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!
Growth Acceleration Framework Workshop
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.
5 Step Growth Acceleration Framework Discussion
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.
Step One: Plan
- It is essential to identify goals, themes, and topics for the event that will address the interests and challenges of the ideal event attendee.
“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.”
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.
Step Two: Promote
- This involves choosing speakers, moderators, and exhibitors along with distributors and stakeholders that will be at the event.
- Finding speakers that are excited to share their expertise will provide the value the audience is looking for. These individuals are likely to share the event within their networks, helping you to grow your brand.
“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.”
Community and Events Manager
Step Three: Profile
This is where the growth acceleration framework becomes a little more involved but it is also where you can allow your creativity to shine.
- In this step, you will move beyond thinking about your attendees as a single block and instead move towards considering them as individuals. This will lead to segmentation through actions like creating multiple ticket types, inquiring about audience demographics, and even segmenting by attendee goal or interest.
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.
Step Four: Delight
This is the actual event.
- In this step of the framework, you want to make sure that the content you deliver is valuable and compelling. The research you do in step one, and the data you collect in step three should help with this. Another way to deliver valuable content is to get investment from attendees in advance. Ask attendees ahead of time what they would like to ask the speaker to build interactivity and drive engagement.
- People will be more likely to show up because they want their questions answered on stage and, as an added bonus, these questions give speakers more data to work with. It gives them context allowing you to deliver more relevant content.
- Poll the target audience in advance, and when targeting people that have expressed an interest in a particular topic, a large number of them may be attached to certain organizations and so when putting on events that address those topics, they will advertise with and attempt to partner with those organizations.
- While content is obviously important, you do not want to forget about the largest value proposition events have and that’s networking. Consider implementing gamification where you award points to attendees for interacting with a certain number of other attendees or exhibitors, have lounges where people can go and chat with others, enable speed networking where attendees are matched with each other one on one based on stated interests, and finally, session chats where attendees can communicate directly with the speaker.
- Choosing sponsors should be done intentionally. It is easy for virtual attendees to ignore things like sponsorship banners so you need to find ways to connect them to your sponsors. Begin by choosing brands and companies that are meaningful to the audience. The value in the relationship needs to go both ways.
“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.”
Step Five: Grow
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?
- Use analytics tools to aggregate the data and metrics, and to find meaningful KPIs that can be compared from event to event. Look at things like registrations and when they occurred, attendee behavior during the event, chat logs, and session duration activity. You will also have access to information that can be shared with sponsors and exhibitors like booth visits and booth clicks. You can also provide them with lead scoring tools.
- Think about what kind of data you are collecting. You can never have too many metrics but, it is easy to become overwhelmed by so much data. So, focus on the most important metrics and really dig deep, figuring out why they are the way that they are so you can modify events moving forward.
“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.”
Event Talk Live With The Experts
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.
Audience Q&A with the Experts
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.”
Head of Events, and Experiences
“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.”
Head of Global Events
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.”
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.”
Head of Events, and Experiences
“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.”
Head of Global Events
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!