How is event marketing different from general marketing? How do you appeal to customers, sponsors and speakers? How do you make your event amazing?
On this week’s #MarketingBuzzword Podcast, Ben M Roberts speaks to Paul Ince about ‘Event Marketing’. As always the aim of the podcast is to debunk, demystify and bring back some meaning to the marketing buzzword.
Paul Ince is a digital marketing strategist who believes that the people working within the business are best placed to talk about it. He helps organizations understand their voice and puts strategies in place to amplify it to their market. He is the founder of MarketEd.Live (Paul also includes a special Marketing Buzzword discount code), a conference for professional marketers held annually in Nottingham, featuring the most innovative speakers inspiring attendees to be better at communicating with their audiences.
You can find a full transcript of the conversation between Ben and Paul below, but before that I want to let you know that The Marketing Buzzword Podcast is now powered by Talkative. Talkative is a company that brings live chat, voice calls, video calls and co-browsing together, in one package. This allows you and your business to truly engage with your customers, offer quick and effective resolutions to questions and improve the customer experience. You can find out more at Talkative.uk
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Enough small talk . . . let’s talk “Event Marketing”
Event Marketing Interview with Paul Ince and Ben M Roberts
Ben: Hi Paul and welcome to the podcast.
Paul: Hi Ben. Thanks very much have me on.
Ben: Oh good I’m so excited to get you on today to talk about event marketing. Now, Paul, you’ve got a pretty good event here in the UK amazing reputation please tell the guys who are listening, a little bit about your event.
Paul: That’s was very kind of you to say so. So the event we went is called marketed life. It’s an event primarily aimed at marketing professionals so people who do it for a living but can be freelancers, agency staff, in-house people or whoever really a manager director whatever. We also do get attendees who are business owners or people who probably do the marketing themselves that really need to learn a lot more about the different disciplines within marketing so we try to cover all of those. Whether it’s social media, whether it’s advertising, branding, websites emails, chat bots, PR, all sorts of things we try and cover as much has become. Because even if you specialize in one particular discipline it’s a great idea to know exactly what’s coming in those are the things.
Ben: Hmm I think is actually only fantastic point. So the episode that went out just before this was with Duane and Rev from Yext and we basically talked about actually how if you want to be almost a holistic marketer, you need to be aware even if you’re doing, if you’re a SEO person, for example, you need to be aware of everything else is happening around you because really in business or marketing does anything happen independently. So it’s always great to hear that as a conference and what you stand for essentially it to show the whole array of what’s happening as much as you possibly can do in the length of a conference and to try to (inaudible) look. It’s not just about one little niche but you need to understand how everything around fits in to maybe your little bubble but you’re not just there by yourself.
Paul: I think it’s so important. My specialism is actually social media and even though that’s my specialism it would be a real mistake to not consider how a SEO works or how Google Analytics works because I need to be doing something with my social content and that’s usually to drive traffic to somewhere else like a Web site or an event page or to pick up the phone. You can’t understand the success of your discipline unless you understand the results that come in. So I is not about that but as well you know we’ve seen from Facebook recently and all the problems with the scandal or even how they change how things work that is probably not a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket and so that really should apply to any kind of business. Looking at how they do their marketing you shouldn’t just do social. We should also be looking at things like print marketing and how your website works and things like email marketing and chat bots. It’s a good idea to look outside of your little bubble to see how the marketing features work and that will actually make your specialism better.
Ben: I love that, I remember Andrew and Pete had speaking Eurovent before have talked about that actually that’s how they get their lot inspiration actually looking outside of what we’re doing because it is quite easy especially in social media where you’ve got algorithms and stuff which sort show you what you most likely to like. So you sometimes it’s really difficult to actually widen your vision actually look outside what’s present what’s presented in your news feed. So I think it’s fantastic that people are out there what you’re trying to widen people’s horizons and not just narrow of them with an algorithm. It seems so logical but it’s so easy to get caught up in the screen that’s in front of you and only looking at what’s displayed in front of you.
Paul: Oh it really is. And you know Andrew and Pete are great guys and they really know their stuff. And if you look at what they’ve been doing with their own content they have definitely moved from where they started and branched out into other things particularly video which they’re totally smashing right now and the great conference speak and it was great to have them Oxford lives last year, they were actually one of the highest rated after the event when we took feedback from our attendees. They were right up there in terms of that talk. But they’ve done a lot more YouTube that’s a specific target for them this year and it’s important to spread your wings a little and just just put the feelers out and see what other things are out there because you might be missing the next big thing. If you don’t pay attention to what’s coming up in the future.
Ben: So with that in mind that is one of the things we wanted to bring you on to that event marketing and how it’s being used as a buzzword is because more and more I’m seeing out there is the people saying we do need to create engaging communities it is when they just sort of go set up an event. Set up an event and engage your community just do something that actually but there’s no real context that people don’t understand is it would be setting up events almost for the wrong reason just because someone tells them to. Paul why did you set up Market Ed Live and why do you think that people should (inaudible). What is the reasoning behind an event that will make it successful globally if you haven’t got the right reasons to go into it. You don’t get the right thing out of it. So what are your thoughts around that?
Paul: Well I think it’s good to have a purpose. I think if you understand why you want to create an event then I think you want it to be successful in terms of how you end up delivering that event. So in our case we are based in the East Midlands it’s not an area that is hugely known for events. It’s not a huge townhome full stop really. But there is a big population here it covers a bus distance and me my co-founder at the time were in a pub and we were just talking about how we travel to events whether it’s done in London or in Scotland or abroad. And that’s great. And it’s easy for us to do that we’re only an hour away from London. But what about all of the other businesses here. What about people who can’t afford to go to London or abroad or they can’t get past their boss. There’s a gap and we wanted to fill that gap with an event of our own. So we decided to put on an event that we would want to go to and we have our delegate experience right at the front and center of our minds when we’re putting this event together. And so the objective is to deliver great speakers great knowledge education and that’s why it’s called Market Ed Live.
Paul: Thank you. It took ages. But you know that’s our purpose. It’s an educational event. We want it to be based on inspiration and learning so that people actually have something to take away with them the following day that they can implement.
Ben: No, it’s funny that I actually I love the fact that it’s focused delegates but also sort of moved into the larger events I guess because it’s sort of the medium to larger size event especially in the UK, I mean compared to American Conferences everything in the UK is absolutely tiny but in the UK (inaudible) good medium size event. And we’re looking at it going where does we balance, how do you decide between whether you want to almost be focused on the delegates or you’re sort paid for buzz speak as this always two different revenue models, isn’t it? You can either have the delegates or with pay for it but then the value then comes you will have to put in the value for the delegates to almost make up for the price of the delegates that paid the tickets or you go the other way works on responding to speakers and you must reduce the ticket price to get more numbers. What are your thoughts around how you balance up some of those because you want to have sponsors and keep sponsors happy but you also want to not charge the customers too much but you also want to make sure they get value. Seems like it’s quite a difficult model to get the balance right in terms of all these different elements fitting in how do you how do you fit all that together.
Paul: Well I think it is a challenge because you’re right you’ve got different, you’ve got different streams of influence here. So on the one hand sponsors want to know how many tickets you’ve sold. That’s the thing when you when you approach them to be a sponsor they say how many tickets have you sold. Have you got speakings. That’s what they want to know. Ticket holders or potential ticket holders want to know who you’ve got speaking and it’s hard to get speakers until you’ve got sponsors on board because then you don’t know whether you can afford to pay for speakers or whether you can afford to pay for some but not others at what level. So all of these different factors come into it at the same time where we started was our primary objective is to deliver an event that people will be willing to pay for because there is value and that’s the ticket is the revenue stream that we have to ensure that the event can go ahead. So we obviously have to try and projects how many tickets we might sell how many tickets we can sell because there are different. We’ve got a capacity for the venue but we know what style of seating do we want. So, for example, this year in Nottingham we’ve got the capacity for potentially 350 people if we put everyone in the theatre style but we actually want to put people on tables round tables because we did that last year and people talked to each of them more and that community feel is an additional benefit to go into an event people feel that much more.
Ben: What? You only get people to talk to each Paul? You’re mad, people don’t wanna talk to each other they want to sit there with headphones on and not talk to anyone.
Paul: Yeah yeah. And most of these people are actually on their phone all the time anyway. But yes. So actually having a decision based on what we take the numbers down to 200 it means that we can have tables that means that okay we might lose extra revenue but the experience that people will have will be so much better and then they will become advocates for the event and will return the following year and then we can grow it then so that’s more of a long term strategy thing and it means because we’ve chosen to create the revenue model from the ticket price any sponsors that we get we will use that money to plough into the attendee experience. So it would be very easy I think anyway to create life and more of an expo.
Paul: You get exhibitors to pay to exhibit and then they can speak to the audience because they’ve paid to speak. And I’ve certainly been approached before where organizations have said we’re doing an expo in Birmingham and you can have a stand and then you’ll get to speak. And it’s like 2000 pounds or whatever. Everyone’s different right and I know that some people really do like trade shows and people do like to go to those type of events but personally speaking, I prefer to go to an event where the speakers are of a certain standard at a certain level. Are you still doing that sort of thing? (inaudible) paying to be there and producing a really rubbish talk.
Ben: Yeah I think that’s that’s almost what I was trying to get out and it’s nice to hear you say actually and it’s almost like thinking about it almost exactly like a business model where you put the customer the delegate at the heart of what you do. It’s all about the experience because again if you reduce the numbers but you increase the customer experience actually it costs more to try and get these new customers in. So if you get these delegates all coming back next year all of them if you can get say 60, 70, 80 percent back next year that’s people you don’t have to then join spend money to try and get new delegates in. And it’s that almost a no brainer but it’s actually quite hard sometimes for people to fathom. Actually look if you invest in the customer experience and you reduce numbers yes you might make less money. Slight less money now but actually going forward you’ve got a more sustainable model to keep this event going keep it actually growing and not just keep it growing but maintain the quality. And I think there’s one other really important things that you mentioned. It’s the quality is the fact that people haven’t just got a start and then are just speaking and then you find these expos before and I’m the first one I went to is in London and it was. And this speaks of this to some of them were very good some of them were absolutely awful. You get a real big variation whereas when I’ve been to events where the focus has been on the quality of the content or the value added then actually it’s a completely different experience in the Expo stuff is great for a certain thing but I find that actually, you get a lot less out of them unless you’re looking for something particular and that’s the difference actually if you coming to an event where it focuses on content. You seem to get a lot more out of some of these things. It made maybe a new bias on this because we love this sort of event. But it’s interesting to see how different models work.
Paul: Yeah, I think you know I don’t have anything against Expo’s per say outrageous per say. I think they can be really helpful particularly if you’re looking to buy something or looking to share some ideas with other people. I think that it can be really really good value to to do a trade show. And I think if you know well-organized trade show gets the right people in there gets the right companies in that will absolutely add value to it to those people. But it’s not it’s not my preference. I guess I’d like to be inspired by people speaking and so that was the sort of event that we wanted to run. So that’s why we run that particular type of event but absolutely for us to attend the experience is so important and what we want is what you’ve described. We want people to go. That was amazing. We got so much from that we had a great time. We’re going to come back next year and we’ve only run it once before last year and we’ve had a really good return rate already. You know we had a presale in November. We had a limited number of tickets on sale and we told all of our delegates from last year. We’ve only got 20 tickets on sale a really fantastic price. If you want to get them early get them on this week in November and they sold up because we actually did something right last year. And I mean just think if anyone’s listening or thinking about organizing an event. Have a read of a book called oversubscribed by Daniel Priestly. It’s a really great book for understanding how to attract interest by having sort of limited numbers of tickets or limited numbers of a product or something like it can apply to anything. But we applied the logic from that book and it really worked for us.
Ben: Yeah but limited availability limited edition. So it was District now at the time bound to be time-bound money but something that really restricts it makes it almost exclusive. I think it’s a really sort of nice philosophy and I think social media marketing will do it really well. It is a different context not in terms of limiting ticket numbers but by consciously creeping up the price enormously in the countdown’s rich ones. It’s interesting to see all these different models and how all these different events can be done in a different way. But they’re actually doing the same thing just in different models. It’s great to see some so many different models actually working on this is really nice.
Paul: I think there are so many different models that you could choose. I mean a social medium to have a very specific model. I think it obviously works. They start off very very low pricing and gradually work out. I mean I went social media marketing this year. By the end of the event I bought my tickets to next year’s event because firstly I had a fantastic time and thought that was a really great investment that I made but also that is the cheapest it’s ever going to be so I know I’m going to go so I might as well buy it now that at that point so they do really do a great job at that. The other thing that they do it I find interesting is they have a virtual ticket. So for their event you can’t watch it live if you can’t go to San Diego and want to get some of the content you can buy a virtual ticket and then a few days after the event when they’ve edited the videos and uploaded them you can for whatever I say inexpensive it’s still something like two hundred and fifty dollars. But compared to a normal ticket price it’s quite a good value. You can gain access to the content. So I think that’s really quite an interesting thing to look for because that’s that’s like an online event and that’s another model that anyone thinking about an event could look up to.
Ben: Is there room for both then. Is that a model that you think is going to see increasing popularity where you’ve got a physical event almost got a digital event almost running either at the same time or just after you recommend that maybe people need to consider actually doing one we will the one way or the other because you see a lot of digital festivals now almost purely online. You still have a physical event. Incredible. You actually look or do more people need to blend more is actually does it become meta experience become quite is good then because it’s not focused. So, for example, the virtual ticket does it become not that great. Maybe I’m not I haven’t heard of 100 tickets I don’t know. But it’s not good because it hasn’t been of that it’s been set up to be a virtual event. What are your thoughts around that?
Paul: I’ve been on events on totally online events where all of the speakers just you know their peer via Skype or whatever like a live stream and they are in front of their laptop. So it’s like a come in all of the speakers will have sort of semi-professional setups anyway so they’ve got lighting and they’ve got a nice backdrop. So but it’s like having it’s like listening to a webinar or watching a webinar online and one at one session after the other moderated by maybe somebody. And I think that has its place that could work. I think again depending on who is actually speaking would dictate what the prices are of that. And I think if you as the delicate treat it as an event and you put your yourself in a room without distraction then that can really add value. I think one of the problems with virtual appends is that your destruction’s are still there so it’s tempting to flick over to email. It’s tempting to be looking at Facebook it’s tempting to be interrupted by somebody else and get involved in something and miss something. And I think the value of in person events are that you are actually out of the office you do or not in your normal place. You’re in an experience and you’re meeting people in real life maybe you’re meeting people who you followed on social or you’ve had some kind of connection with or maybe you’ve just not had any connection with but would like to make a connection. So one of the things that people said was really positive about marketed life was that we have everyone in one room and we don’t have a green room for a speaker, the speakers in the room and so if you want to talk to the speakers at the break at lunch. Then you have the same level of access as anyone else. And again it becomes part of the attendee experience and again we found that’s really important. We’ve seen speakers build relationships with our attendees after the event and which is great for their audience because they become fans of them or you know bigger fans if you like them. I know loads of people up they will talk about untrimmed Peter and they are really accessible anyway. But you know Victoria Taylor came around with 12 13 14 15 bottles of prosecco and everyone was popping Prosecco at 11:00 o’clock in the morning. And now that that break the Prisca break down barriers. But the concept breaks down barriers between the speaker and the audience. And it was a great moment actually of that day.
Ben: Oh that’s great. It is all about Sawston I guess it’s even adding little bits of value like sound so simple brilliant lowballs perspective actually that in itself adds value adds value to the conference in terms of being able to get speakers in that we actually really engage because the audience value that the speakers value that it creates a much burst variance she remembers the speaker as well so least not more so my next question is how do you actually value your speakers and how you choose your speakers. See an event like yours where it’s not paid for as we’ve set aside as we mentioned but not by sponsors or exhibitors. It’s paid for by the delegates. How do you decide or value your tickets based upon the speakers and how do you decide if that speaker or speakers of right for your event. Because obviously that is the crux of your event if you get that wrong. Oh my god I can have dire consequences on your on your event. Too much time effort and practice you gaffed hard to put into to get this right.
Paul: Thanks for the pressure Ben. You’re spot on.
Ben: You’re going to not to say anyway. Honest you don’t. I’m not applying any pressure you got some bag.
Paul: It is tough, the weight of responsibility is quite big. I feel it’s quite big anyway because I am conscious that people are parting with their hard earned cash to invest in our offense. So we want to get it right. What we what we’ve done this year is actually been in The delegates from last year. Not only who they like from year because that was important feedback for us but also what sort of topics do they want to cover in the following years event. So one of the things that people said was that they wanted some help with PR and how they can get better at PR. So we’ve got Emma Leach who is the president elect of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations speaking. And that’s you know a proper big name in the PR world.
Ben: Oh, if you’re in PR you should know who that is.
Paul: Yeah exactly, so we’ve got her coming we approached her and talked to her about what our audience actually wants so feedback has been really important. Another thing that people said to us recently was that were really keen to learn more about chat bots. So we haven’t we haven’t got that yet but we are working to try and make sure that there is content to do with chat bots in terms of who we actually select. Big names are important in the sense that they do attract people to buy a ticket. If people are familiar with the name. But people really want quality more than anything else. So we will probably have maybe two or three names that people will recognize just by their name. Otherwise we’ll have various brands that people will recognize. So we have the Beano coming to talk about audiences now you know people wouldn’t necessarily know Holly Brooks who is the speaker from the Beano but they would recognize the Beano and I think the Beano is such a cool brand. And what they’ve done in terms of moving from a printed comic to lots of digital work will be really interesting. So what we do do is talk to the speakers the potential speakers and we work with them to understand what can they talk about. Will that be a good fit. Do we feel confident. And then we also look at what the speaking experience do they have. So some people who are very experienced because we have Speaker kits and a lot of those will be online or in pedia format and there will be evidence of them speaking on YouTube or they can supply that that really gives us a good idea of who they are and what they are about and we just try and build a relationship with them so that they understand what we’re trying to achieve and so that we feel that they can deliver and that they’re a good fit. We won’t interfere with audio the speakers we don’t want any prima donnas coming in and you know doing 30 minutes and then leaving again. That’s not what we’re about. We want people who are happy to stick around. Happy to talk to the attendees. This is this is no time for Deavers here marketed like this. This is about the community and about the delegates as I’ve said so. So that’s really important to us.
Ben: You know I really I think it’s really important not just to be part of the event itself and the delegates and it’s trying to blend it all in again. I think you’ve got to balance really nice between big names big brands and and valuable content. Because again you want to add the sponsors are good people to be constantly going to deliver on the promises because again that balance is all important to people like Brian Fanzo, Andrew and Pete, Chris Marr. People like that and then some of the people wouldn’t know them and some people would know Mark Master as well I’ve spoken since the age don’t understand before and she’s absolutely brilliant. And it’s like people that actually if you’re an SEO you know Dawn but actually if you’re in general marketing it’s quite easy to maybe you’ve not seen her speak before whereas you maybe you were Brian Funder’s having that balance and blend across where you’re taking in from again but not much at the start of the podcast from all different areas of marketing people can sort of really see how it all blends together and actually it opens people’s minds horizons.
Paul: Ohh Completely. I mean one of the things that surprised me and this is sort of taught me that I’ve got a bubble that I need to get out of as well is that I mean I didn’t know Dawn before we were talking to her about marked had a life. She had a massive impact on the audience that people went when we asked Well who who did you feel sort of changed your view or educated you. Most a lot of people were talking about Dawn’s talk about SEO and practical things and listbox is and writing like a 9-year-old and putting the answer to your question at the beginning and all this kind of really practical stuff and really super clever stuff as well. So so she had she had a big impact. But I didn’t know who she was whereas I know Brian. And so when I was talking to people Brian Fanzo is going to be speaking. Some people were saying who. And that was quite a surprise because of course, I know him so. But you know I mean that’s it’s great that people were able to come to an event like this and see people that I’ve never heard of. And then you know off they go and follow them because actually they’ve they’ve really helped them with learning something on the day.
Ben: Yeah exactly. See it again we talk about the broadening horizons I mean I’m doing. When we spoke I think acts in London and it was that was a purely SEO event. And again that how broad broadened my horizons. Me other people then going to like social media marketing will you see people like Brian and Andrew and Pete and you see all these different things. I think it’s really important people on this when a big takeaway the things that people learn from this episode is the fact that you really need to broaden your horizons and actually go into events which some of them need to specific events to give you really detailed knowledge about a particular subject but to sort of narrow your vision too much trying to think broader and actually think logical look at why you do stuff to be able to go in work you go deeper by understanding the broader horizon. So it sounds like it’s really interesting to sort of see you done that. So thank you so much for coming on today. I think before I let you go Paul I’ve got to ask you the question I asked absolutely everyone at the end of each of these episodes is, so we know that a big fan of event marketing like this to keep going from strength to strength. But what other marketing buzzwords out there right now you either loving or hating?
Paul: Wow! There’s so many Ben there so many. Possibly the one I like the least is a hassle. So I am just not a fan personally of the sort of concept of having to work yourself into an early grave just to achieve something. I mean I really like Garveys content. I think he’s done a great job but I could not live his lifestyle is far too hectic. I mean I wouldn’t mind you know so well follow me around with the camera. That’s OK. But for me that’s that’s not that. It’s just not me but it is for other people so I totally respect that. It works for some people.
Ben: You know I think that thing is different horses for different courses. He’s not afraid to know why you said it. I mean made people like different things at different times and I think actually like the Riegert on Christmas was doing of vlog series the moon which you saw following is videoing himself every day at the moment in April that’s really really interesting. I know he’s speaking. You have an event this year.
Paul: Yeah. You know we’ve got some great ones announced already. I mean Chris Moore we actually got on board really early because I’ve met Chris a couple of times and you know chatted on all sorts of things but yeah we got him on board really early and he’s going to talk about content and he’s doing some great things with CMA lives and the Content Marketing Academy in general and he’s doing a great great job of being a dad as well. It’s really interesting to see what and car and the kids get up to on YouTube with this with this new blog. But we’ve got Howard Jones from E Coming Holly Brooks have mentioned and also (____). But we’ve got some announcements coming up in terms of the rest of the speakers so it would be really great for your listeners to look at marketing.live on the Internet and our speakers us as we announce them and do have a little bit of a cheeky discount for your podcast.
Ben: Oh go for it. It’s talking exclusive to do we get an exclusive speaker announcement is welcoming Paul.
Paul: I haven’t got it work. Here’s an exclusive we have we have literally in the last couple of days worked on and got an agreement on a podcasting session which is going to be awesome at that podcast as we all one are huge right now and they’re a great way to get your message across and to build trust and to help educate people as well. And you know it is something that people want to do more of. You are way ahead. Obviously Ben by doing this one. Lot of people want to know more about it. So we’ve got a good speaker talking about that and similar thing. I can’t say exactly what they going to do. So I will let you guys know when that’s when that’s around. But I’ve got particular discount if anyone goes to marketed.live/buzzword then they’ll get an actual discount off the ticket price.
Ben: Oh beautiful. Make sure you are to the show notes and get everyone involved. Thank you so much for coming on today. It’s been an absolute pleasure. The amount of value knowledge bombs you’ve dropped in this episode has been quite uncomprehensible really so I’m so excited to sort of get this transcribed get this out there and share it with the world.
Paul: Thank you so much Ben by the way knowledge bombs is one of my favorite. That’s awesome. Thanks for having me on. I look forward to discussing and engaging with your audience.
Ben: Knowledge bombs left right center. Amazing. Absolutely love talking to Paul about that marketing and what he’s been doing with the Marketed life and how he’s built events restructure around the end result. I mean I’ve been to some brilliant conferences where we’ve talked about I know you mentioned a few in the show. And each one is completely unique and it’s really important to remember that every conference event expert you go to is going to be completely different. However, having a real focus on what the end result is for the attendees is really important actually look at those different models of where the you based upon a where the attendees space. And then you try and get in the highest quality speakers or whether you have the sponsors pay for any more next year and it’s really interesting to see all the different ways in which an event can be done. And I’m so grateful for Paul coming on. So if you did enjoy that show as well please please do leave everyone I choose a radio appreciator. It does keep getting the show noticed the growth across the podcast is amazing I really want you guys if you are enjoying it to please leave me review. It takes two seconds. And again if you want a guest post on the website until I get more information about what’s coming up in the marketing buzzword project. Please email Ben@ben-m-roberts.com or go to marketingbuzzword.com website. Thank you very much and we’ll see you next week.