The Complete Guide to Event Strategy for 2021 and Beyond
Event Strategy Has Forever Changed. Is Your Team Keeping Up?
The Future of Event Strategy Has Arrived.
Though catastrophic in nature, the pandemic has presented never-before-seen opportunities in the event industry. What was once viewed as a potentially industry-shattering shift has actually taken the event industry to new heights. Teams worldwide adapted at unthinkable speeds and created new engagement opportunities that have permanently changed event strategy.
The future has officially arrived, and if your event team is looking to stay ahead of the trends, you’re in the right place. Impact Point Group has compiled this guide to help teams adapt to the changing event strategy environment. Click the links below to learn about a specific section, download the whole guide, or get in touch with us today to have your specifics answered.
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Table of contents
- Planning vs. Strategy: What Is Event Strategy?
- How Strategy and Planning Co-Exist
- 3 Things All Successful High-Touch Event Strategies Include
- How Event Strategists Are Utilizing Digital Data
- Digital Elements to Include in Your Event Strategy Forever
- Why Event Strategists Are Becoming Holistic Event Marketers
- What the Eventual Return of In-Person Events Means for Monetization
- Useful Insights Into The Past, Present, and Future of Event Engagement Strategy
Planning vs. Strategy: What is Event Strategy?
One major thing event teams learned from the pandemic is the need for event strategy. Yes, event teams quickly learned how to plan digital events in terms of the details — budget, location, length. But if the details of that event were not tied into a holistic event strategy, it became obsolete.
The difference between event planning and event strategy is key to understand as events continue to develop.
Event planners are focused on the details that make the event actually function. Without event planners, no event would ever come together. They focus on things like:
- Event location
- Engagement opportunities
- Sponsorship giveaways
- Timelines and deadlines
- And more
Whereas event planners look at the minute details of the event, event strategists can see how those details fit into the big picture of holistic marketing initiatives. Event strategists understand how to holistically drive revenue growth and work in concert with the business's marketing strategy. They focus on things like:
- Generating demand and generating revenue
- Connecting individual events to annual marketing campaigns
- Strategizing a roadmap to reach end goals
- Collaborating with the marketing department to incorporate current campaigns
The growth of the event strategist has been crucial since March 2020 as they learned how digital events still play a prominent role in overall revenue- and demand-generation strategies.
To learn more about event planning vs. event strategy, read our full blog post here.
How Strategy and Planning Co-Exist
Despite the marked differences in event planning and strategy, the two professions have to work alongside each other in order to achieve their desired outcomes. Event planners want an event to unfold without any hiccups and deliver incredible value to attendees while event strategists want to see how that event ultimately generates demand and revenue.
Yet without the other side, neither are completely possible. Event planners need a strategy-driven mind to ensure that the details of the event will be beneficial to the organization in the long run, and strategists need an execution-focused planner to plan an event that they can use to holistically generate revenue in the first place.
By incorporating a strategic mind into the event planning process, event teams can reap many rewards, including:
- Establishing an event design that provides outcomes that impact revenue
- Solving unexpected problems as they arise in a creative manner
- Embracing risks and finding new ways to address old challenges
- Bringing clarity to a new hybrid event model that incorporates both digital and in-person event elements
When this happens, events have a better chance of generating new leads, improving product adoption, and increasing customer satisfaction among your current clientele.
To learn more about how strategy and planning co-exist, read our full blog here.
3 Things All Successful High-Touch Event Strategies Include
High-touch events are focused on engagement and providing multiple points of interaction for your attendees. When your audience is engaged and understands you are making the effort to provide value, they are more likely to become a customer.
Consider these three engagement tactics to include in your high-touch event strategy.
- Curated Content Journeys — One way to make an attendee feel special is by delivering hand-picked content that you know they will appreciate. Curated content journeys can improve engagement at different stages of the event, from pre-registration to feedback.
- Innovative Engagement Techniques — The digital transition has forced event teams to get creative with engagement in order to defeat digital fatigue. Shorter activities, intimate roundtables, and celebrity engagement are just some innovative ways to keep audience members entertained.
- Strategic Monetization — People are willing to pay for VIP-like experiences that provide more value than a general event ticket. These packages can include increased networking opportunities, hands-on training, and other activities that warrant a higher price tag.
Learn more about other things successful high-strategy events include in our full blog post.
How Event Strategists Are Utilizing Digital Data
Among the most beneficial outcomes of the forced switch to digital events last March is the wealth of digital data that become readily available to event teams worldwide. Not only did it become apparent that event participants are more willing to provide their information digitally, but it also became much easier to use digital data to improve your event.
Event teams learned which digital KPIs are important for their event and began tracking those statistics to complete a variety of objectives. Popular data points include:
- Total registration vs. total attendance
- Total sessions attended
- Time per session
- Conversion source
However, collecting this data is just the first step. If you don’t know how to utilize the numbers in front of you to improve your event strategy, it’s all for naught. Here are two ways that event strategists learned how to use digital data successfully:
- Curated Content Journeys — based on total sessions attended and time spent at each session, you can curate and deliver post-event content to specific attendees that you know they are more likely to engage with. This keeps your organization top of mind, improves their experience with your brand, and increases the likelihood of them becoming a customer.
- Sales Enablement — Gifting salespeople with attendee-specific information about their engagement at your event is a great way to improve overall sales success. When a sales rep understands prospect-specific engagement patterns, they can tailor their sales pitch to those preferences, create meaningful relationships, and ultimately improve sales success.
Read the full blog post here to learn more about the correlation between digital data and event strategy.
Digital Elements to Include in Your Event Strategy Forever
Though specific digital elements were included in event strategy pre-pandemic, COVID-19 accelerated the growth of those digital elements as event teams were forced to adopt them in order to survive.
And despite the initial frenzy, we have graduated to a mindset of growth — these digital elements proved so successful in generating demand that they have staying power in the future. Even as in-person events make their long-awaited return in late 2021 and into 2022, digital is here to stay.
Here are three digital elements to include in your integrated event strategy once in-person formats resume.
- Webinars — The webinar is nothing new when it comes to marketing. Marketing teams have incorporated webinars for years to generate brand awareness and provide thought leadership to their audience. However, webinars became especially useful as a complement to digital events throughout the pandemic. Webinars proved very beneficial as a digital complement to main corporate events, and that additional digital channel should remain open when in-person events return.
- Digital Keynotes — Digital keynotes are a great tactic to attract previously unengaged prospects to your events while delivering value to them. From industry leaders to celebrities, people are more inclined to register for a session led by someone they recognize and will gain value from. What’s more, it’s also easier to attract these speakers digitally rather than require them to attend in person.
- Thought Leadership Sessions — Taking digital keynotes a step further, when you can complement an in-person event with digital thought leadership sessions that attendees can enjoy on their own time, you provide immense value to them. Ultimately, this improves their engagement with your brand.
If you want to dive deeper into the digital elements to include in your integrated event strategy, read our full blog post today.
Why Event Strategists Are Becoming Holistic Event Marketers
Just as the industry has adapted since March 2020, the professions within the industry have as well, and event strategists are no different. To be successful in modern event strategy, event marketers must flex their marketing brawn.
As we mentioned above, the transformation to digital-only events forced strategists to see how different digital elements have become part of the larger marketing picture. No longer can strategists formulate events that stand alone — instead, those main corporate events are now a piece of the digital marketing puzzle, albeit a large piece.
When event strategists add event marketing to their skillset, two things happen:
- Demand Generation — One of the biggest benefits of digital events is the ability to generate demand and create positive brand awareness by incorporating the three digital elements above. Without looking at an event through the marketing lens, a strategist may miss these crucial demand-generation opportunities.
- Revenue Generation — Revenue generation related back to an event strategist’s main goals. Having already generated demand by incorporating the event into a marketing campaign, strategists are better able to generate revenue through ticket sales, VIP packages, and future pipeline revenue.
Event strategy and event marketing can no longer be siloed. To learn more about the combination of the two, read our full blog post.
What the Eventual Return of In-Person Events Means for Monetization
While revenue generation was possible in some fashion with digital events, it certainly did not compare to in-person revenue. Event teams have long awaited the return of in-person events, as they present one of the largest revenue-generating opportunities for many organizations.
However, monetization won’t look exactly the same as it did before the pandemic. In the past year, event teams creatively and strategically monetized based on what worked for them. These tactics included:
- Premium Tickets & VIP Packages — many organizations capitalized on FOMO to offer upgraded packages, early-bird access, and membership treatment that many attendees were willing to pay for.
- Ad Space — because of the digital environment, many organizations began selling ad space on their in-event platforms to reimagine sponsorship engagement.
- On-Demand Content — some events sold additional content and recorded training after the conclusion of the event.
These strategic monetization tactics are likely to continue for events that follow the integrated approach. Combined with the biggest revenue-generating tactics that events used pre-pandemic — high ticket prices, sponsorship engagement, etc. — organizations may be able to monetize their integrated events more than ever. To learn more about the evolution of monetization, read our blog here.
Useful Insights Into The Future of Event Engagement Strategy
The event industry has changed more in the past year than it did in the preceding 20 years, and there’s a tremendous amount of good news that has come from that development. Events will never be the same, and to be frank, they will continue to improve as teams learn to incorporate digital and in-person elements seamlessly.
We know that some digital elements work better than others, and some in-person elements cannot be replaced. This is especially true when it comes to engagement tactics. Here’s what we see as the future happy medium for ways to keep audiences engaged.
- Digital Engagement Techniques — customer involvement and case studies, executive-level activities, live polls
- In-Person Engagement Techniques — product demos, networking opportunities, sponsorship engagements
- Integrated Engagement Techniques — curated content delivery, Q&A chats, celebrity appearances
If you want to learn more about our thoughts on the evolution of event engagement strategy, read the full blog here.
Need Assistance With Your Event Strategy?
Like countless organizations worldwide, our team at Impact Point Group adapted at rapid speeds in 2020. This evolution has positioned us as industry experts who are ready to help transform your event strategy.
We take pride in combining the art and science of events to deliver truly remarkable results. Learn more about our insights in our latest iteration of the Digital Event Forecast, or contact us to get started.