This blog was updated on the 15 October 2020
So this blog is inspired by years of working in events and conferences and experiencing for myself all the positive progress in the industry. But of course whenever there is change, there are always those that resist it and just like to keep things the way they are - the dreaded "comfort zone."
Below are 10 tell-tale signs you're probably in your comfort zone and fall into the "old school" camp. You may well recognise some of the signs - not easy to admit I know but we all know the type; those who believe in doing the same thing over and over again, not because it makes sense for their audience, but because it’s what they’re used to. It can be tricky to break free of an old school marketing mindset, but it certainly won’t help your organisation in the long run if you don’t. This blog isn’t intended to rustle any feathers, but really to get your attention on what I feel is a serious topic.
Here’s how to tell if you’re an old school events leader, and if you are, you should take action. Even if a few of these traits resonate it’s time to do something about it.
1. You ask your team to purchase databases or rent email lists
This is a big fat marketing no-no I’m afraid! You probably already know this, but if you’re encouraging your team to buy lists it means you’re still with the mindset of “blasting” out blanket communications hoping for some kind of lucky response. This approach will simply cause your email marketing metrics to decline, and the likelihood of your communications being marked as spam.
2. You still refer to email marketing campaigns as “email blasts”
This was fine back in the 90s, but these days you shouldn’t be blasting anything. The right approach now is far more sophisticated, and takes into account relevance, proper targeting, and elegant segmentation. Are your events worth blasting about? The connotations of the word itself are very negative.
3. You encourage your team to send an "extra email" to promote your event. Especially in the last 3 weeks before your event
At a very basic level, we all know how many emails = too many emails, because we know how many we would be happy to receive from one organisation, and at what point they become annoying. That “extra email” could be all it takes to see your unsubscribe rate soar.
4. You send an email to your whole database, as a resource to boost numbers, even if it’s not relevant for them
An old school events leader won’t care that half the database has no interest in the email topic. They’ll just think the more recipients the email goes to, the greater the level of engagement; which couldn’t be more wrong! Tailored communications are the way forward, even if this does take a little more time. It’s definitely worth it. It’s all about quality over quantity.
5. You want all of your event information listed on the homepage
Rather than creating a little intrigue, or letting visitors find their way around the website, you’d rather squeeze all the event on the homepage, probably with some jazzy design and as much text as you can fit on there. Does that sound appealing? Not a great way to entice interest and keep readers engaged.
6. You encourage marketing and sales teams to compete against each other
Rather than seeing sales and marketing as two hugely valuable, but very different functions, you believe that ultimately you are all there to drive revenue. Instead of encouraging a cohesive relationship between the two teams, you tend to pit them against each other.
7. You email a VIP / guest offer to the same people you have been emailing for the last 7 weeks with discounts and prices
Just when things can’t get any worse, you ask the team to make a 180 degree turn, and encourage them to try charming people (usually those who have shown little/no interest in attending your event), with a special offer. Your audience will probably be irritated to see that they wouldn’t have received this offer had they signed up sooner, and your credibility will be at zero. Avoid at all costs!
8. You build KPIs against number of marketing partnerships attained, giving little thought to the quality of them
Ah yes, quantity over quality every time for an old schooler unfortunately. You’re not too concerned how you get them on board, or how valuable the partnerships really are to your business, you’d just prefer to secure ten rather than two - all those supporting logos look good and add credibility.
9. You think of the marketing department as an overhead
Sorry to say but anyone who sees marketers as a cost rather than an asset, is still stuck in an old school mindset. Marketing is a must-have function for any organisation, and certainly any events organisation. Especially these days when virtual events are demanding a lot of your marketing team's creativity and resilience.
10. You believe social media is a waste of time
The final telling sign is that you don’t “get” Twitter, Facebook, or even LinkedIn sometimes - and you don’t think this channel adds any value or results for your event. In your eyes a content strategy incorporating social media is simply not necessary and just uses up valuable time and resources.
Did some of those traits resonate? Yes. Well let's focus on the positives and see how you can make that shift.
What are the new school events leaders doing?
If you recognise the old school traits in yourself it’s never too late to revamp your approach! Take a little inspiration from the second list, be open to trying new things, and empower and trust your marketers to do their jobs well.