early-bird price breaks, it is best for them to fall within the following intervals before the event:
  • 4 to 6 weeks
  • 2 to 3 weeks

#4 What are the additional benefits of a good lead time and well structured timeline?

Having sufficient lead time for an event allows you to invest in key strategic priorities and channels at the beginning of the campaign e.g. conducting more research into media partners, and inviting them on early, or time to improve the user experience for your website.

Not having enough time to plan ahead and optimise your all your channels throughout the campaign will mean you’re missing out on delegates you could have attracted to your event.

Furthermore, a ‘good’ lead time allows you to develop your database: by drawing people to your event website over a longer time period across multiple channels, especially inbound channels, you can convert more to known prospects and leads as they enter your database via form completions on your website.

In a post-COVID world, amidst an uneasy economic climate, MPG has found that most successful events are those that lead their market. You cannot be a market leader if you take your event to market later than you should. .

So make sure you get your lead time right if you want to win the events race ahead!


Do you have the required experienced and skilled marketing resources to give you a good lead time on your events?

Team MPG can provide the resources and know-how you need to be a market leader. To turbo-boost event growth, our clients outsource event marketing to us – often for their highest growth, flagship events.

Get in touch today to find out how Team MPG can help you.

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Paid media: how to attract more delegates to your conferences

Paid media – sometimes referred to as pay-per-click (PPC) and digital advertising – is a conference marketing tool that has seen increased interest and investment in 2022.

Its popularity stems from its ability to cost-effectively drive more awareness, leads and revenue for B2B conferences. As a form of online advertising, it also affords marketers a high degree of control and visibility over performance, making it a safe investment when marketing budgets are under scrutiny.

How does paid media work?

Paid media comprises platforms such as Google Ads, LinkedIn Advertising and Facebook Ads. In essence, it is any online ad where advertisers pay for every click.

Marketers define how ads are targeted, using criteria such as job titles, industries, interests, behaviour (e.g. people who have visited your website before), and intent. The latter is how the popular Google Ads Paid Search functions – targeting users based on the relevant queries they are searching in Google, allowing them to be targeted at the time when they are researching solutions that conferences can provide.

Why paid media should be in your marketing repertoire for B2B conferences

  • It allows reach beyond your existing data pool to new, relevant contacts; expanding your dataset and driving more leads and revenue for your conference.
  • It can also support other existing marketing efforts such as email and social media, creating another touch point for your audience to engage with, keeping your conference front of mind.
  • It can also reach, nurture and convert relevant contacts all by itself. The various targeting methods available across channels allows a full-funnel approach that can be conducted solely on paid media.

3 things you should do with paid media for conference delegate marketing

1. Create a robust plan before spending a penny

  • Understand and lay out what you’re trying to achieve. Define success upfront.
  • Divide your budget between the relevant channels and campaigns.
  • Tailor different channels/campaigns/ads to different objectives i.e. stages in the funnel.
  • Ensure messaging is consistent with other channels and ties into customer journeys and the funnel.

2. Ensure visibility of performance and results

  • Ensure conversion tracking is active. Always use tracked links.
  • Understand which metrics matter – depending on what you’re trying to achieve.
  • Use tools like Google Data Studio to consolidate performance data and present in a way all stakeholders can interpret.

3. Leverage the fast pace of conference marketing

  • Urgency-based messaging works well for event-focused paid media campaigns.
  • Use paid media for ‘break news’, such as agenda releases and keynote speaker intros.
  • In the final weeks, narrow geographic targeting and use devices like countdowns to inspire FOMO and maximise ROI.

3 things to avoid with paid media for conference delegate marketing

1. Don’t underinvest, or expect immediate results

  • Clicks are cheap, but you won’t convert everyone.
  • Finding the best approach to PPC takes time and first party data.

2. Never leave your campaigns unattended

  • Review campaign performance at least once a week, ideally daily at the start of a campaign, and then twice a week.
  • Adjust your approach based on the performance data you generate. Make changes to your targeting options and refine to what works best.

3. Don’t neglect your website

  • Ensure landing pages work for ‘cold’ paid media contacts.
  • Utilise lead forms to capture data.
  • Leverage content to capture relevant search queries and increase website engagement.

Overall, your strategy and the skill and rigour that goes into execution will – together – make all the difference to how paid media can drive good attendance and delegate revenue for your events.


Want to find out more about how paid media could boost your conference marketing?

Team MPG can help ensure all PPC results are measured and analysed correctly, so you can see the return on your PPC investment. We will create a strategy, detailed plan and then execute your PPC campaigns for optimal results – so you can get more of the right people to attend your events.

Get in touch today to find out how Team MPG can help you achieve success with PPC in your conference marketing.

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MPG Newsletter | Autumn 2022

Newsletter • Autumn 2022

 

Investing well in marketing leads to business success and growth

Marketing has never been more important in B2B. Now is the time to ruthlessly focus on ensuring your marketing budget is being spent on the right things.

“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.”
HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW

Investing well in marketing will be essential to surviving and thriving in the coming months – and years. This means you need to:

✔️ Add as much science as you possibly can to your marketing.

Customer insight, 1st party data, tech, analytics, and data-led strategy must now be built into every marketing function – no matter how large or small your organisation.

Sufficiently relevant, personalised and impactful marketing campaigns can only be possible if you have a strategic, analytical approach, and the right level of investment in your martech and data infrastructure.

✔️ Reduce your data and martech debt – now.

Before it’s too late, put in place:

  1. A well structured database – with good coverage of your target market
  2. Smart marketing automation tools – much more accessible now than a few years ago in terms of cost and user-friendliness
  3. A well-integrated tech stack – with well set up data flows

The longer you carry a legacy of low investment in these essential areas, the more it will cost you to ensure your marketing is effective in the future, especially if you want to grow your business.

By paying attention to the critically important above-mentioned areas, you can get exactly the right messages to exactly the right people, at exactly the right time.

The quality of the content and creative elements you add to your marketing campaigns will certainly also make a big difference. But you need the scientific elements in place first to make sure these campaigns hit their mark.

In this issue of the MPG Insights quarterly newsletter, we focus on how a scientific approach to marketing can make a difference to every business. We highlight the things that senior executives and heads of marketing should be paying close attention to right now when it comes to future marketing investments:

#1 When was your marketing last audited? Do you know where your gaps are?

Your business will suffer if you spend blindly on your marketing. You need to understand which elements of your marketing are performing well, which areas are performing poorly, and where your biggest and most important gaps are.

To ensure a strong ROI, and to future-proof your marketing, you need to know how different types of channels and tactics you have used have worked so far. You also need to know whether the systems, processes and people you need for success are in place.

The MPG Insights team have written a ‘how to’ guide to help you invest in a good marketing audit – so that the money you spend on marketing in 2023 and beyond will deliver a strong return. Questions answered in this resource:

  1. Why should I do a marketing audit?
  2. How should I approach a marketing audit?
  3. What should I include in a marketing audit?
  4. Who should conduct my marketing audit?
  5. What should I expect the output to be from a well-run marketing audit?

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

#2 Do you have the marketing skills you need in your business? How will you get the missing skill sets plugged in where you need them?

Your marketing audit will probably tell you there are skill gaps in your team. Some will be critical.

Team MPG have created many resources for leaders considering how best to go about getting all the marketing skills they need in their marketing team. Here are our top 3 most relevant pieces for leaders right now:

  1. Creating a robust, sustainable marketing function: a strategic, hybrid approach
  2. Copywriting: how every B2B marketer can improve this skill set
  3. Don’t take marketing skills for granted: they’re precious and need investment

Enquire about MPG’s Academy for essential marketing skills development

#3 Have you activated advocacy as a powerful marketing tool?

Activating and leveraging advocacy is an important way to get your message out to more of the right people. You can gain almost instant credibility, as well as the trust of a potential customer, based on a recommendation or endorsement from someone they already trust. That ‘someone’ is your advocate – and could be an employee, supplier or customer.

To help MPG’s community get to grips with advocacy marketing, and to understand how to use it to grow rapidly and profitably, we’ve created a number of relevant resources. The top 3 are:

  1. A guide to advocacy and referral marketing
  2. Leveraging the power of advocacy to make your business more resilient
  3. Employee advocacy: unlock this powerful marketing channel

Find out more about how MPG approaches Advocacy Marketing

#4 How well integrated are your marketing and sales processes and KPIs?

Your business will never reach its full potential if your marketing and sales are not well integrated. And marketing and sales integration needs to be approached strategically and holistically – with your customers, and their experiences in dealing with your business, at the very centre of every process.

Take a close look at your marketing and sales funnel. Is it joined up? Are your marketers playing the part they need to at every stage of the funnel? Are they focused on generating, nurturing and qualifying leads? And are your sales people focused on the bottom of the funnel, where they can work their best magic in selling to people who are ready to buy?

Do you have integrated marketing and sales metrics and KPIs – where your marketers and salespeople are all working towards the same end goal, and are rewarded for achieving success together?

These are the KPIs your marketers and salespeople should be focused on (together):

  1. Number of leads
  2. Conversion rates
  3. Number of sales
  4. Average order value
  5. Length of sales cycle
  6. Total revenue

 

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
PETER DRUCKER

Download MPG’s guide to sales and marketing integration

#5 Are your website analytics tools delivering the value you need? And is your Google Analytics update to GA4 – so you don’t lose data?

Not having the most basic website analytics tools in place means you really are flying blind.

Relying on anecdotal evidence from your marketers or sales people is going to hold you back from growing your business. Not having the metrics to tell you how your customers are engaging with your website could be fatal – especially in the current business environment.

If you use Google Analytics, GA4 is the new version you need to put in place very soon. As a team of digital-first, analytical and data-led marketers, Team MPG have been through extensive GA4 training, and ensured GA4 is well implemented for websites we work on, to deliver essential customer insight. Have you done the same with your marketing function?

This MPG Insights article explains how, quite soon, you won’t be able to collect any more tracking data via your Google Analytics account, unless you have implemented GA4.

It is also important to note that there are a number of significant differences between Google’s current Universal Analytics (UA) and GA4, such as not being able to track through the use of 3rd party cookies. This means you won’t be able to easily deploy GA4 without training – even if you’re an expert in UA.

We strongly recommend – as an urgent priority – that you ensure you have strong analytics expertise plugged into your business. This may require training of current internal staff members, or you may want to hire in an analytics specialist (if your business is sizeable). The other option you have is finding an external partner to implement GA4 well for you. The same partner should then be able to help you pull valuable data from GA4 into your business, as ongoing intelligence, to enable de-risked, data-led, decision-making.

Read MPG’s guide on GA4


Get in touch with Team MPG to find out how you can add more science to your marketing – so your campaigns always hit their mark!

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Employee advocacy: unlock this powerful marketing channel

Advocacy drives earned media, and as growing earned media coverage should be part of every content marketing strategy, how to drive advocacy should also be top of mind for every marketer.

Earned media builds awareness and establishes brand trust, so the sharing of content via earned media (beyond your owned and paid media) is what opens up exponential growth in awareness, engagement, and customers.

What is advocacy, and how does it enable earned media?

Advocates are customers, prospects or stakeholders who willingly share their personal endorsement of a product or service, often by recommending it to their network. This kind of public endorsement is earned based on an advocate’s good experience and level of satisfaction.

By successfully identifying and engaging with potential advocates, and then activating them successfully, it is possible to attract and engage more of the right kinds of customers, prospects and stakeholders very efficiently, and at scale via earned media.

Advocacy extends your brand reach, builds more brand awareness, strengthens a brand’s positioning, and can also increase loyalty of existing customers.

Employees are your organisation’s most important stakeholders. Being able to successfully activate employees as advocates should deliver great reach and outcomes from earned media via employees’ networks.

Advocacy from employees in particular should build strong levels of trust in your organisation, brand and products – relatively rapidly. People trust people they know more than they trust ‘faceless’ businesses, so your employees’ public endorsements of your organisation or brand (e.g. via social media) will help you activate earned media in a way that other marketing techniques won’t be able to.

Make advocating easy for your employees

Employees have the audience and trust of their peers. Harnessing that power of social media for your company means that your employees need to get involved.

Here’s how you can help them:

  1. Provide ready-made banners for employees to add to their social media profiles.
  2. Tag employees in social posts so they see the posts and can easily like or share.
  3. When you have posted something on social media that you would like your employees to share, send them the specific link to the post via email or your internal messaging app.
  4. Provide software for your employees that makes advocating quick and easy. Examples include:

Consider starting a dedicated employee advocacy programme

We recommend trialling your employee advocacy programme with your most highly engaged employees initially before pushing it out company-wide. This allows you to test the process and iron out any issues.

Here are the steps to start an advocacy programme:

  1. Set objectives for your advocacy programme. These should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely), and should support the strategic marketing goals of building brand awareness and positioning your brand in the best way.
  2. Create content that can easily be shared by your employees – whether that be social posts, blog content, podcasts, or videos, you need to be able to create and publish a steady flow of content that your employees will want to share as the content is relevant and valuable to their networks.
  3. Set sharing guidelines. Providing a short list of ‘dos and don’ts’ will give your employees confidence to share more as they will feel comfortable about what they’re sharing. You should also communicate to your employees the benefits of sharing content and practical considerations for how they get hold of the content.
  4. Provide training for employees on how to use social media and how best to advocate for your organisation and brand, should they wish to do so.
  5. Share content ideas with your employees on the kinds of things to post and share.
  6. Measure the value of your earned media – once your employees have started sharing the content, you can measure the success from your employees’ efforts. Compare them back to your initial KPIs and SMART goals. Compare how this introduction has increased your revenue or sales.

Employee advocacy is generally overlooked as a great opportunity to slot something compelling and impactful into your marketing. Those who pay attention to this area and execute on employee advocacy well should find their efforts help them stand out from competitors – achieving the all important ‘cut through’ that is so precious in the attention economy of today.

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How to get all the marketing skills you need – when you need them

At a recent Renewd virtual roundtable discussion that I was privileged to chair, we heard from our hugely impressive and inspiring guest speaker Monique Ruff-Bell of TED Conferences.

The overall round-table discussion theme was “Leadership challenges and opportunities in a post-pandemic world”, and during this very dynamic session the following key points really stood out for me:

  1. How important it is for business leaders to really understand the perspectives of those ‘further down’ in the hierarchy of an organisation, especially in roles they themselves have not worked in. Only by trying to put ourselves in their shoes, can we see the value they can offer and how to help them grow and reach their full potential.
  2. How we need to embrace diversity in all its forms if we are to build better businesses, including diversity in ethnicity, religion, gender, personality, and also importantly – how people think, and therefore, communicate.

This got me thinking about a key marketing problem in nearly every business I have encountered over the past 10+ years of consulting and running an agency. And this may well be the biggest thing holding your business back – especially if you are looking to scale profitably.

And here it is…

Many business leaders, most of whom have never held a marketing role, expect the impossible from their marketers. They have never walked in their shoes, or even tried to.

One person is expected to have strong competencies in a wide range of areas that vary greatly and require completely different skill sets and natural strengths. Businesses often expect the same marketing person to be great at copywriting AND tech implementations, or database development AND design, etc. 

Businesses often hire junior, inexperienced people as marketers (because they’re cheap and available), and then don’t provide the support and training these people need to succeed. 

Sometimes they hire more senior and experienced marketers, and because they’re paying them more, expect them to deliver a depth and breadth of tasks simply impossible for one person to handle. They want strategically strong people to also be very good on all things ‘hands on’.

This results in frustration (for all parties) at best, and failure of a marketing function at worst.

To counteract this issue, it is important to recognise the five marketing skill sets that every business needs (see our blog from December 2020), and accept a diverse team of marketing ‘thinkers and doers’ will be needed to deliver all the skills you need.

Some of these marketing skill sets can sometimes be combined into one role – if the person in the role has the experience, aptitude and interest in the relevant areas.

And it is important to recognise that certain elements of marketing, particularly the very technical aspects, are often better outsourced – for three reasons:

  1. Certain types of marketing specialists are scarce to the extreme (especially in data, martech and analytics), so are difficult to hire and retain.
  2. An ‘all in-house’ marketing function that includes all resources and skill sets you need, full time, can become expensive and difficult to manage. Some specialist skill sets and flexible resources needed may best sit externally – to compliment what you have inhouse.
  3. There are some marketing specialists you may not need full time, all year-round. Often to be most effective, a marketing specialist’s work is best focused on specific projects that are time-bound, and with set deliverables. Unless they have a pretty full quota of ‘business as usual’ tasks to work on a daily basis, then project based resourcing, using consultancies, agencies and/or freelancers, may be a better option.

The most successful marketing functions we have seen over the past ten years have found ways of working in a highly collaborative and integrated way with strong external partners – over a long period of time. This has enabled them to easily outsource elements of their marketing as and when needed, and thereby always have access to the best skill sets and a good amount of flex in a stable and scalable hybrid marketing team.

Circling back to the Renewd discussion, it is important for business leaders and marketing leaders to take full responsibility for building diverse and fit-for-purpose marketing teams. They need to walk in their shoes, and see their perspectives when it comes to working out how best to build a strong marketing function.

This includes supporting them in working out what needs to be done inhouse and what should be done by external partners, and then ensuring the right level of executive sponsorship is in place to support the marketing function to succeed.

Want to know more about Renewd and the online round-tables you could join?
Find out more at https://renewd.net/. Join the community with a free basic membership here.

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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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MPG Newsletter | Summer 2022

Newsletter • Summer 2022

As live events roar back in 2023 – are you ready to take the top spot?

For the past two years we have seen great uncertainty across almost every part of our lives. This uncertainty has created particular challenges for organisations that rely on live events for revenue, profit and growth.

The good news is that MPG has seen bright green shoots in live events – indicating they are already making a strong comeback.

For the 2022 live conferences and exhibitions that Team MPG has been working on, we’ve seen registrations and revenue matching 2019 figures. Based on these results and strong engagement in event marketing metrics we’re tracking, 2023 looks set to be a strong growth year for many.

When it comes to achieving strong growth for 2023 conferences and exhibitions, there are two important things to consider:

  1. Every event should be treated as if it is a new launch: many delegates, sponsors and exhibitors have fallen out of the habit of investing their time and money in your event, so they need to be enticed back as if they were new customers. Your event product also needs to match the higher expectations that customers now have around value, convenience and experience.
  2. In 2023, the new order of market leadership in events will emerge – and it’s an open field. Events that were front-runners pre-Covid will need to work hard to reclaim their top spot, and the challengers now have a unique and limited opportunity to claim the leading position.

We believe that the way in which your event is taken to market will make all the difference to successfully winning back customers and acquiring new ones. To be the #1 ‘must attend’ event in your space you’ll need to have a robust, data-led event marketing strategy, well set up digital marketing and data infrastructure, and the very best, on-target and on-time event marketing execution.

And to make sure 2023 is as strong as it needs to be, you need to start working on your event marketing strategy and investment plan sooner rather than later!

In this edition of our newsletter we focus on some recently published MPG Insights blogs and resources that focus on the biggest revenue growth opportunities, including: commercial marketing, expanding into new markets, and advocacy marketing.

We hope you find the guidance and insights in these pieces useful as you push ahead with your future growth planning!

 

You are not currently a subscriber to MPG Insights, but we want to make sure you received this newsletter anyway as it addresses some of the most urgent marketing issues many organisations are grappling with at this time. To become a subscriber (it’s free) – please sign up here.

#1 Commercial marketing to grow sponsorship revenue

Over the past 3 months, we have seen a significant increase in the attention being given to commercial marketing.

Commercial marketing is a broad term we use to describe the marketing that supports the generation and growth of commercial revenue, i.e. revenue from sponsors, exhibitors, and advertisers.

By using the right mix of marcomms and marketing automation, you can generate and nurture leads of potential sponsors and exhibitors to efficiently drive strong growth in commercial revenue.

 

The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.
Tom Fishburne, Founder & CEO, Marketoonist

 

Interestingly, the methodology required for commercial marketing is similar to what is used for high-value subscription or membership product marketing (and also SaaS product marketing). The difference with commercial marketing, especially if focused on event revenue, is that it is time-bound. Therefore, the approach used needs to reflect that urgency required.

See our recent MPG Insights piece, where we explore the opportunities and challenges around investing in commercial marketing for revenue growth:

READ THE FULL ARTICLE


#2 Marketing considerations when expanding into new markets

Do you have a growth strategy that includes entering new markets? Here are 6 practical marketing considerations from an MPG Insights piece we published in late May:

  1. Be clear about your specific goals
  2. Understand your target audience very well – your messaging may need to be adjusted for a new market
  3. Find and activate the right brand advocates in your new markets
  4. Manage your data well, including considerations around GDPR and other country-specific data privacy and marketing laws
  5. Invest in the right marketing technologies to enable expansion and scalability
  6. Develop a marketing dashboard to monitor expansion progress and ROI

READ THE FULL ARTICLE


#3 The importance of leveraging your advocacy marketing

Advocacy marketing has become more important as brand trust becomes a bigger issue. Advocates lend you important credibility and help you get past innate cynicism (especially in B2B!).

Here are 4 ways in which advocacy marketing can help your business be more resilient and potentially grow faster:

  • Advocates helps extend your brand reach and build more brand awareness
  • Activating advocates can be a quick, easy and cost-effective way to find new customers
  • Advocacy can increase loyalty from existing customers
  • You can semi-automate your advocacy efforts, so your reach via advocates can be huge at minimal effort and cost

These points are important if you want to grow your business using advocacy marketing.

In a further blog in MPG’s resilience series, we outlined 5 things you need to keep top of mind when creating and executing an advocacy and referral marketing strategy:

  • Find the right people to help you ‘activate and amplify’
  • Help the messenger – make advocating easy
  • Prioritise quality over quantity
  • Have clear agreements in place
  • Monitor effectiveness

When you have the right brand advocates, then you are successfully activating the most powerful marketing approach of all: WOM (word of mouth).

You also need to support your brand advocates, by making it easy and attractive to advocate for you.

Here is MPG’s guide to advocacy and referral marketing, covering how to set clear objectives, identify the best opportunities, create an actionable plan, and monitor performance

YOUR GUIDE TO ADVOCACY AND REFERRAL MARKETING


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Commercial marketing to grow sponsorship revenue: opportunities and challenges

At a recent Marketing Leaders dinner hosted by MPG, I had the privilege of chairing a great discussion about something that has become a big deal for many B2B media/events organisations: commercial marketing.

What do we mean by ‘commercial marketing’? This is a broad term we use to describe the marketing that supports the generation and growth of commercial revenue i.e. revenue from sponsors, exhibitors and advertisers. Sometimes these types of customers are called ‘clients’ or ‘partners’.

The type of marketing that applies here is very different to marketing we use to attract ‘audience’ i.e. conference delegates, exhibition visitors, magazine readers or website visitors. Marketing to attract new audience members tends to be more transactional, requiring a very high volume of activity executed across multiple channels simultaneously – some manual, some automated.

The methodology needed for commercial marketing, on the other hand, is very similar to what is needed for high-value subscription or membership product marketing, which is akin also to SaaS product marketing. The main difference between commercial marketing for events and the SaaS businesses is that events have a hard deadline. Therefore, commercial marketing to attract event sponsors is much more time-bound, with a great sense of urgency required in marketing processes and execution, as well as marketing messages.

Why do we believe commercial marketing has become so much more important recently? We believe there are three reasons:

  1. As we emerge from Covid, there is a huge amount of opportunity, with large numbers of sponsors looking to invest significant sums again in live events. When automation is applied to commercial marketing, this opportunity can be fully exploited via automated lead generation, lead nurturing, and lead management techniques that can be deployed at scale.
  2. Sponsors have fallen out of the habit of sponsoring the same event every year. In other words, they are less loyal. Event organisers therefore need to use commercial marketing to convince sponsors that their events are the best investments of sponsorship budgets – with strong messaging and well-executed campaigns.
  3. Many event organisers are concerned that delegate revenues won’t reach pre-Covid levels. With many digital alternatives now on offer, and travel becoming more expensive, delegates may be more price-sensitive than they were. So, sponsors need to make up the shortfall. (It remains to be seen if delegate revenues will recover well or not – the jury is still out on that one, and we expect it will be for some time to come).

The above is based on MPG’s perspective from working with a variety of event organisers globally – mostly focused on conference-style events for senior executives. To get the perspective of these companies more directly, here are the ‘key takeaways’ from the Marketing Leaders discussion about commercial marketing:

 

Opportunities:

  • In the short-to-medium term, conference organisers are expecting sponsorship revenues to recover and grow much faster than delegate revenues.
  • ABM techniques can be used to great effect when targeting specific companies, to attract them as sponsors for events.
  • When approached at ‘brand level’ (i.e. sponsorship opportunities promoted across a range of products in a portfolio), commercial marketing can work very well in terms of economies of scale and synergies.
  • Commercial marketing tactics can be built into existing delegate customer journeys e.g. by adding a tick box to ‘agenda downloads’ for the downloader to indicate if they are interested in sponsorship.
  • Applying automation to commercial marketing can deliver great results. Automation should be built into lead generation, lead nurturing, lead management, and lead scoring – all to help the sponsorship sales people be more efficient by giving them better quality, warmer leads.
  • Building a dedicated, benefit-led messaging strategy for commercial marketing can significantly improve results. Strong collaboration between the sales people and marketers is essential to develop the most compelling and impactful messaging.
  • Building data-led performance reports for commercial marketing gives all stakeholders strong visibility of how investment in commercial marketing grows sponsorship revenue, increases conversion rates from lead to sale, increases average order value, and reduces length of sales cycles (i.e. making sponsorship sales more efficient).
  • Having a strong marketing and sales alignment – through commercial marketing and sponsorship sales working closely together towards the same goal – can turbo-charge revenue growth from sponsors.

 

Challenges:

  • Senior executives, including sales leaders, are often not aware of, or have limited knowledge of, the concept and workings of commercial marketing.
  • Sales people can often be quite skeptical about the value of marketing, and sometimes don’t pay attention to the leads generated by marketing – preferring to rather leverage existing relationships or source their own leads.
  • It is very difficult for marketers to work on both delegate marketing and commercial marketing as they are two very different types of marketing, with different methodologies and cadences. Also, marketers who are experienced in delegate marketing are typically not trained in, or able to do, commercial marketing very well. It may be necessary to separate out delegate marketing and commercial marketing, in terms of the allocation of marketing skills and resources.
  • Marketing databases are not set up well for commercial marketing campaigns. Often the data is missing from the database, so email campaigns to attract new sponsors to events are difficult to deploy.
  • A substandard marketing tech stack can stand in the way of effective commercial marketing, as automation is not possible and data doesn’t flow in the way it needs to for marketing and sales processes to be aligned, efficient and effective.
  • In order to build marketing performance reports, data has to be managed well. All sales people need to be logging in the CRM when leads are followed up and closed. This does not always happen, which means that it is not possible to accurately track, analyse, and report on the performance of commercial marketing or sponsorship sales.

Clearly there is a lot of opportunity to grow revenue fast via sponsors – as long as the right amount of attention and investment is given to building and maintaining commercial marketing capabilities. It is important to bear in mind that not all of these capabilities need be built inhouse – some external expertise and resources can be plugged into an events business to deliver great results in a scalable and repeatable manner.

As with all marketing initiatives, having a strong strategy and operational plan in place is essential for success – with good execution absolutely critical. It’s easy to talk about commercial marketing over a networking dinner, but it is quite another thing to do it well!

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A guide to advocacy and referral marketing

In a recent MPG blog, we covered why advocacy and referral marketing is so powerful, and how having an amplification strategy can help your business be more resilient and grow.

Team MPG have helped many clients efficiently and effectively accelerate growth by tapping into their strongest brand advocates and most loyal customers for referrals. Here we outline the 5 things you need to keep top of mind when creating and executing an advocacy and referral marketing strategy:

#1 Find the right people to help you ‘activate and amplify’

To identify the people or organisations most likely to be good advocates for your brand and/or products, carefully consider the value exchange: what is in it for them to refer you to one of their colleagues or respected peers? Think about what you can do to make it worth their while. 

Usually, the following types of advocates have something to gain by sharing your marketing messages and collateral with their relevant networks, thus advocating for you. Always remember: these advocates will help you reach large groups of relevant people who are not all on your database for emailing, or could be hard for you to reach and engage with by other means.

  • Media/association partners: research and identify the key publications, digital platforms and associations with subscribers, members, readers or communities that best fit the target audience you want to reach. Then, consider what you can offer to make it worth their while to advocate for you, e.g. a discount for readers, subscribers or members; or special access to additional value like an exclusive networking part of an event, or other high-value elements of your product. For example, you could offer a ‘premium’ product for the same price as a ‘standard’ product as a benefit for their own customers.
  • Advisory board members: if you don’t already have an advisory board, you should consider forming one! Individuals suitable for your advisory board should be carefully selected by you to provide valuable input on your overall strategy and value proposition. They would also typically have excellent and highly relevant ‘little black books’. By being an advisory board member, an individual should gain credibility and even stronger networks – so make sure you give your advisory board members these types of opportunities they would most value. In exchange, you should be able to tap into their growing and engaged professional networks.
  • Content contributors and event speakers: individuals who are respected in their industry as thought leaders are often keen to keep building their profiles and further strengthen their reputations by agreeing to speak at events, contribute to reports, and write articles and blogs for you. These individuals are likely to be some of your very best advocates. They are likely to actively promote to their networks the event or content they’re contributing to in order to raise their own profiles – and in so doing they provide powerful advocacy for your brand or product.
  • Sponsors/exhibitors: companies investing in your events and marketing solutions will probably be open to raising awareness of your brand/product to make the most of their sponsorship/exhibitor status. Your potential reach via their own customers and prospects is great! So work closely with them to help them see the value of advocating for you, and then leveraging their advocacy well.
  • Customers: people who have chosen to already spend money with you, register for your event, subscribe for your content, or give you their time and attention in some way, are probably your best salespeople! MPG has partnered with Ingo to help our clients create a powerful, automated referral engine via customers. To find out more about this – please get in touch.

When you successfully activate any of the above types of advocates, you are activating the most powerful marketing approach of all: WOM (word of mouth). And WOM in the digital and social age is more powerful, scalable, and important than ever!

 

#2 Help the messenger – make advocating easy

The easier you make it for your brand advocates to share their support for your brand/product, the more likely they are to do it! 

For advocates, create partner packs with ready-made assets such as web banners, images, video content, email copy/HTML or infographics, that are easy to access and share. The easier you make this for them, the more likely they are to advocate for you.

Consider using an automated referral marketing tool. This will enable very efficient and strong amplification of your messages, to very large audiences – so it is worth the investment (as long as the tools are deployed in the right way!). Get in touch to find out how MPG can help you do this.

 

#3 Quality over quantity

A common mistake is to sign up too many advocates to manage effectively. Putting the effort into developing a strong and mutually beneficial relationship takes time and effort. Make sure this is closely managed!

 

#4 Have clear agreements in place

This is most relevant for media or association partners, although you may consider including some advocacy or promotional activity into your speaker or sponsorship contracts, e.g. obliging them to share your content via social media. 

Once you’ve found the right partners and come to a mutually beneficial arrangement, make sure you both have a copy of a written agreement that clearly articulates the deliverables for both parties.

 

#5 Monitor effectiveness

As with all marketing channels, you should closely monitor the effectiveness of your advocacy and referral marketing efforts throughout the campaign. The relative performance of every advocate will help you determine which partnerships you want to renew and further invest in. There will be some that just don’t work at all, so make sure you know which ones they are, so you don’t keep pursuing them!

Understanding which of your supporters are generating the most leads or customers will also enable you to reward the most loyal and effective advocates, further enhancing their trust in your brand, and increasing the likelihood they will continue to advocate for you within their valuable network.


DOWNLOAD MPG’S ADVOCACY MARKETING PROCESS & KPIS

If activating advocacy and referral marketing is a strategic priority for business resilience and growth, get in touch. Team MPG’s marketers can help you attract and convert more of the right customers with a robust advocacy and referral marketing strategy, and followed by rigorous execution.

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