Welcome to Event Marketers Live, a fast-paced series where we shake off the jargon and get honest with the humans behind the scenes of our favorite B2B events and experiences.
In this episode, Belinda chatted with Spenser Gegan, Marketing Events Manager at Oyster.
Spenser spent several years as an AV Production Engineer and Senior Producer at companies like Sonos and Spotify. Now, Spenser leads Marketing Events at Oyster.
Spenser’s experience makes him a “go-to” for questions about audience engagement in the rapidly evolving event marketing world.
Explore Spenser’s top takeaways below, and catch all of his insights in the full episode.
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Here are the Top 3 Takeaways from this episode ⤵
We probably don’t have to mention it, but the pandemic changed everything for B2B marketers. Even good-sized companies like Oyster were forced to rethink their event strategies. As a result, the company moved away from tradeshow appearances toward virtual events.
With tradeshows, Spenser found that investing vast portions of the marketing budget wasn’t working out as well as in the past. So he began searching for ways to put his experience producing virtual and hybrid events to work. His goal was to capture more of the right audience.
He wanted to click with existing customers and individuals that fit Oyster’s ideal customer profile (ICP). He noticed quickly that virtual events have the potential to resonate more with people.
The answer? From Spenser’s point of view, it seemed apparent. So he worked with the Oyster marketing teams to craft a strategy that pared down the tradeshow schedule and started leaning more into virtual.
Wait! Before you cancel all your upcoming tradeshow registrations, remember they still have a place. Tradeshows can help you reach a network of influencers you might not otherwise have access to.
In Oyster’s case, the company decided to attend fewer tradeshows each year. But the marketing team deliberately selects the events it feels gives them the most traction with target audiences. In other words, Oyster only wants to invest in activities that help it connect with the right people.
The company sees virtual and hybrid events as the best way to tell its story of leading the globally distributed office concept.
Oyster decided to create an ongoing virtual event series. The company believes this is a more intentional way of reaching its existing and potential customers. Oyster has much money riding on its newly adopted virtual strategy. Spenser is banking on the success he’s already seen. He also sees the potential for using virtual and hybrid events to reach audiences in new and exciting ways.
Oyster sees virtual and hybrid events as the best way to tell its story of leading the globally distributed office concept.”
According to Spenser, controlling a virtual event’s branding is a significant advantage over tradeshows. Think about it—at a vendor show, you try to get attention from anyone you can. As a result, exhibitors can waste much effort with little result.
Instead, B2B marketers can focus on virtual events and directly target the audiences they want. Spenser knew that he could make a digital event anything his audience needed it to be. No matter where in the pipeline they are, virtual events allow you to identify and reach out to those who want most to hear your offer.
Spenser is a real pioneer. He’s been setting up virtual and even hybrid events as far back as 2015. Of course, technology and audience expectations were much different then. He learned what worked as he found himself in roles with various objectives.
He was caught up in a rush to go virtual brought on by the pandemic. But he soon realized B2B companies could leverage blossoming platforms like Goldcast to amp up their virtual presence.
In hybrid events, outgoing participants can ask questions on a microphone, while introverted people can type their questions in a chat. In addition, audience-focused mobile apps make audience participation fun again. Marketers can decide how they can best reach their customers or people who want to be their customers.
At first, virtual fixed the immediate need to reach customers hesitant to go to public events. Marketers began experimenting with hybrid events to get more people involved as restrictions and fears eased. They soon discovered an unexpected benefit. They found they could use digital events to customize the experience and get audiences more deeply involved.
Audience interactivity is the best part of virtual and hybrid events. Hybrid events give participants the most options. And they provide the event designer with opportunities to take it to the next level.
Remember audience expectations? They keep getting more challenging to meet. Spenser remembers in the “old days” when opening a Slack channel at a virtual event caused a stir of excitement. Now? Ho hum. You have to do better than that to keep your audience’s attention.
He can also remember how something as simple as adding more cameras so virtual participants could interact better with the in-person speakers was a big deal. Now, the trend is even more seamless interactivity. So it’s not a big deal anymore.
Nowadays, it works best to keep raising the bar to hold audiences’ attention. They won’t enjoy a poorly produced or partly thought-out presentation. Audiences expect to receive not only top-notch production and content, but they also want new and exciting ways of being entertained.
Spenser recommends pushing your team’s creativity to find ways to delight your event audiences. Some of the ideas he’s seen or been involved with that have worked include the following:
The idea is to keep your audience involved in the action from start to finish. For example, when your live audience takes a break to run out for a bite, keep your virtual audience engaged with a fun activity planned just for them. Spenser also suggests increasing audience participation for both groups by offering multiple methods to join in and participate.
You have to keep raising the bar to hold audiences’ attention. Spenser recommends pushing your team’s creativity to find ways to delight your event audiences.”
Thanks to Spenser for joining EML and sharing so much of his virtual event marketing knowledge! That’s all for now, but we’ll see you soon for another episode of Event Marketers Live.