As their title implies, event planners spend a lot of their time planning for upcoming events: selecting and booking the ideal venue, developing a theme, setting strategic goals, scheduling sessions, booking speakers, etc..
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Event marketing has traditionally been viewed as primarily a top-of-the-funnel marketing channel. Trade shows and exhibitions, particularly, are places to generate leads. And maybe talk to a few active prospects and customers.
Live events remain one of the largest line items in corporate marketing budgets, and most companies plan to maintain or increase spending levels this year.
Despite the amount of attention focused on digital interaction technologies like social media and chatbots, old-school marketing channels like email and (even older-school) live events still perform best.
If it seems everybody and their brother has a podcast today, you are correct. Podcasts are exploding in popularity, especially for event pros. There are so many great podcasts that we have simply blown past a Top 10 and taken it to 11. (Spinal Tap association intended.)
Numbers aside, what is really interesting about this years' list is that some pundits are claiming that podcasts may be taking over blogs as a means of getting industry news and information.
Amid the profusion of digital marketing channels, there's still no experience as compelling as a prospective buyer and seller meeting face to face. Nearly three decades after the popularization of email and the launch of the worldwide web, events remain a thriving and growing marketing channel.
According to the Event Manager Blog, more than four out of five B2B marketers use in-person events in their marketing mix, and events are still viewed as "the most effective form of content marketing for B2B marketers."
Trends, technology, and preferences in the events industry change fast. If you're planning events based on research from even a couple of years ago, you may be behind the curve.
While most corporate marketers see value in event technology and plan to spend more on it this year, their specific objectives and priorities vary widely.
Those are among the key findings from EXHIBITOR's most recent Marketing Technology Survey report. Respondents plan to invest more this year across a range of technologies from geofencing/RFID to digital signage (the survey didn't inquire about core event management platforms but rather focused on ancillary technologies that expand upon those).
Balancing Intuition with Data in Event Planning: 7 Fascinating Women in Event Technology Share Thoughts
What's most important when planning an event, data or experience and intuition? The answer from seven of the top women in event technology is clear: Both.
Asked, "when making decisions as an event planner, how do you balance experience and intuition versus the use of data?," members of the Women in Event Tech community noted that while data is indispensable to understanding what's worked and what hasn't in the past, experience and intuition are vital when designing new experiences.
As Corey Fennessy puts it:
If you're trying new things (which you should always be doing!), then there won't necessarily be historical data to help guide you.. Another way to look at data is spotting how people have reacted to something in the past, and then using that to come up with something that you've never done before!
Kahshanna Evans warns against:
"Generalizing data or creating marketing suicide by over-comparing competitors who have succeeded in being industry leaders." And most helpfully, Donella Muzik observes that "Ideas themselves are easy—honing in on the 'right' ideas is the hard part. Data helps refine brainstorming and reduce risk."
The best event planners have an appreciation for event data—all the ways it can be collected, used to improve operations and measure event value, and integrated with corporate CRM and marketing automation platforms—as well as its limitations. They know how to combine an understanding of event data with their own background and intuition to design new event experiences that have a high likelihood of delighting attendees.
Here are the the specific responses from seven expert women in event technology:
I look at everything together (experience, gut feeling, data), along with the problem/challenge I’m trying to solve for, in order to make the best decision possible.
Dahlia El Gazzar
Data will always tell you what kind of experiences to design, who it's for, and what the goal or purpose is. Event planners should also work on intuition so they are always designing new experiences that will surprise and delight their stakeholders. It is a constant balancing act, and yet, I would say as an event planner, going with your gut feeling for doing something "new" and not backed up by data is how new experiences get created, and imitated. :)
LinkedIn Creative Director, DAHLIA+ Agency
Experience and intuition go hand and hand with data when making decisions. However, I think that some decisions go beyond data about what's happened in the past. If you're trying new things (which you should always be doing!), then there won't necessarily be historical data to help guide you.
Part of your experience and intuition needs to be knowing when to listen to data, and when to go beyond and take a risk. Another way to look at data is spotting how people have reacted to something in the past, and then using that to come up with something that you've never done before!
Always take into account that no matter how awesome something is, you'll always have the critics—don't let them be your only data set.
Balancing experience and intuition versus the use of data is seemingly impossible unless we consider sentiment, which is highly debatable but invaluable information to innovate, delight, and successfully grow a brand or achieve its goal.
Being flexible and taking a hybrid approach is a winning formula. That allows a more tactical S.W.O.T. assessment of the event goals in order to aim for the sweet spot which should, ultimately, focus on guests, brand, and partners.
As a MarComm and event strategist, it's important to keep helpful data at the center of an event or event series. It's also just as important to consider the entire brand ecosystem that contributes to its success, though. Without managing expectations based on a brand's ecosystem, data can become more of an obstacle and an excuse to avoid change than a resource to create magic worthy of rinsing and repeating.
Avoid generalizing data or creating marketing suicide by over-comparing competitors who have succeeded in being industry leaders. Have a brand-crush but avoid the pitfalls of the distraction. Not only does that have its limits, but it's more fun to center on the team and resources that have a brand at the brink of their own greatnes