OVID has forced the events industry into having two beautiful new babies
These new babies are ‘Virtual’ and face-to-face (‘F2F’). And for anyone who has had kids, you will know that they cannot be treated in the same way because they are very different beasts. What works for one does not always (or ever) work for the other.
This has always been the way, but the Virtual baby was less-well understood and played second-fiddle to its older sibling. But again, spending so much time at home because of the pandemic has forced us to spend more time with our babies and we can now see its beautiful character, warts and all.
Mean while the formulas that feed these infants (growth objectives) have not changed - we still want new customers and to build better relationships with the ones we have.
What has changed is the landscape within which we can grow. People and companies are cautious about meeting in person, customer-consciousness has shifted towards purpose and the societal role of brands, and travel restrictions that started are view of local vs global events has been overtaken by sustainability best practice. When you add these forces to the acceleration of digital transformation, organisational transformation and brand transformation within businesses, the moving sands look difficult to navigate.
For the events industry, and indeed most marketing channels, the only way we can untangle the new challenges are by looking at it all through a new lens:
- Virtual is never going to be the same as in-person
- F2F events will have a new role, focusing more on quality experiences for more senior decision-makers
- Hybrid requires both of the above to work in a complimentary manner, like email marketing and your website do, performing different roles and working together– two beautiful new babies playing nicely at a party
- Virtual and physical are not interchangeable in what they do – they are better at delivering different outcomes
The cookie crumbles
Another potential game-changer is Google’s move to phase out third-party cookies on its Chrome browser by 2023. These data-aggregating tools have been a marketing staple for as long as most marketing careers, allowing rich behavioural and demographic insight gleaned from user behaviour such as patterns of browsing activity, hobbies and preferences. This has a few implications for events:
- Technology will continue to play an ever-expanding role integrating the data processed by events with other marketing channels, but attendee privacy must be considered, and organisers will increasingly have to incentivise attendees to opt-into sharing data
- The role of first-party data becomes even more important (if it even could)which may see the further rise of proprietary event programmes like Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce, at the expense of commercial conferences and exhibitions
- Creating trusted and valued online communities around events will help increase the opportunities for attendee insight
Doing things differently
You have to adapt to survive. The landscape has changed and the animals that adapt the quickest are the ones that will survive.
Marketers need to understand the new lens way before budgeting starts for FY23 so that they can look at a strategy that uses events to meet their marketing objectives more effectively and efficiently. This requires action and planning now and a change of approach on what’s planned for the rest of this FY.
How do your events ladder up to your business objectives via your marketing objectives? What role are Events playing to support the needs of your customers at the different stages of their buying-journey? In a world of big data, marketing automation, econometric modelling, and tech stacks, what role does human marketing (events!) play?
At OrangeDoor our purpose is to enable change-makers to stand out and influence others. Part of that enabling process is to help them refocus on what’s actually now ahead of them, not what used to be there.