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.

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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

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“Our messaging is just not as good as it should be!”

“Our messaging is just not as good as it should be!”

This is one of the most common concerns CEOs and senior executives share when they first approach MPG for help. And we’ve been hearing this one a lot lately!

As the digital space is now so crowded with products – legacy, pivoted and new – messaging to make brands and products really stand out and attract the right customers has become much more challenging. It has also become more important than ever – which is why we’ve included it as one of the 5 areas of particular attention for marketers as we return to live events.

Good CEOs and business leaders instinctively know when what they see going out in their marketing campaigns is not hitting the mark. They know what is most relevant to their customers – what addresses their pain points and highlights their opportunities.

But, at the same time, they find it hard to put a finger on what is wrong with or missing from their marketing messaging.

When we ask CEO’s what they think their messaging is lacking, the common answers are “the copy just isn’t strong enough”, or “what we’re saying in our marketing  isn’t compelling enough” or “we don’t feel like we’re getting our message across”.

So, why is this happening? 

When we dig a bit deeper, the causes are usually one, or both, of the following:

  1. Marketers don’t have a deep enough understanding of the market they serve – the pain points, motivations and what is most important/relevant to their customers. They don’t understand ‘the jobs to be done’ in the customers’ world.
  2. Marketers don’t feel confident in product USPs and don’t know how to articulate the benefits their customers gain from buying and using a product. This usually happens because they don’t understand their customers well enough (as above), or because the product is not strong enough and maybe doesn’t have a clear USP or set of benefits ‘built in’.

This lack of customer knowledge, product knowledge and confidence in their value proposition permeates everything from high-level strategic marketing planning right down to individual social posts. 

This is often not the fault of the marketing department. The truth is that marketing is often set up to fail by not being given the investment and support needed. And often marketers are expected to – without complaint – regularly ‘put lipstick on a pig’ (no amount of good marketing messaging will save a product that is not relevant and compelling…). And then they are blamed when the messaging is not strong enough, and other things go wrong. So, it is no surprise marketers’ can be shy of tackling messaging head on!

So what’s the solution?

Firstly, CEOs should ensure the right level of investment is going into marketing and that those given the task of creating and pushing out compelling messaging have all the support and resources they need to get this right.

Secondly, whoever is entrusted with creating the right marketing messaging should be approaching this strategically.  Often products that are not market leaders or do not have clear USPs still need marketing, and impactful messaging can still be created in this situation – with the right approach. 

In next week’s blog, we will share the process MPG follows to build a messaging strategy that ensures your messaging hits the mark – every time.  Make sure you’ve subscribed to MPG Insights to get the next installment!

 


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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 (Social Media Week, acquired by Adweek)

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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

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What marketing skills do you need in your business?

We predict that marketing will be more important than ever in 2021. Many organisations will rely on digital marketing to drive their businesses forward, and the rise of digital events and community-oriented models will favour those with skilled and flexible marketing.

Over the past 3 months, I’ve had numerous conversations with business leaders who considered my first article on the topic a watershed moment for how they view and invest in marketing skills. Product and sales are usually the focus areas of senior decision makers, with marketing often not receiving enough attention or investment to ensure the investments being made in product and sales will pay off. Organisations cannot afford this approach anymore.

In a past blog, we’ve spoken about the hidden costs of an internal marketing function, how outsourcing marketing can work well for your business and how a hybrid approach (combining internal and external resources) can also be a great solution – if approached in the right way.

This post focuses on the key people – with specific skill sets – that you need in your marketing function, regardless of whether our marketing is in-house, external or hybrid.

Here’s what I believe to be the optimal mix – based on how we’ve built MPG’s high-performance marketing team that works with a range of clients globally to grow their B2B revenues:

Type 1 – The Marketing Generalist

This person is strong on marketing strategy, project and stakeholder management, messaging, content creation and partner/advocate activation strategy and execution.

Another key responsibility of The Marketing Generalist is ensuring the marketing team delivers an engaging customer journey across all touchpoints. Their unique high-level view of marketing efforts makes them ultimately responsible for ensuring your customers are delighted.

As project manager and the link between other areas of the business and important external partners, they also need to be adept at reading and understanding marketing performance data – not only so that they can provide actionable direction for improving marketing performance, but also to share valuable marketing intelligence with all key stakeholders.

Type 2 – The Data, Tech & Analytics Specialist

This person’s focus is on martech, database and data flow setup and optimisation. They know how to source and integrate the most appropriate systems and work with internal and external stakeholders to build a ‘fit for purpose’ tech stack and also put in place the processes to make tech and people work well together.

In short: this role is about ensuring all elements of marketing technology are fully integrated and automated as much as possible. For virtual events, this can mean automated data flows from the event platform directly to your database, which are then fed appropriate emails and other comms – all without the need for manual marketing activity.

The Data, Tech & Analytics Specialist also needs excellent project management ability and strong communication skills to ensure all tech and data flows are well implemented, understood and embedded.

Type 3 – The Digital Marketer

The Digital Marketer is focused on getting the most out of a range of digital marketing tools. They should be familiar with email and email automation platforms; social media platforms and scheduling tools; design tools like Canva or Adobe CC; and website platforms like WordPress.

The Digital Marketer supports The Marketing Generalist in executing the marketing plan. They should follow a messaging strategy created by the marketing generalist to create emails, social posts and other comms. Updating website content and supporting on advocacy marketing can also be part of their day-to-day activities.

The Digital Marketer needs to adaptable, efficient and good at technical problem solving and creative thinking to get the most out of each digital channel.

Type 4 – The PPC Expert

PPC (Pay-per-click) advertising is growing in importance for B2B. The technical nature of this channel – as well as the ever-changing functionality and techniques – makes a dedicated resource essential. The PPC Expert should be well versed in Google Ads, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, and understand how to achieve marketing objectives with these platforms.

PPC is much more than fire and forget: PPC experts must frequently monitor and optimise campaigns to deliver the best ROI.

Specialists in this role should be committed to self-learning, be data and results driven and be able to think creatively to achieve marketing goals.

Type 5 – The Designer

The volume and level of quality needed in design work is often beyond the scope of The Digital Marketer. That’s where internal or external design expertise comes in. The Designer is a resource you can draw on for heavy duty pieces like brochures or website re-designs.

Their expertise is often overkill for day-to-day activity like social images – so it’s better to leave these with The Digital Marketer. You should, however, employ a designer for template and asset creation, allowing digital marketers to work from a framework and with assets provided by an expert designer.

This full skillset within your marketing team should be enabled with a strong project management tool, well mapped-out processes and a disciplined team culture to tie everything together. It’s important you foster collaboration and a results-driven outlook. A team that works together will deliver better results and progress faster than one that operates in silos. This very important area of skills development and team culture is covered in one of our most read past blogs.


Upskill your marketing team via MPG Academy

Offering training on marketing for events, subscriptions, community and memberships – MPG Academy will help you improve the performance of your marketing function.

Delivered by our expert practitioners, we provide training via our Masterclasses and bespoke in-house training.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HOW MPG ACADEMY CAN HELP YOU


Fill your skill gaps with expert outsourced support

MPG also offers direct marketing support and consultancy to fill your skills gaps. Work with a team who have helped some of the world’s leading brands improve their marketing and grow their businesses.

“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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The Marketing Mix | October Newsletter

Newsletter • October 2020

Engaging Communities • Project Management • Skills Development

We’re still in very challenging times.

Fortunately, the members of our ‘community of community leaders’ are a resourceful and innovative bunch. We’ve grabbed hold of a host of digital tools to engage with our communities and keep them talking to one another to solve problems in every industry – in virtual spaces.

It has also been an inspiring time. We have some real heroes achieving incredible things. I will never forget the many emails arriving in my inbox in the middle of the night from event organisers working tirelessly to deliver their virtual events. I will also never forget how bravely and smartly some businesses have pivoted to focusing on revenue streams they can rely on while live events are not possible.

In this month’s newsletter we highlight some important areas where marketers make a critical contribution – from building hybrid communities, to generating leads for sponsorship sales teams and owning the project management that enables the monetisation of the products and services we build for our communities.

Enjoy!

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INSIGHTS

Helen Coetzee | 30/09/2020

MPG’s advice and predictions: 2021 – the year of Hybrid Communities

2021 will be another unique year for the world of B2B events, media and professional associations. We warn against taking a product-centric approach at the expense of focusing on the needs of our community. As community leaders we’ve been enabled with an array of tools to serve our communities – from virtual, in person and hybrid events, to digitally delivered business intelligence. We need to use these in the right way to help our communities work together in the fightback against Covid-19. Read more here >

Helen Coetzee | 25/09/2020

10 tips for growing revenue from sponsors and clients

MPG’s latest Insights webinar focused on how marketers should play a key part in identifying and drawing in new revenue from sponsors – especially for virtual events. Marketers should be generating and nurturing leads to help your sales people focus their efforts on those most likely to buy. The content package of webinar replay, slides, full Q&A write up and poll results are all available now for anyone to download (for free!) – get yours here >

READ MORE INSIGHTS


WEBINAR

Building B2B Communities: an Industry Trend Accelerated by Covid-19
LATEST WEBINAR:

Building B2B Communities: an Industry Trend Accelerated by Covid-19

Our latest webinar explored how leading B2B community builders have aimed to best serve their communities over the past 6 months – and how they hope to continue engaging, monetising and scaling their communities going forward.

Webinar guest speakers:

Anna Knight – VP Licensing, Informa Markets

Anna Knight
VP, Licensing
Informa Markets

 

 

Adam Parry – Founder & Director, Event Tech Live and Editor, Event Industry News

Adam Parry
Founder & Director
Event Tech Live & Editor, Event Industry News

 

 

Ashley Friedlein – CEO & Founder, GuildAshley Friedlein
CEO & Founder
Guild

 

 

 

FIND OUT MORE

 


PROJECT MANAGEMENT SPOTLIGHT

Project Management Spotlight
Whether focused on events, subscriptions or memberships, a high-performance marketing function relies on strong project management.

Without effective project management, you miss key campaign opportunities and limit the return on investment from your marketing function.

Well-supported, rigorous and disciplined project management can make all the difference to your marketing performance. Enabling marketers as project managers helps them gain the support and input they need from other team members to deliver effective campaigns, hit deadlines and manage workloads effectively.

Here are some key elements that contribute to good project management in marketing:

  1. Planning – a marketing manager should always work to a solid campaign plan, with key deadlines and tasks visible to all stakeholders. The plan should show the full picture of all channels being deployed, specific timings, key milestones or significant dates – and should always be up to date. Project elements should be broken down into individual project tasks, always with clear deadlines.
  2. Communication – a marketer’s strong communication skills should help bring together a diverse group of stakeholders, drive projects forward and hold individuals accountable for essential contributions to marketing success.
  3. Keeping track of progress and make it visible – regular reports and briefings for stakeholders are an effective way to ensure everyone understands the priorities and progress in achieving marketing goals, while ensuring all contributors to marketing efforts are aligned.
  4. Project management system – when used well, project management tech can be a game-changer! It enables highly efficient and effective marketing planning, delivery and analysis. Clickup, Trello, Smartsheet and Asana are some examples that MPG has seen used well in marketing teams.

To find out more about how MPG’s team of expert marketers use strong project management as a key contributor to the success of the outsourced marketing delivered by MPG, get in touch.


Attracting New Subscribers Masterclass
Join our next Academy masterclass for a deep dive into MPG’s tried and tested methodology to create and optimise a high-performance marketing funnel to attract a strong and steady flow of relevant leads for your sales team.

  • Identify your ideal subscribers: develop personas and map your target market
  • Analyse your value proposition: from the perspective of your ideal subscriber – define your unique selling points and benefits
  • Communicate effectively: develop a powerful messaging strategy and multi-channel, integrated marketing campaign plan
  • Build your marketing and sales funnel: high performance tactics to create awareness, engage prospects and generate good quality leads for sales
  • Measure ROI & improve: track results, analyse and adjust for best outcomes

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VOICES

An MPG community member’s feedback on a recent Academy training course:

“I recently attended MPG Academy’s Digital Marketing Intensive course focused on the marketing of B2B virtual events. I found it very valuable – a great way to update the marketing knowledge and skills that are so important right now. I would certainly recommend this course to anyone who is hoping to attract a good audience to their virtual events!”

Gurveer Vasir, Marketing Manager, Waterfront Conference Company


We have a big year coming up of ongoing, rapid change. Marketing has such an important role to play in the Covid-19 fightback as we continue transforming our organisations and marketing functions – and start growing again. Please get in touch if you would find it helpful to talk through your marketing plans for 2021.

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Don’t take marketing skills for granted: they’re precious and need investment

When I started in my first marketing job, straight out of a marketing degree at university, I quickly discovered my theoretical understanding of marketing concepts wouldn’t be enough in the real world. My knowledge had to be paired with practical skills, especially those involved in digital marketing.

Ansoff’s matrix won’t tell you how to create an effective PPC campaign, but a fellow, experienced team member who has successfully done so for numerous organisations certainly can. It’s this kind of ongoing on-the-job training, coupled with ongoing learning via online resources and events, that has enabled me to continue growing my skill set.

And my marketing training will never come to an end. As an inbound marketing-focused specialist, I know that the constantly changing digital landscape will make me a ‘lifelong learner’, and that’s one of the things that makes my chosen career so rewarding.

At MPG, I am lucky enough to be surrounded by my (currently virtual) team of fellow inbound specialists, as well as MPG’s experts in other areas such as data, analytics, martech, website, marcomms strategy and campaign planning. It is this highly complementary combination of people and skills, brought together by our strong project managers, that enables me to apply my skills in order to deliver a strong marketing performance for our clients. The position I am in means I am constantly improving my skills and learning new ones.

This should be the story of every marketer in the digital age. Unfortunately, the breadth and depth of skills and expertise now needed in a single marketing function is usually underestimated by even the most astute business leaders.


The need for ongoing training and development

Every marketer should have the support from their organisation to learn new skills. This is essential if they are expected to perform well and deliver a good return on the marketing budget they’re managing.

Even the most experienced and accomplished marketer needs training.

This can be in anything from specific skills around content marketing, to more technical digital skills to ensure a particular channel like a website or PPC will work best, or even to gain the know-how to market relatively new types of products, like virtual events.

The ever-evolving nature of marketing demands up-to-date knowledge. New marketing tools and techniques come along every few months, and with competitors fighting for your audience’s attention, having the latest knowledge is essential for gaining a competitive edge.

Often organisations have stronger marketing potential hidden in their existing talent pool, they just haven’t unlocked it – yet.


Generalists plus specialists: a winning team

Don’t expect to be able to train a single person into some sort of marketing ‘superhero’. The breadth and depth of marketing is too much for a single person to handle. Inhouse marketers, who tend to be generalists, need strong, broad knowledge of how all elements of marketing can – and should – function. However, you can’t expect them to develop or maintain in-depth knowledge and up to date skills in specialist areas such as martech, data, analytics and PPC.

MPG’s own marketing managers are generalists – experienced experts in strategy, planning and project management. Every one of them started off working directly with digital tools – going through MPG’s programme of marketing training – giving them practical, foundational knowledge. This is routinely topped up by internal training and specialist colleagues always ‘on tap’ to share their knowledge. This gives the marketing managers the understanding of, and the confidence to, deploy the latest skills and tools for the best results.

But this well-balanced kind of marketing function, with the full range of skills needed, can be built by any organisation. The starting point is ensuring your own, inhouse marketers have the skills – and ongoing skills training – that they need.


What is holding back marketing skills growth?

If you expect your marketers to rapidly and frequently grow their marketing skills, here are the key questions you need to first answer:

  • Does your organisation’s culture encourage and cultivate ongoing learning and development?
  • Are marketers encouraged to learn new skills to help the business become more successful?
  • Is knowledge sharing within your marketing team, and with their marketing peers in other organisations, common and encouraged?
  • Are marketers given sufficient guidance on where their skill gaps are and how to develop, or gain access to, the skills needed to ensure their marketing delivers a strong ROI?
  • Do they have access to (and time for) the resources and training that will help them grow?
  • Is self-learning recognised and rewarded?

As the Covid-19 pandemic has developed, there are many distractions from applying usual best practices in running a business. You may have found that for the past few months it has been difficult to find the time and funds to provide support for your marketers in the right way. Many of them may have been on furlough and are now completely ‘out of the loop’ on latest developments.

So, now is the time to take a step back from what has probably been a very manic phase of business strategizing and rapid ‘pivoting’. You now need to seriously consider how well your marketers’ skills are matched to the challenges ahead.

Either you need to provide structured support and investment in your marketers’ skills development, or you need to outsource your marketing to a team that has the skills you need and will stay on top of latest developments. The logic is clear: poor skills = poor delivery = poor results.


MPG’s marketing training journey: we’re moving forward with our community

When MPG was first launched in 2014, due to popular demand, we ran a training academy. We ran various inhouse and public courses, training marketers from a large range of organisations focused on B2B events and subscriptions.

About five years ago, we decided to rather focus on hiring, training and developing our own team to best serve our fast-growing list of clients from all over the world who have invited us to be their outsourced marketing function.

We have now decided to re-launch MPG Academy to better serve our community –

  1. To address the urgent need for all marketers within our community to have strong marketing skills in new areas such as virtual event marketing and lead generation
  2. To make our expertise in these areas more accessible to more organisations who need it at a time when budgets are tight

Re-launching MPG Academy is one of the ways in which we are responding to the impact that Covid-19 has had on our community. We don’t intend to become a training business, but we do hope to be able to share our unique expertise and practical knowledge with many inhouse marketers around the world. In many ways, this is creating competition for ourselves, but we’ve looked beyond that to what really matters: we’re all in this together, and together we need to find the best, most positive way forward.

Academy Register Interest

Topics:

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

Marketing is on the chopping block. As businesses seek cost savings, marketing spend is reduced (once again) in favour of what are often seen as more ‘core’ areas like sales and product development.

Although marketing is a vital driver of both short and long term performance, it can be frustratingly nebulous in various ways: how much resource is needed, what skills are most valuable, and most importantly – what ROI can be expected. It is no surprise that Finance Directors usually look at reducing fixed costs on marketing before looking elsewhere.

Building more flexibility into marketing investment is the way forward for most organisations.

External partners, such as marketing agencies, are an attractive alternative to build in this flexibility. But how do you balance and integrate internal expertise with 3rd party support? Do the benefits of working with external partners outweigh the risks? How do you select and integrate an external partner (or more than one partner), effectively, for short and long term gain?


In-house vs (and) outsourced: the structure of a winning marketing function

If you can’t only afford a single marketer (or FTEs) and no – or very limited – agency spend, then a mostly outsourced marketing approach is likely best. A single marketer will not have both the breadth and depth of knowledge that is needed in modern marketing. Expecting one person to handle all strategic, tactical, digital and technical responsibilities is a recipe for failure.

If you can’t afford multiple in-house marketers (or FTE) and/or have a decent budget for agency spend, a hybrid model is probably your best option. Appoint an internal ‘generalist marketer’ (or have someone in your team take this on as part of their role) and then bring on board external marketing expertise and muscle. This should enable you to extract maximum value from your marketing function (as long as it is done in the right way of course!).

This will allow you to ramp up resources when needed, assuming your external partner has a team of a decent size. Larger agency teams (10+ people) should have the flexibility, breadth and depth you’ll need. Agencies are most effectively deployed when their skills complement what you have in-house, so make sure have access to both extra (flexible) capacity as well as expertise or skills that don’t exist within the business.


The hidden costs of in-house marketing

While you may feel having a fully in-house marketing team is a less risky and possibly more cost-effective solution, consider the myriad of hidden costs involved. Recruitment processes are often lengthy and costly, and ‘maintenance and overhead’ costs like IT equipment, HR, training, management, holidays/sick days, PAYE etc. must all be covered. Consider the risk of a new hire under-performing, and how draining and distracting this could become on the business.

Agencies can remove, or at least simplify these issues. Agencies carry all the recruitment, training, management and overhead costs themselves. They also have to make sure the people working on your marketing are performing well – and if they aren’t, the ‘people management’ issues will not be yours to deal with. A good agency will be able to offer tangible evidence of past performance, often spanning various industries, geographies and specialisms, and will also hold themselves accountable for marketing ROI.

Perhaps most valuable of all is that full-service agencies are the ‘perfect’ marketing team. They can expertly deliver all elements of marketing, constantly honing their skills by being involved in so many projects with a range of clients. Small, in-house and mostly ‘generalist’ marketing teams often can’t match this level of experience and expertise, as they’re usually stretched too thin to develop deeper knowledge and better skills. Some businesses can afford to support these marketers with in-house specialists in more technical areas like data and digital – but this is quite rare.


The case for a hybrid approach

The issue is not binary. You do not have to choose between in-house marketers and external partners; the best approach is probably hybrid. Even if you favour a fully-outsourced model, you will still need some level of oversight of, and support for, the agency’s delivery.

The demand for marketing resources within most businesses tend to vary over time, with some periods where internal teams are not paying their way due to being over-resourced, and other times where they can’t keep up with demand and become over-burdened. A hybrid approach is the best way to maintain the ‘minimum viable’ internal resource while having the option to ramp up capacity and expertise when needed.

The best kind of external partner will work in a transparent and collaborative way, enabling your internal team to gain valuable marketing knowledge and skills while working in an integrated way with your agency.


How to make outsourced marketing work

Employing external resources is not simply a case of signing a contract, throwing some money across the table and watching the results coming in. Careful selection and diligent support for, and management of, your partner will ensure optimal returns. Here are 4 things to always do when outsourcing some or all of your marketing:

  1. Look for expertise and a proven track record. Don’t fall for flashy sales pitches and hollow promises. Look for the proven substance in a track record and clear approach to make an astute decision on who you should work with.
  2. Onboard your outsourced team as strategic partners. A big mistake is to think of, or position, your agency as ‘a supplier’. From day one, treat them as part of your team, enabling them with the same kind of support you would give an internal marketer. Make sure everyone in your business understands their purpose, their skills and how to utilise them. A good strategic partner will see your business goals as their own goals, and will strive to help you achieve them by playing an active role in your business.
  3. Give an internal person overall responsibility for ensuring the partnership is successful. This does not mean this person is the main or only point of contact for the agency. The role of ‘partner relationship owner’ is ensuring the required outcomes are achieved from the partnership. This is achieved via strong, open communication and ensuring each party is delivering according to their role and responsibilities. Both sides need to be collaborative and accountable.
  4. Insist on transparency and accountability. As you would with an internal marketer, make your expectations clear from the start. Set clear objectives and agree specific deliverables to align on desired outcomes. Ask for weekly reports and hold weekly meetings to ensure the required progress is being made and good, visible results are being achieved. This weekly meeting is also essential to ensure the project team is working well together.

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 composition look like for us?’.

A hybrid solution is – in most cases – the answer. This offers the flexibility of external resource, while maintaining the baseline internal marketing function required. Marketing is a critical function. Maintaining your marketing strength now, and being able to scale up when opportunity knocks, may just give you the competitive edge!

Topics:

How are event marketing leaders creating high-performance teams? Insights from MPG’s Round-Table

Event marketing is being transformed.

Organisations are becoming more customer-focused, and attention is shifting from outbound to inbound strategies amid changing customer expectations and rapidly downsized databases due to GDPR. In this new era, where marketers have more data, technology and influence at their fingertips than ever before, the strategic impact and responsibilities they hold within organisations is growing exponentially.

It is up to marketers to ensure all stakeholders understand just how important best-practice marketing is to the future success of a business, and to build the most efficient and skilled marketing functions to deliver on this potential.

MPG’s round-table, held on 9th November 2018, brought together some of the UK’s most influential B2B event marketing leaders to discuss the key challenges involved in building a high performance event marketing team.

 

Round-Table Discussion Participants:

Nicole
Abbot

Nicole
Abbot

IQPC UK

Matt
Ackroyd

Matt
Ackroyd

The Telegraph

Babak
Daemi

Babak
Daemi

GovNet

Lubtcho
Dimitrov

Lubtcho
Dimitrov

Capacity Media

Vivian
Linecar

Vivian
Linecar

Haymarket

Hannah
McCulloch

Hannah
McCulloch

Hanson Wade

Matthew
Termlett

Matthew
Tremlett

Pageant Media

Sharise
Wilkinson

Sharise
Wilkinson

KNect365

 

Key Insights from the Round-Table Discussion

MPG have put together an overview of the key points from the discussion, providing valuable insight into the following areas:

  • The shift to more customer-focused organisations
  • How to increase event marketing’s contribution across an organisation
  • Why it is so important for the marketing function to have an investment mindset
  • The value of marketing performance measurement
  • Ongoing changes in tactical and strategic marketing practices
  • The opportunities tech and data offer marketers
  • Marketing’s evolving role in project management
  • Challenges in staff recruitment and retention

DOWNLOAD KEY INSIGHTS

Event Marketing Leaders Round-Table Series

MPG runs a series of events dedicated to marketing leaders. These gatherings enable discussion and the sharing of ideas around the most important challenges and opportunities in event marketing today, as well as important trends impacting the future of event marketing.
Sign up to event updates to join our community:

SIGN UP TO EVENT UPDATES

Topics:

Doomed to fail: too many marketers can’t distinguish between strategy and tactics

Helen Coetzee looks at why the inability of many marketers to understand the difference between strategy and tactics is not only failing clients, but also marketers themselves.

We have a big problem in marketing. It’s something many of us are afraid to admit and some aren’t even aware we have. It’s a problem that crosses pay grades and is one of the biggest factors in failed campaigns. (more…)

Topics:

What Makes a Successful B2B Marketer?

 

Everyone, no matter what industry they’re in, will ponder at some time what the successful do in their field that sets them apart from the competition. Many may naturally think that the best of the best were either just born gifted, showed up for the right opportunity, or are simply magicians in what they do. While true in a few cases, being gifted or a magician in what one does is usually not the reason for the vast difference between the best and the average. It is not easy to attain the status of being in the top of one’s field, but it’s definitely not impossible.

(more…)

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