Inner Circle

Event Marketing  

Thinking Beyond the Next Show: 3 reasons to start marketing 2027 events now

by Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes


Historically, event marketers have focused narrowly — and often, exclusively — on the present show cycle. Within this framework, tactics and budget are exhausted on activities aimed at driving immediate conversion. This approach, however, has become increasingly shortsighted. Here’s why:


1. Much like Rome, databases can’t be built (or re-built) in a day.
Most of us can’t rely on the lists that helped us exceed our goals in 2019. From huge waves of employee turnover to baby boomers retiring en masse, the workforce has significantly changed over the past five years. This great reshuffle means we have to commit to not just rebuilding our database, but to nurturing it as well. Essentially, this requires more time at the top of the funnel with content aimed at awareness and consideration. Nothing is going to turn off prospective attendees more than a constant bombardment of promotional emails “screaming” at them to REGISTER TODAY AND SAVE. Building and nurturing a database can’t be rushed in the name of meeting immediate registration goals, especially without alienating a high percentage of new prospects.


2. Event marketers cannot live on email alone.
Yes, building a database that facilitates direct marketing is strongly recommended for most event marketers, but it should be only one tactic of an omni-channel campaign. As younger generations (who are skeptical of traditional marketing) enter the workforce, it’s imperative that we’re meeting them where they learn about new products and services, such as social media, YouTube ads and Internet search. In fact, platforms like Instagram and TikTok are perfect for nurturing colder leads by inspiring, entertaining and relating to viewers. And, yes, as you’ve likely deduced, the journey from awareness to conversion on these channels takes time. In fact …


3. All meaningful, strategic change takes time.
Though it may seem logical to allocate our attention and resources to maximizing overall attendance at an upcoming event, effecting strategic change is a long game. Achieving goals that extend beyond besting last year’s numbers — like attracting more C-level executives, appealing to underrepresented market segments or international visitors, increasing market share and/or changing a current event brand perception — don’t typically happen in the course of one show cycle. They require planning, patience and initiatives that build on each other and evolve. At mdg, we commit to a three-year outlook for significant strategic change, giving ourselves the flexibility to course-correct or pivot as we go.


A version of this article originally appeared in PCMA Convene