According to Christophe Asselin, Head of UK at DMG :: events, what event companies (and by association their marketing teams) really need to do to attract visitors is to “feel the love”.
Christophe espoused this philosophy extensively at the Conference for Conference Professionals back in April. What he was explaining, sprinkled heavily with his own particular brand of Gallic charm, was that if event organisers want to attract visitors, and keep them coming back then they have to be prepared to get up close and personal.
This approach won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has read Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah of Hubspot fame. There are many organisations that, having set about making sure people could find them on Google, social media and blogs, also ensured that any incoming enquiries, orders or complaints could be handled swiftly and effectively by anyone in the business. Other books such as Groundswell and Socialnomics are littered with examples of companies getting it right, and in many cases wrong.
So why are so many event companies finding it hard to adopt this strategy themselves?
Economics has a lot to do with it and in particular the huge gamble that has to be taken at the start of the event planning process in terms of specifying and committing to a venue. To minimise the risk the temptation is to run the team very lean in the beginning, keeping staff numbers and overhead as low as possible. While this keeps the financial exposure down it invariably means that it also reduces the capacity to bring the event to the market.
It’s hard to be heard if you are a single lone voice and it takes time to gather enough others around you to start creating a really audible noise.
And, if we go back to Christophe’s original point, if the team is small and hard pressed, they don’t have the time, energy or inclination to listen and react to what potential visitors have to say, even though it could be the vital piece of information that could change an event from job done to runaway success.
Which could possibly explain why so many event companies want to embrace social media to deliver their louder voice but they can’t quite work out how, or if they have already dipped their toes into the water they are decidedly underwhelmed by the results. It isn’t that social media isn’t or can’t work for events, but this is one medium where effort most definitely equals reward. Rather than taking the usual“let’s add it to the bottom of the marketing department’s list of things to do” attitude, working out a cohesive social media strategy, of whatever size or complexity, in the launch proposal and budgetting adequately to deliver it on a long-term basis, will deliver much more satisfactory results.
For after all, it is only when you truly know your audience that you can really learn to love them.