As live events continue to move out of recovery mode, it’s time to focus on growth. But audience expectations have shifted as demographics skew younger, purpose-driven brands are prioritized and greater importance is placed on connections and a streamlined experience. So, how can your event keep pace? Here are some key trends and insights to create, sell and market your events to meet changing expectations.
- Reduce friction. Event audiences have lost their tolerance for less-than-seamless experiences. A good place to start to combat friction is your website. Sam Lippman, president of Lippman Connects, recommends adding a chat bot: “Your staff, when they’re freed up from answering the same questions over and over again, can have more high-value interactions with your customers.” Next, try segmenting your marketing efforts. It’s vital that the content you deliver aligns with where a prospect is in the customer journey and speaks to their specific industry segment, job title, experience level or past attendance.
- Networking. There’s an increased prioritization among attendees for three things: discovery, connections and inspiration. What does this look like in practice? Incorporating networking opportunities at multiple touchpoints throughout the event rather than confining them to networking lounges or receptions. Think about how you can build networking into your education sessions by encouraging more dialogue among attendees. For more technical events, facilitate the connections attendees are looking for by ensuring exhibitors have the right people on-site to answer detailed and specific questions unrelated to sales.
- Verification. Free or low-cost registration, flexible cancellation policies and changing consumer attitudes are some of the factors that have led to fluctuating event verification rates. One of the best ways event organizers can address this unpredictability and better sell registrants on the idea of showing up is through aggressive verification tactics, including:
- Paid media campaigns
- Word-of-mouth campaigns through Gleanin
- Digital retargeting
- Text messaging
- Direct mail
These campaigns should utilize messaging that encourages registrants to take the next step, such as curating a custom experience by setting meetings and/or choosing education sessions to attend ahead of the event.
- Event values. More than ever, personal values are influencing the decision-making process for prospective event attendees. Millennials — the largest generation in the U.S. workforce — want companies to align with their values (83%) and for CEOs to speak out on issues they care about (76%). If you’re unsure how to demonstrate your event values and commitment to what’s important to your audience, consider:
- Giving back to the community where your event is held
- Taking a stance on social or ethical issues
- Supporting a cause through service or donation
- Featuring speakers and event locations that embody the values of your event
- Working with caterers to identify locally sourced foods and beverages, more plant-based options and ways to reduce waste
These are just a few tactics we should all keep in mind (and in practice) to meet the demands of an evolving event marketing landscape — now and into the future.