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Stuart O'Brien

Top tips on running a business conference

One of the surefire ways to put your company on the corporate map is to have a conference event that makes a statement. When it comes to planning a notable event it’s important to remember what kind of experience you want your guests to have, whether you’re a startup or a highly developed company.

To ensure you impress your attendees, we’ve teamed up with Wyboston Lakes, a conference centre in Milton Keynes, to create this guide…

Don’t underestimate collaboration

Taking the initiative of going alone is great if you’re a sizeable company with the means to do so, but don’t forget about the power of collaboration. One of the main focuses of conference events is bringing people together from the same or similar industries under roof to discuss trends, exchange business cards, and set up working relationships. Two hosts mean twice the brainpower, which could result in reaching out to a wider range of key influencers within a sector.

Selecting the theme

Setting a theme is paramount to achieving a more focused approach. If the theme is ‘grow’, for example, this may encourage many more smaller businesses to join. This could mean lots of new faces, which is an excellent way to encourage conversations.

Have a bit of fun with the wording of the theme too — you want to aim for something that’s relatable and resonates emotionally with the reader. In short, something catchy! Themes that are too ‘corporate’ may not go down as strongly.

Keep in mind that social media also plays an important part in the run up, during, and after the conference, as hosts and guests will be sharing news and information there. It is essential therefore to take advantage of any hashtags and utilize them as part of your theme throughout.

Location of the event

The location of the venue is as important as anything else within it. Consider the potential size of your event and compare this with the size of the venue. Booking a stadium for a handful of guests probably isn’t going to go down well with your finance team, for example.

Accessibility is important too — is it near train stations, airports, or any main motorways? If many are arriving by car then plenty parking is a small factor that goes a long way, keep it professionally thought out and not sloppy.

Picking a secluded area of the building is important also for the guests to feel they have privacy away from the main areas to allow them to focus more on the on the conference itself.

Do all the necessary facilities come with the venue of your choice? Plenty seating, smaller rooms for breakout sessions, and modern technical aspects such as video equipment, projectors and suitable audio are all essentials if you’re planning on delivering a seminar or require a PowerPoint to go alongside a speaking slot.

Caring for the environment

Businesses have a duty to the environment, and with more attention than ever on ‘going green’, it’s vital for your event and your brand to maintain an eco-friendly image. Being ecological should be one of the underlying factors of your event, making sure wherever possible the green alternative is being deployed rather than using too much plastic.

Refreshments

No matter the size of the event, it’s important to have a selection of refreshments on offer. A few pastries and hot drinks are suitable for smaller events, whereas larger events would require pre-paid catering companies to provide a larger range of options. Make sure that your catering options include some alternative offerings too, such as gluten or dairy-free.

Influential speakers

People like to come away from a conference event feeling like they have learned something new, something they can take home with them that they did not arrive. So, take advantage of your connections and include some influential speakers that you know will create an atmosphere and deliver some useful tips for all businesses.

Agenda

Arranging and setting up an itinerary prior is a no-brainer if you want to guarantee the event runs smoothly. Planning activities that have the guests engage with each other is always a positive way to break ice, as well as allowing plenty of time for refreshments if it runs throughout the day.

You can overdo it though, planning everything to the smallest detail can make it seem not natural, keep it organized but let the networking parts guide themselves, allowing some flexibility over the course of the day of hours that it runs for.

There are many aspects to consider when planning the perfect conference. By following the tips above, you’ll be sure to have all areas covered!

Sources:

https://www.senatehouseevents.co.uk/features/how-plan-conference-your-guide-planning-perfect-conference

https://www.creativebloq.com/business/how-organize-conference-21619080

https://billetto.co.uk/l/how-to-organise-a-conference

Time’s running out to join Coca-Cola, Dukes London & Royal Mail at the Digital Marketing Solutions Summit

Don’t miss the chance to join senior executives from some of the UK’s biggest brands next month.

We are gathering together marketing decision makers for the Digital Marketing Solutions Summit, taking place on May 14that the Hilton Canary Wharf, London.

In addition to a day of business networking, you will get the latest insights and advice on trends in the sector via a series of seminar session.

Lunch and refreshments are included with your VIP ticket.

Register today and join marketing leaders from:

  • Abbott
  • Age UK
  • Albion Capital
  • AutoRek
  • BNP Paribas
  • Broadwick Live
  • BT Wholesale
  • Ceva Sante Animale
  • CitySprint
  • Clifford Chance
  • Coca-Cola European Partners
  • Como Metropolitan London
  • CompareTheMarket
  • Department of Education
  • Dukes London
  • Envigo
  • Express Gifts
  • Fairfax & Favor
  • Fitch Learning
  • Fuel Card Services
  • Galleon Hotels
  • Harbour Hotels
  • Hodder Education
  • Hyatt Place Heathrow
  • Interstate Hotels & Resorts
  • Jagex Studios
  • JTI
  • Kurt Geiger
  • Luxdeco
  • Macmillan Cancer Support
  • Magnuson Worldwide
  • Marriott Hotels International
  • Mitel
  • Mothercare
  • Mumsnet
  • National Accident Helpline
  • Orange Business Services
  • Places Leisure
  • Ralph & Russo
  • Royal Mail
  • Send a Cow
  • SHL
  • Smart Currency Exchange
  • SofaSofa
  • Softomotive
  • South Place Hotel
  • Tate & Lyle
  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme
  • The Berkeley Group
  • The Lalit London
  • The Sofa & Chair Company
  • The SR Group
  • Trend Micro
  • Vesta Property
  • West Midlands Trains

Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity! Register your free place today.

For more information, contact Katie Bullot on 01992 374049 or email k.bullot@forumevents.co.uk.

Alternatively, if you’re a digital marketing solutions provider and would like to showcase your products and services at the event, contact James Howe on 01992 374067 or email j.howe@forumevents.co.uk.

GUEST BLOG: Fixing the broken sales funnel

Business agility and the ability to respond fast to new sales opportunities has never been more important and a strong, intelligence-led sales model is essential to maximise opportunities. Yet in this post GDPR era, sales models have never been weaker or less efficient. A lack of data confidence is undermining outbound activity, leaving companies reliant on increasingly expensive inbound campaigns that are not delivering.

To fix the broken sales funnel, organisations clearly need to use to fresh, accurate and GDPR compliant data. But that is just the start: successful sales activity is underpinned by a scientific, structured and metrics driven approach that leverages multi-dimensional real-time data, as James Isilay, CEO, Cognism, explains.

Science not Art

Fewer good prospects. Delayed decision making. Ever lengthening sales cycles. A lack of predictability in the sales process. For many companies, the sales funnel is looking less than impressive. Yet while the temptation is to blame new restrictions of data privacy created by GDPR on the other, there is little value in playing the blame game. What companies require is a solution.

Where is the sales funnel broken and how can it be fixed? Understanding the ‘where’ is key – and something that far too many companies fail to address. How many good sales-people have been fired, when the problem was poor data? How much time has been wasted on prioritising the wrong prospects or failing to correctly identify the total addressable market?

A broken sales funnel cannot be repaired just by adding technology, replacing salespeople, or addressing data quality – although these are without doubt essential components of sales success. Without a robust, clearly defined and, critically, measured sales funnel, organisations will struggle to maximise sales opportunities.

Sales is a science, not an art; and companies need to take a far more metrics-led approach to sales models and management. Breaking the sales funnel down into its constituent parts, measuring performance and comparing results at every stage of the funnel to an equivalent industry standard benchmark is an essential step in understanding the current position.

This means not just tracking the number of phone calls made but the number of dials, number of connections and the number of conversations. How many conversations then convert to meetings or product demonstrations; and meetings to opportunities and then closed deals?  And, of course, never overlook quality – it is essential to measure the quality as well as the volume of leads to optimise sales performance.

Breaking down the prospecting activity into this detail is essential to reveal the specific point – or points – of failure; and to create a clear view of what needs to change to turn sales around and transform bottom line performance.

Intelligence Led

There are three core components of a successful sales funnel: people, process and technology.  Getting the right people to undertake specific components of the sales activity is key.  Break the process down into distinct areas and have specific KPIs for each to measure activity levels and outcomes. Allocate well trained and focused individuals to cold outreach, and more experienced individuals to deal closing. This is a far more effective model that will definitely improve performance.

Provide clear benchmarks to set performance expectations – and use them. If an individual’s performance is not hitting the minimum standard, jump in. Determine the problem and address it – whether that is through training or new messaging. Being proactive is essential to ensuring the funnel continues to perform effectively.

High Quality Data

Supporting these people with great data is, of course, fundamental, especially given the GDPR data privacy compliance requirements. Bad data is one of the most frustrating problems for any sales team. From the time wasted calling contacts who have moved on, to targeting companies that recently spoke to a colleague or, even worse, invested in a competitive product, bad and outdated data is a major barrier to sales success.

Combining good, accurate and continually refreshed data with a CRM system is an essential part of the model, ensuring data is up to date and shared across the sales function. With access to a deep, accurate and GDPR compliant customer data resource, the sales team can gain confidence and avoid time wasted in irrelevant outreach. But that is just the start. By adding events to the typical two dimensional company and people data – and ensuring this information is continually refreshed in real-time – companies can completely reconsider the sales funnel. From transforming the understanding of the total addressable market to using purchase triggers and decision making personas to prioritise activity, the use of revenue driven AI can deliver significant bottom line improvements.

From new job titles to funding rounds, even office expansion, there are a number of triggers that can be used to more effectively drive the timing and messaging of outreach campaigns. And, by feeding persona specific responses to different marketing messages back into the CRM system, the process can be continually improved. Essentially, Revenue AI provides a positive feedback loop.

Conclusion

Extending the metrics led marketing model from inbound, where performance and return on investment is continually assessed, to outbound is perhaps a cultural change for experienced sales people. But a sales funnel reliant upon an old school contacts list and perceived market opportunities is all about the ‘art of sales’ – it will never stand up to a competition embracing a science led, metric driven approach.

There is an enormous universe of prospective customers – and salespeople do not know every single company in the market, whatever their perception. New companies appear, others disappear; new funding rounds fuel growth; big wins result in business expansion. Without intelligence and a robust, process driven sales model, a company will never have an accurate handle on the total addressable market or a way to identify and prioritise outreach.

With current global economic uncertainty, opportunities are thinner on the ground and those companies with a broken sales funnel will struggle. In tough times companies need to be able to effectively and efficiently target the best opportunities, at the best time, with the right message. It is the companies with the smartest sales model that will succeed.

GUEST BLOG: The changing face of customer loyalty

New research shows that 76% of consumers admit they would switch to a competitor if they have just one bad experience with a brand they like.

On the flipside, over half of consumers say that once they’re loyal to a brand, they’re loyal for life. This offers the question – how loyal are consumers actually being towards their favourite brands, and what will it take for a consumer to have a bad experience? 

Dino Forte, CEO at Ventrica, investigates…

Gaining loyal consumers and advocates is something most brands aim for; but given the research, how far can this really be stretched? Unfortunately, many brands take loyalty for granted. The brands that hold a monopoly over a market, with unique products or services that can’t be found elsewhere, are often the strongest culprits of this, knowing their customers will continue to return regardless of the customer service they provide.

However, even in this situation, delivering a customer experience (CX) that meets the customer’s expectations and needs, is critical. Even for organisations in industries such as utilities where many consumers stay with their provider to avoid the hassle of switching, CX is still key. After all, it is six times more expensive to win new business than to retain it; showing how essential it is for organisations to look after their customers, even if they are confident they won’t leave.

New touchpoints and skilled staff

The fact is, delivering a CX that enables an organisation to remain competitive and encourage the customer to return is a big challenge. With numerous touchpoints now available to today’s consumer – from social media, to the organisation’s website, webchat and phone calls – how can a brand ensure it reaches its customers across all channels but provide the same experience, irrespective of channel?

All consumers will agree that a ‘bad’ CX involves a frustrating experience, long waiting times, unanswered questions, unknowledgeable staff, faulty products or simply not being listened to. Can we really blame them if an experience like this makes them want to switch to a competitor?

However, it doesn’t need to be like this. An organisation’s contact centre should form the heart of the CX it provides, with a trained, dedicated team ready to answer queries and resolve any issues the customer may have experienced across multiple channels. A customer service team should completely embody the persona of the brand; understanding who the customer is, what issue they’re facing and how it can be resolved in a quick, seamless manner that leaves the customer satisfied and eager to purchase a product or service again.

If a bad experience strikes, an organisation can’t blame a customer for wanting to look elsewhere. It’s therefore essential for organisations to put measures in place to ensure that all channels are equipped to provide the best CX possible – so that a customer’s loyalty never comes into question at all.

Article 13 has implications for marketers

The European Union’s decision to pass Article 13, which will introduce more stringent copyright laws online, has implications for marketers, argues Andy Barr Founder and MD of www.10yetis.co.uk…

On the face of things, Article 13 sounds as though it could stifle the creativity of millions of internet users who create funny and original content. However, it does look as though the law will make exceptions for “parody or pastiche” content, which means our GIFs and memes might be safe, for now.

The real headache here will be for the platforms on which people freely share content of this ilk, that may have vague copyright confusion surrounding it. Channels such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube will have to police uploads even more carefully to ensure content uploaded by its users doesn’t violate anything outlined in Article 13, or else be held accountable in some way.

They therefore may have to build even more robust and intelligent upload filters, which could be both time consuming and expensive. How exactly these systems will be able to differentiate between prohibited content and light-hearted, spoof postings is anyone’s guess.

This could cause problems for the social media industry, because memes and GIFs have historically been such an easy way to – for want of a better term – “go viral” and now content that teams create could get blocked for copyright issues under the watchful eye of these new upload filters that will have to spring into action; despite the fact that they may not actually breach any rules if the leniency with GIFs and memes is to be believed.

If anything, though, this will encourage social media teams and marketers to come up with more creative, original content – which to be honest could be a breath of fresh air for the industry.

Finally, the new “link tax” that is implied in Article 13 could leave platforms such as Google or Facebook with hefty bills for linking out to content which may have copyright implications, because paying publishers to link to the content from their platform could simply not be feasible on the scale it currently happens out.

Google has already hinted that it may have to shut down Google News, which is detrimental to the PR and media industry as it means that stories might not get as much reach. Hopefully, the implications of this will mean that some sort of solution is thought up to benefit everyone, instead of creating such a restrictive environment for sharing on the net.”

The Print & Digital Innovations Summit – Registration Open!

The 2019 Print & Digital Innovations Summit will deliver another outstanding day of business networking and learning for delegates.

The Approach

Taking place on November 14th at the Hilton Canary Wharf, London, the Print & Digital Innovations Summit is the leading event for the sector to share forward-thinking ideas, meet new partners and discover new ways to continue building successful print and marketing strategies.

It’s entirely free for you to attend and your VIP ticket includes:

  • A bespoke itinerary of pre-arranged meetings with product and service providers who match your requirements and upcoming projects
  • Access to a series of seminars by industry thought-leaders
  • Networking with like-minded peers
  • Lunch and all refreshments

How Do I Get Involved?

We have just 60 VIP tickets available, so register your free place today.

Last year’s delegates included representatives from A Nelson & Co, Abel & Cole, Beauty Bay, Boden, Brora, Cancer Research UK, Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors, Civil Society Media, Covea Insurance, Direct Line Group, Dubarry, Fitflop, Marie Curie, Miller Insurance Services, Not On The High Street, Pasquill, Santander, Swansea University, The Hut Group, The Lalit London and more.

For more information, call Katie Bullot on 01992 374049 or email k.bullot@forumevents.co.uk.

To attend as a supplier, call James Howe on 01992 374067 or email j.howe@forumevents.co.uk.

For more information, visit www.printinnovationssummit.co.uk.

Join your peers at the Digital Marketing Solutions Summit

The Digital Marketing Solutions Summit takes place on May 14th in London and is entirely FREE for you to attend.

Simply register your place here.

By attending you will:-

– Meet new innovative and budget-saving suppliers

– Learn via our series of seminar sessions

– Network with other senior interior designers and architects

– Enjoy complimentary lunch and refreshments

Register today and join fellow marketing professionals from:

Abbott
Albion Capital
AutoRek
BNP Paribas
BT Wholesale
Ceva Sante Animale
CitySprint
Clifford Chance
Coca-Cola European Partners
CompareTheMarket
CV Villas
Department of Education
Envigo
Express Gifts
Fairfax & Favor
Fitch Learning
Fuel Card Services
Harbour Hotels
Hodder Education
Hyatt Place Heathrow
Interstate Hotels & Resorts
Jagex Studios
Kettle Foods
Kurt Geiger
Luxdeco
Macmillan Cancer Support
Magnuson Worldwide
Mitel
National Accident Helpline
Orange Business Services
Ralph & Russo
Royal Canin
Royal Mail
Send a Cow
SHL
SofaSofa
Softomotive
Tate & Lyle
Tenancy Deposit Scheme
The Berkeley Group
The Lalit London
The Sofa & Chair Company
The SR Group
Trend Micro
West Midlands Trains

For more information, contact Katie Bullot on 01992 374049 or email k.bullot@forumevents.co.uk.

Alternatively, if you’re a digital marketing solutions provider and would like to showcase your products and services at the event, contact James Howe on 01992 374067 or email j.howe@forumevents.co.uk.

Do you specialise in Digital Printing solutions? We want to hear from you!

Each month on Digital Marketing Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on different parts of the print and marketing sectors – and in April we’ll be focussing on Digital Printing.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help marketing industry professionals find the best products and services available today.

So, if you specialise in Digital Printing solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Chris Cannon on c.cannon@forumevents.co.uk.

Here are the areas we’ll be covering, month by month:

Apr – Digital Printing

May – Social Media

Jun – Brand Monitoring

Jul – Web Analytics

Aug – Conversion Rate Optimisation

Sept – Digital Signage

Oct – Brochure Printing

Nov – Creative & Design

Dec – Online Strategy

For more information on any of the above topics, contact Chris Cannon on c.cannon@forumevents.co.uk.

Marketing spend set to remain stable in 2019

80% of businesses plan to spend more or the same on PR in 2019 compared with 2018.

The findings are found in a new report, ‘Spotlight on Marketing,’ commissioned by marketing communications agency Voiceboxx.

100 communications professionals were asked a series of questions at the beginning of 2019 to help understand the nature of the marketing landscape for the year ahead, taking into consideration GDPR regulations and Brexit.

Out of those polled, 80% said that their budget for creative/branding would increase or stay the same for 2019, with creative design essential to direct mail, which all respondents were planning to invest in through 2019.

Digital tactics were also high on the agenda for marketeers, with 87% of businesses using video as a tool and the platform being the marketing tactic most respondents would like to utlise in 2019.

Other key points from the report revealed:

• 43% of respondents said their website needed improving in 2019
• 47% plan to spend more on their website in 2019, than they did in 2018
• Over half respondents said keeping up to date with social media trends was a challenge
• Most marketeers plan to invest more in strategy in 2019, than 2018
• 30% of respondents see new CRM system and staff training as essential for 2019
• 57% of businesses want to use social media advertising in 2019

Overall, the survey found that respondents saw 2019 as a year for improving communications across all channels, with analysis revealing marketeers already use a wide range of tactics, with new activity areas for 2019 being low priorities.

Email Marketing

Email Personalisation: The Overlooked Source for Marketing Success

By Gregg Turek, Selligent Marketing Cloud

Email personalisation as a marketing strategy has evolved phenomenally in recent years. Monumental advances in technology are empowering marketers to do things once thought unimaginable.

And the skyrocketing growth of consumer expectations is a sure sign that old techniques are no longer viable for reaching customers in 2019. Marketers can no longer simply insert a first name into a subject line and consider their personalisation work done. We’ve come so much further than that and today, more than ever, personalisation is no longer just an option for marketers. In fact, it’s an imperative.

Personalisation through Time

Remember when Build-A-Bear workshops first started? For several years now, the beloved brand – and others like American Girl in the U.S. – have offered a personalised experience that has delighted parents and children alike. Teddy bears and dolls are built or dressed in outfits and colours that kids can pick out for themselves, offering an ultimate individualised experience that had previously been unavailable. In the digital realm, Amazon and other brands have extended these types of experiences by offering stronger and stronger product recommendations based on consumer behavioural data every day. The days of recommendations simply based on “customers also purchased…” are in the past. Consumers now demand ever more individualised offers.

As these kinds of advances occur, personalisation becomes second nature for consumers, who expect similar experiences wherever they go and whenever they shop. And it makes sense: as humans, we all want to be recognised and remembered. These desires are very real to us as consumers, too. Personalisation not only satisfies this desire, it also amplifies marketing results to a great extent.

The Case for Personalisation

Personalisation is the key to keeping your customers engaged – and spending money. 74% of marketers say targeted personalisation increases customer engagement.1And research shows thatemail personalisation boosts open rates by 26% and click-through rates by 97%.2

Marketers that get it right stand to gain a lot. Those who don’t, lose. Consider some of the major retailers that have struggled or failed in recent years. British casualties of the “retail apocalypse” in 2018 alone include Maplin, Debenhams, House of Fraser, Evans Cycles and Mothercare.3  One major common denominator among these retail casualties is this: they each failed at some level to adapt to escalating consumer demand for digital experiences and personalisation.

Mar-Tech & Email Personalisation

So how do you get it right? How can you take your email marketing to a new and more successful level through personalisation? Fortunately, tools exist today that allow marketers to hyper-personalise emails and other customer communications at a level previously unseen, using consumer data as the fuel for greater engagement. Today’s marketing technology allows you to deploy emails so that every automated message feels personal, every intelligent product recommendation appears hand-picked, and the timing of delivery is always right.

Many leading brands are already investing in marketing technology for personalisation and the required data. Demand for customer data platforms (CDPs) is growing tremendously.4 And marketing automation is expected to grow by nearly ten percent in 2019, with more than half of companies surveyed using some form of automation already.5

AI: The Secret Sauce for Personalisation

Artificial intelligence (AI) is unlocking the hyper-personalised future of marketing – and changing the game for marketers. AI engines can boost email personalisation and individual relevance by automatically turning consumer insights into on-taste messages, at scale and at previously unimagined levels. And it’s not only satisfying the demands of today’s entitled consumers, it can also save marketers time and money. In fact, according to an August 2018 survey of 400 retail executives worldwide by Capgemini, AI could save retailers as much as $340 billion annually by 2022.6

Getting Personal: The Key to Survival

It’s clear that the old ways of marketing are no longer enough to satisfy consumers. Marketers need to start thinking from the point of view of the customer. With every email you send – and every interaction a customer has with your brand – you need to put that individual’s preferences, histories, and current states front and centre. Carefully look at what you’re delivering versus what your customers expect – and make sure every email is injected with a human touch, providing personal relevance for every single consumer. When you are able to deliver hyper-personalised email messages at precisely the right time, you’ve discovered not only how to survive, but to thrive in today’s marketplace.

Getting personal with your customers starts with being human – in the way you collect and share data, and how you communicate with your customers. Download the free whitepaper, “The Case for Personalisation,”to learn how to get more human with your marketing, including a deeper look at the role of artificial intelligence for hyper-personalisation in your campaigns.

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1          https://econsultancy.com/tag/reports/

2          https://www.marketo.com/articles/how-is-personalization-changing-the-face-of-marketing/

3          https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/dec/01/everything-must-go-what-next-for-the-high-street-new-retail-empty-shops)

4          “Seven Marketing Tech Trends for 2019,”eMarketer PRO, December 19, 2019

5          “How AI Is Driving Marketing Automation,”Entrepreneur, January 25, 2019

6          “Will AI Transform Retail,” eMarketer, January 8, 2019