Eventprofs must battle for ‘time-limited leaders’ to attend
Organizers must battle to attract time-limited decision-makers who seek events with superior “return on time invested”, according to an industry leader.
Paul Miller, CEO of Questex, believes post-pandemic expectations have grown when it comes to the value required from going to an in-person show – meaning many senior executives may only go to a few events a year.
This means planners must be using a data-driven approach to make sure their event includes “content relevance” and experiences that create a sense of FOMO – a show not to be missed.
He said: “You cannot expect executives and decision-makers to spend a week every month at an event.
“They’ve got other things to do with their lives and their jobs, so they’re going to start to narrow down to the must-go events.
“So how you set yourself apart – in my mind at least – is a whole combination of things.
“We would use data from the beginning – what content are people looking for? What content topics are surging out there? Who are the key speakers? Who are the bloggers or the outside contributors to our platforms that get a good following, that get a great open rate?
“It’s about content relevance – that’s the first thing you have to do.
“If you’ve got content relevance and somebody’s been searching for a solution for six weeks and you say ‘we’ve got five experts talking about the solution in Las Vegas in six weeks’ time’ – often they’ll say ‘I’m coming, that’s a good use of my time’.”
Content is the lifeblood of an event community. It is where the value proposition is made real every day, with new useful content to engage your industry.
It’s this that keeps your social media channels active and engaging., it makes your email newsletters get opened and it’s content that starts to pull in new audiences through search engines.
But it’s also content which attracts attendees to live shows – are they getting information they can’t get anywhere else?
Success is determined by whether offerings are useful and different enough to add real value to an event community.
Organizers need to set themselves apart from the competition by creative use of content formats.
It’s worth testing a range of formats to see what resonates with an audience.
Planners can use the data from an event’s 365 online community to judge what would be best for their live shows,
Paul believes one of the most important things for an organizer is to make sure their event provides real value for the participant. This is where event tech can be very helpful.
One part of this now is giving people some idea of who else will be going to the show – are they prospects they would like to be able to connect with?
He said: “You need to make sure people are going to have an experience at the event which is valuable to them.
“That could be many, many different things – value to them could be just business, it could be that they’re looking to have a little bit of fun at the same time.
“What I think is more important is what activities and experiences are happening on the show floor.
“Do I get to touch or feel the solution? Do I get to taste it if it’s food or drink? Do I get to see things that I wouldn’t expect to see at our bar-restaurant show?
“You would not have believed – we would because it was data-driven – the amount of surge in registration we got when people saw there was a non-alcoholic part of an alcoholic show.
“Then who else is going to be there? Am I rubbing shoulders with people I want to rub shoulders with? Are my competitors there?
“You’re seeing a lot of event marketers do this increasingly – here are the people that are coming.
“That used to be a no-no, you wouldn’t say it – but now you do and that can create some FOMO.
“If you can create enough FOMO with all of the other things, you can create at least the perspective of being one of the three events that are going to be chosen.”
To do this, an organizer must find out what engages its event community.
This can be done through a combination of insights and creativity to refine the formula for doing this.
An existing event will have a good database of visitors and exhibitors to go to. But most industries also have an over-supply of content.
One of the best starting points is to go to the database and find out the answer to this question: how can value be added to this already crowded competitive landscape?
Surveys are a useful way to get an overview of what opportunities exist. They can then be followed up with a series of product discovery calls to dig into the details and flesh out what the results actually mean.
Paul – who is an expert contributor in the latest Event Tech Forecast – highlighted how he has seen a trend of events promoting themselves using big name entertainers.
This is useful from an initial marketing perspective but does not really offer any more value for business being done.
He also set out how technology can play a role in making connections easier to happen at live shows.
Paul added: “Increasingly you have younger audiences at these events, more diversity, which is fantastic – well, they want different things from an event.
“They do want curated matchmaking, they do want experiences. Some of them may be introverted, and they need help to meet people.”
Meanwhile, the CEO of Questex challenged the event tech community to ensure that they are solving real problems connecting their solutions and helping to solve key challenges for the industry.
Paul urged tech providers to rethink their strategies so that people who are not tech savvy will be more likely to engage with potential customers and utilize the technology to enhance their experiences.
He said: “The tech community needs to be thinking about how it’s presenting itself. There’s no panacea, there’s no one-solution-fits-all answer and competitors may need to become partners to enable more end-to-end solutions.
“The martech stack is very complex and overcrowded so there probably needs to be some consolidation – I’ve been saying that by the way for 10 years.
“Tech companies need to talk in terms of what problem they are solving – not ‘here’s my tech’.
“The customer for companies in event tech could be an operations person, it could be an event leader or a general manager of an event.
“They’re not always focused on technology – and they don’t need to be, they shouldn’t be.
“But that means the tech companies have to change how they sell their product – from ‘we’ve got a better mouse trap’ to seriously enquiring and learning about what the challenge is for their customer.
“This is a perennial issue for the wider tech industry just in general, let alone event tech – how do you market your product away from describing the technology and how it works to focusing on the problem the tech is solving.
“Tech companies need to think that through a little more as to ‘are we solving real problems, or are we throwing tech at an imagined problem?’”
“At a top level, I’d be surprised if we didn’t see some consolidation this year or, at least some interesting partnerships. As history shows, tech solutions providers are great innovators with their solutions, collaborations and business models.
“Either from a pure collaboration perspective or from an acquisition scenario, there’s just too much out there for folks right now..
“The tech vendors that are going to win are going to be more than a single solution type of vendor – just being a matchmaking vendor is probably not going to be enough, just being a floor planner is probably not going to be enough. At the very least, the tech solutions need to be able to communicate, partner or collaborate with each other to create exponential value.
“It’s not going to be a downhill, easy skiing year for tech vendors but, as always, I think there will be winners as there will be a flight to quality. As mentioned earlier, I believe that technology has an integral role in helping to drive events and provide increased return on time invested for all stakeholders.”
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