To say that 2020 tested our mettle as event professionals would be a massive understatement. The ways of planning, producing and marketing events were forever changed. With these changes top-of-mind, we asked our in-house specialists about their “new normal” and the resolutions they are making to seize opportunities in the new year.
“I will stop defining virtual events by the clock and calendar.”
Sara Baliti, senior account director
If the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that time is a social construct. The self-imposed parameters of virtual events limit audience reach and engagement, especially internationally. From conflicting time zones to home distractions, people just don’t dedicate time and attention to virtual events the way they would for live events. This year, I will think of online engagement as just that—an engagement, not an event.
“I will forget everything I know about event marketing.”
Jacquelyn Wells, vice president and strategist
If we’ve learned anything from this pandemic, it’s the need to diversify our offerings. We need to shift from an event-centric approach to a more audience-centric one. As we better understand the changes to our audience segments and their evolving needs, we’ll be able to craft experiences and products that are data-driven, customer-focused and high-value. And we’ll use those same principles of personalization in our marketing automation campaigns.
“I will leverage social listening and influencers to ensure my stories are newsworthy.”
Connor Stewart, pr specialist
“Repetitive, non-newsworthy” is one of the most commonly cited reasons that journalists ignore pitches. It’s imperative that we understand that cyclical “Registration Is Open” and “Keynote Speaker Announced” releases don’t qualify as news for most media outlets. Using social listening tools is a great way to stay informed about what audiences truly care about. The insights revealed help ensure stories and pitches cover relevant topics, and they also provide excellent guidance on how our events can and should address modern industry pain points.
“I will double down on year-round engagement with my international prospects.”
Anjia Nicolaidis, international marketing specialist
The realities of travel limitations, accelerated adoption of technology and an evolving events industry require us to think differently about how we market to international audiences. Our success in attracting international prospects to events—whether online or in-person—will depend on our ability to capture their attention with the right solutions to their current challenges and make content consistently accessible on the most widely used channels in their home countries.
“I will use technology to include more people.”
Michael Engard, web developer and ux/ui specialist
With new tools, techniques and platforms emerging at a breathtaking pace, it’s an exciting time to be involved in digital marketing development. It’s also tempting to put all the latest and greatest technology to work in your campaign—from animated graphics and high-resolution video to interactive mobile apps and live content streams—but we must resist. Instead, consider crafting a user experience for those who don’t have this year’s iPhone or access to a 5G mobile network, and the millions of people who contend with a cognitive, motor or visual disability. Ensure your martech stack incorporates the latest web accessibility standards, and keep an eye on your minimum requirements. A few simple tweaks can open the door for up to 20% of your potential audience.
“I will reimagine event marketing.”
Ingrid Thorson, senior account director
When live events come back into the fold, it will be important to not fall into the trap of “we’ve always done it this way.” The same tried-and-true messaging used in the past may not resonate with audiences of the future. The same goes for the tactics used to deliver those messages. Things like direct mail, an overreliance on email and an overdependence on house lists will likely be replaced with more sophisticated, integrated, data-driven tactics.