Technology is often understood as a double-edged sword. While it has introduced once impossible advancements and innovation across industries, smarter technology also means higher expectations than ever before from customers. And events are no different.
For businesses and marketers, specifically, what this means is we have to become savvier when it comes to how we utilize tech in order to not only meet, but exceed attendees’ expectations. Hyper-personalized experiences at the event and beyond, along with smarter data decisions, are fundamental to hosting a successful event that will have lasting impact on the business.
We chatted with Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, about the importance of putting people first in a technology-driven world, and how marketers can leverage technology for events to create meaningful connections with and among attendees. Check out her thoughts below in Part 1 of our two-part Q&A series.
Q: What expectations do you believe customers have when attending an event in today’s world?
A: Customers expect two things: Great content and great experiences.
First, great content. Your customers expect that you’ll find the best speakers who are able to deliver talks that have the most relevance for their specific pain points. That means you have to know your audience’s pain points––and you need to find the right people who can address those issues in an engaging, interesting way.
Our world moves fast and technology evolves quickly, so event producers have a responsibility to help their customers and audiences stay sharp. I don’t use that word “responsibility” lightly: I truly believe it.
Your attendees come to learn, because they know that learning can not only boost their careers, but it can also change their lives. Great content is table stakes: easy to say, but tough to actually do well.
Second, great experiences. Events continue to be relevant because they do what online platforms can’t: let people actually meet and see each other face-to-face, talk, interact, and bond.
I recall a survey by Certain that said an overwhelming majority of senior marketers expect to increase their spend on in-person events in 2017. That’s because events matter. They’re important. They scratch a real itch in our social media-obsessed world where real connection is even more precious.
So, the best events deliver great experiences to attendees; they have seamless registration, great communication (pre-, on-site and post-event), and technology that allows the organizers to serve customers and connect them with one another. And, of course, a Wi-Fi network that works! Those are the basics.
The even better events do all of the above, and they do it with personality and charm. A live event gives a brand a unique opportunity to connect face-to-face, so bring your A game!
Make it memorable and memorably awesome, as we say at MarketingProfs!
Q: How have you seen technology impact marketing over the past 5 years?
A: Marketers have more technology, more tools, more data, more insight available to us. You would think that all this would make marketing success a slam-dunk, right? Not so much.
Technology has transformed marketing in so many amazing ways. But it’s also caused us to rely a little too much on automation in the name of efficiency. It’s caused some organizations to be even more risk-averse, because they do what has always demonstrably worked versus trying something new. And it causes some marketers to doubt their own intuition and discount their instincts.
I am not anti-technology. I love technology and data. But, technology doesn’t do much on its own, and it’s not a solution for everything. It’s critical in modern marketing. But what’s also critical is people and empathy, and it turns out that the latter plus selective use of technology is really what will revolutionize your marketing across every segment.
Ann said it best: technology has given us increased access to information we didn’t have before, but it’s how we use those tools and that information that truly matters. Marketers must provide great content and even better experiences in order for their events to have lasting impact. This ensures relationships with attendees actually get built beyond their time on the event floor. In the end, the goal is for attendees and customers to feel that a company doesn’t just know of them, but truly knows them.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Q&A series with Ann Handley!