7 Fears Event Marketers Need to Overcome

Author: Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes       

While there is no single thing that is going to attract high-profile exhibitors, pack our aisles with quality attendees, and ensure our show is an unqualified success, there is a mindset that can drastically transform event-marketing efforts into successful results within an organization: fearlessness. I asked Maggie Stevens, senior account director at mdg, to share her insights for embracing a courageous event-marketing attitude. It starts with overcoming these seven fears.

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Maggie Stevens

Fear of Failure — Not every new idea is going to succeed. Trying new ideas, however, will provide insight into what works, what doesn’t, and what can be done differently next time. Some of the greatest successes can come on the other side of failure.

Fear of the Unknown — Last year’s early registration campaign may have produced 323 conversions, but this year’s campaign has new creative, a new time-line, and will be promoted on a new platform — meaning the expected results are completely unknown. That’s okay. Trying something new means embracing what is unknown today in order to produce results and metrics that you can use to make decisions tomorrow.

Fear of Collaboration — Great marketing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Once you share an idea, it’s fair game to grow, expand, evolve, and ultimately become less yours in the process. Get people involved across the organization. Non-stakeholders can inspire great ideas and produce amazing results. There is a difference between “marketing by committee” and a collaborative, engaging, and inspiring process where everyone can abandon the fear of losing their turf. Marketing needs to be the driving force that brings stakeholders and non-stakeholders to the table to inspire great ideas.

Fear of “no!” — Coming up with a great idea is exhilarating; sharing that idea and hearing “no” can be crushing. Be courageous in asking people to think differently, and come prepared with the tools to help persuade your audience. Pro tip: Research published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that a request was more likely to receive a “yes” if the question was asked at the beginning of a conversation rather than at the end of it.

Fear of Stalking — Understanding your attendees’ customer journey and what motivates them to attend is critical, but it can feel creepy. Determine which elements in your marketing campaigns can be customized to the customer journey, and then boldly position your tactics along their way. And when you can leverage additional data through personalization, go for it. Thoughtful pieces that speak to market segment pain points, like personalized direct mail pieces, resonate beyond any “spray and pray” tactic.

Fear of Data — As marketers who connect with our industries, we’re inherently gut-driven. We don’t just know our industry; in many cases, we identify as part of it. We have gut feelings about what is going to work and what isn’t, but we often resist looking at data that may challenge this or the intuition of our colleagues. We have the ability to test and understand what truly resonates, and we can’t be afraid to use it. According to the 2019 Freeman Data Benchmark Study, 74 percent of event marketers are using data to measure overall marketing strategy and goals success.

We are living in the most analytic-driven period in event marketing. We don’t just have access to data, we have platforms and tools that will tie that data together and even produce predictive analytic reports. Go ahead and trust your gut, but remember to test, measure, and understand what your data is telling you about your tactics, and challenge internal instincts.

Fear of Imperfection — Pursuit of perfection gets in the way of progress more than almost anything else. A project will be held up for weeks amid endless rounds of modifications, when timing and hitting the window of opportunity were far more critical than if the photo was really the perfect choice. Being fearless while simultaneously striving for perfection is not possible.

More on the Fear of ‘No’

Whether you want to pitch an idea to your colleagues, or ask them for help on a project, you may think it’s more expedient and effective to communicate over email. But two experiments reported in an Association for Psychological Science blog post indicate that people tend to overestimate the persuasiveness of requests sent via email, while also underestimating the effectiveness of requests made face-to-face. In each experiment, those who made their requests in person were far more successful than those who sent emails. Read “How to Make an Ask That’s Hard to Refuse” at Seed Spot, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs.

Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes is the owner and president at mdg, a full-service marketing and public relations firm specializing in B2B events.

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