Would your event marketing pass the grey-headed albatross test?

I watched the first episode of David Attenborough’s latest documentary series ‘Seven Worlds, One Planet’ recently. It was, as always, full of breath-taking footage, overwhelming joy and of course, heartbreak. No more so than for a young grey-headed albatross. If you didn’t see it, I’ll explain.

In the programme, we watched a storm blow a small grey-headed albatross chick clean out of its nest. It ended up laying perilously upside down, helpless, cold and wet, right beside the nest. When the parent bird returned, despite being centimetres from the nest, it didn’t recognise its own offspring. The chick may as well have been invisible. It just wasn’t what the parent expected to see. She expected to see a chick inside the nest, so her focus was purely on the empty nest, missing the obvious, and not reacting to what was going on right in front of her eyes.

Nature is tough.

It triggered a thought I’d had recently about event marketing. A ton of great content is created at good events. But it is completely under-utilised. Event promoters are so focused on the event itself, they are blind to the huge opportunities that lie outside it. Opportunities to make that event content even more engaging, and stretch even further.

Picture the scene

As a brand, you invest thousands (sometimes millions) in an event. It’s a sell-out. In fact, you could’ve sold the event twice over. The speakers are wonderful, the audience is interacting and social media is alive with debate and delegate reviews. But, the day after (and the day after that, and after that…) it’s all gone quiet.

So how do we optimise our events activities to make sure the consumer and the brand both reap the benefits?

Pre-event comms aren’t just about the practical stuff

Reminders, calendar notifications, agenda confirmations and journey planning – it’s all important stuff that will help consumers ease any anxieties about what’s in store. Don’t forget, ease and frequency of comms is paramount at this stage, and the very best customer experiences offer immediate, reliable information via content hubs such as apps, websites and email.

Got that bit nailed? Then don’t stop there. Use your event as opportunity to support your integrated content marketing. With a list of confirmed speakers and sponsors, you can create pre-event video interviews, Q&As for your blog and social channels or podcasts to highlight strategic objectives and spark interest in hot topics. Have you thought about inviting people to sign up to one-to-one or drop-in sessions or invite questions ahead of time to debate on the day?

Whatever you do, embrace the opportunity to create informative content that sparks interest and creates value. It’ll go a long way to making sure customers are excited, not to mention more likely, to turn up.  And don’t forget to get personal. Delegates and speakers will be more engaged when you talk to them on a 1-2-1 basis. So use the opportunity to start making the most out of your data, and look to start a conversation that can be continued right throughout their event journey.

More so, think about how these content pieces can be repurposed across your other strategic activities throughout your wider communications plan. That’s right, let’s save some pennies on future content creation too

Do more to enhance your customer experience

We’ve all been there – event fatigue is real. Worth it for the learning and networking, but often tiresome. Addressing this pain point head-on is no mean feat – it means making your event experience the very best it can be to get the adrenaline and excitement flowing. Can you generate more valuable interactions? Can you do something unexpected? Raising your game raises the satisfaction of your customers, not to mention the calibre and range of content you can create.

Wimbledon and HSBC impressed us this year. To transform the visitor experience, they turned long queue times into experiential events on Court 20 where visitors had the opportunity to play against past-pros. And gifted punnets of expensive strawberries with lashings of cream to existing customers of HSBC.

We like IBM’s approach to their Think Summit 2019 where a jam-packed agenda was interspersed with opportunities to decompress and talk about more holistic issues such as wellbeing and food, featuring unexpected speakers like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Your take-away? Get an insight into what your customer pain points are and embrace the challenges head on.

Bring your event to life, outside of the event itself

Don’t rely on sharing decks to satisfy that learning itch for visitors – make the most of all of that rich content that was curated. Post-event, share pre- and during the event videos, summary infographics and invite an ongoing debate on Twitter or LinkedIn. Avoid the rapid decline in engagement and keep a momentum that draws the customer into your wider brand comms.

And what about the people who missed out? Geographic location, ticket availability or busy schedules shouldn’t be a barrier to extending your reach and engagement. Inject some excitement into your branded content by sharing video summaries of talks, speaker and consumer reviews and testimonials and short videos on the key takeaways from your strategic themes at the event.

And last but not least, don’t forget everyone internally. Whether your staff were there or not, this is all valuable insight and content that can lead to a more educated and engaged workforce meaning you’re far better placed to grow culturally and economically.

To sum up, do the basics brilliantly

I wouldn’t want to come across as trying to teach you to suck eggs. It’s just that sometimes, even the biggest brands overlook the importance of doing the basics brilliantly. Dig out those customer journeys, make sure you’re prioritising the opportunities to harness distinctive content to create real brand value and provide a seamless experience that ladders back up to your brand.

And don’t forget the finer details. If you’re promoting your event on LinkedIn, use targeted messaging and link to dedicated, informative landing pages with clear signposting and calls to action.

Why am I so animated about events strategy? Because all too often I see organisations missing out on a huge opportunity. Events are the perfect place for brands to optimise spend and genuinely start to build meaningful conversations and real value from its communications.

‘Yes, but what about the albatross chick?’, I can hear you thinking. Rest assured, no baby albatrosses were harmed during the writing of this article. Against all the odds, our heroic fledgling finally managed to right itself and crawl laboriously back into the safety of its nest. Whereupon, the worried parent could suddenly see it again.

Instead of making your delegates go hunting for more content outside of the event experience, isn’t it time to recognise the huge opportunities that exist for creating more lasting content from the great events you put on?