This past March, event pros gathered for a chance to hear marketing advice from top marketing experts in the event industry. In the Catersource + The Special Event session Marketing Masters 2023: Effective Marketing Strategies for Wedding and Event Professionals, moderated by Clint Upchurch with Tres LA Group, these experts (Laura Cardo, Kristin Banta Events; Christie Osborne, Mountainside Media; and Jamie Lee Quickert, Cvent) discussed best practices, best platforms, and the future of event marketing.
The conversation began with the topic of how to use social media in the most effective, professional way. Quickert advised having a thorough understanding of the purpose of each account you run, as well as the difference between your personal and work brand. If your personal account is public, it’s important to be mindful that how you show up will affect what your audience thinks of your business brand. Cardo added that it’s good to discuss how people in your company show up as well; if they have public accounts, they shouldn’t be posting anything unsavory, as they still represent your business. She notes that while you can’t control what anyone posts, you can keep an eye on what they post and make sure they post in a way that reflects your company’s values.
Everyone agreed that the best way to handle social media is to have a company policy in place; this ensures there are guidelines to follow as well as a process for responding quickly to any guidelines that have been broken. This goes beyond a policy for your business’s socials; it can be applied to events themselves, regarding who can post what and when (your team and vendors, for instance) to prevent surprises from getting leaked prematurely. Such a policy would also ensure that your content aligns with your clients’ desires, especially if there are NDAs. If you tag anyone, make sure you prep them so that they know they will be aligned with your content.
Finally, the panel agreed that your social media plan must be intentional. Make sure there’s a purpose for tagging people, a strategy for what content you post, and an overall goal for your social media. Figure out your buyer persona (a caricatured representation of your ideal client based on marketing data, also known as psychographics) and create content that speaks to that persona. In fact, Osborne recommends doing psychographics before experimenting with artificial intelligence (AI), because your content will look like everything else out there if you don’t know who you’re creating for.
At this point, the conversation focused on the ever-present question: is TikTok necessary or not? Yes and yes, said the pros. It can be a very helpful tool that is worth learning (or outsourcing), but only if that is where your client demographic lies; if creating TikTok content will directly impact your sales, then it would benefit you to do so.
“I take a little bit more of a platform-agnostic approach because most of what I do is backed by data and analytics,” said Osborne. Cardo added that it’s helpful to know how your clients differentiate between platforms—they likely aren’t searching for vendors on TikTok, but researching them individually, while using Google and Instagram to do the actual search for top vendors.
Osborne suggested picking one platform to own and dabbling in all the others to amplify your main content. Upchurch agreed: “Simplify, or your sales will suffer.”
Once you decide which platform you to shine on, Cardo encourages developing a strong brand and creating specific branded posts. Avoid posting photos and text that feel canned. And if you don’t have anything to post? Just share what’s inspiring you lately!
Data privacy is front of mind in the marketing world these days. Osborne reminded the audience that when conducting marketing research, you are responsible for client data and its privacy. “Think about how long you have to house personally identifiable data,” she told the audience. This includes considering when you're going to purge that data, how to do so safely, and keeping receipts. She also recommends familiarizing yourself with foreign privacy data laws because the U.S. will begin implementing similar laws soon.
Besides data privacy and increasingly popular AI, Osborne said that the biggest thing to pay attention to is video ads. It doesn’t matter how good they are or even what the content is; video ads are performing better than still photo ads.
Finally, everyone agreed that it’s going to be important to have a policy around commenting and engaging with other people’s posts, as well as dealing with both negative and positive reviews. It can be discouraging to see bad reviews, but being prepared to handle them will help you look professional to your audience. After all, that is the point of good marketing: to demonstrate why your business is valuable and professional, and also worth your audience’s time and money.
And if all of this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry! Our Marketing Masters agree that it’s just fine to outsource and let an expert handle your marketing for you.