Making a Marketing Shift for Digital Events

Convening Leaders speaker Ben Hindman, CEO of Splash, says that virtual events require a significant marketing shift — focusing less on the event experience and more on establishing your value proposition.

Author: Casey Gale       

convening leaders

Splash CEO Ben Hindman will discuss “Seven Change Actions: 14 Questions to Answer Before Designing Your Next Event” at Convening Leaders 2021.

Ben Hindman has been in love with event planning his entire life. Long before he became national events manager for media website Thrillist in 2008, he helped organize his high-school prom and threw events for fraternities in college.

“I have deep respect for the art and science of planning — I call it party science,” Hindman told Convene. “Just the way that events have to come together, in my mind, it’s really inspiring.”

In 2012, Hindman left the planning world behind to launch Splash, an event- marketing platform enabling organizers to launch, promote, and collect data about their events. As CEO of Splash, Hindman has made it a priority to hire as many event planners as possible to be part of the organization, something he sees as a “huge attribute” — they have experienced firsthand the responsibilities and challenges of their clients.

Hindman will be broadcasting on the Convening Leaders 2021 program on Jan. 14, helping attendees create a playbook for promoting their events. He gave Convene a taste of what he’ll be covering during his talk, “Seven Change Actions: 14 Questions to Answer Before Designing Your Next Event.”

How did your former life as a meeting planner factor into the launch and development of Splash?

I was only an okay event planner. I think I was always very good at creating a great vibe or creating a lot of energy in an event. But I had a hard time with a lot of the important operational details that go into an event. I would say that Splash is a reaction to a lot of challenges I personally have with events — everything from how to ensure all of the important customization and details around the communications at the event, like the invitations and all the touch points for every guest, as well as the synchronization of data. Those are things that I knew and know to be incredibly important, but I’ve always had a hard time focusing on, because I get so swept away with the creativity of the event.

We believe that technology can do a better job at supporting event marketers and event planners at doing their job, because that’s what technology is amazing at. Our mission is to make it easy to host meaningful events. This idea of actually making it easy, even making it unbelievably easy, is a radical idea because of how complex and creative events can be. So that’s a bit of why I do what I do.

Do you think there’s a big difference in how organizations should promote and market virtual events versus live events?

The dynamics of a virtual event, our data indicates, are different. So firstly, [with] the virtual event … [you’re] going to see more RSVPs and lower attendance rate. … You’re not seeing the level of commitment and engagement. And even when people are attending, they’re staying for much shorter periods of time than they would in the real world. The focus is shifting on conveying the value of your experience in the very earliest stages of the promotion. Knowing that fewer people are actually going to attend, you have an opportunity to actually capture the minds of more people.

Often before, you were really focusing on getting people to your experience. At this point, you’re actually using that promotional process to drive people to learn more about your business, because you have so much more opportunity there. And in a lot of ways, whether or not they attend is a bit less important. You’re not going to create the emotional connection as much with people at the event now. You’re going to connect with them in the promotional process. And therefore, really connecting your brand and your company’s value proposition to that promotional process is becoming more important.

Casey Gale is associate editor at Convene.

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