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Kathryn Frankson

Director of Event Marketing

Informa

Kathryn explains why it’s never been more difficult to break through the market as it is today, and challenges us all to not only think outside of the box, but dismantle the idea of a box entirely.

I’m Kathryn Frankston, I'm the Director ofEvent Marketing at Informa. I've been in the event industry for a number of years, I actually started on the sales side, so I was working with clients, sponsorships, exhibit space, and became really passionate about marketing, realized that that's what holds audience's attention, and so I made the move over to marketing and now, I head up marketing for our content-led events at Informa.

 

Breaking through the market in the most challenging times

It's an incredibly challenging time to breakthrough. When Covid happened, events stopped and there came this emergence of virtual, and so we had audiences with the chance to decide if they missed our events or not, but then also more saturation in events, so there's more events than ever and audiences were able to consume more, so they had this opportunity to see more content, and because of that and everyone's advertising on the same channels, you realize it's a really noisy marketplace, and so the game has changed so fundamentally.

So, as event marketers and as event profs, what we have to do to keep our audiences happy to get their attention is to find unique ways to break through, and what's really exciting about that is it's not time to think outside of the box, there is box, our creativity is unlimited! And it's really a matter of choosing to tap into what your audience is telling you they want, what your intuition is telling you, following some of those trends and taking some big swings in terms of creative and innovative ideas that you can put forward for content and event design that's gonna help get them engaged in the event that you're producing

 

Creating the most successful event strategy in a Covid world

So we looked at designing events pre-covid, we all had a little bit of a playbook, which was the balance depending on the structure of your event content, keynote, talent, exhibits, show floor. This is especially on the B2B side of the house, corporate events, and you were marketing it with this promise of this experience, we're gonna deliver great content, we're gonna have an on-site experience that's incredible for you, and that's when we were focused on exclusively on-site, some traditional formats of messaging, and when everything came to a screeching halt, that changed fundamentally because audiences had a new choice to make, we were looking at time differently, they were looking at investments differently, and research shows that audiences are also gonna go to 50% less events, so when you think about that, it's time to take that playbook and reassess what's working, so much content went online that that competitive advantage that you had with your event shifted, and so if audiences are able to get that and they don't have togo in person, it's time to rethink, what does that in-person experience looks like, what are the content formats that you're delivering online that will also keep them interested? It's not just about delivering it, it's about curating what's smart and finding ways for them to engage with it, so that it's not so static. So, it's been a seismic shift just in terms of design, and on the strategy side, what I think is really interesting is that it's all too easy with events at a big event now.

There's a lot of tactics, there's a lot that has to get done. You've got this hard and fast timeline that you're working backwards from, and it can be very easy to just go straight into those details, we have to get it done, we've got our event timelines, everything has to get executed, and this was really the time that everyone had to challenge themselves, to step back and to say Strategically, how are we serving our audiences, do we know what they want, do we need to talk to them more, do we need more audience insights? Do we need to be running more audience research, do we have to challenge ourselves to get a little bit uncomfortable with what we're changing because that step back, that bigger strategic lens is the only opportunity for designing something that's serving your audience today, and that's gonna help you win.

 

The crucial collaboration between sales and marketing teams

The collaboration between sales and marketing has never been more important for me personally. Having gone from sales into marketing, it's the realization as well that how audiences are communicating with brands, how they're buying, how they're looking for resources has changed.Customer journeys are completely different, marketing owns a certain portion of it, sales does, and when you have this hand-off, that's not maybe working as well as you want it to, the customer is really the only one that suffers and it can be really smooth. So, syncing that up is incredibly important, and that's starting on the front end, so communication with your leadership, deciding what that process looks like, deciding what your SLAs are (it’s the only acronymI’ll drop), but it's critically important because what you're ultimately doing in the grand scheme of things is finding the right way to serve your clients, how are they finding your information, how are they interacting with your brand, content, with your site, is your UX reasonable? And then are you handing them over to sales or are they making that connection point at the time that makes the most sense, that feels right for them, that's the best use of your sales team's time, so getting that hand off right is in the best interest of everyone, it's best for the customer, if that's for the brand is also gonna help move your revenue along in the right direction.