How to create an effective messaging strategy for a virtual event

Virtual and hybrid events are here to stay. Questions remain around how long it will take to get the in-person event components up and running again, but one thing is for certain: digitally enabled events are no longer a temporary solution until in-person events return. A sizeable chunk of events in 2021 will surely remain virtual, potentially with some never returning to large scale in-person equivalents.

It is therefore time for marketers to confidently move forward with communicating the value of these events to their audience. We’ve observed a trend of event organisers viewing virtual events as ‘damage limitation’ – something to retain their audience and revenue until things return to normal. This mindset permeates the organisation, and can lead to marketing messages that are almost apologetic of the virtual format, ignoring the very real benefits digital offers.

In this blog we share how to create an effective messaging strategy for digital events. The fundamentals we outline aren’t exclusive to virtual events – they can be applied to hybrid, in-person and even subscription and membership offerings.

 


How to construct a messaging strategy

There are 6 key concepts involved in successful messaging. Use these as guiding principles when putting together your marketing strategy and you’ll be able to consistently push out comms that engage, excite and convert.

1. Relevancy

This is about hitting the right people, in the right place, at the right time and – crucially – with the right message. Missing the mark on any of these 4 ‘pillars of relevancy’ will hamper the effectiveness of your messaging. To understand how to create relevant comms, ask yourself: What is keeping my audience awake at night – right now? What important and current problem(s) of theirs does our event solve? What are we helping them achieve that is hugely valuable and important – now or in the near future?

2. Positioning

Your audience will have a very particular perception of your brand and product. The position of your brand in their minds, when compared to other events and information sources competing for your attention, will have a huge impact on how they engage with your event. You need to ensure your USP (unique selling points) and benefits of attending your event very clearly position your event as ‘must attend’.

3. Brevity

The objective of any piece of messaging is to communicate something. The faster and more concisely you communicate your message, the more effective it will be. In the digital world, attention spans are short and distractions are aplenty. In simple terms: construct messaging that gets to the point fast and leaves readers in no doubt of what you’re trying to say, and what action they should take.

4. Holism

No communication should ever be written in isolation. Your marketing efforts consist of various touchpoints – from a single social post to your website itself – where your audience will interact with your product and brand. Consider how your messaging at different touch points work together to tell the story of your event and create a consistent view of your brand/product and its benefits.

5. Repetition

This doesn’t mean making all your comms identical. Instead, clearly define what your USPs and benefits are and agree a consistent way of presenting them. ‘The rule of 7’ dictates that people must see your message at least 7 times before they fully process and accept it, so bake in your core benefits messaging to all comms.

6. Keep it consistent and simple

Combine all of the above into a formalised messaging strategy captured in an accessible, centralised document. This will allow you and your team to agree on what your key benefits are, how they should be communicated and what tone of voice best fits the brand. A simple messaging strategy structure consists of 3 parts: who your audience is (what’s relevant), who your competitors are (what’s different) and what the messaging should contain (USPs and benefits).

Understanding these points will naturally improve your messaging. A simple, concise and specific message that ‘hits the mark’ with what matters most to your reader right now will beat a generic, verbose message that shows you don’t understand them.


Messaging for virtual events

The important first step in forming messaging for virtual events is to avoid seeing a digital event as temporary ‘damage limitation’ while you wait for live events to return. This mindset will be apparent in your messaging and compromise how effectively you’re able to communicate the unique benefits of a virtual event. Common examples are:

  1. Attend from anywhere – while still getting the same content/insight as a live event
  2. Join and network with a truly global audience – connect with your peers all over the world
  3. Catch sessions you missed on replay – any time, any place
  4. Interact directly with speakers – get your questions answered via easy, online chat

Depending on your event format and audience – there are likely to be many more! Consider what is specifically important and valuable to your audience and highlight how your virtual event will work to serve these needs.

For virtual events, two concepts are important to communicate – particularly if it’s your first online event:

  1. The value of the event
  2. How the event will look/feel

Potential attendees may have reservations about the value of a virtual event compared to an in-person offering, and/or they may be intimidated by the unfamiliar format and technology involved. It’s your job as a creator of event and messaging to clearly communicate the value of your event, and gently educate them on what to expect and how to get the most out of their digital event experience.

Remember: you are still presenting the same brand – a brand which has an established reputation and level of trust within your community. Leverage this to confidently speak about your digital event and turn your community members into advocates.

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The Marketing Mix | Summer Newsletter

Newsletter • Summer 2020

Virtual Event Marketing • Website Optimisation Guide • Marketing Training

The pace is intense.

In our last newsletter we shared the story of MPG’s work with Social Media Week – a remarkable eight week pivot to create and successfully deliver #SMWONE. The pioneering spirit and ability to think fast, act fast and deliver a great, innovative virtual event experience inspired many. We thank Toby Daniels and Brian Leddy for their vision and leadership in a very challenging time.

Since #SMWONE’s successful delivery, the MPG team of marketing strategists, martech specialists, data specialists and digital marketers have been working with Toby and Brian on the launch of their new SMW+ live and on-demand streaming service. This rapid product and marketing strategy development to deliver a digital subscriptions service for SMW’s community has once again been an exciting and inspiring journey. And the important work of strong execution and ongoing improvements to the approach for ongoing improvements to outcomes is only just beginning!

More MPG clients and community members have been moving rapidly through ‘test and learn’ cycles. The analytics and data collected over the past months on how professionals are engaging with digital offerings – and the marketing of these – has surfaced some interesting benchmarks. We shared some of our key learnings in our latest webinar.

MPG’s Summer newsletter focuses on four important areas that present great opportunity for every organisation focused on growing, engaging and monetizing their communities:

  1. Attracting new sponsors for digital content packages, including virtual events
  2. Attracting a great, engaged audience to your virtual events
  3. Ensuring you have the best combination of ‘must have’ marketing knowledge and skills to successfully take to market your digital events, subscriptions and memberships
  4. Optimising your website to do a great job at engaging and serving your community, while also delivering conversions to customers and revenue

So, take a break from your desk, step out into the August sunshine – and have a good read!

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INSIGHTS

Helen Coetzee | 16/07/2020

How to use marketing to get new sponsors for your digital events

Growing digital revenue by sourcing new sponsors is a great opportunity for many organisations. Marketing has a key role to play here in generating marketing qualified leads for your sponsorship team. Our recent blog gives you a step-by-step approach to acquiring new sponsors via marketing. Read more here >

Helen Coetzee | 19/06/2020

Creating a robust, sustainable marketing function: a strategic, hybrid approach

In these financially stressed times, the question should not be ‘should we use internal or outsourced marketing’, but rather ‘what does the most effective and cost-efficient marketing function look like for us?’. Read more here >

READ MORE INSIGHTS


VIRTUAL B2B EVENTS WEBINAR

Marketing Virtual B2B Events: 9 Key Success Factors

Marketing Virtual B2B Events: 9 Key Success Factors

In our latest webinar, which took place on Thursday 6th August, MPG’s Founder & CEO, Helen Coetzee, uncovered the ‘secrets of success’ in developing the right marketing approach to attract the audience of the size and profile you need to your virtual B2B events.

You can now download the comprehensive content package including:

  • Presentation slides – including additional detail on 9 success factors
  • Full webinar video replay
  • All Q&A responses
  • All poll results

ACCESS CONTENT PACKAGE

 


SPOTLIGHT

How to optimise your website

How to optimise your website

Your website has always been your most important marketing channel. As the end destination that all other marketing activity pushes to, the hub for your content and the place where your target audience converts to leads or registrants; getting your website right can mean the difference between success and failure.

But how can you improve your website, generate more traffic and, most importantly, get more leads and revenue?

  1. Know your user: As with all marketing, the key to success is understanding your audience. Put yourself in the shoes of a new visitor to your website. Does the site load quickly and look professional at first impression? Is it immediately clear who you are and what you do? Are there obvious and compelling CTAs that will pull them further into the site? A user will be considering all these points within seconds of landing, and if they encounter any friction with their journey they may leave, so first impressions really matter.
  2. Create great website content: Once you’ve hooked them, it’s time for your website content to do the heavy lifting. Write copy that communicates the value of your product, focusing on benefit-led copy. How does your offering address a particular challenge your target audience faces? Avoid focusing too much on the ‘what’ and instead focus on the ‘why’.
  3. Understand the rules of design: Design is crucial, and not just because it makes your website look attractive; it’s fundamental to the quality of the user experience. Avoid overly-cluttered pages. Use size, position and colours to emphasise important elements and create a structure. Visitors won’t read line-by-line, they’ll skim read to the parts they’re interested in. Keep it simple!
  4. Create a seamless journey: Effective navigation is what ties it all together. You are taking your visitors on a journey, so make sure you never leave them at a dead end. Link content together naturally, provide CTAs to related pages and push them to a lead gen form or booking page when you think they may convert. Users visit your website to achieve a goal, whether that’s to find out more information, submit an enquiry or make a purchase – make it easy for them to move through your content and present them with things they can’t help but click. The smoother the experience, the more conversions you’ll get.

These are just some of the points you should have in mind when upgrading an existing website or creating a new one.

The MPG team has been designing and building high impact websites for 6+ years. To find out how we can build a great website for you, get in touch.

MPG Newsletter Summer 2020
MPG Newsletter Summer 2020


VOICES

“MPG delivered a great series of tailored marketing workshops for the team at China-Britain Business Council. This training helped us formulate our membership growth strategy and gave us some very useful, practical guidance on improving our digital marketing and sales tactics.”

Claire Urry, Executive Director, China-Britain Business Council

CBBC


The world is presenting every organisation with significant challenges and great opportunities in our quest to innovate and transform to become more resilient and sustainable. The global economy is relying on each of us playing our part. As dramatic as that may sound – it’s true!

The MPG team is grateful to be working with the fantastic people that make up our community. We sincerely hope to help you find the best way to push forward – with strength and confidence!

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Focusing on lead generation? You need a community map!

Virtual, hybrid and live event organisers are currently facing an unprecedented challenge in sustaining their event revenue, both in the short and long term. Monetisation via spex sales and ticket revenue are under threat, and many organisations are quickly transitioning to digital event formats without a robust plan to protect this income.

The game has changed, so to speak, but there’s one tool that remains as relevant and valuable in the digital space as it was in the physical environment. A tool that we recommend all events undergoing any sort of transition to the digital space employ.

What is a community map?

Simply put, a community map (sometimes called a market map) is a tool for understanding the composition of your end-user target market, which is essential if you’re going to work out how to best serve this audience and thereby build the right kind of monetization model.

Creating one will help you engage effectively with your community to maintain and grow brand trust, as well as retain and grow your sponsorship and exhibitions revenue in the coming months.


How do we create a community map?

There are 3 steps to creating a comprehensive and accurate community map:


Step 1 – Make sure you understand who your community is

Make sure you can broadly define your end-user community in one or two sentences, and that you can easily identify who the ‘core’ group is that matters. Then ensure your whole brand team is 100% aligned on this.



Step 2 – Divide your community into segments and identify the most important ones

Once you’re confident in the community you serve and its core group, it’s time to break the community down in to further segments and identify the most important ones. To do this:

  1. Consider the different groups your sponsors want to most engage with
  2. Define parameters of each group in terms of sector, company type, job function and seniority.

Group your segments into tiers to make the hierarchy clear and improve internal efficiency in understanding, using and growing your database and other routes to market. Then as you work through your marketing comms plan, your plan becomes as simple as “we need to grow our Tier 1A database and reach them with a 4-stage email campaign” and “our next LinkedIn advertising campaign needs to target Tier 1B”.

There are several other benefits to segmenting and targeting your community in this way:

  1. Close new sponsorship deals. Being able to share exact figures on your community’s composition is a powerful leveraging tool to use on potential sponsors who are looking to engage a very specific audience.
  2. Retain more partners. In a similar vein, existing sponsors will become addicted to you if you’re feeding them valuable audience insights, as well as consistently growing the segments that matter most to them.
  3. Improve your marketing. Segmentation enables deeper, more personalised targeting of comms. Serving each group of your community with the content that is most relevant to them is an important step in engaging any community.
  4. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that it enables the most important step of all…


Step 3 – Size your key community segments and analyse your current database to identify gaps

Knowing the composition of your database is one thing, but avoid viewing it in a vacuum. Having your most valuable segment make up 80% of your database looks good on paper, but you could only have > 10% of the total contacts available in your core market.

This may look good in isolation…

…but when you look at the wider market, the gaps become clear.

If your most important segment is HR directors at the world’s 50 largest banks, and your database only has 20 of them – that means you’re reaching less than half of your most important community members.

To fill these gaps you should conduct database research where data privacy rules allow. If your research is small scale, try conducting this internally; your teams may be able to identify relevant contacts via social media and company websites. If you have a large pool of contacts to identify, consider employing an external agency to do the heavy lifting at pace and cost effectively.

If this is not allowed due to privacy regulations in your target region, or there are still contacts left to identify, you can move to outreach such as PPC and organic social media to try and draw your contacts to your website via inbound tactics. LinkedIn ads will allow you to target based on useful parameters like job title, industry and even individual companies – you just have to make sure your ads and website are effectively encouraging them to share their data (and grant consent for comms) via a lead generation form.


Wrapping up

Community mapping is a vital tool for any business to survive and thrive. In a recent blog post, we outlined why understanding your community, and their needs, should your #1 priority – read the full article here.

At MPG, we’ve been creating community maps for the world’s leading B2B media and events brands for years. To find out more about how we do this for specific markets, please do get in touch.

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