Why Events Still Matter in a Snapchat World
May 16, 2017 | Melissa Nazar | Link
At SnapApp, we’re just about at the end of our seemingly nonstop spring event season. Any given week, a chunk of folks from our Boston HQ have been off and running to distant lands, like Phoenix or Las Vegas, extolling the merits of interactive content.
Just a few more shows in these next few weeks and we’ll be in full “summer vacation” mode… only to kick it all off again for the fall.
For me, I’m just coming off the back of a week-long trip to San Francisco. Jet lag has finally worn off. I’ve unpacked my bags and managed to get through at least one pile of laundry. Seems like a good time to reflect and write a blog post.
All things considered, a week on the West Coast isn’t a bad gig. I was at MarTech, which is a conference for marketing professionals looking for the latest, greatest technology and strategies to integrate them into their programs.
But here’s the thing: I hate events.
I get a particular kind of exhaustion at industry events. I’m the definition of an extroverted introvert, so I need time to recover after lengthy social interactions – the nonstop cadence of a big conference doesn’t really allow for that.
I also tend to be a bit too matter-of-fact for a good sales pitch. Wearing heels is awful. I lose my voice. I eat too much. I always get sick. I don’t work out enough. And so on and so on.
And this is all coming from someone who has actually managed an events program before. Begrudgingly, yes, but somewhat successfully.
There’s a certain level of attention to detail that owning events requires, and it’s just not natural for me. Leave the content and messaging to me all day, any day, but give me logistics and I promise you, your booth will never see the light of day, or the expo floor.
Moreover, I consider myself very much a modern marketer. And events feel somewhat old school – extensive booth structures, long and elaborate dinners, deals made by handshake, etc.
On the surface, it seems like a model stuck in the past when compared to today’s digital approaches.
The SnapApp Team in action at MarTech
Events also can be a bear to quantify success from. As marketers, we make large investments in shows, but often have no idea what we’ll get as a result. Is it the right audience? Will we get traffic? How long before this person ever takes a meeting?
Give me the reliability of a conversion rate on a tried-and-true evergreen piece of content any day.
The Power of Experience
Maybe it was the magic of San Francisco. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, I can’t really be sure.
But this trip reminded me that it’s not always about the immediate return, that directly tangible result we see from other marketing channels via leads forms submitted. It’s about the experience we provide.
So a great and quite relevant analogy is my own trip to San Francisco. This was my first time visiting the storied city that Mr. Bennett famously left his heart in, so I opted to tack on a few days before MarTech to explore.
Why? Why didn’t I just search for a YouTube video of San Francisco, hum the Rice-A-Roni song to myself, watch a few reruns of Full House?
Yep, I biked it.
Because you need to see San Francisco. You need to experience it first hand to really understand how incredible of a place it is. Sure, there are dozens of people who’ve biked the Golden Gate Bridge before, but riding along that bridge firsthand, taking in that view, there was no comparison. I was able to cross off a bucket list item that you can’t do in the digital world.
Events are hard work. And often, the results can be tough to immediately quantify. But it’s not just numbers you can drive from an event.
The awareness boost you get isn’t as tangible. I’m thinking of the one woman that came up to our booth and said “I see you guys everywhere, I need to talk to you!” The opportunity to hear straight from our prospects and customers about what matters to them, what direction the industry is heading. The opportunity to have a full experience with you brand, your evangelists, your product… it’s tough to replacement that with a substitute in the digital world.
And one last note: DOGS. Let’s touch on BrightFunnel for a bit. Talk about creating an unforgettable conference experience for attendees.
Not only did they have a resident booth dog at the event all week (Cody, for those keeping score), but they also held a puppy party, featuring companion dogs in training, hanging out at the show in their adorable glory.
Pro tip: Puppies are an incredible booth engagement technique.
Booth dogs are brilliant.
The Power of Conversations
As I think about the power of experience that an event provides, it also makes me think about the power of actual conversations, speaking to people one on one. In all the noise of a trade show, there are lots and lots of conversations happening – about products, about careers, about great meals, etc.
Being able to directly interact with people in an authentic way, having folks come to the SnapApp booth to brainstorm interactive content ideas, talking to people after my speaking session (my first time ever speaking on behalf of SnapApp!)… you can’t replicate that experience over the phone or any other channel really.
Talking about engaging, interactive content.
And it’s not just at the MarTech conference where conversations count. On my solo San Francisco adventure, instead of plugging in my headphones and avoiding eye contact like I typically do in Boston, I found myself taking the time to talk with people in a way I don’t often do in my day to day.
So I’ve come around to events, and the powerful experiences and conversations they can drive. It may seem like we’re in an all-digital world, but at the other end of every channel, there’s a real person.
The one-to-one interactions, the authentic engagements, the great experiences… they all matter. It applies to not only the value of events in our marketing programs, but also is a core tenet of how we should align all of our marketing efforts, digital or otherwise.
Related read: 8 Ways to Get Better Event ROI With Interactive Content