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Event Marketing in 2018: An interview with Alisa Arakelian of Founders Alliance

At any given day in New York City or London, there are 200+ networking events on the single topic of entrepreneurship, tech & startups. 200 events that compete for eyeballs and attention. That’s each day, every day. Over the year, that’s over 73,000 events in one city alone.

With audiences maturing quickly on social media, evolving trends in digital marketing as well as brand new event technologies available, there is a lot of uncertainty amongst event marketers and event professionals.

We’ve asked Alisa Arakelian, Event Manager at Founders Alliance,  the leading network and community for Swedish entrepreneurs and startups, on the future of event marketing and what 2018 might look like.

elisa-arakelian.jpgQuestion 1: What event technologies do you think will have an impact on the success of your events?

Alisa: When inviting clients to events, you are not only competing against other events they are invited to, but also their valuable work time and most importantly, family time.

It is therefore important, that attendees feel the gain they receive from attending an event is larger than the time they are giving up.

Event attendees are bombarded with invitations to different seminars, lunches, round tables and other networking events. This makes it harder for event professionals and marketers to gain attention and make sure their event is selected. It is important to listen to what their clients want and provide them with unique opportunities.

Remember that an event, in most cases, does not end at its closing time. We have seen an increased demand for online networking solutions from our clients and I do believe that this will be where future events will be successful.

Event attendees do not only want to meet and network personally with peers, but also want to continue the discussions and networking once the event has ended.

We use a secret Facebook group where we encourage our members to continue discussions after and in-between events and use the platform to get help with challenges they are facing as well as ask for recommendations.

We have also seen an increased demand for a good event app solution where attendees can see guest lists, connect with each other and see what expertise is in the room and thus making their networking time more efficient.

Being able to schedule your own meeting during the event will make it more appealing for attendees to actually make time in their calendar for the event.

However, there are a few drawbacks.

Often, attendees think that there is “no one interesting” at the event as they do not have all the background information about the guests, and therefore not show up for the event when in fact, the person they found less interesting could have been the one they actually needed to meet.

The only way to overcome this problem is to know your clients and their challenges, telling them beforehand who they would benefit from meeting and making sure they meet at least one or two people who will be valuable to them.

In conclusion, event apps focusing on networking/one-to-one meeting combined with online forums/group where the event can continue will have a great effect of the success of the event, at least our events.

There will always be a need to get involved personally to make sure the attendee actually gains something from attending your event.

We cannot leave it to them to sort everything out themselves.

Question 2: What strategies, tactics & tools do you think will have an impact next year?

Alisa: An important strategy and tactic for next year is to get to know your clients and what their needs are. What do they want to gain from the event? And how can you make sure they will leave feeling satisfied?

By knowing your clients you will be able to help them before, during and after the event so the value they get by attending the event is greater than the effort they are putting in attending.

This will make the attendees come back event after event as they know they will benefit.

This strategy is something we implement with our clients and see successful results. It can be as simple as asking a question of “What is your challenge within topic x?” or “What are you hoping to gain from this event?

Question 3: What social channels will work for event marketing? Which ones won't?

Alisa: This question is hard to answer as it depends on the target audience of the event. Is the event for younger people, then maybe Instagram is a better way of getting access to the audience.

But if the event is for an audience who is a bit older, more traditional channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn might be useful.

I think it is important to select a social channel where your audience is, so it won’t be a hassle for them to join or get access to information.

Question 4: How can event marketers break through the noise and create events that are engaging and, more importantly, well attended?

Alisa: As mentioned previously, no matter the profession everyone is bombarded with invitations to attend events from different organisations.

Many of the events, especially seminars, are also within the same topic, making it hard to make sure your guests are going to sign up and attend. To grab your guests attention through all the noise it is important that the guest feels the invitation is for them personally and not a mass generated invite.

The purpose of the event, the topics and the way the invitation is formulated should feel personal for the person opening it.

If I, as an attendee, feel like you have formed the event according to my needs I will make an effort to actually show up as I know attending will benefit me.

The invite should also be easy to fill in, we have less and less time these days, and spending anything more than one minute to fill in a form for an event will make me less likely to attend.

An easy way to overcome this are filled in forms, where the attendees information is already filled in so all the attendee has to do is click send.

I do realise that not all orgnisations/companies have the opportunity to know their attendees well enough and thus it might be slightly harder to personalise an invite to a full extent.

However, often events are for a specific target audience and that audience often has challenges within a common topic. By doing some research one can easily make sure the topics discussed are unique and narrowed down to what is current.

For instance, instead of just discussing GDPR in general, do a seminar on how GDPR will affect the area of your attendees work and give them knowledge they can actually implement.

And finally, if the event has speakers they do not have to be famous ones.

Make sure your speakers are good on stage, energetic and that they know what they are talking about. 

Most importantly they should know the audience and tailor their presentation for that audience.

If the attendees know that by attending your events they will get to hear good speakers, who provide information relevant to them, they will keep coming back.

Question 5: What’s one trend, challenge or opportunity you think will impact the events industry the most in 2018?

Alisa: As many others, I think the GDPR will be a large challenge for the events industry next year. We see a strong need from attendees to network and they often want to connect outside of events, the GDPR will make this much harder. But how much harder only the future can tell.


Conclusion

  • Personalizing your event marketing is key
  • Understanding your event attendees' behaviour through data can help personalise 
  • It's crucial to make it easy for attendees to register
  • Preload your event registration form with attendee data
  • GDPR will be a large challenge for event marketers in 2018
  • Speakers don't always have to be high-flyers. Get the ones who are energetic and who can tailor their content to your audience

Next Steps:

Download Your FREE GDPR Workbook   (for Event Marketers & Planners)

 

Tags: Event Marketing Tips, Expert Opinions