The Marketing Mix | September Newsletter

Newsletter • September 2020

Database top tips • Next MPG webinar • Most read MPG insights

The experts warned that coming out of lockdown would take much longer than going in. Anyone with a logical mindset could understand more or less what was meant by this.

But I don’t think anyone was prepared for the ‘intensity of uncertainty’ we’re all living with right now. Trying to make good decisions and create solid business plans with so many unknowns pressing down on us is incredibly difficult.

So, this month’s newsletter is focused on the ‘knowns’, most notably:

  • The importance of having a strong marketing database
  • How to proactively grow revenue from sponsors and clients – with marketing lead generation programmes producing visible and strong returns

Let’s get going!

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VOICES

“We’ve worked with MPG since early 2019 and I cannot recommend them highly enough. The MPG team’s commitment and unique expertise in data-driven, digital and integrated marketing has been a key success factor for our business – across various products and facing a range of challenges and opportunities. We’re delighted to have MPG as part of the SMW team”

Toby Daniels, Co-founder & CEO, Crowdcentric Media, Founder & Executive Director, Social Media Week

Toby Daniels


INSIGHTS

What has been keeping your peers awake at night?

At times like this, we’d all love to have a strongly retained, high value subscriber base. This is a worthy end-goal to strive for and one that every brand should be taking very seriously.

But, there is still a great need and important place for events – whether digital, hybrid or in-person. Most organisations that have traditionally had events as a strong and growing revenue stream continue to invest in their events through these tricky times.

So, it is not surprising that MPG’s second most popular insights article this year is all about how to make sure registrants tune in to your digital event. This was published in early May and, as we head into a very busy and crowded events calendar in September, it is more relevant than ever.

Interestingly, MPG’s #1 most read insights article in 2020 was published in April and is focused on our advice and predictions for overcoming the crisis and winning in the new world. The guidance we gave five months ago still stands, with the following 6 points being critically important to any B2B community-focused organisation:

  1. Make understanding the shape, size and needs of your community your #1 priority.
  2. Don’t think about your events just as events. ‘Events’ are just a format. Think about what goes into your events and what makes them valuable.
  3. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Keep your valuable content and networking opportunities you can facilitate, in-person or online, front and centre.
  4. Only choose your tech once you’ve worked out what your new value proposition needs to be, based on what your community needs.
  5. Double-down on marketing. Invest in the skills you need to make content marketing, marketing data and marketing technology work in the way you need it to.
  6. Help your clients – sponsors and exhibitors – understand and realise the value of digital event formats.
  7. See the full article here.

READ MORE MPG INSIGHTS


WEBINAR

Marketing to Grow Revenue from Sponsors and Clients – MPG’s Top 10 Tips

Marketing to Grow Revenue from Sponsors and Clients – MPG’s Top 10 Tips


MPG Founder and CEO Helen Coetzee shared how marketing can (and should!) support revenue growth by:

  • Identifying and reaching out to potential new sponsors and clients who will gain value from sponsoring your events and/or content packages
  • Effectively communicating the value and ROI you can deliver for them
  • Persuade prospective sponsors and clients to qualify themselves as leads for your sales team
  • Increase the volume and quality of these leads over time to feed a strong sales pipeline
  • Efficiently nurture and manage leads so that marketing and sales are ‘joined up’ in driving revenue growth

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SPOTLIGHT

Virtual events: common mistakes to avoid when preparing your database

Virtual events: common mistakes to avoid when preparing your database

It’s easy to focus on ‘shiny new things’ when planning for your virtual events: the clever tech platforms, exciting new formats for delivering content, unique networking opportunities – to name a few.

Some of the underlying fundamentals, however, can be pretty mundane – in the same way they always have been. The most important of these less-exciting areas is your database: the structured data you hold on existing and prospective delegates and sponsors that enables you to select the right audience to reach out to – and then reach out to them, usually with an email address.

We’re seeing many virtual events falling short due to mistakes being made in this most fundamental of things. Your database is the life blood of your marketing – especially for virtual events. Here are the mistakes to avoid:

Mistake #1: You’re not reaching enough relevant people in your target audience

Typically, in-person events that charge an attendance fee would see an 85%+ conversion rate from registrants to attendees, with free-to-attend events achieving anything between 40% and 70%.

For virtual events, this conversion rate is a LOT lower. With some exceptions, stats we’re seeing tell us that you can expect 30% – 50% of payers to show up and 20% – 30% of non-payers to tune in when virtual events run.

And on top of this, virtual event organisers are typically promising sponsors a much higher registrant and attendance rate than their in-person events achieved.

What is this telling us? It’s simple maths. You need MANY MORE relevant contacts in your database to make this work. By our calculations, your database needs to be at least 4 times bigger for a virtual event.

If your database is not big enough, your virtual event will struggle to hit its numbers. The only antidote here is a huge effort and investment going into inbound marketing, including a combination of content marketing, leveraging advocates, pay-per-click advertising and social media.

We recommend growing your database as fast as you can via a combination of inbound marketing and data acquisition – always making sure your targeting is very strong to reach only relevant contacts.

Mistake #2: You’re not taking full advantage of your global audience

The need to expand your database can seem daunting at first, until you realise there is now a literal world of potential contacts waiting for you. Going virtual opens your event up to an international audience in a way your in-person event did not. Targeted data build and PPC are just two ways you can capitalise on this to quickly increase the size of your database on a global scale.

Mistake #3: You’re too focused on outbound marketing (mainly email)

Outbound is generally more effective and efficient in generating high volumes of registrants fast, but outbound activity only reaches contacts you already have on your database. Incorporating inbound marketing techniques, such as content marketing, social, PPC and advocacy, will enable you to reach new, relevant contacts and convert interested leads through the marketing and sales funnel.

Mistake #4: You’re not introducing newly acquired contacts to your event in the right way

If using research agencies or bulk data purchases to increase the size of your database, you’ll be contacting people for the first time who may have never heard about your brand or event. Slotting them into the existing email schedule will leave them confused, frustrated and looking for the unsubscribe button. It’s also illegal in most countries to do this.

Make sure you have an email campaign built specifically for new contacts, ideally incorporated into a wider automation campaign, introducing them to your brand and your event, explaining why it’s relevant to them and what they need to do to get involved. Make sure you also invite them to unsubscribe at any time.

Also, make sure you don’t add people to your database who are based in countries where data protection and direct marketing rules do not permit this. Here are two useful references for country-specific rules: one which neatly splits by B2B and B2C, and another which covers more countries.


Managing and growing your database in the right way, day in and day out, may not be as exciting as some of the other aspects of digital events, but it is essential. If you don’t invest enough attention, time and money into your database then your virtual event won’t achieve its potential and may even be at risk of failing. So don’t let the shiny new things distract you too much. Ignore your database at your peril!

MPG’s team of data specialists have carefully crafted a host of data management and development strategies for some of the largest B2B media and events businesses globally. To find out how we can help perfect your database so it’s ‘virtual event’ ready, get in touch.


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No matter your marketing needs, MPG can support you in improving marketing performance. Whether you require a revenue-driving marketing strategy, full-service campaign delivery, marketing operations optimisation or skills training; our team of seasoned B2B marketers are at your disposal. Get in touch to discuss how we can support you.

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MPG Academy

UPSKILL YOUR MARKETING TEAM

MPG Academy offers B2B community-focused organisations the opportunity to invest smartly in their marketing function, upskilling marketers who are taking on new challenges in a new world.
Through skills training and team development, we can help you build a stronger marketing function that consistently delivers high performance marketing.

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Times are tough for many. Now, more than ever, we need to keep moving forward positively and with purpose.

In October we will publish MPG’s ‘secrets of success’ in project management – that all-important but often overlooked element in delivering successful marketing programmes.

As always, please get in touch via helen@mpg.biz if you think we can help you move forward in the right way.

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Key insights from MPG’s ‘Pivot to Virtual’ webinar series

With large in-person events unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future due to Covid-19, Toby Daniels and the team at Social Media Week decided in March to launch a new, completely virtual event – #SMWONE – in place of two large scale, flagship conferences that were due to run in New York (May) and Los Angeles (June).

Toby generously offered to share the #SMWONE journey and learnings with MPG’s community (thank you Toby!). So, last week, over 100 of MPG’s ‘friends and family’ joined us for a 2-part webinar series breaking down ground in our industry (thank you friends and family!).

In part 1 of our webinar series, I had a ‘fireside chat’ with Social Media Week founder Toby Daniels to explore the strategy and practicalities of ‘going virtual’.

This was followed in part 2 by a marketing-focused session, where MPG’s Kirsty Joynson and Alicia Drew shared unique insights on how they developed the marketing strategy and then executed an innovative, fast paced marketing campaign to launch #SMWONE – with only a 4 week lead time.

Due to popular demand, we’ve put together a ‘content package’ to share with you:

 

Our top 7 takeaways:

1. Social Media Week have always had a strong digital presence and 365 content-led offering for their community. They’re just taking digital up a notch with a fully virtual, large-scale event – at a time of crisis, when their community really needs the knowledge and networking #SMWONE can deliver.

The most forward-thinking and ‘future-proof’ event organizers think first and foremost about their purpose around serving the needs of their community. Then they think about how best to serve that community – be it delivering and creating value via a 2-day in-person event, or a 4-week virtual event. The format/platform is there to serve the community’s needs in a way that is practical and engaging at a point in time. In 2020 – that’s digital.


2. It’s very important to focus on how you can create something new that is truly valuable for your community, instead of obsessing over when you can ‘go back to how things were’.

Brands that view adversity as an opportunity to innovate for long term success will be the winners. Event organizers that focus purely on cutting costs and damage limitation over the next 6-12 months will fall (far) behind. Our ‘new normal’ will inevitably look different and we should be embracing the unavoidable change, not shying away from it.


3. Virtual and hybrid events are here to stay. The tech you choose must support the needs of your community.

Virtual meetings are not a new idea, they have been around for a long time. We all have a vast (and often confusing!) choice in digital event platforms. Social Media Week chose a new platform from Bizzabo to run #SMWONE because it promises the best combination of features to best serve Social Media Week’s community. Work out your community’s needs first, then choose the tech.


4. A virtual event creates new opportunities (and challenges) for marketing

With the physical constraints of an in-person event removed, marketers can now reach out and engage a truly global audience.

However, virtual events demand marketing that is more digitally sophisticated and precision-targeted, at a higher volume and a much faster pace than live events. This can create significant operational challenges if the right skills and level of resource is not in place.

Plus, event marketers are facing a very new, essential requirement: planning, setting up and running automated and effective conversion campaigns to ensure a high percentage of registered attendees turn up to the event and engage with the content and networking opportunities.


5. There are 5 pillars to marketing a virtual event…

…and they aren’t dissimilar from marketing a live event. These are:

(1)  An effective marketing funnel – with the right message, sent at the right time to the right audience to generate and then convert leads
(2)  An optimized pricing strategy – to achieve the right balance between revenue, delegate volume and attendee quality
(3)  Effective positioning – around your event’s USP and key benefits
(4)  Excellent execution – with a strong focus on digital enablement and automation to achieve the relevance and volume of marketing activity needed
(5)  Ongoing measurement and analysis of results – to ensure ongoing data-led decision making can enable a responsive and high-performance marketing campaign

These will all be familiar to event marketers, but their application must be adjusted to fit the virtual environment.


6. Test and learn is the name of the game

With a shortage of ‘case studies’ on how large, paid-for conferences have successfully transitioned to virtual formats, we need to be brave and truly agile. It’s essential that senior event professionals and their marketers quickly embrace tech and get stuck into working out how to deliver value to their communities digitally. The only way to really know if something will work is to do it. We don’t have time to wait for someone else to do it first to reduce our risk. Move fast and break things. Test and learn. Then quickly switch your focus to building stable infrastructure.


7. Have a back-up plan

Technology will always be prone to hiccups, as the MPG team discovered when our chosen webinar platform encountered technical issues 45 minutes before we were due to go live for ‘part 2’. The world’s fastest platform switch (citation needed) commenced and the stream started on schedule on a different platform. Digital event organizers should be prepared with some ‘Plan B’ options and the ability to make a quick switch if needed. The show must go on!


Part 1: Strategy – Replay

Part 2: Marketing – Replay

During part 1 of the series, our audience members’ combined challenges were prevalent as we saw an influx of questions surrounding both the short- and long-term considerations when taking a previously large-scale conference fully virtual. With input from Toby Daniels @ Social Media Week and MPG’s Alicia Drew and Kirsty Joynson, we have reviewed all the questions and provided full answers here for you to download.

We hope you found the webinar content package useful and that you have been able to gain some valuable new insights on how to approach your virtual event strategy and marketing approach going forward.

MPG contact us

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MPG’s advice and predictions: overcoming the crisis and winning in the new world

The last two weeks have been very busy for my team. Not because we’ve been swamped with new business enquiries, unfortunately. I hope these will come in in a few weeks once the world has worked out that nobody can ever cost cut their way out of a crisis in customer confidence. Especially if most of those cuts are in marketing investment!

So, what have we been so busy with? The phone has not stopped ringing. Clients and others in our network have been calling us to ask the following three questions:

  1. What is everyone else doing with their live events for the rest of 2020? Are they still running them or cancelling them? Or making them virtual or hybrid?
  2. Do you think we should be planning for virtual or hybrid events?
  3. What tech should we buy to ‘digitize’ our events?

 
And in response to these 3 questions, I have said three things:

  1. There is very little, if any, precedent here. So, whatever advice we give you will be based on our best judgement and what we think is logical and sensible. Anyone who claims to have the absolute answers right now is probably someone writing a blog to flog a virtual event platform (I almost got taken in by one of these very well-disguised pieces just this morning…it was the ‘request a demo’ at the end that gave it away…)
     
    AND…
  2. You may be asking the wrong people, and…
  3. You are most certainly asking the wrong questions!

But before we proceed any further: it’s important we’re clear about our very strong views on the future of events. Events will HAVE to either be fully virtual or hybrid in 2020. And from 2021 onwards, anyone who wants to continue running their events in the same way they did before Covid-19 is being at best unambitious and at worst oblivious to how much our world has already changed.

If you’re planning to run live events in late 2020 or early 2021, your PLAN A should be to run these as hybrid events. So, keep your in-person offering on the table and build livestreaming (for content-led events) and digital directories (for tradeshows) into the fabric of your event, making it clear to all stakeholders that all content, showcasing of products and many of networking opportunities will still be available digitally alongside the in-person experience. And also make it clear you have a strong PLAN B to just run with the digital event, should it suddenly become impossible to host large gatherings, or gatherings of any size due to a further ‘waves’ of the virus making more lockdowns necessary.

But to get back to the issue of ‘are you asking the right people the right questions?’…

The conversations I’ve had over the past few days have gone something like this in terms of my response:

“Before you called us, how many of your customers did you call?

Of these customers, how many were in your ‘end-user audience’ i.e. the ‘core’ of your community as attendees, visitors, delegates to your events – the people you attract to your events to buy from your sponsors and exhibitors?

And for those end-user conversations you did have, did you ask them the following questions?

  1. What do you think you’ll need in the coming months in terms of learning, knowledge sharing and networking?
  2. How can we help you get what you need here?
  3. If we were to run all or part of our events in digital format, possibly alongside some in-person events – how do you see yourself participating and benefiting?”

My team and I will always encourage you to ask the above three questions of your community before doing anything else.

And then we will offer you the following six pieces of advice that we think could help you not only save your events and your business, but more importantly, help you take advantage of the immense opportunities facing B2B media and events businesses in becoming ‘community first’ brands:

  1. Make understanding the shape, size and needs of your community your #1 priority.
     
    By this, we mean ‘end-users’ – that valuable audience that you sell on to sponsors, exhibitors and advertisers. Because we tend to ‘follow the money’ and most of this tends to come from vendors selling to our audience, we’re putting the cart before the horse by starting with tactical responses to their needs.

    This can degrade our content and the value we’re creating for the valuable members of communities who make up our audience. Audiences WILL disengage and they will disappear. And then what do you have to offer your clients?

  2. Don’t think about your events just as events. ‘Events’ are just a format. Think about what goes into your events and what makes them valuable.
     
    Ask your core community members what they value most and work out how to serve this up digitally – to replace in-person experiences in the short term and be the ‘core’ of the events product in the long term, with in-person experiences then added on (not the other way around!).

    We’re working on some strategic projects where clients have seen great opportunity in either rolling digital event content into their subscriptions product to create a more community-focused membership offering, or launching a membership with digital event content they’ll be creating (and in some cases have already started delivering).

    The thing to do here and now is to ‘think different’. Essential innovation happens by turning your current formats inside out and upside down and shaking them about to see how you can get the most valuable stuff out and serve it up in a way that gives your community what they need – digital for now, then digital-first with face-to-face added on in the longer term.

  3. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Keep your valuable content and networking opportunities you can facilitate, in-person or online, front and center.
     
    What is hugely valuable right now and potentially unique, is the relationships you have with the ‘biggest names’ and senior decision-makers in the community you serve, along with their confidence in your content and ability to help their businesses move forward.

    Continue to invest in these relationships. They are the key to collecting valuable knowledge from these ‘top minds’ and then curating and packaging up this up for your community – along with facilitating important connections and discussions between people who really need to talk to one another right now.

    You hold a privileged position and have an important role to play in helping your community face their current challenges and identify potential opportunities that may present themselves in the coming months.

  4. Only choose your tech once you’ve worked out what your new value proposition needs to be, based on what your community needs.
     
    Tech companies have fantastic salespeople who usually won’t ask you what you really need before they sell you their kit. So, it is up to you to first figure out what your value proposition should be, then what your requirements are, and only then evaluate what is out there in terms of tech solutions.

    And remember – it is the content you put in to the tech, how you manage the data and customer journeys around and in through the tech and how your people make the tech work for your communities and clients that matters most. No tech can make up for poor content or bad operational delivery.

  5. Double-down on marketing. Invest in the skills you need to make content marketing, marketing data and marketing technology work in the way you need it to.
     
    Of course, I do have a vested interest in recommending this. But the truth is that now is not the time to be cutting investment in the internal people and external partners who probably understand how to make digital events work better than anyone else in your business – the marketers!

    You need strong marketers now more than ever to make your 2020 events portfolio work. Digital and hybrid events need even smarter and a higher volume of digital marketing than traditional live events ever did. Getting your audience to notice, commit to and engage with your virtual and hybrid events will take strong marketing skills and lots of hard work. If you under-invest in marketing over the next few months, you’re making a fatal mistake. Your delegates and sponsors won’t want to invest in your events going forward unless they can see you’ve invested first. And what more obvious way to show them you’ve invested than with good marketing – which stakeholders will notice. And they will certainly notice absent or bad marketing even more.

    Looking ahead to 2021 events: it’s nearly May! If you want your large annual events in the first half of 2021 to succeed you have to start working on the marketing now. Start now in building the strategies, databases and pipelines of sponsor, exhibitor and delegates leads if you want to make 2021 events a success. If your events in 2021 fall flat after the pain you and your event stakeholders have experienced in 2020, you’ll most certainly enter the dreaded ‘event death spiral’ that is almost impossible to reverse.Not investing in planning and marketing your 2021 events – starting now – could cost you everything in the long term.

  6. Help your clients – sponsors and exhibitors – understand and realise the value of digital event formats.
     
    What they may lose in the ‘intimacy’ of in-person events they will almost certainly gain in scale. The digital reach of your events will be far greater than your live events could ever be (if you invest in marketing of course).

    Also consider how you can help sponsors develop and execute their strategies to qualify, nurture and convert leads generated by digital event formats. Instead of taking direct enquiries, orders or doing deals in the live event format, as they’re used to doing, sponsors and exhibitors will have to work out how to identify and engage with their most likely future customers in different ways. So, take the initiative! Set up a ‘sales and marketing taskforce’ to help your clients build and optimise their lead funnels so that they end up with a good and measurable ROI from your events.

We all know that most of the money in the world of B2B events comes from clients. It will take some time to shift our models towards the safer subscriptions-led, recurring revenues. You will notice in our list of top six areas to focus on – I have still put ‘clients’ last. Because that is how the value chain works. Whatever you do, don’t let short term tactical moves to ‘keep our clients happy now’ sabotage the strategic priority of putting your audience first and in so doing creating and looking after your community.

Play the long game. Focus on delivering community-first value and hold your nerve. Don’t let the bumps in the road and inevitable setbacks knock you out of the premier league of the smartest and most valuable B2B community organisations. Like top athletes, winning is about being determined, intelligent, psychologically resilient and laser focused on the end goal.

Topics:

Email Marketing Performance Benchmarks for B2B Events

We have a dizzying array of channels and tools available to today’s B2B community marketers, and the humble email is still one of the most effective. Deployed smartly, email marketing remains critically important when marketing events.

GDPR meansB2B community marketers are likely to be sending fewer emails to data subjects in the EU than they did previously, so it is even more important than ever that campaigns are designed for complete relevance, maximum impact and constantly measured against the industry benchmarks.

(more…)

Topics:

Why GDPR is the only acronym marketers need to be obsessed with in 2017

Changes to data protection laws will reshape how marketers can use and retain data, yet UK organisations are not ready and risk significant financial penalties as well as, missing potential business opportunities.

Marketers love a good acronym. SEO, CRM, PPC and ROI flow smoothly off our tongues several times a day. (more…)

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