Anatomy of Throwing a Killer Party

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This past year, we spent a lot of time debating whether or not to rent a booth at the Marketo Summit for RevEngine Marketing. Instead, we decided to throw a small 50-person party for select clients and prospects. That small party then turned into the coolest event at the Marketo Summit with almost 300 party goers.

How did this happen? What worked great? What flopped? Read on as I share a behind-the-scenes look at the party planning process.

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The Decision: Trade Show Booth or Party?

Renting a kiosk or booth at an event like the Marketo Summit brings major exposure to your brand. On the flipside, booths start at $10-15K and that doesn’t even include the incidentals.

If you scan 75 names as I know one vendor did, that’s roughly $130+ per name—-not inexpensive from a cost-per-lead perspective. Of course, trade show booths offer many other branding benefits so that was another consideration. In an ideal world, we would sponsor a booth and host a party but that wasn’t in our budget this year.

Our goal – Make a big splash with the RevEngine brand and do something memorable.

Event software provider Splash has been one of our clients so they shared a lot of party best practices with us. Splash is known for helping major brands like Spotify, Red Bull and GoPro throw killer events. Their philosophy rubbed off on me–focus on the the experience.

The decision was made–throw a small party for roughly half the investment with the idea of maximizing impact with high quality targets. This “small” wouldn’t stay small for long.

expo-hall

Trade show booth or party? Or both? Photo credit: Marketo

Locate a Unique Venue that Scales

A few years ago, I attended a buddy’s bachelor party in Las Vegas and the guys hit up this crazy ice bar called minus5. The venue was memorable so I decided to give them a call to inquire about making it RevEngine Marketing’s party headquarters.

The staff was awesome and they gave me an idea. Sure, RevEngine Marketing could throw the party itself. But the venue was set up in a way that the investment decreased per person the more people that attended. And the venue itself scaled from 75 to 400+ people.

minus5

Find the Right Partners

Within a week of nailing down the venue, other complementary brands jumped on the ice party train including: knak, Leadspace and rybbon. We all ended up playing vital roles in the party’s eventual success. The end result of partnering was that RevEngine’s small-ish 50-person budget jumped to 300 people when others got involved—now that’s a party.

Get the Event Technology Right

Throwing a party requires numerous solutions. Here’s the approach we took.

Marketo Event Platform Powered the Party

Since we were using knak templates, we decided to use Marketo to power event registrations. Marketo worked great as registrants entered Marketo in real-time and all sponsors were updated nightly with registrant information.

We also automated all the reminders and follow-up communications in a trackable fashion. Also, the registration forms supported trackable links so we got instant feedback on where sign-ups were coming from.

If we truly wanted deeper analysis and more event functionality (Ticketing, seating, more design options, etc), we would have considered using a standalone event management solution. I really like Splash, but other vendors to consider include etouches, AttendCertain and Bizzabo. All have some integration with Salesforce and/or Marketo. We’ll reconsider for next year.

marketoevent

Knak Marketo Template Solution Provided Awesome Creative

On board as a sponsor, knak was responsible for creating great looking email invites and landing pages that were highlighted throughout the entire process. Those templates are now available to knak clients.

Example of landing page template created by knak.

Example of landing page template created by knak.

Rybbon Electronic Gifting Fueled Engagement

How do you encourage social conversations during and after the event? How about providing a little incentive? Co-sponsor rybbon showed off its digital gifting capabilities by giving people incentive to tweet photos and updates to #MarketoIce. Anyone who did got a free RedBox movie.

rybondigitalgifting

Leadspace Enriched Data for Post Show Communications

Leadspace helped with post show data appending so we all could target prospects more efficiently. This allowed us to create a shorter form to increase party registrant rates. In the end, Leadspace enriched 70% of the leads and 97% of the companies with information like title, role, company size and more.

Show Tweets Encouraged Social Interaction

After looking at numerous free tools to display throughout the bar, we went with Show Tweets. Why? Show Tweets shows pictures within the feed which is something many other Twitter walls didn’t do. The end result is the party was amplified socially to maximize buzz.

marketoice

On various TVs and signs, attendees were encouraged to Tweet photos

 

Twitter Wall encouraged party goers to get social

Twitter Wall encouraged party goers to get social

Have a Marketing Plan

Events usually don’t promote themselves so here was our 3-part marketing plan.

Drive Engagement with Email

Pre-event, each of the four sponsors sent personal invites to top prospects and customers. That personalized process generated about 100 registrants in two days.

We all then began sending targeted emails to our lists as phase two that drove many of the other party registrants.

Email marketing also included post show communications recapping the party.

Leverage Social and Blogs

Another vehicle involved getting social media involved as all sponsors took an active role promoting the event.

Additionally, RevEngine Marketing publishes some of the most popular Marketo Summit resources (The Unofficial Ultimate Guide to Marketo Summit 2016 and The Big Marketo Summit 2016 Party Map). Promoting the party via those posts also helped drive attendance.

As two of the most popular blog posts for Marketo Summit, RevEngine Insider blog posts accounted for approximated 25% of total registrants.

Create Assets People Love – Photos and Videos

People LOVE photos, especially in funny furry coats. We hired photographers to capture the moment and made sure party goers received all the photos socially and via email. This kept the event and brand exposure going even after it was over.

What We Got Right

Our guestimate for an attendee-to-registrant ratio was 40%. Too bad we didn’t bet on that because out of our 7oo+ registrants, 266 attended.

The buzz factor was fantastic as the venue helped drive a unique experience that people are still talking about.

For the most part, we experienced success with all of the pre-marketing. In fact, the pre-marketing worked so well that we had to add budget to support more party goers.

What Didn’t Go Well

  • A Little Over Budget. Not shocking but people like to drink when in Vegas. We planned on 2 drinks PP considering our party was just 2 hours. That number was more like 3.5 and put the party over budget at the end of the night.
  • A Slow Check-in to Start. Before the event, we decided to use a combination of a printed list and Marketo’s mobile check-in app to check in party goers. Within the first few minutes, we realized that we were understaffed for check-in and didn’t set up enough mobile devices. With the volume of people, check-in was just too slow.

The solution..after some quick thinking, we switched to the knak’s Marketo Summit event scanner to scan people as they entered. We then matched up the data after.

  • Waitlist Process. We started wait listing people when we hit 600 folks. On the day of the event, we emailed folks letting them know they could attend as we opened more space at the ice bar. This “waitlist” process may have hurt attendance a bit as the late notice may have caused people to make other plans.

Looking Ahead to 2017

Our first big party was a major success in terms of driving brand awareness and establishing RevEngine Marketing in the Marketo consulting marketplace.

Instead of reaching 75 or so folks at a trade show booth for $10-15K, we invested about half of that to reach 800 marketers. Translating those attendees to revenue is more of a long term process so we’ll have to reevaluate that next year.

Working with smart partners who each brought something to the table was another key success.

Of course, once you throw one great party, people start asking “What’s Next?” Yep, we are already working on 2017 looking for the next party venue for Marketo Summit San Francisco. Stay tuned.

Did you attend MarketoIce 2016 in Las Vegas? If so, would love to hear your thoughts on the event in the comments below.

As a final note, if you are looking for party tips, check out the Splash Party Science blog.

DYN

Josh Verrill

Services: Strategy, Assessment, Ongoing Services

“RevEngine Marketing has helped Dyn reach amazing results. Within 60 days, REM helped Dyn establish repeatable best practices to improve marketing efficiencies over 50%. That enabled our business owners to focus on the business, not on our system.
With REM as our long term partner, we’ve seen marketing’s contribution revenue double over the past year. REM has helped us achieve success with everything from managing the lead lifecycle to gaining visibility into marketing effectiveness.”

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