5 things I’ve learnt from event CEOs this year

This article has been written by The Share Theory, a content agency that work with many of the same businesses as MPG’s team of marketing specialists.
Key points in this post:
  1. Stop asking – it’s ruining your engagement
  2. Don’t get distracted by your new business model
  3. You see opportunity, your team sees more tasks
  4. You might be undervaluing your digital product – don’t guess what your market will pay
  5. Grow your non-event inventory

 

In Q1 2021, The Share Theory published a series of reports on the future of events based on in-depth interviews with around 20 event CEOs and founders. They share their experiences of pivoting their businesses during the first year of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Three key areas which event organisers needed to tackle were identified: ‘product’, ‘content and community’ and ‘skillsets and mindsets’. Over the last six months, The Share Theory team has been working with industry leaders and founders to help them deliver on these key areas through market research, consulting, training, and content development.

It’s been interesting to see how the ideals, plans, and opportunities identified during 2020 have been coming to fruition, and which obstacles have been thrown up for event leaders keen to pivot to a more ‘shock-proof’ business model.

Here are some of the things we’ve learned:

#1: Stop asking – it’s ruining your engagement

Regular event communications have been disrupted by a switch to digital: a proliferation of smaller, more frequent digital offerings, and increasing push communication. Paired with global inclination to Zoom and email fatigue, databases are getting tired, and engagement is dropping through the floor. Push marketing isn’t working any more. You need to ask yourself what your communication gives back to your community, and what two-way conversations you’re having with your audience.

#2: Don’t get distracted by your new business model

As an industry, our conversations have focussed recently on the key pillars of content, community, and events, but we need to remember these are tools for delivering value, not where the value lies. Communication with clients must deliver on their needs, and not on your planned offering – they’re not looking for formats, they’re looking for interaction, support, and expertise. Prior to 2020, your event business was focused on on-site customer experience over two, three, or four days and all other communications were auxiliary to that. If you want a 360 relationship with your customers, you need to ingrain an understanding of (and passion for) customer needs in every interaction your team has with them.

#3: You see opportunity, your team sees more tasks

We are usually engaged by senior management to support strategic transition, content projects, or training for event businesses. The owners and CEOs we speak to are driven and excited by pursuing opportunities in the market. The bigger challenge we face is in winning over middle management – heads of function or portfolio managers – who don’t see opportunity, they see an increasing list of tasks and new KPIs to manage their teams to. For a team that has just survived the hardest 18 months of their careers, you need to make the outcomes feel real, and tie the processes to career development opportunities bolstered by training and support to get their full buy-in.

#4: You might be undervaluing your digital product

The shift to digital has lowered barriers to entry, and flooded the market with digital event offerings and online content. There’s no denying that huge amounts of free content mean that charging for digital events is getting harder and harder. But, don’t assume your market won’t pay, and don’t devalue your work by giving it away with no clear return in mind. I’ve been helping several clients with research projects to test pricing, and the evidence points to the fact that customers will still pay for content driving a clear benefit for them. If your content adds value, it should generate a return and if it doesn’t – why are you doing it?

#5: Grow your non-event inventory

Some businesses have been able to pivot quickly to non-event inventory if they have strong sponsor relationships in place. I’ve worked on some interesting sponsored reports in particular – surveys build engagement, interviews with advocates build trust, and the reports themselves provide both provide credible market intel, and build brand capital for you and your sponsor. Making non-event inventory work starts with your sales team: get them bought into the value, build them a solid inventory, and make the benefits clear before they get on the phone.

You can still access the reports in full here. The Share Theory is a content and research agency which specialises in supporting event businesses pivot to a more communicative, content based business model through consulting, strategic support, training and content delivery. If you’d like to find out more (or for a chat about any of the points made in the report) visit www.thesharetheory.com or email hello@thesharetheory.com.
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

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B2B events – an important piece in the membership offering puzzle

Over the past 18 months we’ve seen many B2B media and events businesses choosing to create integrated product offerings where annual flagship conferences and/or a series of smaller events are integrated with digital information membership/subscriptions, and given the label of ‘membership’. Often, these memberships also include access to online communities and in some cases also ‘micro-communities’ – carefully curated matchmaking to bring together peers with very specific challenges they can work on solving together.

One of the main drivers for this move to integrated offerings comes down to generating more recurring revenue from event audiences. Another is building more engaged audiences to then sell on to sponsors. How well this will actually work for all businesses remains to be seen..

If we work through the logic of turning ‘event revenue’ into ‘membership revenue’, it is important to look at the data. Based on MPG’s benchmarks, at a company level, event organisers of well run and valuable annual events should typically expect to see a 40-50% YOY retention rate of attendees. At an individual level this is 20-30%. A good membership offering will provide year-round relevant and valuable content and networking opportunities. Therefore, one would expect more invested and engaged customers who then renew at a higher rate – typically over 60%. Well established, high value and usually enterprise level memberships can expect 80%+ renewal rates, and the most successful membership offerings have over 100% ‘renewal to value’ rates, where upsell and cross-sell delivers more revenue from a member base that renews at 90%+ at volume level.

There are three main ways we are seeing annual flagship events being integrated into digital information membership offerings:

  1. Including ‘all access’ tickets to annual flagship events as part of a premium membership product. These tickets cover in-person attendance and access to all digital event content.
  2. Preferential rates for members who want to buy a ticket to an annual flagship event – with the discount being a membership benefit.
  3. Member only events – where customers can only access the event if they buy a membership.

What does this mean for your marketing?

When it comes to creating your marketing strategy, you can apply MPG’s community marketing model to your events and membership offering to identify marketing activities to grow both membership and event revenue. As customers move up levels, they become ‘higher value’ based on their level of engagement and therefore likely retention rate increases. It is important to focus marketing on moving customers up levels, ensuring the highest value customers are engaging well, and that engagement at all levels is growing over time.

Level #1 – Lurkers:

These are your unknowns – people who are visiting your membership or event site .You don’t have their data. They are consumers of your free content. You want to attract these ‘lurkers’ through inbound (e.g. SEO, PPC, social media, advocacy marketing) and ensure your website is optimised to get them to convert to contacts (level 2).

Level #2 – Contacts:

These are the known, relevant contacts on the database. You want to track engagement accurately with this segment and hit them with targeted messaging, strong product marketing messaging and content marketing to effectively engage them so they convert into leads and buyers.

Level #3 – Leads / Freemium:

These are contacts who are more committed and are engaging with your content in a free capacity e.g. signing up to a free newsletter, attending a free webinar, downloading your event agendas or post event reports. Again, your goal here is to increase levels of engagement by encouraging more customer interaction with your content and products e.g. encouraging them to attend more free events or to sign up for a membership trial. And here you want to start paying close attention to what they are consuming, and what they value most in the free content you are pushing out. We recommend using nurturing campaigns and remarketing to keep these leads warm.

Level #4 – Transactionals:

These are your paying customers that have made one-off purchases e.g. they have bought a single delegate pass or a lower priced membership. These are the customers you want to convert into higher value, recurring revenue memberships. It is important, at this stage, to pay close attention to what content and networking people are willing to pay for and in what formats – and how much they will pay. For these lower value members, you might want to start offering discounts for your events to encourage them to engage with more products in your mix and become ever more familiar with your brand and the overall value it offers.

Level #5 – Loyalists:

These are your paying customers who make larger purchases of renewing products. These can be members or the delegates who attend your events every year, usually with large group bookings. Typically, these loyal event customers offer the best opportunities for conversion to your high value annual memberships. This is the group you want to focus on growing fastest, retaining and upselling. Here you need some well targeted, well coordinated marketing and sales approaches, supported by well set up tech and automation.

Level #6 – Leaders:

Even if this group is smaller than groups at other levels (and it is likely to be), these are your most important customers. They are typically community leaders and also enterprise-level customers who make purchases for whole teams to access renewing products. These high profile, repeat attendees and speakers should also be the strongest advocates for your brand.

You want to encourage them to share news about your events and the benefits of membership with their network – within their organisations and externally. Make sure you leverage their advocacy in your own social channels by tagging them in social posts.

Use your event speakers as advocates for your membership products. Provide them with membership access and encourage them to share the membership benefits with their networks. Tag them in social posts as users of your membership offering.

Getting this model right so that you can create those high renewal rates takes time and a lot of hard, complex work. A well skilled and well organised marketing team is essential , and is likely to look quite different from a traditional event marketing team. MPG recommends the following as the ideal marketing department structure:

  • Acquisition marketing team: will need to focus on reaching high volumes of potential customers via inbound marketing and data acquisition. This ‘one to many’ approach is essential to reach enough potential relevant customers and to move purchasers down your marketing funnel – either to purchase your event product or your membership offering.

    The target audience for this team will consist of both individuals who are not members but their colleagues are, or individuals who have no affiliation with the membership offering. It will also contain your traditional event contacts – leads, attendees etc.

    Once you have converted one of these leads to a customer of your membership offering, they should be handed over to your retention team who should start the renewal process on day 1 of their membership! (See MPG’s relevant blog on this important subject!)

  • Retention marketing team: should be completely focussed on keeping your customers engaged to ensure high renewal, cross-sell and upsell rates. When you have events integrated into your product mix, this retention marketing is not just focussed on renewing memberships, but also ensuring members that have signed up to your events actually turn up! Your members who turn up to your events are more likely to renew their membership, and so the virtuous upward circle continues.

An important note about martech and data…

This cross selling, and cross pollination of your product mix can only take place when you fully understand the relationship customers already have with your brand. Are they a newsletter subscriber? Have they purchased an event (and turned up)? Have they taken out a free trial?

This holistic, single view of your customers behavioural / engagement data comes from a well set up sales and marketing tech stack – backed up by bomb-proof processes and workflows.

It is an exciting time to be a marketer! But, it’s not an easy time as marketing has become much more complex and in many ways more technical, requiring an ‘engineers brain’ to do some of the problem-solving that pops up every day.

It is also a time that demands a significant ‘upgrade’ in terms of marketers’ strategic thinking, knowledge, skills, confidence and profile within their organisations. The future will belong to those who are bold and knuckle down – moving fast into new ways of doing things. And unfortunately, some marketers and companies will be left behind. I will be watching with interest how this future unfolds!


I was very impressed with the marketing strategy MPG developed for Environment Analyst. The level of thinking that went into this strategy and how it was delivered has created great value for our business. My marketing manager and I now look forward to working with MPG to execute great marketing together.

Julian Rose, Director & Co-Founder, Environment Analyst


If creating strong recurring membership revenues with integrated events is a strategic focus for you, MPG can help.

Our team of marketing specialists can create, and execute on, a robust membership marketing strategy for you, incorporating event marketing to secure the revenue growth and profitability you need as we move forward into a post-pandemic world. Find out more about our approach – get in touch.

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The ‘always-on’ future of events: what this means for event marketing…

In December 2020, to less fanfare than one would expect, a ‘must read’ book for events professionals was published – particularly those working in senior roles within commercial events businesses.

Reinventing Live: The Always-on Future of Events, co-authored by Denzil Rankine and Marco Giberti, takes a look at the ever evolving role of events in facilitating business, connections and advocacy – and how the ‘Covid accelerator’ effect has come into play.

 

The event organizer should no longer be an event organizer, they should be the community catalyst.

Denzil Rankine, founder and executive chairman of AMR International, co-author of Reinventing Live: The Always-on Future of Events

 

In this excellent article by Michelle Russell, editor in chief of the PCMA’s Convene, she shares her interview with Denzil Rankine where key themes from the book are dissected. The overarching sentiment of the article is something that is very much aligned with MPG’s ethos – that building digital-first, community-led, hybrid brands is the way forward!

“Hybrid” is the big word of the moment and in a number of years, it will disappear. It will just be completely normal for a conference to have a digital journey beforehand, to have an in-person experience, and connection supported by more digital tools with remote attendance, and then more follow-up. That’s just going to be a “conference” and no one’s going to call it a “hybrid conference.” It’s like, you don’t go into someone’s house now and say, “Whoa, you’ve got electricity.” It’s just there. So we will get to that point — the sooner the better.”

Michelle’s article got me thinking: what does this mean for event marketing leaders and other senior leaders  focused on marketing strategies for B2B conference businesses? How is this rapid evolution of events already  impacting the event marketing approach? How will this continue to change as we move forward and hopefully start accelerating away from the pandemic soon? 

Here are the 4 things that Team MPG believes you should have ‘front of mind’ right now:

 

#1 Marketing strategy

A key point of discussion in both the book and the article is the general lack of an event strategy in some organisations and how detrimental this is to the health of a particular event and the viability of the events business as whole. 

Having a robust event marketing strategy is a part of this. When we ran our event marketing strategy webinar back in March, only 65% of the attendees said they had a strong marketing strategy in place. This is worrying for the future of events! B2B event organisers should habitually invest in developing marketing strategies for their events. This is a key investment area to support sustainable event growth.

 

#2 Marketing data

Data is an integral cog in any well-oiled marketing machine. This is the case now more than ever, as we move to a hybrid –  or as described in the article, the ‘online, offline, online’ approach to events. 

When we talk about data for your event marketing, there are 3 distinct data variants you should be looking at: 

  • Your event/community database – online events and communities need a much larger, global database to achieve the audience volume and online engagement your brands need to thrive
  • Customer data – a deep understanding of your audiences behaviour and engagement will help you to continue to offer best in class products that meet, and exceed, your customers needs
  • Performance data –  measuring the impact of all your marketing across all channels, in a granular way, will provide you with relevant insights to inform your marketing going forward

 

#3 Marketing tech

Tech has been a cornerstone in the ‘pivot to digital’ that just about every events organiser in the world had to do – on a hairpin.

But it’s not just the ‘new’ virtual event platforms that has enabled the move to online. The event organisers that most successfully navigated the pivot to digital had their marketing tech well integrated with their event tech. 

A well set up ‘product + marketing’ tech stack is essential as we move forward into our ‘new normal’ for events. Data needs to flow well between systems – with most, if not all, data flows automated. 

For event organisers to emerge well from the pandemic, it is likely they will need to spend more time and money on martech than they would have done without the ‘Covid accelerator’ in play… 

Strategic and impactful investments in martech and data mean that marketing processes can be automated, enabling deeper engagement with more customers, resulting in more opportunities for monetisation and scalable events.

 

#4 Marketing skills

It would be a tragic misjudgement – with quite severe consequences – to undervalue marketing skills as we emerge from the pandemic. Your event marketing function needs to include strong strategic thinkers and excellent doers – across all areas of creative, copy, data, martech, analytics and campaign management. 

Building a sustainable marketing function with the right mind-set and skills is critical. But as with most valuable things, require a strategic approach and investment. When considering how you build the necessary capabilities in your marketing department , a strategic, hybrid approach should be considered as a cost-effective way and impactful approach. The right hybrid approach will build agility, flexibility and strong skill sets into your marketing team and should be considered for the short, medium and long term. 

Marketing strategy, marketing data, marketing tech and marketing skills. Take a good hard look at these if you want to ensure your re-invented events thrive and grow in the new world. 

MPG has supported the growth of B2B conferences and exhibitions across a wide range of sectors and regions of the world.  We can help you successfully develop and execute your event marketing strategies, build and optimise your database and martech stacks, and future proof your marketing function by helping you upskill your team.. Get in touch today to see how we can help your marketing achieve a stronger ROI as the ‘future of events’ becomes a reality.

 


“I was very impressed with the marketing strategy MPG developed for Environment Analyst. The level of thinking that went into this strategy and how it was delivered has created great value for our business. My marketing manager and I now look forward to working with MPG to execute great marketing together.”

Julian Rose, Director & Co-Founder, Environment Analyst

Topics:

The essential, strategic marketing approach to growing your B2B Events

As B2B leaders look to plug the revenue holes created during the global pandemic, growing a flagship event or brand is likely to be top of the list. The most forward- thinking B2B leaders have realised that growing their events is also strategically important when it comes to driving high-value memberships and monetising communities.

All too often when trying to grow a flagship event or brand, the temptation is to dive straight into the tactics. But as Sun Tzu, possibly one of the world’s greatest strategists, said “tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”.

A well constructed strategy to grow your event requires an investment of focus, attention, time (and potentially money – if you’re bringing in outside help). However, spending a few weeks working with all the key stakeholders will be time well spent!

MPG has been delivering strong events revenue growth for our B2B events clients since 2014. During this time, Team MPG has fine-tuned the methodology for creating event marketing strategies that consistently deliver year-on-year revenue growth. Here we share with you the 7 steps Team MPG takes when creating a robust strategy to drive event revenue growth, and consistently deliver a strong marketing ROI.

7 steps to building a robust event growth marketing strategy

#1 Situational analysis

Conducting a situational analysis is an important first step in any strategy development. It will provide you with an overview of the ‘starting point’ for your brand and product, the capabilities that your organisation and team have which can impact growth potential, and the risks and opportunities faced. Having a strong understanding of these elements is essential in determining your future event growth strategy.

Key components to include in your situational analysis are:

  • Customer analysis: who your customers are (demographics, behaviours etc), and what their pain points, challenges and opportunities are. What tasks can they get done, or done better, by investing time, attention and/or money in your brand or product? You need a very strong understanding of your customers’ needs in order to create, deliver, and effectively communicate a value proposition that meets these needs.
  • Value proposition analysis: an evaluation of your product, or set of products & services within a brand, and the value it delivers to your customers, as well as how these meet your customers’ needs. Think ‘product-market fit’.
  • Competitor analysis: who they are and what competitive advantage do they have over you, or vice versa – Price? Value? Ease of use? Reputation? Share of market? Remember that events don’t just compete with other events – they also compete with any other offering that meets the same customer needs.
  • Environment analysis: look at external factors such as political, economic or technology trends and the impact they have on your business.
  • SWOT analysis: taking your environmental and competitor analysis into consideration, document the strengths and weaknesses within your team that will impact your success , as well as opportunities and threats that may affect your brand or product’s performance – in the short, medium, and long term.

 

#2 Commercial targets & pricing

  • Commercial targets: based on the year-on-year growth you are aiming for, and factoring in historical attendee numbers and revenues, fix your commercial targets for the next 3 years.
  • Pricing: product pricing will be influenced by a number of variables including the format(s) the event will be delivered in – virtual, hybrid, or in-person. Pricing will need to be modelled to ensure that your commercial targets can be met  – you’ll also  have to compare them to other competitive offerings to understand where you’re pitching based on alternatives.

 

#3 Value proposition and positioning

Events are now competing more than ever with alternative, online, free (or cheap) content and networking opportunities, so a clear USP (unique selling point) and a compelling set of benefits is essential for success.

With your competition in mind, you need to clearly articulate why your audience should be choosing your event over any alternative solutions. It’s also important to consider your own internal products that might be competing for the attention and/or spend from the same target audience.

 

#4 Target audience database

An essential aspect of growing your event will be to understand which market segments to focus on to deliver the desired growth. The best way to understand the composition of your end-user market is to create a market map and conduct a robust market sizing exercise.

Sizing your market and analysing this against your existing database will help you identify where your key gaps are when aiming to reach your target audience directly. You may need to budget for and prioritise a data acquisition project, focusing on top priority contacts that will deliver the fastest return on your investment. You also need to consider how inbound marketing activity will help you attract customers from key audience segments where you don’t currently have strong database coverage.

 

#5 Messaging & segmentation strategy

Using your key market segments defined in step 4, develop a messaging strategy for each of those segments. Key considerations for the messaging include:
Refining the USP, and making it clear in the high-level messaging.
Creating strong, benefit-led messages to clearly communicate the value someone will get if they choose to attend your event
Making benefits of attending specifically relevant to each audience segment

It’s important to ensure that the messaging is fully aligned across all channels throughout the marketing campaign.

In our recent MPG article, ‘Build a winning messaging strategy: a step-by-step guide’ we outlined the 5 steps you need to take to build well planned and executed marketing messaging.

 

#6 Marketing campaign planning & execution

Only at step 6 should you focus on the specific channels and tactics for delegate acquisition and conversion. The biggest mistake most event organisers make is making this their starting point, rather than first doing the essential groundwork in steps 1 – 5.

MPG’s methodology and best practice for attracting audiences to events is to optimise every stage of the ‘marketing funnel’:

  • Awareness: at the top of the funnel, focus on building brand awareness and interest via social media, PPC, content marketing and advocacy marketing – with the ultimate goal of driving relevant traffic to the website.
  • Engagement: the primary focus at the middle of the funnel is to use multi-channel marketing that turns aware/interested prospects into engaged leads.
  • Conversion: direct marketing channels come into play at the bottom of the funnel where you focus on converting leads and other engaged prospects into committed delegates, whether they pay to attend or not.

 

#7 Measurement & reporting

To be effective, marketing performance measurement and analysis must be a continuous process. This reporting not only provides stakeholders with vital ongoing visibility of marketing activity, performance and ROI, it also enables the marketing team to make responsive, agile, and data-led decisions.

In addition to tracking leads, revenue, bookings and audience breakdown, you’ll want to measure and analyse the performance of your digital marketing. If you don’t know where to begin, we published an article outlining the 15 metrics that really matter in digital marketing for B2B, which provide you with a strong base to work from.

MPG advises that for any of the metrics you measure, you use internal benchmarks based on relevant, historic performance, and where possible, additional relevant external benchmarks.

 


Do you need better marketing to unlock revenue growth in your business?

Team MPG works with a select group of companies as a key part of their marketing function, providing ongoing strategic insight and direction, as well as consistently strong execution.

If you would like to find out more about working with MPG, please get in touch.

Get in touch


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

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ABM: Looking beyond the buzzword!

Account Based Marketing (ABM) is not a new concept in B2B marketing. However, as an important integrated B2B marketing and sales approach, we don’t think it is widely understood or used as it should be in B2B media/events businesses and professional membership organisations. 

Regardless of the size of your organisation, product types, or the sectors you serve, every senior business leader and marketer should be embracing ABM and integrating it as part of their overall marketing strategy.  

If you’re keen to learn more about ABM – what it is, why it is important and how you put it into practice, read on! 

This article is ‘part 1’ of MPG’s 2 part blog series, created to guide you through a strategic approach to ABM implementation. Next week we will publish part 2, which will be focused on a step-by-step approach to doing ABM well. 

 

What is Account Based Marketing (ABM)?

Simply put, ABM is a marketing strategy to identify, target and engage a specific set of high-value accounts by creating highly personalised messaging and customer experiences for key individuals within these accounts. 

ABM can also be viewed as a practical application of the Pareto Principle (or 80/20 rule), whereby 80% of your sales comes from 20% of your customers. The return on investment from this form of marketing is delivered through:

  • Higher conversion rates: of prospect to lead, and lead to sale, within your most valuable accounts (i.e. those likely to also renew and deliver a strong lifetime value).
  • Shorter sales cycles: your sales team can be more efficient as they have less work to do to convince all decision makers and influencers to sign off on a deal. Alternatively, if an e-commerce deal, this should happen faster due to quicker internal approvals. 
  • Higher average order values: because all decision makers and influencers are well persuaded by very relevant marketing that their purchase will deliver good value.

Many marketers are already conducting a form of ABM, without calling it that! Sending targeted messaging to specific market segments/data sets via email applies the basic principles of ABM. Recipients get more personalised messaging that addresses their specific challenges and needs. ‘Proper’ ABM is about applying this practice more extensively, and across more channels.

ABM typically has the greatest impact for high-value sponsorships, memberships or subscriptions products, or where you need to have specific companies in your audience and/or at your event to satisfy sponsors. It can also apply to acquiring new sponsors/clients for your events or marketing programmes. 

 

Why is ABM more relevant now that before the pandemic?

Several factors have driven the increased importance, and usage, of ABM in recent months. Unsurprisingly, the seismic shifts seen over the past 14 months is the common thread.

Here are the main factors at play:

#1: As many marketing budgets are reduced and marketing teams are smaller, marketers are under significant pressure to deliver campaigns that positively and visibly impact revenue generation. ABM focuses marketers on the accounts that are going to give them the highest return, and as ABM can shorten the sales cycle, in the shortest possible time frame. 

#2: Increased investment in tech and data management, typically to facilitate virtual events and other online offerings, has the knock-on effect of making ABM far more viable and easy (as possible!) to deploy. Successful ABM relies on well organised customer data within a digital infrastructure that enables automation; as well as engage individuals and groups across digital channels, cohesively. 

#3: ABM has filled the gaps left by live events. Crucial in-person touchpoints have, by necessity, been replaced by deeper, multi-channel digital engagement within well-engineered and creative campaigns.  

#4: Across the board, marketing is becoming more important. Marketing is now playing a much more important role in the rapid digital pivots of brands, products and communities, and overall digital transformation organisations. Marketing is also leading the charge in defining the sales and operations strategies – a role reversal from just a few years ago. Organisations have realised that investment in marketing is essential to building and monetising engaged audiences. This was already happening before the pandemic, but has been thrown into the ‘Covid-19 accelerator’ for full disruption mode!

 

Why ABM is key for customer experience 

ABM allows you to deliver more consistent and compelling customer experiences for your most coveted accounts. In very crowded markets, where there is so much digital noise, ABM can make all the difference in securing the customers you need via a compelling and relevant journey towards your brand and product. 

At its core, ABM is about making marketing and sales even more aligned. By defining and actively targeting high-value accounts, and making this integral to both your marketing and sales strategies, you can make your conversion funnel more efficient and cost-effective. Most importantly, your customers will have a much better and streamlined experience as they hurtle towards the bottom of your funnel. 

 

How should ABM be put into practice? 

In part 2 of this blog series, we’ll be sharing a step-by-step guide to implementing ABM in your marketing. Subscribe to MPG Insights to be notified when it’s released.

 


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 in 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 developing your ABM marketing strategy? 

Team MPG can help you work out how best to use ABM and deploy this approach for maximum impact. Here are the reasons clients choose MPG for ABM:

  • As experts in all things B2B marketing, Team MPG has the toolkit to ensure your sales team gets focused support to target and convert your most coveted customers.
  • MPG will also help you better integrate your sales & marketing. When using ABM, processes need to be well mapped out and joined up for ABM to have a consistently positive impact on your revenue growth.

Team MPG will develop your bespoke, robust strategy, and set up martech/salestech & processes for ABM success. We can also help you execute ABM campaigns for best impact, and measure this impact with MPG’s unique marketing performance dashboards.

Get in touch

Topics:

5 things your marketers must do now to prepare for your next in-person event

It appears in-person events are set to return to the UK this summer, with some other countries around the world already running live events again and others likely to start again before the end of 2021. For event marketers, the reopening presents quite a unique challenge. Pivoting to virtual felt like a roller-coaster ride, and there is no slowing down or getting off the ride as we pivot back to in-person events in a more digital world

Here are a five things event marketers should start working on now to ensure a successful in-person event marketing campaign and strong attendee list. These are vital for a physical event, but they also apply to hybrid and virtual events.


5 things your marketers must do to be ready for the return of in-person events

  1. Prepare your marketing database

    A successful event marketing campaign hinges on having a healthy, well-organised database. Take the time to map your market to understand your coverage and plug the gaps via content marketing, leveraging advocate networks and data research.

    Make sure forms on your website are optimised. Feed leads directly into your marketing automation tool and CRM to save time and reduce errors. Push website visitors to your forms via compelling calls-to-action and encouraging benefit-led copy.

    Database optimisation is not a quick process, so you will want to make this your first priority.

  2. Build a strong messaging strategy

    The first step in building a strong B2B event messaging strategy is understanding what need(s) you are addressing and problems you are solving for your audience. This should differ by audience segment, and generally you will get better results the more personalised your messaging is.

    Once you understand your USPs, you want to communicate them via simple but compelling benefit-led copy. Map this out – by audience segment – in a dedicated messaging strategy. Decide exactly how you want to describe your brand and event benefits, and use this document as a bible once you start actively creating campaign content like emails and website copy.

    Remember to include USP and benefit points around what makes your in-person event valuable and a ‘must attend’ – showcasing what they can get from being physically present at your event that they won’t get by consuming online content. Mostly, these benefits will focus on networking. You need to be very deliberate and explicit about these USPs and benefits in your marketing copy.

  3. Strengthen your visual branding

    Strong visual branding provides a boost to all your marketing efforts and provides a more consistent and engaging experience for your customers. If you don’t already have a ‘brand book’, now is the time to put one together. You should also prepare all the visual assets that you can ahead of time – social media image templates, stock image banks, graphics and visualisations etc.

    Preparing these assets before the event campaign starts will save you time and probably also money, and ensure you’re being consistent in your brand delivery.

  4. Review, streamline and optimise your marketing and sales processes

    Event campaigns are fast-paced and deadline-driven. Enable maximum efficiency from your marketing and sales teams by defining a lead generation, nurture and allocation process. Determine which leads will be prioritised for contact by sales (e.g. users who request event updates should be a higher priority than brochure downloads) and how leads will be nurtured by marketing activity.

    Consider implementing a project management tool – such as Clickup – to streamline the process of assigning tasks and managing team workload. These tools can be a gamechanger for team efficiency and accuracy in a hectic event marketing campaign.

  5. Plan performance measurement

    To know how effective your marketing efforts are, you need to be measuring and analysing the results. Digital marketing channels provide a plethora of data, so filter out the noise and find the metrics that matter most to your objectives. Click-through-rate, conversion rate and return on investment are three common metrics that apply across channels.

    Here are the 15 metrics that really matter in your digital marketing efforts.

    Use a tool like Google Data Studio to collate and visualise your performance data into an easy-to-understand and automatically updated report. These reports are not quick to set up, so starting early will ensure everything’s in place before the first campaign email is sent.


Need an extra pair of hands on your 2021 event marketing strategy?

At the forefront of delivering best practice B2B event marketing, MPG has unlocked the formula to effective event marketing – proven from years of marketing events of all shapes and sizes.

Get in touch today to see how we can help you achieve strong event revenue growth


Upskill your marketing team with MPG Academy

Offering training on marketing for events and communities – MPG Academy will help you improve the performance of your marketing function. Delivered by our expert practitioners, we provide 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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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

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.

Get in touch


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.

Get in touch today


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

Topics:

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

FIND OUT MORE AND REGISTER


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
  • Audience acquisition & development
  • Database optimisation
  • Marketing technology
  • Online event technology
  • Marketing performance analytics & reporting
  • Website build and optimisation
  • Messaging and copywriting
  • Lead generation
  • Branding and design
  • Marketing automation
  • Email marketing
  • Pay-per-click advertising
  • Social media
  • Content marketing
  • Advocacy marketing
  • Media partnerships
  • Account based marketing
  • Direct mail
  • Telesales campaign management

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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

Topics:

B2B Community Marketing:
MPG’s Strategic Approach

Strategy-led organisations will usually have a chosen set of models or frameworks to guide their thinking and execution. For those of us focused on marketing strategy, MPG has created some straightforward frameworks to contextualise the marketing that goes in to engaging, monetising and scaling B2B communities – specifically for B2B media brands and event organisers.

And here they are!

 

MPG’s Engage, Monetise, Scale Model

Engage is the first and most important step. This is where marketing works its magic by identifying, attracting and keeping the attention of the most relevant people to your community. There are many channels and techniques for achieving this, but the end goal is always to grow your engaged community, as well as the level of that engagement.

Monetisation relies on engagement to be effective – or even possible at all. You cannot progress to this stage until you have a sufficiently good quality, engaged audience.

The engage phase is essential for identifying what your community members most value and are therefore willing to pay for. Knowing what your audience finds most valuable creates opportunities to monetise existing and future content, events, research and other solutions you deliver for your community – via payments by the readers/audience/participants.

Another key way to monetise your community could be via sponsorship – depending on your business strategy and model. This relies on having an engaged community of the right size and profile so that your sponsors can hit their mark when paying to advertise via your channels.

Scale is the final stage of the model. As with monetisation, the preceding phases are important to consider first. You only want to scale an audience you’re confident you understand and can engage with, and you want to be scaling a monetisation model that you believe has sustainable, long-term potential.

Once you have these in place, you can begin investing in the processes, automations and resources that will increase your profit margin.

Hyperscale is an extension of scale and occurs when your scaling efforts reach a point of exponential growth. At this point, your community model becomes effectively self-sustaining in its growth. The more effectively the prior three steps are implemented, the more likely it is that ‘hyperscale’ will kick in.

 

MPG’s Community Development Model

This model provides a simple method of categorising your community members by both their level of engagement, and their monetary value to you and your sponsors. You can use it to understand how your community is spread across these levels, with your objective being to move as many people as far up the levels as possible.

To make full use of this framework, overlay other segmentation such as company type, job function and seniority – to get a full picture of your community.

Level 1 – Lurkers: consumers of free content (blogs, social media) via website and social channels. At this stage, you do not have the user’s data.

Level 2 – Contacts: known contacts in your database. This allows you to track engagement more accurately and also target with email and other direct marketing comms to increase engagement.

Level 3 – Freemium: committed contacts in a free capacity – e.g. signing up to a free newsletter or attending a webinar. Again, your goal here is to increase levels of engagement. And here you want to start paying close attention to what they are consuming, and value the most, in the free content you are pushing out. 

Level 4 – Transactionals: paying customers who have made one-off, relatively low value purchases e.g. a training course or a report. You really want to pay close attention now to what content people are willing to pay for – and how much. 

Level 5 – Loyalists: paying customers who make larger purchases of renewing products. This is the group you want to focus on growing fastest, retaining and upselling. This relies on marketing and sales automation and integration. 

Level 6 – Leaders: enterprise-level customers who make purchases for whole teams/departments/businesses to access renewing products. The nirvana of B2B media! If you’ve cracked this level, you’re well in to scale, with hyperscale on the horizon…

 

Where Does Sponsorship Fit In?

This model demonstrates a simple concept: sponsors are likely to be willing to pay more to reach your more engaged community members (assuming they are of the right profile).

Viewing sponsorship opportunities via this model will also allow you to consider the different companies that will likely be interested in each audience. A SaaS tool provider may be more interested in reaching a high volume of your community to generate awareness and leads – so levels 3, 4 and 5 in your community (e.g via newsletters adverts or sponsored webinars or reports) may be their best ‘hunting grounds’. An advisory firm on the other hand may value more the intimate conversations in smaller groups with level 6 Leaders – where round-table-style events (online or offline) seem to have an evergreen attraction. 

You ideally want to grow every level to ensure a healthy, growing community and sustain a steady and growing volume of relevant audience members. This is the best way to guarantee strong YOY growth of sponsorship revenue.

Patience and Time

The great Leo Tolstoy famously wrote “Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience. The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”

2021 – or certainly the first part of the year – will most certainly require an awful lot of patience from companies and individuals as we wait for the pandemic to ease off (which we are confident it will!). And this may take longer than we hope or expect. But now is not the time to lose hope or sit back and wait. Now is the time to get stuck into your community marketing strategy. Don’t wait any longer – but also be patient. Play the long game. Focus on community quality and engagement first and foremost – even if it means you lose money in the short term. Try out different monetisation models and work out what your community is willing to pay for and what you can profitably deliver. When summer eventually arrives (literally or figuratively!), if you’ve done a good job of engaging your community at a time when they probably need you most – you will be in a great place to benefit from more profitable monetisation, with scale just around the corner!

 


Get trained on community marketing strategies and tactics

As part of the MPG Academy Masterclass programmes, we run a dedicated B2B Community Marketing Masterclass. This course covers everything from what a community is, how to apply strategic frameworks to your marketing, as well as the tactical channel-specific approaches you should take.

FIND OUT MORE

Toby DanielsI 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 (Social Media Week, acquired by Adweek)

Topics:

5 truths about virtual events you can’t afford to ignore

Event organisers learned a lot of important lessons in a tumultuous 2020. One of them was that virtual events need a different marketing approach to in-person events.

While the fundamentals of impactful event marketing remain broadly the same, regardless of format, there are some very specific requirements for successful virtual event marketing that cannot be ignored.

Here are 5 truths about virtual events you can’t afford to ignore:

  1. Booking and engagement patterns – people will book much later for virtual events and often during the event, especially if they can consume content on-demand post-event. It is not unusual to see the number of registrants double in the week immediately preceding a virtual event, and for 50% of the audience to only consume content post-event and on demand.
  2. Delegate ticket pricing – delegate tickets to virtual events are likely to require a lower price point than traditional live events. We are typically seeing pricing at 25% – 50% of in-person events. In some instances, it may even be best to make virtual event attendance free of charge.
  3. Registration volume targets – with some exceptions, conversion rates from registrants to attendees are typically very low. Anything above 30% is ‘good’, with 50%+ being outstanding. But often conversion rates hover between 10% and 30%. So, more registrants are needed to get a good number to attend. And the number of registrants may need to be even higher if you’re looking for more attendees for your virtual events than your in-person events – to deliver sponsor value.
  4. Larger, global reach and database – to support the much higher number of registrants needed, possibly from regions of the world you wouldn’t usually target with your in-person event, it is essential to have a multi-channel marketing campaign that reaches every corner of your target audience. This should include inbound tactics such as social media and PPC, but more importantly your database needs to grow.
  5. Conversion is king – in-person events needed a much lighter touch on conversions. For virtual events, there is no point having a good number of registrants if you can’t convert them to engaged attendees, or at the very least get them to consume content on-demand after the event. Without a strong and well executed conversion campaign – fully automated with robust integrations in your tech stack and well organised data flows, you will struggle with your virtual event audience engagement.

 

Event marketers need to think strategically and execute with sharp digital skills. It is essential they grasp the five concepts above and have the ability to incorporate what is required in their virtual event marketing approach.

To help MPG’s community create winning virtual event marketing strategies, we have created a free e-book on the strategic success factors when putting together your virtual event marketing approach.

DOWNLOAD NOW


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

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

Get in touch to find out how we can help you grow your events

 


Get essential event marketing training for your team

Upskill your whole team through tailored, in-house training. MPG Academy has a training solution to fit your needs.

Find out more

Topics:

Where are B2B media & events brands investing in 2021?

This article has been co-authored by Helen Coetzee, Founder & CEO of MPG and Carolyn Morgan, Founder & Managing Consultant of Speciall Media.


Uncertainty is the only certainty there is and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.

These rather grim words from John Allen Paulos ring true for nearly every organisation.

Paulos’s work as a Professor of mathematical logic and probability theory is particularly relevant to media organisations today. In 2001 he taught a course on quantitative literacy for journalists at the Columbia University School of Journalism. This course stimulated programmes in precision and data-driven journalism at Columbia and elsewhere.

It is this type of journalism – and the trust audiences have in media brands that do this well – that has fuelled the rise of data-led intelligence products for media companies. Access to these products meets a critical need as organisations seek specific, objective, trusted data and intelligence to make real-time, critical decisions in the fast-moving COVID-19 crisis.

No wonder that offering ‘data products’ within subscriptions or memberships are the #1 priority for investment in 2021 for many B2B media businesses. It has been a hot topic in our recent conversations with B2B media leaders. And at the recent Renewd.net round-table event on ‘planning and budgeting for 2021’ it was the top investment priority. 

And what else have we learnt from our community of senior B2B media and event leaders over the past month, planning for 2021 and beyond?

B2B media and events leaders intend to invest in product, marketing, and sales for these top four revenue streams:

#1 Subscriptions and memberships: with data-led intelligence at their core

#2 Events (virtual or in person): to generate revenue, engagement, and content

#3 E-learning: a relatively new or largely untapped revenue stream for many brands

#4 Marketing solutions: pushing out multi-channel, content-led sponsored campaigns to brand audiences

At the Renewd.net roundtable it was clear that having the right skills and resources in place to make these investments is a core challenge.

Building specific expertise and skills to effectively create, market, sell and deliver data-led subscriptions/memberships, e-learning, events, and marketing solutions will be essential.

Many are embracing a community-focused and brand-led approach to become truly customer-centric. This needs consistent delivery of highly relevant content and data-driven, impactful marketing.  Both are essential for strong audience engagement, crucial to unlocking growth in all key revenue streams.

These skilled product, marketing and sales teams need to be digitally confident, both strategic and agile in their thinking and highly flexible in approach.

With 2020 seeing many staffing and agency budgets frozen or reduced, 2021 will be a year for key hires to be made, and important partners onboarded to ensure investments pay off. Investors want to keep fixed costs as low as possible while ensuring operators have the right skills and resources in place to deliver stronger products and revenue in key areas.

The winning B2B media and event brands will develop capability in four key areas:

 

1. Membership and subscriptions

  • Organisations already focussed on subscription or membership propositions had an easier ride in 2020 than those relying on other revenue streams. They now plan continued investment in growing customer volumes, audience monetisation and in corporate and premium packages.
  •  For event and/or marketing solutions (advertising) driven businesses, 2021 is the year to launch subscription and membership models.  Content created by virtual events makes a valuable addition to a membership proposition.
  • Product and sales require investment when launching or growing a subscription or membership offering. Targeted, data-driven and digitally enabled marketing will generate leads and enable customised promotions to acquire, retain, and upsell subscribers or members. Smart use of martech and automation is essential to build scale.

 

2. Events

  • Digital events have delivered unexpected value; on demand video content delivers unique and long-term benefits for sponsors and subscribers/members. This content can be packaged into valuable products and widely distributed via smart marketing.
  • 2021 will see a cautious, phased return to in person events. Risk can be mitigated and sponsors’ expectations managed through careful plans for virtual alternatives if in person is not viable.
  • Events for spring 2021 are largely planned as wholly virtual, with summer events scheduled to be in person with virtual contingency plans.
  •  In person events are preferred for large flagship events that bring the business community together, or small intimate networking focussed groups.  Mid-sized content-driven conferences work well online so are likely to stay in that format.
  • Hybrid events, although in theory a good option, are considered too expensive to run well and too risky to bank on for most organisations.
  • Sponsors like the wider audience and data from virtual events.  And they value repackaged videos of virtual event content for their own marketing channels. Organisers of 2021 in person events are briefing sponsors upfront on a go/no go decision date on postponement or a virtual alternative.

 

3. E-learning

  • Online training is a good opportunity to maintain and grow revenue.  Face to face training made a relatively easy switch to online delivery in 2020 and will remain largely virtual in future as corporates appreciate the flexibility and cost savings of online delivery.
  • Maintaining revenue levels when switching to virtual has been easy as pricing has remained largely the same for online training. Next year attendees will pay a premium for specific, practical knowledge at a time that suits them.
  • Media brands are experimenting with on-demand, self-directed online learning programmes interspersed with tutor led interactive sessions. Corporate training programmes delivered in a customised and consultative format could become a growing and lucrative business model.
  • A lack of skilled staff has been a key challenge for organisations developing e-learning. Creating, delivering, marketing, and selling e-learning requires a very particular set of technology, tools and skills, as well as subject matter expertise. Sourcing and onboarding these skills takes time and money. Partnering with external experts could help businesses move fast and remain agile while keeping costs flexible.

 

4. Marketing solutions

  • Many media businesses have invested in creating internal marketing agency-style teams to provide commercial clients with content-led campaigns pushed out to their brand audiences across multiple media.
  • Event sponsors are looking for more reliable, year-round digital exposure to a media brand’s relevant and engaged online audience – rather than counting on a few large annual events (virtual or in-person) to achieve their branding, thought leadership and lead generation objectives.
  •  An ‘internal marketing agency’ capability (also known as ‘native digital marketing services’) has been a reliable and growing media revenue stream during 2020. It is seen by many B2B media brand leaders as a key area for investment to continue revenue recovery and growth in 2021 and beyond.
  • As the economy recovers from COVID-19, marketing budgets will expand again, but there are still uncertainties in many industries. A highly flexible and agile approach will be essential for spotting opportunities, creating enticing and valuable marketing packages for clients, and delivering clients’ marketing objectives.
  • Skilled, agile, and flexible commercial salespeople, creative content producers and strong digital marketers will be needed to deliver value for clients in a highly competitive and price sensitive market.

B2B media and event leaders have developed robust strategies on where to invest to build stronger businesses, after a year of setbacks and uncertainty.

The winners will execute well and make sure their investments are focused on creating flexible, agile, and sustainable businesses where product, marketing and sales are delivered by the very best people their money can buy.

 

About the authors

Helen and Carolyn are both members of Renewd.net, a free to join community for professionals dedicated to sharing best-in-class practices for increasing subscriptions, building communities, and enhancing live and virtual events.

Carolyn Morgan has bought, sold, launched, and grown specialist media businesses across print, digital and live events. A founder of the Specialist Media Show (sold in 2014), she now advises media businesses large and small on their digital strategy through her consultancy Speciall Media.

 

Helen Coetzee has led marketing teams and advised senior executives on marketing strategy in a variety of large and small B2B organisations. In 2014, Helen co-founded MPG, a marketing agency and consultancy focused on communities, memberships, subscriptions, and events. MPG’s team of specialist marketers is engaged by a range of B2B media and events businesses globally to provide skilled, flexible marketing resources and team development – working as highly collaborative partners with internal teams to ensure marketing is a driver of sustainable revenue growth.

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