Accelevents hosted its most recent installment of Event Talk Live focusing on how to "Grow Your Brand with Virtual and Hybrid Events." Far from being cost centers, events are viable channels for growing and building your brand, business, or organization. Broken down into multiple sessions, the event included a growth acceleration workshop, a panel discussion with expert guests from Salesforce, Why Sales Network, and parcelLab, a Q&A, and plenty of networking opportunities!
The event kicked off with Accelevents’ Maddie Bird and a few live participants going through the Growth Acceleration Framework and how it can be applied to virtual and hybrid events as part of an overall marketing strategy. Participants were encouraged to follow along on the Growth Acceleration Framework Worksheet to help them think carefully about how to use events to grow their brand and meet specific goals. The five steps of the framework are relatively straightforward but they are packaged in a way that helps event planners think like growth marketers for the purpose of reaching a growth goal. Catch the entire demo in the YouTube Video below.
When discussing step one, Maddie welcomed community member Cecilia, events and communications coordinator from Ontario, Canada, who works for a national non-profit that researches barriers of skilled trades work.
"Events are not just about output information but we’re actually capturing and gathering information from our delegates. So, one of the things that we have to think about is how to foster that interactive data collection, as well as making it valuable for them by giving them information in return.” CeciliaCommunications Coordinator
Cecilia went on to explain that themes can be identified around the needs of the target audience.
At her organization, for example, they devote a lot of time to addressing the barriers to trades training and some innovative solutions to those barriers. So, the research element is identifying challenges facing the audience and the event output and audience value with proposed solutions and best practices addressing the identified challenges.
“I just try and create graphics and other digital assets that really profile the speakers themselves and showcase them. So, for example, for these events [ETL], I usually provide our panelists in advance with graphics that have their face on it as an individual. I also provide them with graphics that have all of the speakers lined up together so they can showcase who they’re contributing to. And then I also put together suggested copy and hashtags and a document that they can send out.” Maddie BirdCommunity and Events ManagerAccelevents
This is where the growth acceleration framework becomes a little more involved but it is also where you can allow your creativity to shine.
Most virtual and hybrid event platforms, including Accelevents, allow organizers to create multiple ticket types enabling segmentation right off the bat. When filling out attendee profiles, Accelevents allows users to self-select topics that interest them and the types of people and industry connections they hope to connect with. It is important for organizers to take full advantage of these selections and create content that will enable these attendee's interests and goals.
This is the actual event.
"Swag, like a t-shirt, is something that can keep attendees connected to the event. It may not be a direct connection to other attendees but it is something that will bring them back to the experience and help them remember the association or brand that hosted the event." Tash BenjaminPR ConsultantTKing Enterprises
The fifth step of the Growth Acceleration Framework is where you apply everything you have gained through the above steps and apply it to your growth marketing strategy. But how, exactly, do you do this?
"The most important thing is finding out if people are tuning in or tuning out. This helps them to determine which parts of the program people are most engaged with and which parts are not as interesting, allowing them to modify formats and content in the future." Tash BenjaminPR ConsultantTKing Enterprises
After a brief break for networking, everyone reconvened with Maddie on the main stage to hear from Traci DePuy, Head of Global Events for Salesforce.org, Aleksandra Panyukhina, Head of Events, and Experiences for parcelLab, and Joyce Johnson, Founder of the Why Sales Network. The conversation focused on using hybrid and virtual events as a strategy for achieving growth and meeting business goals. When using an event as a growth acceleration tool, the first step is to establish goals and determine what you want the audience to walk away with. And what better place to start a panel discussion! Check out the entire conversation below.
Before closing out the event with a final one-on-one networking session, the audience was given an opportunity to ask questions with the expert panel. Maddie: How do you work with marketing and sales to ensure growth after each event? What kinds of questions do you ask sales and marketing managers when you’re putting an event together to make sure that the goals of the organization are being achieved?
"It’s important to understand which events serve which purpose. There may be customer-oriented events or prospect-oriented events where it will require hand-in-hand work with sales. In these instances, sales should be heavily involved in the curation process. Salespeople are great at product-focused conversations but you to also make sure that you can tie it into an educational format or a format that provides value to the attendee. For events that are more focused on demand generation, you want to make sure that your teams have a say in the targeted accounts or the final topic so there is alignment. "Aleksandra Panyukhina, Head of Events, and ExperiencesparcelLab" It is not necessarily about the questions you ask the sales team, but more about making them feel a part of the process. All too often sales teams get told what to do and then they get all this data after the event and they are disconnected from it. When setting your goals and figuring out what you are going to do at the event, educate the sales team and ask them if there is anything that you are missing. Your sales team has daily interactions with your customers and they will likely have insights into things you should be talking about." Traci DePuyHead of Global EventsSalesforce.org
Audience: How do you plan to implement hybrid events, what are considered to be the strengths and weaknesses of the format, and what are some practical approaches that can be taken?
"I ran into a bit of a test event in March and my aim was to make it as easy on attendees as possible. So, to that end, I covered things like transportation from the airport to the hotel where I might have done so in the past. I created channels that allowed the attendees to be in constant and consistent contact with event organizers. Going forward, I will be focusing more on all-inclusive venues so people do not have to leave the space.
That provides value to them, especially when things are so uncertain. It is extra work but can pay off in the long run."
Joyce JohnsonFounder Why Sales Network
Audience: How do we budget for a hybrid event when we just about break even for in-person events (with paid tickets) ?
"Since the pandemic, people began to really understand the value of in-person events gave them from a business and communications perspective and so in the future, it should be possible to charge more for the in-person part which will help to cover the costs of the hybrid part." Aleksandra Panyukhina, Head of Events, and ExperiencesparcelLab " There are ways to be creative with your budget that in-person events didn’t allow. Where you might have spent a lot of money on a banquet hall and food, you may be able to spend some of that money bringing in an excellent speaker that can do a roundtable discussion.
This will give people an incredible experience and make them want to stay connected with you because you put on exceptional events." Traci DePuy Head of Global EventsSalesforce.org
Stay tuned for the next Event Talk Live, happening on 15th July. In the meantime, join our Event Talk Live Facebook group to converse with your peers and keep tabs on what is going on in the events industry as a whole!