“Think about your [event] content and what’s most relevant for people because we do have short attention spans,” said Jemilah Senter, VP, marketing communications, MCI USA. “We cannot take in too many pieces of information [at one time]. We think the whole event is amazing and fabulous, right? But we can’t tell everybody everything… that’s when they shut down and tune out. So really, less is more.”
“How can we make this experience so inviting and exciting?” Senter told us last year in an event marketing session at AMPLIFY. “What immersive experiences can you offer? You want to think about event design and experiential marketing components to bring on that next–level feeling of participation and engagement.”
Veronica Purvis, associate executive director, Skin of Color Society, gave an example of a clinical trials event she helped to organize for people of color, recalling that a simple Lyft certificate showed people that their attendance mattered. “It felt nice and helped elevate the exclusivity of the event. Think about the different touchpoints that can make the event feel special.”
Event marketing has certainly ramped up this year as we get back to a full slate of in-person events. So it makes sense to go over the excellent takeaways that Senter and Purvis offered—with a little AI added in. (Is there such a thing as a little AI?)
Senter and Purvis will be back to speak at AMPLIFY 2023, June 27-28 in Washington, D.C.—Purvis for a session titled, Mapping Content to Your Marketing Funnel: Reach the Right Target at the Right Time; and Senter for Turn it Up: Amplify Your Association’s Brand Through Your Publication. See the whole agenda here.
Think about what makes each event format special. Senter recalled when we first all did virtual in 2020. “We picked it up and did it [on the side],” she said, “instead of really thinking about how it’s delivered and how it should be modified. You want to go beyond that you have three formats available. Maybe virtual people are getting bonus video content… How can you add value? I’ve seen a lot of events that say, ‘buy it this way, buy it that way.’ Well okay… but what are the exclusive experiences? Leverage those.” Added Purvis: “Make sure your brand theme and graphics carry through.”
Use AI to convert video. Like the content world, event marketing is being AI-uplifted. Skift reports that an Israel-based company called GlossAi “uses proprietary AI to identify the most important parts of a video, and automatically generate edited content of various lengths for different users to use across channels.” eToro uses GlossAi to “automatically convert video content into short-form channel-specific videos, images, and text. ‘It’s hard to attract people to listen to an hour-long financial discussion,’ said Nir Szmulewicz, CMO at eToro. ‘With GlossAi’s videos, we’ve seen an uptake of nearly 40% in regular attendees.’” Less is more again.
Involve the marketing team from the start. The marketing team should be in the know for every touchpoint of your event. “The marketing team, the creative team, the content team, they most likely are some of the most creative people within your organization. Leverage them early,” Senter said. Marketing can also help to mitigate risks because they may know about competing events and offer strategies to offset those.
Establish your goals based on what’s doable and affordable, not just what you want to accomplish. If the goal is to increase first-time attendees by 15%, then highlight first-timer programs, welcome breakfasts and buddy systems; showcase video testimonials from last year’s first-timers. Brainstorm with your colleagues in other departments. Choose your audience segments—could be first-timers, by experience level or demographics; you don’t want to promote every aspect of the event to everyone. Look at audience behavior—what have they previously signed up for or taken part in that will help in how you market to them.
Use all content available to you. “What is the content available that will get people to your event?” Purvis asked. “It’s about drawing people in.” Newsletters, case studies, videos, white papers, podcasts can all preview something or someone in the event. “See what gaps exist in your content and how you can fill those.” Spidell Publishing’s weekly California Minute podcast often promotes upcoming seminars on a related topic, offering a discount for anyone listening. Their podcasts are shorter, 3-5 minutes, another less-is-more example.
Plan post-event marketing before the event. “It’s easier when you do it when you’re doing your pre-event marketing,” Purvis said. “Use it to continue to recruit potential members and other stakeholders. Show highlight reels, [air] real-time memories of attendees. And start promoting the next event with your post-event marketing messaging as well.”