ave you noticed the rise of a new type of event planners? More and more people organise business events as part of their job, yet they do not consider themselves as event planners. This is particularly true in the fast paced technology sector where exponential growth is expected and live events are a crucial tool for promotion, communication and much more. For events sector suppliers it is important to understand and form relationships with these new planners. While they may have a lot to learn from best practices in the events sector they bring a fresh perspective to their events and the more established events sector can also learn from them.
Looking at any current events sector event’s delegate list it is easy to spot traditional titles such as event planner or event manager, procurement related titles of event buyer or meetings procurement manager as well as a mix of sales and marketing titles such as live events marketer or communications coordinator. This variety of job roles that may include events as only a part of the role is not new. Where I see significant change is the addition of job titles such as “growth hacker”, “loyalty manager” and “brand evangelist”. These creative job titles hint at goal driven job roles that include event management and purchasing as part of a new multifaceted technology startup mentality.
New creative job titles such as growth hacker or brand evengelist hint at goal driven job roles that include event management and purchasing as part of a new multifaceted technology startup mentality. PHOTO: IMEX AMERICA
Just like the many administrative staff who book meetings and events as a part of their role, tech planners identify with the company’s vertical sector, namely technology or any of the many subsectors. They do not consider themselves event planners who work at a technology company, they are technology marketers or sales people who, among other things, plan events. These events come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from lavish luxury client events to stands at exhibitions and from user group conferences to hackathons. What makes this sector particularly interesting is the extreme pace at which technology companies, and in particular startups, develop teams, obtain funding and release products to market. The seemingly exponential growth potential means that they can almost instantly become an important source of business for the many suppliers in the events sector. This makes the tech planners very relevant not only to venues and event suppliers, but also to convention bureaus, associations and sector specific media.
Tech planners have little connection to the events sector and job titles that fly under the radar making them hard to target for marketing purposes. LinkedIn online profiles are not easy to group and targeting for social media ads cannot easily be segmented. From a salesperson’s perspective, this combination makes tech planners hard to find and slow to create relationships with. I would risk saying that in many cases they are not looking to be found or sold to. They have tools they need to get the job done and they are not actively seeking to find new suppliers of any kind.
While connecting with these tech planners may be challenging, I would urge those looking to do business with them to think about the value they have to offer beyond their core sales pitch for their product. In a business world filled with invitations and notifications tangible value is one of the few things that cut through the noise. In my mind great value can be found in sharing expertise through content marketing, both online or live by delivering education at events. There are many events sector specific topics that all event professionals, including fast paced tech planners, may look for help with. Topics such as risk management, contract negotiation, event design and data protection are all valuable. Also, they all have unique nuances specific to different types of events and where they are taking place. Creating and delivering valuable content that covers a topic related to your product offers tangible additional value that goes a long way towards building trusted relationships.
There is also a reinforced case for search optimisation of websites, blogs and social media. It is important to keep an open mind when creating and delivering content and to cast a wide when creating resources and content aimed at, or at least taking into consideration, the tech planners. Their overall requirements are often different to those of other planners, but many topics of interest overlap. Their technical expectations be high, particularly in terms of online content, and communication will be fast and only at the point of need. This is something that needs to be planned for by creating simple ways to find content or products and open seamless communication channels via social media or easily accessible phone numbers and email addresses.
Technology expert Miguel Neves is Head Chef at Social Media Chefs. PHOTO: SOCIAL MEDIA CHEFS
In this fast paced environment with notoriously short lead times, many assume that engaging with events sector associations and media is not top of mind for tech planners. Some however argue that this is not the case and that the lack of engagement is the result of the needs of the tech planners going unmet, rather than a lack of time to interact. With the value from both associations and media coming, at least in part, from content there is plenty of overlap with anyone creating and delivering this content. When it comes to peer-to-peer learning and networking, professional associations can offer tangible value that is hard to replicate elsewhere. There is certainly a gap in the market, an opportunity for a new association or a sub-sector of existing ones to bring the tech planners together.
Working in a fast paced event management process with relatively inexperienced tech planners may appear problematic to some. Large budgets are welcome, but there is also value in taking inspiration from the different approach of the tech planners. While they may be inexperienced from the point of view of the events sector, they are quick to consider all types of unusual venues, exciting event experiences, technological integration or even eccentric entertainment to create unique and refreshing experiences for the participants. As the technology sector continues to grow it drives more face-to-face events as sales, communications and community building tools. With tech planners working in fast paced environments, fuelled by eager investors who look for immediate results, event sector suppliers must seek to understand their needs. Creating content that is valuable to tech planners along with products that are ready to support their events is a great way to match these needs. These are indeed exciting times with communities, content and technology coming together to create exciting events. MIGUEL NEVES
Tech planners: event sector suppliers must seek to understand their needs.