So we’ve talked about how media publishers can drive revenues through monetising website visitors, and their extensive databases – and now we move onto the hugely profitable channel of events.
If you haven’t dabbled in the events arena previously, now is the time to formulate a strategy. But how should you kick off this new revenue driving endeavour?
We’ve dissected the various types of events you may want to make your own, and factored in the pros and cons for media publishers specifically.
For all terms and purposes I am referring to advertisers as sponsors.
This blog is a part of a media publishing series ‘Revenue generating tips for media publishers’.
This tends to be a global event that aims to educate, share innovation and encourage professional cooperation. All the value chain of an industry comes together in one place. You get attendees in the hundreds and a very good number of exhibitors.
Pros: The opportunities for engagement with sponsors are vast across an event of this scale. Sponsored breakout sessions, refreshment breaks, networking opportunities, branded collateral and presentations, sponsor booths, speaker slots – the scope to profit from this type of event truly is endless. In terms of revenue generating events for media publishers you can’t get any bigger than this.
Cons: The sheer manpower that goes into organising and selling advertising opportunities (as well as attendee places) can be overwhelming for a media publisher making its first foray into the event world. Sponsors need to be locked down early on, and the logistical efforts that go into creating an expo with longevity are significant.
Our view: Everyone in the events industry aiming to achieve growth for their event, will want theirs to be an expo. If you have resources and a track record of successfully running events on smaller scale, go for it!
On an even bigger scale than a conference, a congress typically takes place annually and is a coming together of industry professionals, often to discuss a particular theme or trend.
Pros: This offers an opportunity to reach your most valuable prospective customers and build your reputation as an industry giant. Establishing a regularly scheduled congress event offers huge potential for advertising revenues in the same way that a conference does, as well as those from delegate sales. A congress can last for several days, meaning that revenues will be significantly higher than those you’d expect to generate through a conference too.
Cons: A congress programme is usually made up of speakers from within the organising body, so there isn’t as much scope to monetise content sessions through sponsorship. Given the scale of the event it can be a huge organisational feat, so could be time consuming for a novice event organiser.
Our view: Congresses are most common in the professional membership organisations and academia. These events are great for customer retention as they normally build a reputation of not to be missed.
The bread and butter of the industry – a conference is typically a large scale event with various content sessions, featuring breakouts or workshops within the agenda, and including ample time for networking.
Pros: Media publishers have access to such a wealth and breadth of content that formulating an engaging agenda and picking the top speakers within the industry should be no problem at all. There are many opportunities to engage with sponsors, for example allowing branding on programmes, your website, a conference booth, lanyards and offering sponsored drinks or lunch with a speaking opportunity thrown in.
Cons: Marketing and organising a conference requires effort and some budget allocation upfront. Getting sponsors engaged early on will be crucial. This will mean that your sales teams will have to work doubly hard to get delegates and sponsors on board, with two completely different approaches in order to sign them up.
Our view: Conferences make money, your audience will have the opportunity to engage face to face with your brand, other peers and sponsors. No wonder why it is the biggest revenue growth potential for publishers.
A chance to show off your (or the sponsor’s) standing in the publishing industry, and share knowledge with senior peers and prospects.
Pros: You’ll reach the most influential and powerful prospects within your database through hosting a masterclass, and being a media publisher you should have ample expertise to share. You wouldn’t typically engage with sponsors for an event of this kind, however you can offer to run one for your sponsor where they will have access to 20-30 relevant prospects for the masterclass based on the benefits of their product via a demo. You can also build a series of these and you’ll be able to generate revenues from delegate attendance alone.
Cons: Thriving media publishers may not necessarily want to share too many of the secrets of their success, so generating new and inviting topics to lecture on could be difficult. In order to build a well attended series of these events you will also have to prove the value of attending from the first occurrence, so it’s not a suitable start for a trial and error approach.
Our view: If you are seen as a leader in your industry, then it is a very good opportunity to explore, the fact that it is shorter in its delivery, make for an interesting way to test the market.
A fantastic way of reaching prospects and customers you might not necessarily interact with at a face-to-face event.
Pros: Inexpensive to produce and reliant on great content – something media publishers should not struggle to access. There is substantial scope to involve sponsors with branding on slides, presenting sponsor case studies, including a product description or demo, or simply discussing a topic that is relevant to them. It also doesn’t involve any travel or accommodation expenses, or any major changes in the calendar. All you need is 30 minutes – 1 hour of availability with a computer and access to the internet.
Cons: The perceived value of a webinar to attendees is relatively small in comparison with an in person meeting, so the content really has to sing. The networking element of a standard event is virtually eradicated, which can mean engagement post-event is limited.
Our view: Easy to set, easy to run, why not start with this event type to test your audience – both registrants and sponsors.
A celebratory, relaxed and heavy on the talking kind of event, a business dinner offers the opportunity to engage with your most valued customers, prospects or potential sponsors.
Pros: It requires little preparation or organisation, and is a way of making your key stakeholders feel special. There are still opportunities for sponsorship at a small scale event like this such as branded stationery, a hosting slot or even a paid-for spot at the dinner table. Media publishers tend to be great communicators, so an evening of client entertainment should be no great task.
Cons: If intimate is what you’re looking for then this is the perfect forum, but if you’re starting out in your event endeavours and looking to reach delegates en masse this is not necessarily the ideal arena. In addition it’s not always particularly cost effective when you examine the potential for ROI.
Our view: This format is perfect for B2B meetings with decision makers of big companies considering an investment in long term high valued products or services.
Similar to a masterclass, but on a more accessible level, a workshop is a small scale but highly interactive session where knowledge is shared and solutions are arrived at.
Pros: Depending on your publication’s reputation and industry standing, a workshop can hold significant value to attendees, meaning places will be limited, in demand and you can charge a premium for them.
Cons: The size of the event can be limiting, and there simply isn’t a way to reach large numbers through hosting a workshop. It can still generate a lot of work however, so striking the balance between cost and revenue can be difficult.
Our view: Producing a paid for thought leadership report can boost the income from this type of event as well. While creating revenue growth through a workshop is difficult, they are extremely value adding to both sponsors and attendees.
These tend to be light on content and heavily focused around networking and interaction. These are normally arranged for a small number of people.
Pros: For a senior executive, a relaxed event such as a breakfast is the perfect opportunity to pick up interact with other like minded peers. It does requires minimal effort to produce. It is an opportunity meet prospects in a casual setting and book in that meeting you’ve been waiting for.
Cons: As a breakfast event would usually be free to attend, and due to its relaxed nature, it can be tricky to get your attendees to actually commit to attending. There is a limitation to the amount of money you can generate from this event as it is normally tied to one single sponsor.
Our view: Potential sponsors love this kind of event as it has a ‘bespoke’ feeling. It is a very good and elegant way for them to engage with potential prospects in a non salesy environment. By prequalifying attendees and inviting just relevant SQLs for the targeted sponsor will make them very happy.
As expected these are brief events with the sole intention of getting stakeholders together and encouraging interaction.
Pros: These are inexpensive to organise, a great way of putting a face to a name (or a LinkedIn profile), and attendees arrive anticipating discussion, so you won’t feel like you’re going for the hard sell.
Cons: Opportunities to engage with sponsors are almost non-existent, and though you may be able to talk about it, there isn’t really a way to show off the content you produce.
Our view: This is a great way to understand and profile your audience, creating an opportunity to direct sales qualified leads or not to an informal conversation with a relevant sponsor.
So which event is best?
There’s really no right answer to this, and all media publishers will have slightly different needs and challenges. You need to take into consideration the size of your community, industry, B2B/B2C market and many other factors.
In addition, budget restraints will have some bearing on the scale of your event which may then determine which category it fits into. Ideally you’ll have plenty of time to work out what you can realistically achieve in terms of generating revenue, and then pick your event type accordingly. You may even wish to try several in your first year of hosting events, and discover what works for you.
Review the other revenue generating tips for media publishers in our blog series ‘Revenue generating tips for media publishers’.
Image source: Richard Scott