4 areas that need marketing focus for international growth

Senior executives from niche B2B media and events businesses recently came together to meet and share insights in a confidential space at the 2nd 2022 Renewd International roundtable. 

The hot topic of discussion was ‘lessons learned’ by event organisers when scaling beyond events. There was much to be said about how event organisers that had always relied almost solely on events in the past have been moving towards more digitalised offerings (accelerated over the last two years during Covid), including many instances where their in-person events have remained as their most important format.

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Team MPG’s marketing strategists who participated in the discussions have highlighted the following four things that came out of the discussion that we think are particularly relevant for marketing:

#1 An event is an event, and should be marketed like an event

As your value proposition changes and becomes more digital (24/7/365), it’s important to ensure that when marketing an event (online, F2F or hybrid), you still use the tried and tested best practices that work to attract the required number of attendees – who fit the right profile.

As your most important marketing channel is your website, make sure you get this right – first and foremost! Even if your event is part of a community or membership offering, build a website for your event that is very well set up to promote the event. Event websites ‘all look the same’ to an extent – for good reason! The smart marketers who’ve chosen how they should look and work know that customer journeys for getting people to book on to an event need to work in a certain way.

#2 Customer journey mapping must be one of the first things you do

Every marketing strategy should incorporate a well-mapped out customer journey that will deliver ‘customer success’ i.e. the customer engaging well with your offering so they get the value they need.

If you’re not thinking about precisely how your customer will be buying and then consuming your products, you’ll inadvertently be putting barriers in their way.

If you want to encourage a customer to buy a membership before they buy an event – make sure all the marcomms in all your marketing channels make that clear in the right way, based on where they are in their level of engagement with you. 

If you want to encourage a customer who has bought a subscription or membership to attend an event, make sure you’ve thought about – and planned – how the customer will be led towards your event and convinced to buy a ticket. If members don’t attend events, they’re less likely to be getting the value from the membership and less likely to renew.

Important note for marketers where events are part of a membership: just because a customer has purchased a membership that includes an event, doesn’t mean they’ll turn up to the event! You still need to market and sell the event to them as if they were paying, as they still need to give up their time and attention to the event, and for F2F events they will also need to take time out of the office, and often buy plane tickets and hotel accommodation. 

#3 Data and analytics are critically important

Creating virtual events, geo-cloning existing events or creating subscription or membership offerings are good ways to expand internationally and ensure strong, monetisable engagement 24/7/365. To make these successful you need your data and analytics set up in a way that gives you deep insights from your analytics and a healthy, growing database to enable sustainable international growth. These include: 

  • Customer insights surfaced by analytics: deep analytics that provide customer insights are essential for successful product development, and also for relevant, impactful marketing.
  • A growing, well maintained database: to grow your customer base across a range of products and internationally, you need a growing database – especially as buyers of your membership or subscription products may not mirror buyers of your events. Ongoing inbound marketing and well managed, compliant data acquisition and management processes are essential to attract, engage and convert the right kinds of customers in the right volumes.

If you underinvest in your analytics and data, you won’t be able to scale – domestically or internationally. It’s that simple.

#4 A well set up martech stack is essential if you want to scale

Having a good tech infrastructure with the right integrations, automations and data flows means your marketing, sales and customer services people can work efficiently and have more impact. 

Making sure tech does more of the work, means marketers in particular can spend more time on strategic, value creating activities that will drive growth. Far too many marketers spend a large amount of their time wrestling with platforms and systems that do not allow for efficient processes. When they’re spending their time on this wasteful and unnecessary kind of activity – just because the right tech is not in place, has not been set up properly or is not being used properly – the whole business suffers.

If your tech is not set up well, your marketers will not have the time or headspace to create and execute strategies that will enable international growth. 

The companies that invest well in fit-for-purpose marketing channels, systems, processes, data and analytics – along with the required marketing skills plugged into these – tend to achieve strong and sustainable growth of any kind, including international growth. 

Whether you’re focused on growing F2F events, digital events, subscriptions or membership offerings, without strong marketing, your business will really struggle to grow. 

 


 

I was very impressed with the marketing strategy MPG developed for Environment Analyst. The level of thinking that went into this strategy and how it was delivered has created great value for our business. My marketing manager and I now look forward to working with MPG to execute great marketing together.

Julian Rose, Director & Co-Founder, Environment Analyst (acquired by Adweek)

 


 

Do you need help defining a marketing strategy that supports your international growth?

MPG’s marketing strategists have a wealth of experience and expertise in developing high impact marketing strategies that drive growth and deliver strong ROI for B2B brands. Get in touch to find out how we can help you build a robust marketing strategy that consistently delivers against business objectives.

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Build a resilient marketing function: start with your most important marketing channel

As the pandemic rages on, challenges and opportunities continue to emerge for B2B media and events businesses.  

From Team MPG’s vantage point, it is clear that the most resilient businesses, and those that have started growing again, have certain characteristics – including: a belief in the strategic importance of marketing – shared by the whole senior leadership team; a strong understanding of what good marketing looks like and should be expected to achieve; and a commitment to invest well in marketing for sustainable growth. 

This was the focus of Helen Coetzee’s blog published on 1st January: In 2022, the most resilient organisations will have relevant and resilient marketing. In this article, Helen highlights specific areas that require focus and investment for building relevance and resilience into your marketing – and therefore into your whole organisation. 

One of these specific areas is your website, or more specifically, the website or web pages that serve the purpose of marketing your brand, value proposition and products.

The companies that have invested heavily in building high performance marketing websites, are standing out as resilient and winning organisations at this time. 

And by ‘high performance websites’, we’re not just referring to a beautifully designed ‘look and feel’ for your site – which is usually the calling card of slick creative and digital agencies very good at selling their sizzle (and making things look nice). A well designed, nice-to-look at website is an absolute must, but far too many organisations we talk to have fallen in to the trap of spending a fortune with a ‘shiny’ agency (confusing style with substance…) on a website that just looks lovely, but doesn’t actually work in terms of:

(1) Optimised customer journeys in the front end – to acquire more customers and generate more revenue, and
(2) Back-end/CMS functionality that makes the website practical and efficient (and viable!) for marketers to manage in the manner required for the website to work well within a content-led, integrated marcomms approach. 

There is a very specific, specialised set of functionality requirements that B2B media/events businesses need built into their marketing websites that can be very poorly understood by many business leaders (and often their marketers too), and by the too many agencies trusted with this kind of work.

These specific functionality requirements are focused on the extremely important role your website serves as the hub of all your marketing efforts. If you want to be a resilient  and growing business, your website needs to do all the following – really well:

  1. Positioning: host impactful messaging – in words, pictures and sometimes video and/or audio – that positions your brand and value you deliver in exactly the right way. For this you need a strong messaging strategy.
    See: Build a winning messaging strategy: a step-by-step guide
  2. Conversion rate optimisation (CRO): have well structured navigation and CTAs that draw customers through your marketing funnel – getting them to share their data, become a customer, and also share your content.
    See: 4 Things you should do for a high performance website
  3. SEO: use relevant messaging, content and good UX to organically attract relevant people from search engines – to then become exposed to your positioning and converted to engaged prospects, customers and advocates.

A well-optimised site attracts the right visitors, in required and sustainable volumes, and clearly communicates your value proposition – which is more important now than ever to cut through all the noise on digital channels. 

Remember that your website is the hub of all your marketing activity. Every time you post on social media, run a PPC campaign, or send an email campaign – you should be pushing relevant people to your website so that they become visitors, engaged audience members prospects, and customers. 

If your website is not in the best shape possible, all of your other marketing channels will be much less effective than they should be. There is almost no point deploying any other marketing channels (especially PPC!) until you have a website in place that looks great, and works exactly as it should in terms of functionality needed to deliver customers and revenue to your business.

Next week we will share a practical guide to building a high performance website. Subscribe to MPG Insights to get notified when the next article is published.

And in the meantime, if you’d like to speak to an MPG website expert about how to optimise the site you have, or build a brand new, high performance website – please get in touch. Team MPG includes website designers, developers and website project managers who have a deep understanding of B2B media/events business models and marketing. We know how your website needs to work to grow your customer base and your revenues. Read more about MPG’s website design and development services.


MPG provided excellent design and functionality recommendations for our website – helping us immediately put into action initiatives that would help us gain more customers and move forward as a business.

Alex Ayad, Founder & CEO, Outsmart Insight


 

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In 2022, the most resilient organisations will have relevant and resilient marketing

Along with the exciting opportunities for innovation and digital transformation that many leaders have successfully embraced, the pandemic continues to throw new challenges at B2B media and event businesses.

Once again, event organisers face issues around live events. Even those who have been able to very successfully grow their digital revenue streams over the past 18 months are immensely frustrated they cannot bring their customers together in-person. Those brave souls who have proceeded to safely host some face-to-face gatherings for their valued community members, in the midst of a pandemic, have found these ‘in real life’ experiences to be most powerful and energising.

To keep moving forward positively, senior executives should focus on building resilience into every part of their organisation.

From a marketing perspective, organisational resilience can be further strengthened by more relevance.

Marketing is all about getting close to your customers and successfully communicating to them the relevance of your value proposition. In the B2B world, this is about focusing – with precision – on the specific individuals within specific organisations who will find your value proposition highly relevant (This is of course assuming you have already achieved a strong enough product-market fit to make what you’re offering worth your target customers’ attention, time, and money. If you don’t have the product-market fit right yet, this should be your focus to strengthen organisational resilience – regardless of pandemics! No amount of marketing can successfully monetise the wrong product…).

Getting close to customers is first and foremost about listening. Listening to what they care about, what their pain points are, what motivates them, and what they need in order to get their jobs done well – right now, and in the near future. 

If you are listening properly to your customers, and responding to their needs with the most relevant products and the most relevant marketing, your organisation will be more resilient. Why? Because your customers will give you their attention and their time, again and again – no matter whether you are delivering your products online or in-person.

When you have your customers’ attention over an extended period of time – regardless of format – they should be engaged enough with your brand for you to monetise them well. And, if you can prove you can monetise your customers consistently, profitably and with economies of scale, you have a very good reason to pursue scale. Hence MPG’s mantra since the start of the pandemic: engage, monetise, scale. Building brands as community platforms is only possible if you follow this Engage – Monetise – Scale model.

A marketing strategy that focuses on engagement – anchored in relevance – will make your marketing more resilient. This, in turn, will make your whole organisation more resilient.

Here are four things we believe are fundamental to building relevance and resilience into your marketing – and therefore into your whole organisation:

#1: Investment in customer insight: ongoing analysis on what your customers say and do. 

Via a set of dashboards, make sure your marketers are constantly monitoring how customers are engaging with your products and your marketing campaigns. Ask your marketers to look for and highlight trends in the data to spark questions to ask your customers about the content, networking opportunities, formats and experiences they find most relevant and valuable, and why. Data your marketers should be able to interrogate should also validate and enhance the answers your customers give you. 

If your marketers are focused on customer insight, your marketing – and your whole organisation – will be more relevant and more resilient.

#2: Specific, clearly defined marketing objectives – fully lined up behind your business goals.

Using evidence-based insight on your customers to guide you, insist on marketing objectives that are realistic, achievable, and – most importantly – focused on achieving your commercial goals. Make sure the decisions you make about marketing investments are based on these objectives, and that your marketers are tracking and sharing results and progress with your stakeholders, along with insights and plans to improve performance over time. 

If you keep your marketers focused on what is most important, your marketing – and your whole organisation – will be more relevant and more resilient.

#3: Smart, focused investment in your marketing website and your marketing database.

The website you use to attract and communicate with customers is by far your most important marketing tool. And the data you hold on your customers is by far your most important marketing asset. Sadly, these very often receive low levels of investment, or a great deal of money and time is wasted if they are mismanaged.

Decisions you make and actions you take to invest in your marketing website and your marketing database should be focused on achieving your marketing objectives (see #2 above) and your commercial goals (see #1 above).

Far too often, websites and databases are high-jacked or poorly led by a (usually well-meaning) senior executive with very little knowledge of marketing, or a mostly tactical inhouse marketing team, or – the worst scenario of all – a smooth talking agency with good sales people who are good at ‘selling the sizzle’, but who have no real regard for the success of your organisation, and therefore the ‘sizzle’ fails to deliver.

Your organisation will be more resilient if you have both a strong marketing website and good marketing database – led and managed by people who know what they’re doing, care about your organisation’s goals, and understand your marketing objectives.

#4: A flexible and agile marketing function with the right skills, strong leadership, good management, and the motivation to contribute to the success of your organisation.

With virtual working now the norm, the world is your oyster when it comes to finding the best marketing skills to form a resilient, flexible and agile marketing function. This can be achieved with a combination of inhouse resources, complimented with specialist, expert consultants and agencies – all well managed to collaborate, create powerful synergies and deliver great results.

Marketing requires a vast array of skills that can be brought together to deliver quite outstanding outcomes, as long as you’re willing to treat marketing as an investment and not a cost – and step away from a traditional and inflexible inhouse team, and/or a ‘known’ agency that may be consistently underperforming.

A resilient and relevant marketing function can be built if you are prepared to think differently, consider all your options, invest well, and set up, manage and continually support a highly collaborative, hybrid marketing team.

If you have highly skilled marketers working for you, no matter where they are based, and whether in-house or external (ideally a combination of both) – your marketing and your organisation will be more relevant and more resilient.

To achieve more resilience, keep an eye on MPG Insights over the coming weeks. We will be publishing a series of helpful guides on how to build a more relevant and resilient marketing function (and therefore a more resilient organisation!).

So, if you have not already signed up to MPG Insights – now is a good time! Subscribe here to get an email every time we publish a new blog or resource like this one.


MPG did a great job assessing our digital marketing and marketing operations requirements – considering our business goals. They developed a robust strategy, followed by a practical operational roadmap to help us further improve how we use technology to support marketing and sales performance. It has been a pleasure working with the MPG team!

Jonathan Perry, Global Marketing Director, PEI – Alternative Insight


 

Do you need a more resilient marketing function?

Get in touch to find out how MPG can help you build a more resilient marketing function, and therefore a more resilient business. 

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The future of B2B events: 5 insights from MPG

I recently had the opportunity to participate in an excellent strategy-focused roundtable organised by Renewd, the global, open network of specialised subscription, membership and event professionals. More than half of participants were business owners, and all participants were senior executives responsible for long term strategy development, with events being a key part in their product mix and revenue growth plans.

From the discussions, it was clear that events-focused organisations are still in – and will continue to face – a great deal of uncertainty. Transformational, rapid change has occurred in almost every market, and therefore the ‘extreme and ongoing change’ paradigm we find ourselves in could well be the ‘new normal’ for some time. 

Based on the observations of MPG’s senior leadership team, and what came out of the Renewd round-table discussions, five specific areas have surfaced that, at this time, present particular risk – and in some cases significant opportunity – for organisations where events play an important role:

(Note: when referring to ‘events’ below, we’re referring collectively to all events that are being run in virtual, hybrid and digital formats)

#1: Competition is more intense than ever. Nearly every market has a great range of events for customers to choose from, especially in digital formats.

Barriers to entry have been lowered for new event organisers, while ‘legacy’ event organisers are also running more events, and plan to continue to do so.

So there is a huge amount of noise out there, with inboxes and social feeds buzzing constantly with numerous ‘must attend’ events and ‘last chances to book’. This won’t die down any time soon, if ever.

#2: Event audience expectations have changed – for good. They expect value, and are still willing to pay for it with their time, attention and money.

Event participants want better value for money from events of all formats. They are expecting high quality production, as well as highly relevant, valuable