How to grow delegate revenue by 53%

H1 results are in! We have officially grown delegate revenue by 53% – H1 2016 versus H1 2015.

So, how did we do it?

  1. We went back to basics

You got to get the fundamentals right. From there, you can experiment.

Marketing is about communication. Getting your product in front of the right people. So the first step is to ensure that you understand your target and that they are in your database. We revamped our ‘marketing briefs’ to make sure that we as marketers understood our events and who they are for. We then conducted a thorough data audit, and created a data acquisition plan to fill gaps, to also clean our existing data and add more data in our strength areas.

Working with data companies such as Dun & Bradstreet allowed us to target our spend and our efforts.

Next we took a look at the channels we were using. I labour this next point with my team constantly! I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to me when I hear marketers talk about ‘traditional marketing’ versus ‘digital marketing’. They work together. Our marketing campaigns are integrated. The channels we use work together, flow together, evolve together. We time our activities. You might receive something in the mail from us, which is followed up by a targeted email sent to you or social activity around a keyword aimed to get on your twitter newsfeed. What we work towards is communicating a cohesive message on a variety of platforms, giving our customers multiple touch points to talk to us, engage with us. Closing that loop between us and them. Not always achieved – I admit!

First channel to change – our websites. This was a global strategic change that looked to take our website (quite literally) from the stone age into the 21st century. We now have mobile optimised, user friendly and extremely attractive websites. These websites are effectively SEO’s, searchable and targeted to our customers.

Next, we boosted our digital marketing. We used tools such as Evvnt to effectively and efficiently list our events everywhere. Targeted campaigns on Facebook and LinkedIn helped boost our website traffic. We have a long way to go to ensure that we are engaging effectively on social media, but we are building strong networks that are beneficial to us and our customers.

Email is a vital tool for any marketer. In this day and age, cutting through the noise of our targets’ inboxes is a challenge. With our significant investment in data, we were naturally keen to nurture; not spam. We worked to tailor our campaigns by job title, industry, geo…etc. It’s not always easy, and it’s not always 100% fool-proof! But, we noted a significant increase in our open and click (up by 4.6%).

This is just a taster of how we have gone back to basics. But despite the brevity, it’s clear how ensuring the fundamentals are done right leads to higher revenue.

  1. Experimenting

Now we have the fundamentals, we can experiment! We can look to the new channels, we can explore new ideas.

For example, content marketing for us has evolved. We see this as a tool of influencer marketing. Shouting out about the influencers, the change agitators appearing at our event, encouraging them to share our event and leverage their networks adds credibility to our products. This is a new area for us and something that I see as the future of our marketing strategies.

We are also experimenting with social media. We have looked to network marketers to employ their tips, their tactics to grow our networks. To position ourselves as thought leaders, to positions our events as the platform to influence industries.

  1. Customer Experience 

At the beginning of the year, I predicted that customer experience would be a huge talking point for event marketers in 2016. Customers experience the event, that’s a given, but they also experience your marketing. They experience every email. An email that is tailored to their needs will deliver a more positive experience than one that doesn’t – in fact, one that doesn’t delivers a negative experience, one that ends with the delete button.

The way customers experience events is also constantly changing. Gone are the days of death by powerpoint. People want to be engaged, they want their opinions heard. Digital platforms have made this possible – and provided yet another opportunity for marketers. The idea, or dream, of creating FOMO.

  1. Aligning Marketing with Sales

Never easy. And in all honesty, we are not yet 100%, 24/7 on the same page. However, what we found worked was demonstrating how marketing can ease the pressure on sales guys. Isn’t it better to have 200 leads handed to you on a plate, then have to go out and find them?

  1. Analytics

Everything in marketing is trackable, measurable. That’s why I love it! It’s a great feeling to go home at the end of the day and be able to pat myself on the back for getting X number of leads or $$$ more revenue.

Of course, with all of our experiments we also had to be focused on data and analysis to ensure what we were doing was working. 

I think marketing’s future success is really in this data driven approach; a customer focus on what they are engaging with.

Beyond these 5, what was key for me as a new leader was to learn to think ahead. To not let the short term objectives overshadow the long term goals. To make time for planning. To think strategically. To think “big picture”. To not let the opinions of other distract me from my goal. This gave me and my team the structure to thrive. The best part – now I get to show off.

The team dynamic was also vital. A lot was asked of my team, beyond the normal boundaries of their job. It involved late nights, long days, exhausting meetings where we tried to convince our internal customers that what we are doing was worth it!

What’s great is we now boast:

  • Increased website sessions by 188%
  • Doubled data
  • Increased leads by 62%
  • Increased delegate revenue by 53%



You lose some.

The saying goes “You win some…” so naturally “you lose some.”

Today, I am admitting that I lost one.

Wednesday started just like any other Wednesday, until a certain team’s marketing catch-up came round.

A snapshot of what happened in today’s meetings.

Me: “Guys – where are we at with the brochure proof? The product release has been pushed back 2 weeks already and we have been sitting on the brochure for a couple of days now. What’s the delay?”

Him: “It’s not ready.”

Me: “Ok. Why? Can you get to it today?”

Him: “No.”

Stares exchanged…

Him: “Proofing is not a valuable use of my time.”

Me: “Then I will proof and release into the market.”

Him: “No. You can’t send it without my approval.”

Me: “Ok. Then please proof it after this meeting and get your amends to me by lunch.”

Him: “I will get to it when I get to it. My time is more valuable…”

I’ll leave the rest of that sentence to your imagination! This is just one example of the numerous conversations I have had with this team leader.

Sales say that their time is more important than ours. What I find bizarre is that – surely if all our time is well spent, we all make more money? If marketing is targeted, there will be more high quality leads, there will be more revenue generating opportunities – there will be more revenue! Sales can help us do that by feeding back from the industry.

Marketing is often sales’ scapegoat.

Sales’ top excuses:

  1. Marketing hasn’t given me data
  2. The data Marketing has given me is outdated
  3. Marketing hasn’t got me any leads
  4. The leads Marketing have given me are crap

And yet, when you delve deeper into the excuse, it often is not that simple.

Example – The leads Marketing have given me are crap.
Ok – are there target profiles missing from the leads? Are they reacting unexpectedly to the event? What objections are you receiving?

Marketing needs Sales and Sales needs Marketing.

“Studies show failure to align sales and marketing teams around the right processes and technologies costs B2B companies 10% or more of revenue per year ($100 million for a billion-dollar company).” – 10 Stats on the Business Impact of Marketing and Sales alignment:

So why can’t we work together? We all want the events to be a success. Our most successful events are those where we all work effectively and efficiently as a TEAM.

Despite this evidence, I have one more Salesman to convert. I won some, I lost one!

As I drink this glass of wine, I say to myself- better luck next time.