Live It’s Not Magic. It’s Marketing with Shama

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Shama:

Hey, hey, hey, I think we’re officially live streaming. Thanks so much for your patience for those who joined us on Zoom. We are live streaming this across multiple platforms, so still working out some of the technical quirks, so thanks so much for hanging with us. And if any of you out there have recommendation for platforms that you really like, I’m open. I’m always curious to see what’s out there. We’re also looking at Crowdcast. I know my friends at SparkToro have used that in the past and they seem to have done it with good success. But for now we’re using Zoom, so this will be interesting to see how it goes.

I am so excited that we got to kick this off last week and the feedback was humbling. So thank you so much to everyone who left questions and comments and all the DMs. So I’m sorry if I haven’t responded to some of you, it’s just been a little overwhelming, but I’m so, so grateful that you guys enjoyed our first… I want to call it episode, but it’s really not meant to be just an episode. It’s meant to be a chance to answer your questions, a chance for you to ask me your questions. And I want to do this because they feel like there’s such a great community out there of marketers, of folks that I have one-on-one relationships with, or the team talks to on a regular basis, but we don’t really have a forum where people can come together and learn and ask questions.

So the goal is to do this every Thursday, 7:00 PM Eastern. So hopefully we’ll keep this date in time. Maybe we’ll change it if we find in the future that some of prefer… A different date works better for everybody involved, but for now, it’s going to be Thursdays at 7:00 PM Eastern, and we’re going to have a theme. So the themes come about from a couple of places. One, from the things that I’m seeing in the trenches on a regular basis. So things that I see with our clients, things that the team flags, things internally that keep coming up. And then the second aspect of it is the community, which is you guys. So the questions that you ask me, the things that you want me to shine a light on, the areas which you really would love for me to talk about. Those are the areas that we are going to cover.

And in fact, today’s live theme is all around events and event marketing, and it was sparked by Karen Metallic Cornish, who left a wonderful question on Facebook. Karen’s been part of the larger community for a while, and she was talking about digital tax tactics with trade shows and events. So I thought I have a lot to see about events at event marketing, so let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about events and how the world of events and event marketing has changed dramatically given the pandemic. I won’t get into too much of learning from history and how we jump forward. If you guys are interested on the podcast, in the last episode, I talked a lot about why the pandemic has brought about certain changes in how we work, and why I didn’t think that those changes were going to go away anytime soon.

So today specifically we’re looking at events, and anybody who’s been in the B2B world, or if you did… I mean, really as an attendee of any event, we’ve all felt it, right? The last two years, the event space changed so dramatically. If you depended on events to drive business, to drive leads, then you really felt the pain. So I think we’ve seen this massive shift. So let’s look at just one stat as an example, which I think is so telling, and what that tells us about events today. So the B2B exhibit industry cancellation rate in Q4 of 2020 was 97.9%. So we get it, Q4 2020, very uncertain. 97.9. Now Q4 of 2021, so just this past year, 12.5%. So what this tells us is that people are back to whatever, the new normal, new reality, whatever you want to call it. We’re ready for live events.

I think the hunger is there, and you look at airlines and what the data shows us there is that despite just crazy gas prices right now across the board and inflation and so forth with fuel surcharges, people are still honing up the fees for, for travel. So all this pent up demand is… People are ready to connect. So your prospects, your customers are ready to connect with you. So live events are going to come back, which is wonderful. I think for anybody who’s working in the event space, this is a welcome boon. But the last two years have really changed how attendees view events, the ROI on standards. The ROI standards in general for event marketing are so much different and higher than ever before.

Now at Zen Media we do a lot with clients when it comes to event marketing, whether it may be they’re going to a trade show and they need to understand how to make the most of it and leverage that fully, do their own event, whatnot. We helped multiple clients during the pandemic with their event marketing, especially as they pivoted, that was a big word, pivoted in what they were trying to do. And I remember for one client with Forbes8 we pulled off a digital event in two weeks, maybe even less, and the attendance, the RSVPs, and just the numbers beat out any physical event the client had done before. So people aren’t going to forget this. Marketers, businesses, aren’t going to be like, “Hmm, let’s just forget about that,” because it forced companies to see that remote could be a great option.

So I think before when most marketers were looking at it, they said, “Well, we can’t go to this annual trade show, so I guess we go remote. What do we do?” And I think many marketers were kind of blown away that so many people accepted their invites, they came to live events, they had such great turnouts. People engaged. And I think as attendees, on the customer side of things, we realized that they could be really valuable. So all of us, even the most non-tech savvy person got some level of comfort with technology attending events. So the bar is really, really different now. So what I think is interesting is as we move forward, we are going to see more in person events. I know this because as a keynote speaker, so one of the other hats that I wear, I’ve seen a lot of requests come in for events. Even globally. I’m going to Australia in August. So I’ve seen a lot of events that are coming back into the fold.

So to me, this is always a sign that things are starting up again, and people are getting excited about… And they feel more certain about the event space, about doing things.But I think there’s going to be some key differences. There’s a recent report that was released by, I think it’s the CMO Council, but I’ll give you a couple of stats that it really stood out for me. 60% of marketers said that restarting in-person hybrid events is important, even critical. So we think more and more marketers are realizing, “Hey, we need to continue events at some level. Being able to connect with our community is key.” Again, last episode, I talked so much about community. I think it’s going to be crucial. And for me, it’s always been very important to walk my talk.

So when the team, and the Zen team, by the way, is amazing and is so supportive of all these things. You guys see me on camera and on screen, but it’s really these guys who make it all happen behind the scenes. So as we’re talking about things, one of the things they flagged for me is we talk about community, but how do we walk that talk even more? Hence we started this channel. It’s not magic, it’s marketing, so let’s not treat it like that, and let’s use it for the way it’s meant to be used. So in whatever way, I think you’re going to see more and more events, and hybrid events.,And I’ll talk a little bit more about that. 65% of these marketers said that learning over the last two years will lead to a holistic view of events that are better aligned to marketing outcomes.

And I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear that, because I do think that a lot of marketers looked around and said, “Hey, what are some different types of things that we can try, rather than go to the same trade show we’ve gone to, or do the same things and get the same booth? How do we keep it interesting?” So many companies had never even stopped to say, “Is this worth our time, this thing that we’ve been doing?” Because it’s just become a historical… Historically, we go to this event, right? Fill in the blank, whatever it is. Historically, we go to CES South By, NRA, whatever the industry conference is, but this really forced people to say, “Well, should we even consider having our own event? Can we provide more value and be the host?” So there’s so many different ways that I think the pandemic forced us to think about events and event marketing.

And then 71% of marketers are experimenting with new event formats. This is also something I’m seeing, again, both from my experience as we work with clients on the Zen Media side and as a keynote speaker, because I see agendas for conferences and events. And in fact, I just saw an agenda and I thought this was so creative. There is a self care yoga session worked into the conference, and I thought this is brilliant. So things like that, I think, finding more unique ways to connect with the community to make events more engaging. So it would be an understatement to say that creativity is going to be more in demand than ever before. This is where I think it really separates great agencies from perhaps the average ones. Great agencies are giving you these ideas, they’re engaging with you. They’re bringing you things that you can do. And not all those ideas are going to be a hit, but I hope that one of the things we learned from these past two years is also how important the spirit of experimentation is and trying things, because you just don’t know.

I’ve looked at things and I will tell you when the team brings me ideas sometimes, I’m like, “Guys, I don’t know, is this advanced enough?” And they’re like, “Yes, trust us, Shama. This is great.” And most of the time I have enough sense to trust the team, and I’m always blown away because they’re right. So having that data speak for itself and trying different things, I think being open to experimenting with your events and not feeling like it’s the end of the world. So I will continue to stress this, and this is the hill I will die on, progress over perfection every single day. I mean, even with this, doing this live, are there glitches, are there technical issues we’re working out on the back end? Sure. Is it perfect? Right now I’m here, the lights are kind of strewn about, I did an earlier event, so the lights are set up from that. It’s not perfect.

But we’re going to continue to tweak. But my goal to connect with you guys and have a chance to answer your questions, that remains unchanged. So that’s what I’m excited about. And I hope that I’ll look back on this second one when we have the 100th one and say, “Wow, look how far we’ve come.” So progress. This is really the mantra across the board. So let’s look at a couple of strategies, my predictions for event marketing, things that I think will really help you as you think about events, as you think about event marketing. One of the things I always encourage people to think about is think about your event in terms of pre, during, and post. By the way, this is also true if you’re attending an event or you’re hosting. This is the same, but having game plans, especially for before and after are so important.

They can sometimes actually outweigh the actual event, because the buzz that you build from doing something exciting, from getting people to talking about whatever it is, your event, and then post. I mean, those follow up conversations, making sure that you’re actually… Because look, we’ve all been there. It’s an event, you’re hyped up, everyone’s trading business cards, “Oh, this looks great. We’ll set up a demo,” whatever. And then we know what happens after. People go home and real life intervenes. So having a looking at your event not as the be all… The event is not the end game, but it’s really that momentum builder that you want to build towards the event.

I don’t know if many of you know this, but Stephanie Chavez, who is president at Zen Media, is one of the top 1% of event marketers in the world. Literally I didn’t know this, but the certification that she’s part of, I believe she’s going to be speaking at Exhibitors. If you go to exhibitors, say hi to her. She’s quite the popular figure in the event marketing world. She even has formulas, which I won’t share with you today, because frankly it’s a lot to convey over live. But if you ever want to chat event marketing with her, she will totally geek out with you. I do think, and this is my prediction, that event optimization similar to conversion optimization digitally is going to become a thing in the coming years. I think you will actually have people whose career it is to help optimize events.

So now you may think, “Isn’t that event planners?” No, no, no, no, no. So let’s talk about that. Event planning and event marketing are two separate roles. Event planning is a gift. And I say a gift because I have the privilege of working with some amazing event planners because I speak at so many events around the world, and I see people who are strong and smart and just not daunted by anything. I mean, I hope that in my next lifetime I have the heart of an event planner, because these guys are… I mean, they’ll just handle anything you throw their way. I’m envious of most event planners. But these guys are not marketers. Event planners, their job is to make sure that the attendee experience is outstanding. It’s aligned with companies’ goals for the events.

Think about it this way. If you think about wedding planners, you could have the best wedding planner in the world, but they can’t make your guests come to the wedding. The guests have to want to come to the wedding. So marketing is the other side of it, which is about attracting the right audience and aligning with overall business goals. So whether they turn into customers immediately, whether you have a longer sales cycle, that’s where marketing really comes to play. And those are two separate things. Now within event marketing, I think we’re going to see a rise of event optimization where people say, “We’re doing events, but how do we make sure that we are getting all the juice out of the orange? What does that look like?” So I do believe this is something to look forward.

Also, look, hybrid is here to stay. Because of what we saw in the last two years, almost every event, even if they ventured into the physical realm of things, had a hybrid option, had some sort of remote option. And I think people got really comfortable with it. I know many attendees who attended a lot more events because they were able to. Because they were able to… You didn’t have travel involved. So I do think it’s important to look at hybrid as something that will… Almost an expectation. I think attendees will expect something at the remote level going forward. Now what that looks like is going to depend on your event, your goals, so forth.

I also believe that meeting planners will give preference to established and well known speakers who can serve as a draw for audience. So it’s really interesting kind of juxtaposition here. You’ve got an audience, I’m going to venture to say globally, that’s very hungry to meet again. Physical connection is part of what makes us human. So there’s that hunger. At the same time, that bar for actually leaving your home, same reason you’re seeing more people demand work from home, more people who want the convenience of that. It’s because so many of us realized that these commutes and all this traveling wasn’t really necessary. Being able to spend that extra 30 minutes with your children at the breakfast table, or being able to have dinner together, whatever, these are not things that I think people in general are willing to trade off as easily. Now that we’ve kind of been forced to do that and try it that way. So same thing with events. I think even for physical events, that bar is going to be higher.

What this also means is if you are speaking and you’re interested in being a speaker… So for a lot of companies, I know that speaking is a way for developing leads. It’s a great business strategy. But it’s going to be harder. So it’s going to be harder, for example, for you to get your CMO to speak, or if you are a VP of marketing to get on those panels to do things, unless you really are a vetted speaker. I think what this means is if you are a newer speaker and want to use this method more, you’re going to have to build more of that credibility through digital means. So TikTok videos, lives, whatever. That’s how you’re going to start to build up your credentials. Not your credentials as a marketer, but your credentials as a speaker.

Now I just spoke at [inaudible 00:19:27] not too long ago, and I will say this. I think food, photo booths, anything fun you can do will still work to draw a crowd. People will spend their last dollar on fun. It’s just the way human human beings are. So this is why even… This is where I go being a history nerd again, during the Great Depression, people would save up or spend their last nickel on the circus. So you would think, “It’s the great depression. People are struggling over food and…” But fun is very important to individuals, and events, let’s face it, you’re getting away from the office or your home or whatnot. People want to have a good time. The only thing I’ll talk about there is make sure that you are being as aligned with your audience, rather than just throwing something up. So again, this is where that bar is higher.

In the past I’ve seen red carpets with a popup background. This may have worked and you’ll still get some amount of folks, but think about maybe offering cool new head shots by a famous local Instagram photographer or something unique. Now this is going to be much more aligned with most audiences that are at least watching this or listening to this. And the other thing I’ll tell you this, as you’re doing these events, if you’re going to invest the time to do a physical event, please, please, please don’t cheap out on this stuff. I’m just amazed. People will spend a quarter million dollars on a trade show exhibit, and then will balk at spending a few grand at hiring that photographer or doing something that would actually be the thing that drives the crowd. So just make sure that you are… As my father-in-law likes to say, don’t let a nickel hold up a dollar. So I’m not saying it as cool as he does, but it’s just very important.

The other trend that I saw and I’m continuing to see is that there’s going to be a lot of first time attendees. So even if you have events that you are going to… That you’re repeating. So even if it’s like you took a break or it’s the same event you run for the 15th year, it doesn’t matter what I find fascinating, even over the years as I’ve been invited back to keynote of the same events… And I have to say, I have a very special splace, place. Space and place just collided to make splace. A new metaverse coming to you soon. Splace. Sorry. Maybe we shouldn’t do this in the evenings. And I swear I don’t even drink.

But if you have an event that you’ve been doing for many years, one of the things that I find really interesting, and these types of events always have a special place in my heart because I get invited back on stage and I’m so grateful for that. I’m always grateful when I get the initial opportunity, and I just feel like that gratitude doubles when someone feels like there was enough value that they invite me back. And I always ask how many people have heard me speak before, because my goal is to make sure that I always deliver for the audience, whether they’ve heard me speak before or not, that they get something out of it. Which is my goal here, too, by the way. Speaking of which, leave your questions in chats, wherever you’re watching this. This is currently being live streamed to over a million folks, so I promise we do our best to try and grab all those. If you’re listening to this on the podcast, please go ahead and send me a DM on LinkedIn. Reach out to us. I would love to answer questions you have in a future episode.

So back to when I go to these events, I always ask how many first time attendees are there. And I’m always amazed by how many first time attendees. So for a while I was speaking at HubSpot’s INBOUND, so I did, I think that was maybe four consecutive years. And every year I would ask how many first time attendees, and half the audience were first timers, which just blew my mind because there were almost a thousand people in that audience. And half of them had never been there before. Plan for this. Know that a lot of attendees, it will be their first time. So that experience matters. It can be like, “Well, we’ve always done this. The audience knows this,” because they may not. LinkedIn has research that shows, and I can’t believe this… This is the most underrated stat ever. 40% of their entire membership base changes job title, seniority, and industry every four years. Notice I said and, not or. Job title, seniority, and industry.

Meaning the audience that you think you are trying to engage with. Especially if you have a longer sales cycle, in four years, they won’t even be your market. So we think that’s really important to keep in mind sometimes when people are marketing their events or products or services, you think about this is my audience, it’s so narrow. But it really behooves you to go broader and do certain things that create awareness, even outside your marketplace, because your current population, your current ICP, your current group, 40% of them are not going to be the same in four years. And four years happens way quicker than most of us realize. So plan for that. Know that there’s going to be a lot of first time attendees.

Now, one of the questions that I know I’ve already gotten is around the metaverse right? So events taking place in the metaverse will definitely be a thing. In fact, I think the events that happen in the metaverse early, right now, have a key advantage because there is a novelty factor. People are excited. Do I think it’s a good idea? Yeah. I think it’s a great idea. I think anything that gets you buzz and attracts attendees and gets you visibility and attention and allows you to reach your audience in a relevant way, I’m all for. There’s so many different platforms now. The biggest challenge is that it’s still relatively new. So some platforms require more gear for people to have the full experience so they can actually be immersed in that. So yeah, I think early movers will definitely have an advantage because so many people will RSVP because they want to see what’s happening. They want to attend an event in the metaverse.

Part of, I think, what’s also really interesting in the event space is if you combine influencer marketing and event marketing. It’s just a killer strategy. And I’ve talked a ton about how much I love Squarespace who worked with Zendaya on their Super Bowl launch. And I actually called it the Zendaya method, and it’s in the podcast earlier if you want to go back and look at it, you can Google it and find the blog post and read about it. But I called this the Zendaya method because it’s about taking something that’s already trending and being able to really connect to that in a strong way. So when you type in Zendaya’s name, Google automatically gives you an auto fill of Squarespace. That is the power of a good brand partnership.

Now I’m not saying go find an A-list Gen Z celebrity, but find what works for your audience. My good buddy Jay Baer, who is an amazing human being aside from being a brilliant marketer as well, has a love of tequila, as I recently learned. So he’s creating all these platforms and he’s very passionate about this, he wants to teach people about this. So if you were looking to do something in that space, and I now I’m just riffing, but you want to do a tequila tasting or an education hour around tequila, then Jay would be your guy. And because Jay has such a great audience that would give you even more legs to do more and reach more people. So we do think brand partnerships are so under leveraged.

Klarna, which is a FinTech, teamed up with Lady Gaga to create Creator House in LA not too long ago, and I thought i was brilliant, because how many FinTech companies team up with a major pop star? Not many, because they’re not thinking in that way, they’re not being creative enough, they’re not realizing the end consumer has to trust us. So even though Klarna is a B2B platform, they understand the power that when someone sees their name in their shopping cart or ready to check out, that they need to feel powerful, that they need to feel like they can trust this company with their payment information. I mean, these are just some examples of brand partnerships that I think are super solid.

The other thing that you should consider doing when it comes to events is ask your audience. I know that sounds silly, but I’m always amazed at how much we obsess over quantitative data. Numbers, numbers, numbers. We completely miss the qualitative and that qualitative is so, so powerful because that’s the thing that tells the real story. There’s no software out there, by the way, that can track all the dark social happening. Every conversation, all the private conversations, 9 out of 10 conversations I have in a day are private. I don’t know about you, but it might be similar. Messages, Telegram, WhatsApp, LinkedIn DMs, Slack messages. I talk about lots of companies. I make referrals. I make introductions. But those companies have no access to that. They don’t have visibility to that. The only way they’d know is if they asked. So even when it comes to events, ask your audience.

A few years ago, so pre-pandemic Chase Business… Having worked with multiple people at Chase, I can tell you, they just have some amazing talent. So Chase Business actually asked their small business customers, what is their greatest challenge, so how can we help you? And turns out most of their small business owners said, “Marketing. We need help better marketing our businesses.” So they worked with us, we collaborated, and we actually had multiple campaigns all based around serving the small business customer needs. So whether it was doing these social media genius pop ups, where people could come set, set up a time to talk with one of our experts and get expert advice on their business, to launching the Chase Bizmobile, which went around the country and some actually really rural spots too, and brought business advice. So these things didn’t have ATMs on them. That wasn’t what the Chase Bizmobile was about. It was about serving the customer and building goodwill and catering to them. Not just coming up in an event because they thought it was cool, but what did the audience actually want?

And I always love it when an event contacts even me for speaking, and they’ll say, “We asked our audience and there’s real hunger for this topic.” I think that’s fantastic. It’s so telling because you’re not doing things in a bubble. You’re really looking at how can you serve your audience. The last thing I’ll share with you before we transition to questions is just make earned media part of your event strategy. Listen, you can’t market an event in a silo. It’s the way people buy today. Google has some amazing research on this. They call it the messy middle. And I think it makes so much sense because people don’t make their decisions from point A to point B. It’s not linear. It’s incredibly messy. But the miasma of exposure that goes around them, the constant seeing of the brand name, of trust or credibility, of reading about it in business publications and tech publications, having conversations with their peers on Slack, in LinkedIn DMs, in their Zoom meetings, whatever it may be, these are the things that are actually driving them to buy.

But we don’t have visibility into that. But just because we don’t have visibility into that doesn’t mean that it’s not incredibly powerful. Forrester did a lot of research on how many touch points it takes before someone makes a purchasing decision, and I love this, because before the pandemic, it was 17, which is still a lot, if you think about it. Now it’s 21. That means it takes 21 points of contact before someone actually does business with you. So if you’re relying on any one event, one ad, it doesn’t matter how big it is. I mean, even the super bowl ad, people don’t go rushing to the website to buy. There’s not this deluge of leads and traffic. What actually happens is it’s one more touch point, sometimes a very strong touch point, and that’s awesome, but that’s the best way to view events too, is think of it as one touch point.

And earned media, honestly, with PR, I feel like it’s now more important today than ever before, because that uncertainty of the pandemic that I was talking about, it hasn’t lifted completely. We may feel more comfortable leaving our homes and attending events, but there’s other things that we are uncertain about, many of your prospects are uncertain about, and that’s the economy, inflation, what’s happening on a global level with Ukraine and Russia. There is a lot of uncertainty we’re facing every single day. What this means is that you now have even a more discerning buyer, a more skeptical buyer. So do you think they’re going to trust when you tell them that you’re the best or do you think they’re going to rely more and more on third party credibility to determine who’s the best? I mean, that’s just such a no brainer to me. That third party credibility, being able to tell your story, building that narrative, building that goodwill, building that reputation. This is really the future, not just of events, but I think marketing in PR at large.

So let’s open it up to your questions because I’m very excited to take your questions, and Steph, thanks so much. Steph here is here again, helping me out in the background, and thanks to Vinti and gosh, everybody on the Zen Media team that. It really, really does take a team. Cool. All right, what do we do to promote pre and post event? So this is a good question. A lot of it depends also on your event and what you’re trying to do. The pre, very specifically, get your messaging right. Make sure you have a very clear what’s in it for me. So if you’re trying to get someone to attend your event, what’s the takeaway? How’s it going to be different than any other event? You’re at a trade show, how do you attract people?

PR. I mean, I’ll continue to stress PR as a great pre-event strategy. Even if you’re at a trade show, part of being or doing a good job is the difference. When someone meets you at the event and says, “I’ve heard about you guys. Man, you’re really everywhere right now.” And that event is the 18th touch point or the 19th touch point. You don’t want the event to be the first or the second or even the fifth touch point. You want to make sure that the audience, just like if you would do any type of advertising or cold calling, whatever, a warm lead is much better than a cold lead. So having someone already have a certain level of warmth towards your brand, have some affinity, in an ideal world maybe even look forward to you being there and connecting with you. These are the things you’re really aiming for when we talk about pre-event marketing.

Post, of course, is incredibly important from nurture sequences to following up with media. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had a client who’s attending an event and we let the media know and whatnot, and the media says yes, but for some reason they can’t connect and they say, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I really was excited about this client. And then post they’ll actually end up doing a bigger piece on them or something more exciting than they would’ve even if they met them at the event because we are following up, because they feel like, “Oh, I said I wanted to connect with this person and I couldn’t or whatnot.” Or a lot of times it’s the start of that relationship with that reporter. They’re excited about whatever you shared, having that face to face time.

There’s so many ways for you to engage with the right influencers as well. One of the things that I always love as a strategy is to do a dinner. To do a dinner and invite some of the influencers for the community that you really want to have a VIP access or VIP time. Especially if you’re at a big event, that works so well because now you’ve carved out time to be able to actually engage with people one on one and have created a warmer, more intimate forum. So this works really well if you’re at a big event and there’s a couple folks that you really want to meet by hosting that influencer dinner, this meet and greet, these types of things work really well.

Twitter actually does a great job, not just as a media platform, but at South By, every year they host a brunch and they call it the power women brunch. So this past year… Not past. Time is so funny right now, literally last month. They had the power women brunch and I was there and they had custom totes and they had a stage, they had different… They had Mark Cuban speak, and they had a booth for Twitter Spaces. So you could actually go live and do a Twitter Spaces from there. So there’s just so many great ways to actually connect with your audience. Part of it is the actual event, but so much of it is the pre and the post. So great question.

Let me see. Sorry, I’m going to do my best to get through all these questions. Here’s a question about how do we… What’s your take on web 3 for businesses, and how that translates to event marketing? So the metaverse and what I’m talking about there, I think we’re still a few years out where that becomes the norm. And that’s why I said I think there is a new… There’s definitely a early mover advantage there for people who want to… If you want to get a lot of attendees right now doing something on the metaverse is just a good idea because you will attract more people. There is a novelty aspect to it.

The thing about web 3, and the thing that I’m not a big fan of is forcing it as if it’s a tool to be used, regardless of whether it fits in need in some way. So for example, NFTs are great, but there’s a time and place for them. What I see a lot of companies doing is, “We got to create an NFT, we got to do something on the blockchain.” So what I find interesting is that a lot of companies that are curious about web 3 are the same ones that have not mastered web 2.0. And I say that with a lot of love in my heart, but the basic structure is so important. So before you even get to the web 3 side of things, which really it’s… If you’re not already asking, for example, your attendees, your customers, what they want, having decentralization isn’t going to be that much of a… That’s a big leap. So that’s what I mean by get your web 2 strategies in place first. Make sure you understand how your community is….

If you don’t have a community, starting a discord channel is not going to support you. You don’t magically get a community just because you have the platform. So I think that there’s some really cool utility for web 3 that has yet to be fully realized, but I’m always a little hesitant to give tactics and more strategies around that when I feel like there’s so much more low hanging fruit that doesn’t involve the blockchain, that doesn’t involve blockchain developers, that doesn’t involve crypto and DAOs and NFTs, that the majority of this audience listening to has yet to take advantage of all of that. So I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m a little shy of having you chase after the next thing because it’s a shiny object, it’s something cool, if you don’t have all these other ducks in a row. But if you’re curious and would like me to talk about the metaverse more and maybe do a future episode on that, I am more than happy to do that.

All right. How do we choose what to do hybrid, physical, or virtual? So as I mentioned, I think hybrid is going to be an expectation. Now, at what level you do the hybrid is up to you. So it may be that they get access to something special. Beyond just like, “Here’s the slide decks from the speakers,” how can you continue to help them network or do something creative? So I think an element of online with the physical is going to be an expectation. Maybe it’s two levels, and there’s a paid event where people attend the physical event, and then there is just a remote ticket. So there’s two levels.

Physical or virtual? Boy this is really interesting because a lot of it depends on your audience. Wait, I’ll go back to the hybrid question and just add, globally, this works really well because I have done keynotes where they’ve then live streamed remotely for people outside of North America or outside the US, and they’ve had their… Some of them have had watch parties or they’re watching it at home. So there, I think, it works really well too is where you can use hybrid to amplify what you’re trying to do. Physical events, look, I think that there’s definitely a place for them. The bar is a little bit higher. So making sure that if you are going to do physical, then that you are not… That you’re not taking a lot of shortcuts. To attract people, and if you want to do it again the following year, I think that bar is high, having a good event planner, really thinking through it and making sure that it’s going to be a good investment. I think these are important things for physical events.

Now virtual, look, I think if the pandemic proved anything, it’s that you can have completely virtual events and they’re super successful. Where I think might be really interesting would be if you have an annual physical event and then multiple kind of add-on virtual events. So you’re doing maybe four webinars, a webinar each quarter, and then you have a theme that… And I’ve done this before too with clients where there’s a theme and they have me do content throughout the year, but then there’s an actual pinnacle or physical event where the main keynote is highlighted and then they have workshops that builds on it. So I think if you can build on it in that way, you could definitely do virtual. I think part of what you want to think about is consistency. Your audience, if you’re not sure about a format, virtual obviously is less lift, in the sense that it’s not going to be as expensive as a physical event. So if you’re curious about trying out a format, then that’s definitely the way to go.

For virtual events, how do we make it more exciting than a glorified Zoom? You mean you’re not loving this? Look, I will say this because you guys always known me to be very honest and straightforward. It’s not the platform, it’s the content. People will watch Netflix, there’s no interaction there, but they sit and watch. They binge watch. Perhaps you binge watch shows for hours on end, hours, days worth of content. So I’m always a little hesitant when people say, “Oh, it’s a glorified Zoom.” And it’s rarely the platform or rarely like, “Hey, someone is speaking to me.” It’s relevancy and content. So if you’ve got an all day, let’s say, Zoom, if you will, but you have great speakers and they’re providing value to the audience, that audience leaves with a notebook full of notes. I mean, I’ve seen it. I haven’t heard people say, “Oh my God, I wish that it had been more interactive.

I think as long as there’s value there that’s… So I would see before you start looking for how do we make all these toggles happen? Look at television? I mean, people watch TV. You look at morning shows, you look at… They all follow a format, they keep it interesting, but I think this misconception that things need to be constantly engaging, meaning we have to interact and do things is just that, it’s a misconception. I don’t believe it actually impacts the value that someone gets out of an event.

So thank you, boys and girls for joining today. This was a lot of fun. I know we have a lot more questions. I will tell you what, I’m going to share these questions with our head of content, Megan, who’s amazing, at Zen Media, whose team runs our Zen Media blog. So if you haven’t already, check out our blog, subscribe, they’ve got lots of great content there. And I will ask the team to address some of these questions in upcoming blog posts and content. I will do my best to address these and future episodes. I’m sorry, just a sheer number of questions, we just won’t always have time for all of them, but I promise I’ll do my best, and the team certainly does their best every day for which I’m so grateful. And I will share these questions with them. So look out for that.

And like I said, if you really want to geek out about event marketing, message Stephanie Chavez on LinkedIn. She loves this stuff. She has formulas for ROI on events. So she’s your girl. That’s who you want to talk to. Thank you guys so much for attending, it means the world to me, and I will see you next Thursday. Same bat-channel, same time.

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