Inner Circle

Event Marketing  

Fear Not, Event Marketers

by Maggie Stevens

As event marketers, we are always in pursuit of that “silver bullet”—the one thing that is going to attract high-profile exhibitors, pack our aisles with quality attendees and ensure our show is an unqualified success. And while no ONE silver bullet exists, there is a mindset that can drastically transform results within an organization: fearlessness. Maggie Stevens, senior account director at mdg, shared her seven rules for embracing a courageous event marketing attitude.

Fear of Failure

Not every new idea is going to succeed. Trying new ideas, however, will provide insight into what works, what doesn’t and what can be done differently next time. Some of the greatest successes can come on the other side of failure, and some of the biggest takeaways are found in the struggle to understand what didn’t work.

Fear of the Unknown

Last year’s early registration campaign may have produced 323 conversions, but this year’s campaign has new creative, a new timeline and will be promoted on a new platform—meaning the expected results are completely unknown. That is okay. Trying something new means embracing what is unknown today in order to produce results and metrics that you can use to make decisions tomorrow. (And if that new early-reg-driving campaign doesn’t work, go back, embrace the failure and learn from it.)

Fear of Collaboration

Great marketing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Once you share an idea, it is fair game to grow, expand, evolve and ultimately become less yours in the process. Get people involved across the organization. Non-stakeholders can inspire great ideas and produce amazing results. There is a difference between “marketing by committee” and a collaborative, engaging and inspiring process where everyone can abandon the fear of losing their turf. Marketing needs to be the driving force that brings stakeholders and non-stakeholders to the table to inspire great ideas.

Fear of “NO!”

Coming up with a great idea is exhilarating; sharing that idea and hearing “no” can be crushing. Be courageous in asking to step outside of the box, and come prepared with the tools to help persuade your audience. Pro tip: Research published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that a request was more likely to receive a “yes” if the question was at the beginning of a conversation than at the end of it.

Fear of Stalking

Understanding your attendee’s customer journey and what motivates them to attend is critical—but it can feel creepy. Determine which elements in your marketing campaigns can be customized to the customer journey, and then boldly position your tactics along their way. And when you can leverage additional data through personalization, go for it. Thoughtful pieces that speak to market segment pain points, like personalized direct mail pieces, resonate beyond any “spray and pray” tactic.

Fear of Data

As marketers who connect with our industries, we’re inherently gut-driven. We don’t just know our industry; in many cases, we identify as part of it. We have gut feelings about what is going to work and what isn’t, but we often resist looking at data that may challenge this or the intuition of our colleagues. We have the ability to test and understand what truly resonates, and we can’t be afraid to use it. According to the 2019 Freeman Data Benchmark Study, 74 percent of event marketers are using data to measure overall marketing strategy and goal success.

We are living in the most analytic-driven period in event marketing. We don’t just have access to data, we have platforms and tools that will tie that data together and even produce predictive analytic reports. Go ahead and trust your gut, but remember to test, measure and understand what your data is telling you about your tactics, and challenge internal instincts.

Fear of Imperfection

Pursuit of perfection gets in the way of progress more than almost anything else. A project will be held up for weeks amid endless rounds of modifications, when timing and hitting the window of opportunity were far more critical than if the photo was really the perfect choice. Being fearless while simultaneously striving for perfection is not possible.

One of the best pieces of advice when it comes to marketing is, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Doing what we’ve always done comes easily, but it rarely produces new results. Find the courage to step out—and stay out—of your comfort zone, and look forward to new event marketing success.