Event Marketing Planning For 2024: Templatizing, Trade Shows, and Turning Customers Into Brand Advocates

November 10, 2023
Lindsay McGuire
Associate Director of Content and Campaigns at Goldcast

If you missed the last Event Marketers Live, we've got a lot to catch you up on today!

To start, let's talk about our brand new makeover. We've been running this series for more than a year, and we were ready for a revamp!

That's why last month, we unveiled a snazzy, upgraded look and a couple fun new segments, including a kickoff "newsroom" talk, a "Dear Goldcast" event marketing letter (if you're old enough to remember "Dear Abby," you know where this inspo came from), and a "Hacks and Hot Takes" chat.

In this session, Belinda Joseph, Head of Events & Community at Goldcast, welcomed MacKenzie Grant Nixon to the stage. MacKenzie is the current Senior Director of Marketing, Experiences at Enverus, an energy-dedicated SaaS platform—she's also the first person we've ever met with an actual "Event Management" degree!

MacKenzie shared her thoughts on planning for 2024, collaborating with your sales team, and more. Read on for the biggest highlights of the session, including:

  • Templatizing: Your secret weapon to scale event marketing
  • How to plan for 2024
  • Should trade shows be in your budget?
  • How to stay aligned across departments and with your sales team
  • How to turn customers into brand advocates
  • 2024 is almost upon us. Are you ready?

And if you want to watch the session in its entirety, it's available on demand now!

Templatizing: Your secret weapon to scale event marketing

We won't bury the lede: One of MacKenzie's top productivity hacks? Templatizing as much as possible. (Something we champion here at Goldcast, too!) That allows you to get more creative outside of the basic logistics and consistent pieces of a process, especially when it comes to working with your sales team.

MacKenzie's team uses Wrike internally to manage projects. That means every detail goes in the platform, and all teams can view it. So whether it's a creative task or something technical, everything is handled in one place.

We aren't event managers, where it's logistics heavy. It's marketing, and you have to think like a marketer." - MacKenzie Grant, Senior Director of Marketing, Experiences at Enverus

Using a template also ensures you don't miss any steps down the road. It's easy to overlook something when you're in a rush or in crisis mode, but when you've got a template to refer to, that's a lot less likely to happen.

Here’s a snapshot of part of our Monday board template for our show Donuts & Demand.

At Goldcast, we use Monday and Notion. The fact is, companies across industries are being forced to do more with less right now, but we still have to meet our marketing objectives. We've found efficiency through these systems, and we're working to align all teams on the same platform so that we can be more productive as a whole.

How to plan for 2024

MacKenzie's already completed her budget for next year (we've gotta catch up!), and her advice to the rest of us marketers is to get started as soon as possible.

Her process involved going through all of the events from the last year and evaluating what worked, as well as taking the new event requests she's received and asking her sales team to weigh in on whether those should be a priority in the coming year.

From there, MacKenzie's team does some research. What does attendance look like for certain events? What are the sponsorship rates? How does each event fit within the budget? "And then we go into a horse trade process," she explains. "So, if you want to do this one, that means you're not gonna be able to do this other thing instead, and the sales team has to commit to that."

Then, MacKenzie takes the finished list to the Chief Revenue Officer to secure C-suite agreement. What's great about this approach is how transparent it is for everyone involved—people know that if they really want something to be part of this year's budget, they might have to give up something else in exchange, so they really need to focus on the big revenue generators.

Should trade shows be in your budget?

If you're wondering whether trade shows still make sense as a budget line item, you aren't alone. We've been hearing this question a lot, as well as uncertainty around how to secure executive buy-in for the things you do decide to invest in.

Attendee expectations have changed, and people want more. Their time is valuable, and they want to make the most of it." MacKenzie Grant, Senior Director of Marketing, Experiences at Enverus

MacKenzie's seen that post-Covid, traditional trade shows don't have the same effect that they used to. People want a "big" reason to get out of the house, and companies have had to pivot to meet that expectation, whether it's through hybrid events or another format.

At Enverus, they use a three-part process to evaluate what to do about trade shows. They asked these questions:

  1. Are our customers still attending the same trade shows? What is the white space amount that we could possibly get at a particular trade show?
  2. What are the effects of reducing our presence at some of the trade shows? Enverus experimented with pulling back on some of the shows that seemed like they were less worthwhile and then looked to see whether that impacted sales and revenue.
  3. How can we pivot more from third-party shows to hosted, intimate experiences? How can we get the right people in those rooms to maximize value?

One note about the last question: One idea to attract your most-wanted customers to attend—and which can boost the exclusivity factor of your events—is to have your sales team do individual outreach for some of your more high-touch events. Don't do any email marketing efforts for it; just rely on your sales team to make those connections and encourage people to attend. That can build the bond between the account rep and the customer and help get the right people to attend the event.

The team is still processing data from this year to decide what to do in 2024 in terms of trade shows, but the three questions above have provided a lot of information to work with. It might be worth exploring them within your own teams to see whether trade shows are worth investing in going forward.

How to stay aligned across departments and with your sales team

MacKenzie's top tip to keep departments aligned? Over-communication. At Enverus, there are team and group chats, as well as chats with a lead or segment owner from different areas. The groups meet on a regular basis to make sure everything is in lockstep, from product launches to important upcoming changes.

This is important because each team brings a different "slice" of information and expertise to the table. For example, the Customer Success folks know the most about any at-risk accounts. They can highlight those, and then the Marketing and Sales teams can decide what kind of messaging can help those folks feel valued and informed.

When it comes to the sales team specifically, learning how to collaborate isn't something that ever "ends," in MacKenzie's opinion. It's a constantly evolving process, but the more you work and grow together, the better aligned you become.

Over the years, MacKenzie's come up with her own tips for how to streamline this process, as you can see above. It starts with early involvement and making sure everyone has skin in the game. Clear objectives are set, sales folks are properly trained and equipped with customized pitches, and a plan is created to engage with attendees ahead of the event.

MacKenzie also fosters a spirit of competition to maximize results and play into salespeople's natural strengths. For a recent show, Enverus set up a leaderboard to track how many meetings were set up by each rep—and 160 meetings were scheduled, which was a company record!

Finally, a feedback loop is established to improve future strategies. After every single event, all the major Enverus stakeholders get together to talk about the event and learn from it. Everyone gets a chance to share input and ideas, and the cycle begins again.

How to turn customers into brand advocates

We all know that customer referrals are powerful, with one Nielsen study citing that more than 90% of consumers believe word of mouth more than any other form of advertising. So, how can you engage customers to help drive revenue at events, without making them feel like they're being used?

When it comes to hosted events, MacKenzie recommends reaching out to people you want involved. Perhaps it's asking a customer to participate in an activity or collaborate on a presentation with a SME and share the experience they've had with your product.

Making their story shine is the biggest thing. They want that promotion, too! They want to show off what they've accomplished, whether personally or professionally." - MacKenzie Grant, Senior Director of Marketing, Experiences at Enverus

On the other hand, if you're looking at getting customers involved for a bigger conference, you might look at the list of who's presenting and reach out to any of your active customers to ask how you can help them prepare. That could lead to an organic working relationship.

Or, take a more intentional approach and pay for a customer's flights and hotel so that they can help you present and tell their story, whether at the conference itself or at a hosted dinner or networking event.

2024 is almost upon us. Are you ready?

We hope these tips help you feel more confident as you dive into planning for next year. If you're like MacKenzie and already done with 2024 plans, kudos to you!

Want to get the full download of tips, tricks, and hot takes from MacKenzie and Belinda's chat? Watch the episode on demand, and let us know what you think!

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