Category Archives: Event Content

    LiveWorx 2017

    Event Sponsorship: Harnessing Compelling Content Strategy

    Attracting event sponsors is – and will continue to be – a hurdle. Nine out of ten event professionals believe it will be a challenge to secure sponsors for events this year, according to an Eventbrite survey. Nevertheless, there’s no magic bullet for attracting and retaining sponsorship partners. Sponsors are looking to see exactly what every business seeks when measuring the success of marketing efforts: return on investment.

    Event owners who can show a good return on sponsor investment will inevitably have an easier time attracting and retaining sponsors than those who can’t. While this might imply that data measurement, as it relates to sponsorship, is the be-all, end-all, event success in the eyes of sponsorship partners isn’t always a numbers game. Event hosts have to actively drive ROI with an effective, integrated content strategy.

    Technology Meets Strategy

    Sure, it would be nice to draw a straight line between event sponsorship and an impact on a businesses’ bottom line, but these days it’s not so direct. ROI has many different dimensions and identifying what is most valuable for a potential sponsor is crucial. To do that, event owners need a modern, technology-driven content strategy.

    Christopher Powell, chief marketing officer at Commvault, told IDG Communications that organizations – both hosting and sponsoring – can’t expect robust ROI from an event simply because they showed up.

    “You need great content for your events,” Powell said. “Is it relevant for that audience? How are you going to engage them with compelling content?”

    Sponsors want to spread brand awareness, but they also need to offer value to event attendees to kindle relationships. After all, attendees are consumers, so the event should mirror the buying process. Attendees go to events to talk, learn and network. The event owner’s responsibility, therefore, is to facilitate this conversation. And to do that, owners must integrate sponsors into the event’s content strategy.

    What does that integration look like? In most instances, it’s a technology play, including:

    • Digital billboards/apps with content playlists
    • Digitally enhanced presentations and panels
    • Event specific apps
    • Networking receptions and one-to-one meetups

    Specifically, an effective content strategy should leverage responsive technologies such as AI-augmented playlists showing attendee interests, live streaming and captive-audience marketing techniques. Each solution should seek to create opportunities to engage target personas on a personal level.

    Part of the Conversation

    Simply throwing money at tech isn’t going to guarantee ROI. Technology is just the foot in the door: It’s a sophisticated, smart content strategy that’ll position sponsors to fully leverage the power of an event – which in turn will help event owners attract and retain sponsors. The goal is to make the sponsor an integral part of the conversation. Opportunities to position the sponsor at an event beyond lanyards and banners include:

    • Active sponsor participation with main stage content
    • Sponsor-owned fireside chats with exclusive seating
    • Playlists populated by sponsor generated/curated content
    • Branded charging or other resource stations
    • Exhibit floor opportunities

    The goal is to do more than just put up a sponsor banner and hope attendees form positive associations. Sponsors must have a voice in these sessions and opportunities. Weaving sponsors into the content being presented puts the brand value of a sponsor – in the form of knowledge, authority or as a forum for relevant industry conversation – front and center while limiting the “hard sell.”

    The effective employment of content strategy is a universally beneficial affair, making an event that bolsters the bottom line of both sponsors and event hosts. That’s where the tech comes in handy: Technology quantifies opportunity. When event organizers can show robust ROI, they can charge sponsors a premium. Event owners should be able to show that their event represents a highly exclusive marketplace filled with desirable buyers. And nothing is more convincing than hard data. Utilizing data from RFID technology, beacons, event surveys, social media engagements and more demonstrates value in a clear, measurable way.

    Event content needs to be targeted at specific personas.

    Event content needs to be targeted at specific personas.

    Selling Knowledge, Selling the Brand: The Times They Are a Changin’

    B2B marketing has changed a lot in just the past five years, and the crucial lessons of the past don’t hold the water they used to. It’s no longer true that you perfect your product or service, hang out your shingle and wait for the market to find you. Today, sponsors need to sell valuable knowledge to develop brand loyalty and perception, which will in turn drive sales of products and services.

    Like technology, business models change quickly. Twenty years ago, a company could develop a strategy that would carry it well into the next decade. That just isn’t possible in today’s market. Look at Netflix, for instance: Less than a decade ago, Blockbuster was poised to dominate the direct-to-home video market, but a failure to adapt its business model made it all too easy for Netflix to gobble up Blockbuster’s market share. And Netflix didn’t stop there. It went from a content distribution platform to a business that spends upward of $8 billion a year on developing its own content.

    Event owners need to think like Netflix if they want to aid sponsors in accomplishing their goals. Five years ago, a great sponsorship strategy consisted of banners, lanyards and booths – and not much else. That strategy doesn’t cut it anymore. Sponsors need to be integrated into the event’s content strategy so they can educate attendees and foster relationships.

    Mona Charif, CMO at DATA Services, speaking with IDG, noted that organizations have to leave old strategies behind in favor of new methods and technologies.

    “A couple of decades ago, we would take months to research and build a campaign and then put it in market, at an audience,” Charif said. “Now, what we’re doing is more agile development of our content. It’s not so much a campaign as it is content that is meaningful and useful. We develop it with a persona in mind.”

    In other words, event owners and sponsors shouldn’t try to interact with attendees the same way they did five years ago. They can, but someone else is already doing it better. A content strategy that integrates sponsors directly provides multiple opportunities for appealing to attendees – which fosters fruitful, long-lasting partnerships between event owners and sponsors.

    events

    Event Strategies for Fast-Growing Companies

    How do you take your current budget and make your corporate events bigger and better, spending smart while hosting an event that will act as that critical nudge to get you to the next level?

    ***

    For companies recently having raised a significant C or D round of funding, every move they make must be carefully calibrated to help them ascend, fully leverage the resources at their disposal and grow their brand footprint – all while remaining at the peak of their field.

    So the question is: How do they take their current budget and spend it smart, while still hosting a corporate event that will act as that critical nudge to get to the next level?

    To accomplish this, the “unicorn” companies need to communicate to their customers that they’re an industry leader, using their resources to host bleeding-edge, engaging events that are more than just a lackluster product demo or keynote. They need a sophisticated event partner with an eye for innovation and imagination, yet one adept at also keeping budgets in check.

    To truly create a next-level event, consider the following ways to project commercial power and influence:

    Scale up Your Venue

    Part of embracing and fostering growth is being able to showcase growth. One of the most immediate and indisputable ways to convey a company is on the rise is to scale up the physical venue for your event.

    This, for most high-growth companies, involves making the move from a hotel to a convention center for your next conference. This transition is a classic and bold signal that a company has “arrived,” and should not go unremarked upon: Okta Chief Marketing Officer Ryan Carlson made note of how “this room is twice the size of any in the past” when he introduced the 2017 Oktane conference keynote in Las Vegas.

    The optics of this jump from smaller rooms to the big stage has a distinct “wow” factor for attendees, giving exponential growth a tangible dimension. For Okta, this translated to attendees marveling at the way the company had transformed itself.

    “It’s just really energetic and really fascinating to see in just over 4 years how Okta has grown from where it was to where it is now,” said Neeraj Malhotra, IT manager at Broadcom Limited. “I’m going to come back to Oktane, this is my second year and definitely would like to be here next year.”

    Similarly, hosting multiple conventions in different locations can leverage growth as well: Marketing platform provider Drift recently expanded its successful Hypergrowth conference, adding a West Coast version of the conference in addition to the traditional Boston event.

    However, this jump in venue size isn’t without its challenges: A larger space requires more robust infrastructure, including production elements, physical layout, attendees check-in and security. Furthermore, moving from a hotel to a convention center can create logistical problems related to transportation and accommodations – after all, even if you’ve left the hotel behind, your guests need somewhere to stay while attending the conference. The key is to first determine the why of needing a bigger event, then enlist an agency who can accommodate the challenges and opportunities of scaling up.

    Making the jump from a hotel to a convention center has it's challenges as well as opportunities.

    Making the jump from a hotel to a convention center has it’s challenges as well as opportunities.

    Consider Design and Culture in Events

    Scaling up events isn’t just about bolstering the bottom-line: The broader goal is brand awareness awareness and ubiquity. This means looking beyond just what new products or innovations you showcase, and considering how you use event design to engage with users on a cultural level.

    Many companies have already begun to embrace the use of high-tech art and cultural installations at their branded events. The key is to align these cultural features with your brand:

    “As a digital brand, we were thinking about how to take a lot of the different topics that we cover, as well as the creative voices we elevate on our platform, in a physical space,” Refinery 29’s co-founder Piera Gelardi told CNN. “We like to have a portion of it feel really playful, because we think that opens people up, and it’s joyful.”

    These kinds of cultural activities have a vital secondary function: They help facilitate networking. Users, partnership sponsors and industry leaders can all meet and greet in a less pressurized environment, connecting over the cultural events taking place.

    Even without the enormous infrastructure of a corporate giant, businesses on the ascent can selectively employ these kinds of interactive combinations of technology and design at conferences, effectively creating a dynamic, culturally-relevant event that is more than just a product showcase.

    Emphasize a Cause

    Sustainability and global citizenship efforts have become a nearly universal driver of engagement and brand goodwill. Consumers, particularly younger ones, are attuned to corporate marketing efforts that are built on sustainability and giving back: According to Horizon Media’s 2017 Finger on the Pulse study, 81 percent of millennials expect companies to make a public commitment to be “good corporate citizens.”

    “Now brands are taking these do-good values and baking into their corporate identities,” Horizon Media’s Kirk Olson, VP of Trend Sights, told Forbes. “It’s important [for companies] to find the connection organically.”

    When planning a major conference, take into account the kind of “giving back” programs that organically tie into your mission statement while making the world a better place. This can include:

    • Combining your corporate event with a charity fundraiser for a local cause.
    • “Going green” at a conference with sustainable, reusable products, such as by replacing disposable lanyards with digital beacon wristbands.
    • Spotlighting the efforts of young entrepreneurs, a la the the #PledgeitForward campaign at Salesforce’s 2016 Dreamforce conference.

    The goal is to show users that your events are more meaningful than just another product demo or industry showcase, offering a greater perspective and making the world better. This was something that David Cancel, CEO of Drift, spoke about in a recent interview about Hypergrowth 2018. Cancel framed it as a gathering of not just influencers, but people who act as positive example for the entire industry.

    “We’re not doing what everyone else does, which is to have the same group of speakers out there that you hear every single conference,” Cancel said. “Our bar for people who come on this show, as well as people who come and speak to you in person at Hypergrowth, is that those are people that we consider personal role models and/or mentors that we look towards, who are helping us grow either virtually or in-person, and share those mentors with the community.”

    sustainabilityPutting an environmental or social cause at the fore of your event can help connect with attendees.

    Think Global Via Live Streaming

    As you escalate the scale and scope of corporate events, consider the virtual footprint as well as the physical one. While the jump from a hotel to a convention center can expand your guest list by thousands – bringing with it its own challenges – live streaming has the potential to deliver your content and ideas to a global audience.

    With Go-Globe reporting that conferences and speakers make up 43 percent of most-watched live content, tied with concerts and festivals, you’d be hard-pressed to find a major company that doesn’t currently utilize live streaming in one form or another. Given the ubiquity of the live streaming platforms, it’s a relatively low-cost way to boost the profile of an event. Yet behind the scenes, there are critical considerations that go into organizing a conference that fully leverages the capabilities of live stream technology:

    • Are your keynotes, speakers and demos dynamic in a way that will come across via streaming video?
    • Are the audio-visual elements of your event – including lights, music, presentation screens and so on – optimized for the streaming audience?
    • Do you have multiple cameras positioned throughout the event to offer alternative perspectives?
    • Who will be in charge of what the live-streaming audience sees and doesn’t see?

    In this regard, putting together a content strategy that builds off the concept of bringing a local event to a global audience is key to making sure that live streaming isn’t simply an afterthought.

    live streamingLive streaming can boost your audience exponentially.***

    Whether it’s a sustainability initiative, an interactive art installation or live streaming, high-growth companies must scale up events in ways that are more than just big and loud. The goal is to create a truly can’t-miss event that utilizes smart spending and bolsters your valuation, complete with innovative content, design and the widest possible reach – all of which requires an airtight event content strategy and an experienced planning partner that knows how to take things to the next level.

    Event Content Strategy

    6 Components of a Successful Event Content Strategy – Infographic

    Based on our experience, there are six key steps to creating a successful event content strategy:

     

    Event Content Strategy Infographic

    While completing all six steps is ideal, do not be deterred if you can only achieve one or two at a time. Each step is meaningful and useful in and of itself for your strategy, so completing one or two is better than completing none at all (read more).