If engagement is the holy grail to which all marketers aspire, surely brands should not only be investing in their print, online, broadcast, digital or social media presence, but also in real-life, physical world, eyeball-to-eyeball contact between thought-leaders in their business and their consumers?
While many brands do execute in-person ‘consumer activations’, there’s also a growing need for them to engage with their decision-making stakeholders by sharing their thought-leadership agendas. Which is why, increasingly, marketers are adding Events into their marketing mix.
One of the barriers to hosting events, however, is the amount of specialist planning required for execution, which many marketing departments are unable to resource themselves.
There are so many businesses out there, with specialist, niche audiences they’d like to reach – but often they don’t know where to start and for them it’s a daunting exercise to undertake a tailored event.
We’re witnessing the increasing demand from organisations who need specialist skills to conceptualise and curate tailored events on their behalf. It’s a trend where brands realise that the quality of their audience is more important than the size, and that it’s often within a tightly-focussed niche audience where they’ll have their greatest impact.
Large corporates and even government departments need effective platforms where their thought leadership can reach people directly, so they’re looking for ways that are not a burden to their own stretched resources, which is why outsourcing events and developing them in partnership has growing appeal. Government organisations also requiring a platform for effective stakeholder engagement, and also hard-pressed to find time and resources to plan and execute national events.
Understanding the format and content that is required to create something that decision-makers, clients and existing stakeholders feel compelled to attend, is key to delivering a purpose-driven, effective event. The formulation of relevant and topical content-themes, tailored to a brand’s specific sectors is what many marketers find most challenging. Positioning themselves as credible propositions for audiences that matter, by delivering their thought leadership through engaging topics and speakers is where many get stuck, or start to lose the plot.
But as marketers continue to realise the value of hosting events – be they conferences, summits, round-tables, breakfast gatherings, cocktail evenings or panel discussions – and start including them in the strategic marketing-mix – there are some elements that should always be considered from the get-go:
- Determine the target audience and the realistic size of that audience upfront – this will often be the best guide in deciding the scale and format of an event;
- Base the format of your event on your audience – can they afford to spend a whole day, or do they only have an hour or two to put aside? Do they have to battle rush-hour traffic to make it on time, or do they need to leave early to avoid the rush home or get back to the office?
- What is the thought-leadership theme of your event? What hook will appeal to your audience? These answers will help determine the content that needs to be presented, and the resources you’ll need to deliver it.
- How will you reach the audience you want to attract? Print, online and social media as well as direct marketing are essential considerations, particularly if your event is not only for existing clients.
Taryn Westoby is head of events at the Tiso Blackstar Group, which owns and manages over 52 events per annum, linked the to various properties of the group, including Sunday Times, Business Day and Financial Mail among others.