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Published in Branding category on (04/21/2016)

Event Automation: Where Marketing Automation Meets Event Management


Certain’s New Brand Positioning and Why Event Management has Evolved

Earthquakes are on the minds of most Californians and especially those of us who live or work in San Francisco.  Our Event Automation announcement today reflects a provocative,  tectonic shift that cuts across the marketing automation and event management landscape and redefines how marketers can drive predictable and measurable results at scale.

Tectonic plates move to relieve stress and tension along fault lines. When they do, they create enormous energy and new land configurations.

Like the earth, the marketing landscape is in a constant state of change.  This is one of those moments where the forces of industry, as in nature change the terrain.

Events are about selling something (products, services, religion, politics etc.) and connecting with people….persuasion and networking…knowledge sharing and personal interactions….inspiration to take action and meeting those that can make it happen.

I have to confess something.  When I was introduced to Certain, after decades of enterprise software experience, I wasn’t aware there was an industry focused on producing software to manage events.  I  sponsored events as an executive in billion dollar companies.  I had attended  many events as a participant wandering in and out of keynotes and sessions.

I relied on incredible event professionals to organize and execute on my behalf stunning meetings and conferences ranging from SKO’s to user conferences.  I didn’t know how they worked their magic.  They just delivered and set the stage for selling and connecting which I fully appreciated.  Yet, knowing whether I had achieved a tangible business outcome beyond a great experience was elusive.

At the time, the event management industry trade show conversation was wrapped around how to manage all the moving parts in the event and how to manage spend. But, it was counter-intuitive to me.

I was coming from the perspective of business intelligence, mobile and social technologies and there was  little talk of how events could be leveraged to sell more and create deeper relationships; of  how executive sponsors could correlate their investment with revenue and marketing results; of how prospects and customers could be segmented and their needs and preferences accounted for.

Research and analysis revealed something astonishing.  Up to 28%  of marketing budgets were allocated to events.  We all know we have to have them but do we know what we get out of them?

In parallel, the marketing automation market was exploding and marketers had developed an insatiable thirst for all things digital – especially data.

But there is always the last mile and in the digital world that has been events.   At 28% of a marketing budget, that is a very expensive mile to ignore.

Given that events are about selling (marketing and sales),  the data that was being aggregated almost as an afterthought was an obvious (to me) untapped treasure trove of insight into prospect and customer buying behaviors.

It seemed to me there was lots of room for independent thinking and a fresher approach.

Events were analog. Today they are increasingly digital.

The tectonic plates of marketing automation and event management are colliding and sending shock waves through the ranks of sales, marketing and event professionals around the world.  Much like a volcano rises from the ocean floor after large scale seismic activity, a new category of software is emerging from the deep need to leverage both marketing automation and event management to drive business results.

The new software category is called Event Automation – the nexus of two powerful forces in enterprise business software.  Much more than just a connection between marketing automation and event management, enterprise Event Automation is a continent, a new land mass, a new approach to capturing what marketing and sales is all about —providing a deeper level of engagement with prospects and buyers than ever before possible.

Event Automation at its core provides the marketer with perhaps the most important step of the buyer’s journey. In a journey that is all digital, Event Automation captures the essential elements of the increasingly rare face-to-face experience (think of how hard your B2B sales and marketing teams work to get an appointment with a prospect) and fully converts that into a digitized stream of real-time interaction that takes buying signals and turns them into orders and satisfied customers.

The event is often thought of as an occurrence that takes place at a single point in time.  Event management is all about managing the myriad business processes  and related data that result in buying signals and follow-on actions.

Event Automation is the management of a perpetual cycle of interaction with the buyer that cumulatively translates data into intelligence to convert participants into prospects; prospects into customers and customers into prospects for additional products and services.

Event Automation manages those cycles for one event or in the case of  large enterprises, thousands of events. Event Automation gives you insights into one buyer, one event or all of your buyers and events.

The key is a multi-level intelligent integration of your marketing automation solution with your event management platform.

You might already be using mobile apps to engage with your attendees.  You may already have data flowing from your registration database to your marketing automation system.

In-event mobile-based interaction is but one piece of mosaic.  Event Automation, goes way beyond that and initiates intelligent engagement from any place in the buyer’s journey that fits your marketing strategy.

Marketers traditionally have referred to “leads” as a term to describe someone who is interested in their offering.  Leads today are prospects and buyers who have taken a step on the journey.  “Hot” leads are prospects, perhaps educated by your competitor who start their journey with you way down the road.

Registration is similar.  Registration was all about capturing the basics of contact information to transact the event.  In Event Automation, registration is a significant step in the intelligence gathering cycle about your buyer.  It’s an opportunity to build on previous interactions captured in marketing databases.

Event Automation provides the flexibility to pre-populate your registration with your marketing profiles; to layer in the preferences you have captured as a basis to recommend to your buyers the content that is most relevant to them at the event; to tag and score your prospects interests to drive sales cycles during and after the event.

Marketing automation integration with event management is much more than a “connector”.  It’s a marketing driven application that provides intelligence on what data to leverage, what data to capture, how to score prospects and uncover buying signals at the event.

Campaigns in an Event Automation-driven world are now integral to in-event activity; sales people are informed as to how a buyer has accelerated interest and knowledge and are ripe for meaningful interaction.

Marketers now partner with their event professionals to create a  seamless approach to an event  to deliver a terrific experience for the attendee.  The event is delightful, yes, because it is fun, exciting, and a pleasure but more importantly because Event Automation empowers the marketing and event teams to give what the buyer really wants; personalized knowledge and interaction with people who can help them navigate their journey successfully.

Capturing hundreds of touch-points per buyer, building on established buyer profiles and creating sales and marketing leverage from tens, hundreds or thousands of events can not only lead to measurable results for the marketing executive who wrote the check but can lead to the creation of incremental stakeholder value for the company and its buyers.

Event Automation is a new category that has erupted because of the advancement and collisions of marketing automation and event management tectonic plates.  While new categories have some unknowns, the reward for those who adopt and lead can drive breakthrough business and career performance.

In the world of Event Automation, you’re in control.  You decide how deeply you want to align with your buyer and her journey.  Events can build trust and value and lead to a vital long-term relationship that for you and your prospect that results in both profit and peace of mind.

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