There was a time when event marketers were considered glorified party planners. Heck, you planned your daughter’s wedding. You’re qualified to organize your company’s annual shareholder meeting, correct? That may have been the case a few decades ago, but as experiential marketing has proven its value in terms of ROI, lead generation and boosting the bottom line, the role of experiential marketer has evolved as well. As Alix Mills, team leader, global events, at Bloomberg and one of the panelists on Event Marketer’s 2015 Women In Events roundtable, puts it: “It’s not just the pretty event, the pretty party planning. You’re expected to do that now. What you’re not expected to do is to be able to talk at the table and make sure everybody understands the data and how it’s actually going to affect the bottom line.” Now, more than ever, it is imperative for women to showcase the value they bring to the table as strategic partners in a marketing plan. Following are three tips on how to do that from roundtable discussions with this year’s class of Women in Events.
1. Get strategic.
Time and again the women stated that event marketing has evolved beyond the tactical to the strategic. So if you’re still down in the weeds trying to plan for every last detail, it may be time to look skyward for the big picture. “The more we showcase the fact that we can provide strategy, that it’s about strategic design first and execution second, we are brought to the table and into the conversations much earlier in the process,” says Robin Lickliter, senior vp-events at Sparks. Chances are, you’re already strategic. “The word ‘strategy’ means a whole bunch of things to different people, and it sounds like it’s way up there. And then, when we started having people talk about examples of what it was, you started seeing, ‘Oh, I do that!’ People are a lot more strategic in their day-to-day than they think they are because they don’t know how to think about it,” adds Jill Daggett, director of business operations at Microsoft.
2. Show ‘em the numbers.
Research and analytics are another way to shed that party planner image and integrate the experiential component into the entire marketing campaign. Kate Kerner, senior director-global events at Oracle, says her team is obsessed with analytics. “It has really helped us to showcase the value that the event brings to the whole marketing mix,” she says. Adds Microsoft’s Daggett: “The more you talk about the strategy, and now, the analytics and the measurement, we’re finding it’s not just the event, it’s the event as part of the overall campaign.”
3. Think like a marketer.
To succeed in event marketing today, you have to understand the business, the strategy and the business objectives. Know your clients’ goals. That also means you have to talk the talk. Says Kerner: “As leaders it’s important for us to teach our teams the right language to be using when they’re talking about the programs they’re working on. I think the majority of my team members are women, but I encourage them to talk about themselves as marketers and event marketers versus event planners or event coordinators.”
• Special Report: Women in Events 2015