Recently, I was asked what I had planned for marketing in 2021. Immediately, I knew what I didn’t want to do: the 14 hours of webinars every day that have become so normal during this strange time.
I also realized I still can’t confidently plan a bunch of physical events either. And I also want to grow our field marketing team, which I want ready to create amazing experiences.
This requires an unprecedented amount of creativity. We’ll need Picasso-level game-changing events to create the FOMO (fear of missing out) that’ll drive account engagement. So how can we empower today’s field marketers to be the difference-makers we know they can be?
How To Be Physical In An All-Virtual World
When the pandemic first struck, everybody went virtual overnight. In one platform’s case, that reportedly meant a 1,000% increase in online-only events. And at the start, many probably thought it’d be easier to manage — no booth space to set up; nothing to print or ship, and attendees could roll out of bed and log in. Surely, it couldn’t be that tough.
The reality is, whether your event is virtual or live, it takes an incredible amount of planning and creativity to nail it — probably more so than ever before. It offers a serious challenge for field marketers. They’re asked to bring new levels of creativity to the process. Personally, I’m stoked to see what they invent!
We recently hosted one such event with our customers. We took them on a trip to Barcelona (over Zoom, like everything else these days). They learned about Spanish culture and then worked with a designer to create their own pair of espadrilles, which were mailed directly to them. How cool is that?
That’s the kind of event I mean. People still want a break from droning, numbing webinars. Many may want to travel the world, even if it’s from their computer. This means field marketers can challenge the notion of traditional content and step outside comfort zones. Let’s create experiences our customers couldn’t get on their own and add real value to the relationship.
Stand Out With Creativity
Naturally, we’re all designing cool events with our customers to make them fall in love with our solutions all over again. But, just like physical events, the event itself is only one small piece of the process. The pre- and post-event touch points are as important, and this is where you craft the magic that makes your event the one everyone wants to be at.
Before the event, field marketers can whet customers’ appetites with the invitation itself. And I don’t mean just an email in an inbox — go big with these! If you invite them to a beach-themed event, for example, mail them a pair of branded sunglasses. Or mail them the ingredients for a signature cocktail beforehand.
Yes, the logistics are trickier with these bigger invites. So is everything else about event marketing right now. The most important part is to stand out creatively. You have to do something different — and promote the heck out of it — to reach the right crowd and build that sense of wonder.
That carries through in the post-event work you do, too. The reason people go to events is to create bonds, share experiences and foster deeper relationships. It’s their shared laugh in the breakout session or the conversation over dinner and drinks where events transform a customer’s perception of you and your brand.
But does showing up for a webinar create that same relationship? I think a big loss with going all-virtual is how transactional these important interactions have become. We have our customers begging for real experiences, but we haven’t yet quite cracked the code on doing that virtually. I really can’t wait to see what field marketers create in the post-event space — it promises so much more!
Field Marketers Write The Playbook Now
Fortunately, field marketers aren’t on their own as they reset events for their companies. A host of technologies can create a powerful stack for designing pre-, during- and post-event success. This includes:
• Account-based marketing (ABM) technology for account targeting and advertising.
• Direct mail for pre- and post-event engagement.
• Multiple platforms for delivering killer content.
• Online event spaces for community building and during and post-event collaboration.
(Full disclosure: The company I work for offers ABM technology.)
A supercharged tech stack puts field marketers way past the outdated “menus and venues” notion of their roles, but bigger logistic challenges for virtual events demand that field marketers up their game. The same skills they needed before still stand: detail-oriented, being on-trend and tech-savvy, and knowing how to connect with people. The medium is different now, but that’s fine. It just means field marketers get to write the best practices as they go.
So, when I consider what 2021 holds for field marketing, I believe it will favor the bold. The best field marketers will recognize there is no playbook. They’re not going to break something that worked well before — it’s brand new, which gives them a license to try new things. They should test new technologies and plug them into the process to create FOMO-worthy events.
That’s the spirit I’m looking for in field marketers. If you see your field marketers leaning into this change, empower them with resources and technology to deliver amazing experiences — virtual or otherwise. They’ll be your next-generation chief marketing officers, so give them everything to rock events for you now and to develop into tomorrow’s marketing mavens.
And if you’re that field marketer wanting to hit home runs now and later, find others in your space to collaborate with and learn from. Now’s the time to explore every dimension of marketing: social media, influencer marketing, whatever helps create cool experiences. Bring it all together and be the difference-maker your company needs today.
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