Event marketers face unique challenges. They need to create memorable, unique, and meaningful experiences that align with their brand and connect with their audience all the while staying within budget, building relationships, and generating leads. It is not an easy task. At Dreamforce 2023, The Home for Marketers hosted a panel of marketing leaders to share their recommended event marketing best practices to ensure success!
Dreamforce 2023 Event Marketers Panel – Out of The Home for Marketers Vault
Here are the event marketing best practices they shared.
Best Practice #1 – Align Your Event to The Appropriate Stages of the Funnel
When you create an event, Belinda Joseph advised to think about where your event best aligns with the funnel. If you are creating an event that reaches prospects and customers at different stages of their journey, then think through what you will do at your event to meet them where they’re at and make the experience relevant to them.
For example, an executive dinner could be considered to align with a late stage in the funnel after prospects already know who you are and the solutions you provide. They may have already spoken to someone from sales and the event could be a way to engage prospects at accounts that are in early opportunity stages.
Best Practice #2 – Define What Success Looks Like Across Departments
As you create your next event campaign don’t just think of the goals that the marketing team is working to accomplish, shared Porter Sproul, but consider how you can align with sales, service, and leadership. How can your event serve their business goals? What does each department need for your event campaign to be considered as a win for the business as a whole?
Best Practice #3 – Think About How Your Brand Will Be Represented At Your Event
Sarah Kloth emphasized that your brand is one of the most important focuses of event marketing. “Know who are you, what you do, and the environment that you create.” People will attend your event and will walk away with a certain feeling. That feeling will either bring them closer to your brand or repulse them. How do you want your brand to be remembered?
“Reputation is everything.” added Porter Sproul. You need to have your event and the environment you create align with your brand, but you also need to be different. The panel shared that nowadays people are more selective with how they are spending their time and they will most likely always engage in what’s most convenient. How will you create an experience that will want to make your audience go out of their way to attend?
Creating an Executive Experience
Porter shared how he once experienced that creating an event that was very exclusive gained great traction. His team was planning an executive dinner adjacent to a conference that was going on, but they wanted to be different. Several other companies attending the conference were also hosting executive dinners. How could they create an experience that would make their audience want to choose theirs over the others?
They elected to do an evening dinner cruise on a boat that would only fit a small number of people. His team targeted their top prospects and soon after promotion started, all the spots for the dinner were filled. After the event, they received feedback from other prospects that missed it saying how the event sounded amazing and how they would love to be a part of it next year. Many times people want what they can’t have. The more you make an experience feel special, one-of-kind, and exclusive, the more people will be curious about it and want to seek it out.
Remembering your Personas
When planning your event and how it aligns to your brand, remember to take into account your personas. Belinda Joseph describes that for every event that Goldcast puts on, she and her team map out, “what do we want each persona to think, feel, and do from this event?” How can your event evoke action and progress your audience further down the funnel?
Best Practice #4 – Tap Into The Network Around You For Promotion
It takes a village to promote an event. Your company and your marketing team will be doing their own promotional plan, but when you have the speaker of the event, your customers, or your followers also promoting the event then you will expand your reach and the invitation will hold more weight.
Which is why our fourth event marketing best practice revolves around tapping into the network around you for promotion.
People are more likely to make a purchase when it was recommended to them by a friend. How much more likely do you think they’ll want to attend your event if your audience sees a peer of theirs sharing about it?
Getting Help from the Community
To help build awareness about The Home for Marketers, we put together a video series interviewing different Marketing Champions and asking them to share about their previous Dreamforce experiences, including how they would describe The Home for Marketers and advice for first-time Dreamforce attendees.
The Road to the Home for Marketers series not only highlighted different champions in the space that give so much to the community, but it also provided valuable and helpful content for marketers that would be going to the conference for the first-time. In turn, they also got to hear about the Home for Marketers and listen to a peer of theirs describe it to them and hear about their positive experience there.
If you are putting on an event that happens every year, consider how you can highlight people that attended in previous years and have them share their positive experience with your intended audience.
Ask Speakers to Promote
If your event includes a speaking session, collaborate with your speakers on promotion. Belinda Joseph shared how her team will provide a promotional kit to their speakers, making it easy to post about the event on social media and get the word out about the campaign to their networks. What can you do to help make it as seamless as possible for your speakers to promote the event?
- Is it pre-written social posts that they can copy and paste?
- Is there imagery that you can provide to enhance their posts?
- Is it a video that you record with them?
- Is it examples of previous promotions that other speakers have done in the past?
Remember, your speakers and even your sponsors for your event all want to drive registration and attendance, so for this campaign, you are all on the same team. How can you enable your team to promote this event successfully?
Best Practice #5 – Create an event that is special, creative, and gives!
This may seem challenging for brands that are in a more serious industry, but as Sarah Kloth reminded us on the panel, “We all want to be taken seriously in business, but at the end of the day we all go home and watch the same shows.” Meaning that your business executives are still people too just like you. How can you tap into the more personal side of your brand to build connections with your audience that are special?
Using Tangible Marketing
During Dreamforce Porter Sproul and the rest of the PFL team had a pink mailbox with a light-up sign that said “Send a Smile.” They had postcards and stamps that event attendees could use to send to their friends and family from the conference. Event attendees filled out the postcard and then placed them in the pink mailbox for the PFL team to send out.
One, when was the last time you sent a note with a pen and paper to someone and snail mailed it to them that was not a wedding invitation? Two, when was the last time you received a hand-written note in your mailbox that was sent “just because”?
PFL created an experience that EVERYONE could relate to. They prompted attendees to think of their loved ones and connect with them in a less common form of communication that is tangible and memorable.
Building Meaningful Experiences
As another example, Belinda Joseph shared about an internal event that the Goldcast team put on. It was their Sales Kick-off and it was during the time when team members were still isolated because of COVID. Prior to the event, they reached out to employees and asked them to record a video of themselves answering a few questions about what challenges they had been dealing with this past year and what they are thinking about and looking forward to in the year to come.
Their team took these responses and produced it into a 10-minute video that the team all watched together during their sales kick-off. “It was emotional.” Belinda recalled.
“We realized we were not alone in the struggles we were facing because our team members were facing similar challenges.” It created empathy among the team as they all got to hear where each person was coming from, strengthening their culture and bringing them closer together as a team just as they were about to kick-off their new fiscal year. Talk about a memorable experience that evoked an action.
When creating an event, consider how you can build a meaningful experience that will connect with your audience on a deeper level.
Event Marketing Best Practices to Remember
Think about where your event aligns to your funnel, is it an early-, mid-, or late-stage engagement? If you will have multiple stages represented how will you interact with attendees meeting your brand for the first time versus people who have already engaged several times with you?
Align your event goals to what the other departments will consider a win. Sarah Kloth often challenges the Sercante marketing team to “define what success looks like first.”
Last, but certainly not least, remember that how your brand is represented and the feeling and environment you create for your attendees is everything. Brainstorm with your team about how you can create an experience that is special, giving, and unique.
For more event marketing best practices, connect with Belinda, Porter, and Sarah on LinkedIn!