Industry events

How to put the WOW factor into corporate events

Exclusively Corporate is a conference specifically designed for the needs of corporate event planners. It offers a full day of education and networking at IMEX Frankfurt and takes place as part of EduMonday. This year it took place on 14 May.

One of the morning sessions that I attended was about how to put the WOW factor into events. It was an innovation panel with speakers from two technology giants: Rena Lindell, Head of Sponsorships at LinkedIn and Amy Brown Head of Creative Strategy at Google. The session was moderated by Patrick M. Delaney and Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partners at Sool Nua.

The danger for any tech company is using tech for tech’s sake. Therefore, these companies need to find ways to bring tech to life in ways that make their companies more human and connect with the customers on a personal level. And this they can achieve by hosting live events, and making the customers leave the event knowing that they are better off.

In-house teams work with multiple agencies on a regular basis, employing several agencies for different projects at the same time not to give them too much workload. Alternatively, when the companies are involved as sponsors, they have less decision making power and control over the final event outcome.

How to introduce a “crazy idea”

There is nothing more useful than a word “pilot” when wanting to introduce a new, and crazy idea. It’s also always good to have an idea in the “back pocket”, to do things differently. But even if the idea doesn’t come off, in the planning and when piloting something, it’s necessary to have a contingency plan. The most important is that the leadership supports and understands the goal behind it. Despite the pivot, organisers should always have the final goal in mind and collect data in the process.

How put the WOW factor into events

To get the WOW factor, it’s necessary to put the B2C magic into B2B events and apply the principle “user first and the rest will follow”. When organisers put their guests first they will feel it. Often, companies want to tell their audience about how great they are, but actually who cares? Instead, they should think what the attendees care about, and how the company can position itself so the people get what they need and what is valuable for them. Companies should put this “lens” on everything and think about all the little things they do, and how to make them better every single time.

Where to get inspiration

The key here is to be inquisitive, show interest and be curious and get inspired when seeing the guests excited. This can be a great source of inspiration! Encourage the team to see something new once a month that has or has not something to do with the job. The most important is to get out, and always take notes. Even when agencies come to pitch, instead of sitting through the pitch ask to come and see their work in action.

How to set about understanding the audience to deliver a more personalised experience

Pre and post event surveys can give a good idea of how to deliver a good experience, but the best is to talk to attendees and get into their shoes. It’s also important to work with people who are better then you (e.g. – a specialised agency).

But it’s also important to get the inspiration internally. So start with your team by asking for their feedback without mentioning the word “event”. There is a lot to understand from the various teams who run the day-to-day operations but not involved in the event itself. It’s important because they are connected with the customers on a daily basis and can provide in-depth customer insights about specific audiences. Ask also for the goals of each department, and align with what the clients wants. Here it’s important not to structure around any one specific event because the internal feedback can give inspiration to many different events in the future. In this case, event manager’s job is to find the right fit to that idea. Hold the opportunities open instead of holding a team meeting to talk about one specific event.

What will disrupt our industry?

Surprisingly, it’s not technology. The trend is relationship marketing and how to make one way conversation a two way conversation. It’s necessary to build a community and make guests feel part of it by making them more involved and participating.

Furthermore, it’s important to include diversity in events. Tech events often hit the news because they tend to have men on stage and no women keynotes. But it’s not only about people, it’s also about ideas. Present something new that people haven’t heard of and bring millennials on stage. Shake the conversation!

Photos credit: IMEX Frankfurt 

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