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Episode 89 / February 19, 2024

Turning post-event data into event success with Nicola Kastner and Jon Wolff

Join Nicola Kastner and Jon Wolff for an invaluable conversation about leveraging post-event data and AI to craft successful event strategies for 2024 and beyond.

Tune in as Host Rachel Moore dives into the intricacies of using post-event data to shape future event successes with industry experts The Event Strategist Founder Nicola Kastner and Lenovo Global Events Manager Jon Wolff. 

The discussion opens up the challenges of analyzing event data, the potential of AI in streamlining this process, and the practical steps toward transforming these insights into actionable strategies for 2024. Through a blend of expert opinions and actionable advice, the conversation sheds light on the crucial role of data in event planning, the pitfalls to avoid, and how AI tools can offer a competitive edge in interpreting vast amounts of data. 

With an extensive background in event marketing strategy, Kastner emphasizes the significance of aligning event objectives with business goals and using data to inform every event planning stage. On the other hand, Wolff shares his experience in leveraging data for ROI optimization and the importance of sales and marketing alignment in utilizing event data effectively. 

Together, they explore the essential metrics for measuring event success, the common challenges in data analysis, and how to overcome these obstacles to create impactful and memorable events.

Here’s what you’ll hear about in this conversation:

  • The importance of clearly defined objectives in collecting and analyzing event data to drive future event strategies.
  • How AI and machine learning tools can assist in uncovering trends and actionable insights from post-event data.
  • Strategies for overcoming common data analysis challenges, including the need for standardization and avoiding biases in AI-assisted data interpretation.

Mentioned in This Episode


[00:00:09] Rachel Moore: Welcome to Event Experience by Bizzabo, the podcast where we bring the best and brightest Event Experience Leaders together to share stories, tips, and lessons learned from creating some of the world’s biggest events.

I’m Rachel Moore, your podcast host. 

In this episode, we’re getting you ready for the rest of this year with “No Data Left Behind: Strategies for Transforming Post-Event Data into 2024 Event Success”.  Our strategists? Jon Wolff, Global Events Manager at Lenovo, and Nicola Kastner, founder of The Event Strategist.  

We’re about to embrace data like never before: acknowledging the challenges we face in analyzing event data, recognizing the pitfalls and potential of using AI in data processing, and learning how to apply data to our future strategies. It’s about to get serious, this relationship we all have with data, and it’s all starting right now on Event Experience.

[00:01:21] Rachel Moore: Hello everyone. I’m Rachel Moore. I’m super excited to be here with you today. Welcome to No Data Left Behind, Strategies for Transforming Post-Event Data into 2024 Event Success. Yes, it’s 2024. It’s actually the second month of 2024 already, which is a little hard to believe. I’m still trying to adjust to it. But welcome to 2024.

[00:01:46] In this session, we’re going to explore how to turn your post-event insights, particularly from 2023 into plans for 2024. We’re also gonna talk about how to use AI to uncover trends and actionable insights. I know that’s been a hot topic, like literally everywhere. Our goal today is to equip you with knowledge and practical tips all the time.

[00:02:09] We’re gonna focus on letting you meaningfully analyze and use event data, which is easier said than done. Am I right? We’re also gonna understand methods for data interpretation, leveraging AI tools, which if you’re not doing that already, you probably wanna get on that horse, right?

[00:02:26] Leveraging those tools for trend analysis and data interpretation. And we wanna turn data insights into a future-proof event strategy. Imagine that. We’re gonna give you all the things here today. 

[00:02:37] We’re also going to talk about data-driven event planning, best practices, real-world examples, how meaningful data analysis drives event success and more. And I know we’re packing in a lot today. We’ll also look at solutions to tackle common issues including how so many of us tend to look at the data quickly in the post-event debrief, and that’s it.

[00:03:00] We then move on quickly to the next event. Maybe we don’t leverage all that data in our planning. No more of that. We’re gonna leverage that data from now on. Okay. Without further ado, let’s begin our journey. It is my pleasure to introduce today’s speakers. First let’s welcome Nicola Kastner, founder of The Event Strategist.

[00:03:20] It’s a consultancy firm which offers event strategy advisory services to global brands to help them successfully optimize their event experiences to drive bottom-line results. We all want those results. Prior to launching her consulting practice, Nicola held various roles on both the brand and agency sides of the business including most recently serving as the global Vice President of Event Marketing Strategy for SAP.

[00:03:47] Nicola is a self-professed data nerd. That’s why we have her on today. We love those nerds and her happy place is playing with data in an Excel spreadsheet. I cannot relate with that at all. She has also been a featured guest on Event Experience, Bizzabo’s podcast, and she’s featured in our book Event Success, and her go-to event day shoes, are designer sneakers. 

[00:04:11] Nicola Kastner: Thank you so much for having me. 

[00:04:13] Rachel Moore: Next up we have Jon Wolff, Global Events Manager at Lenovo, and he’s bringing over 10 years of strategic expertise in event planning and has proof on his LinkedIn of working with Shaquille O’Neal for a VIP event.

[00:04:27] Yes, you should go check that out. He crafts and executes global strategies. Emphasizing data-driven approaches for ROI optimization. And Jon specializes in curating impactful moments, guiding events from conceptualization to execution, creating immersive brand experiences that leave lasting impressions on attendees.

[00:04:47] That’s what we all want, right? And Jon’s go-to event day shoes. And I hope I get this right. For those of you who are gonna Google this later, Cole Hahn Zero Grand Stitchlight Wing Oxfords, very stylish. 

[00:05:00] Jon Wolff: Thanks for having me, Rachel. 

[00:05:01] Rachel Moore: Thank you very much. 

[00:05:03] Let us dive into the conversation without further ado. All right. Because of our amazing content and marketing teams, we all know why we’re here today to talk data. Even if we might not be great at gathering it or even understanding it or using it, we all know we need it.

[00:05:19] On a personal note, and if there’s any star Trek fans out there, I used to post a picture of the android Data at my desk and it had the caption “data matters.” Because I was really trying to emphasize to everybody, I’m like, Data needs to be the thing we’re always looking at. And of course, Data was like one of the best and most valuable characters on Star Trek.

[00:05:37] The saying goes that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

[00:05:42] There’s another saying, doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Okay. Neither sounds very good which is why we all really need to comprehend the value of post-event data to avoid doom. So let’s learn from our panel of experts.

[00:05:58] Nicola, I’m gonna go to you first. Can you share with us an example of how you used past event data to make significant improvements to an event afterwards? 

[00:06:08] Nicola Kastner: Yeah, absolutely. And in fact, that second statement, if I could just say was the screen saver on my computer at SAP, I used to say it all the time and people would be like stop.

[00:06:18] You read in my bio, I’m a big data nerd. And I honestly believe it was the differentiator in my career. I’m really passionate about it and I spend a lot of time speaking about it and talking about it on LinkedIn because I feel very strongly that if we as an industry lean into our data, we will all become better at what we are.

[00:06:38] And if I, before I answer your question, Rachel, if I could just take a little quick segue. There’s all this excitement about the C-level roles of events today, but in order to be a C level executive, you have to talk about the business of events, not the events business. And this is something I talk about all the time in my posts and there was a distinction and data is a big part of that.

[00:07:02] My job when I was at SAP, because my peers and my colleagues were super busy running the events day in and day out. That was my job to look at the data.

[00:07:12] Nicola Kastner: I know not every team has a luxury to look, have somebody that’s responsible for looking at the data and using that to interpret strategies. But it’s super important. I just can’t stress that enough. So for me there’s so many examples that I can give, but, I actually start with data before.

[00:07:31] I think you have to start with your post event data before your event. You have to understand what your objectives are and your objectives tell you what data to collect. Because, there’s, I don’t 150 plus data points in events. That’s too much. That is so much noise. So if you don’t know what you’re supposed to be collecting and what’s going to tell you what’s major events successful it’s just noise and it’s so overwhelming to, to comb through.

[00:07:57] So starting with objectives and what success looks like and then that leads you to the right metrics to measure and the right insights post-event. But 

Post-Event Data for Future Event Planning (Nicola)

[00:08:07] Nicola Kastner: for me, traditionally I look at who comes to our events. I use registration questions. I think they’re can be really powerful, especially for paid events to ask two or three really targeted questions about who’s coming and why are they coming.

[00:08:22] That’s incredible insights that you can use, and maybe not in the moment, because by the time registration goes live, most of the event is baked. But you can use that for next year to really understand who are your attendees. And if you take that data and segment it down more to different personas, different industries, different levels, whatever the data, however, each organization wants to capture and categorize that data, that segmentation even gives you greater insights.

[00:08:51] Those are things that you can use to move forward in future years. When I was at SAP, I’ll give you an example. Our registration data told us that people were coming to meet with experts. Which they weren’t coming to be sold to obviously, but they wanted to meet the experts, and the experts, could be the channel that we use to, to enable the sales process that the event was designed to support.

[00:09:17] So we were able to take that data and build it into every element of the event design in the future year. So that’s just one example. 

[00:09:26] Rachel Moore: It’s an excellent example too. I, like you said, I think we all know the goal is to sell to people. That’s ultimately why it’s part of your funnel.

[00:09:34] But they told you right out. It’s, ” Hey I wanna meet experts.” So there’s nothing saying you can’t do both at the same time where you’re incorporating that approach into funnel step, but that’s great. Thank you so much for that example. 

[00:09:45] Jon, I just wanna give you an opportunity if you had anything you wanted share too about using past event data, if you had an example you wanted to share, or we can jump right into the next question about challenges around, around analyzing data.

[00:09:56] How about you what’s what’s a way that you’ve seen some data like used it for future event? 

[00:10:02] Jon Wolff: Yeah, I think when I look at the data, for me it’s what is, who is the target audience that’s gonna be there, that’s important to our business, that’s relevant to us. Some of the challenge that we are running into is, the standardization of the data and the objectives.

[00:10:18] Again, we wanna start with the objectives. ’cause that’s what really lets us set the goals, measure the data, not only from past, but moving into the, to the future events. And, what Nicola says about measuring that data is important. I think the type of data that we’re looking at to make sure that it’s consistent and standardize the data is, registration forms, badge scanning feedback surveys. It’s not just important about what are we doing pre-event, but how are we driving surveys afterwards. That could be towards people that stopped by the booth and engaged with us. That could be internal surveys to measure, did we show up and effectively reach our objectives and our goals, or where did we fall short?

[00:11:03] Taking it a step further as far as social media, what did we develop pre-event during measuring the impressions or the likes or the engagements. I know there’s a debate on how we measure social when it comes to events. Meetings that’s super important for us.

Standardizing Event Data (Jon)

[00:11:20] Jon Wolff: So it’s not only here’s what we’re gonna do at this event, but how are we driving meetings on site? How many are we looking to establish? So I think when we look at the data it’s just. First off, creating the standard. What are our objectives? What are we planning to measure? And sometimes, look, we do events, they don’t work, we get rid of them.

[00:11:40] Sometimes it’s, we don’t have the data to use for next year. ’cause we found that it wasn’t successful and we stopped right there. Other times we have that historic data where we can year use, year over year. And I think once we have that historic data, just making sure that it’s standard across, and you have the buy-in from your internal stakeholders that say, yes, these are four things that are important for me, or No, this one isn’t as important.

[00:12:05] And that might be social media impressions. 

[00:12:07] Rachel Moore: Yeah. I really appreciate that you brought that up too. And I heard, common thread throughout your whole answer there too. You mentioned standardization. And I wanna kind of segue that too into my question for you. What are some common challenges in analyzing and applying that past event data?

[00:12:21] You mentioned a couple standardization. Are we all looking at the same data and understanding the same thing? What happens if we’re. We don’t have historical data, ’cause you decide, you did an event, the data told you not to do that event anymore or that same kind of events you stopped. What are some of the other challenges or common challenges you’re seeing as far as like when we need to analyze and apply data and can we even overcome those challenges?

[00:12:44] Jon Wolff: Yeah, like I said, it’s really that standardization. But once we have that it’s making sure that we have alignment from the relative stakeholders and. If it’s, we’re seeing success from that. Okay, let’s then analyze that for the next year. We have a few events that are coming up in March.

[00:13:01] We’ve used the data from June to be able to set that standardization so that we can ultimately have that benchmark and then that we know moving into pre-planning. These are what we had from last year. In order for us to hit that same goal what can we do differently to move the customer journey from maybe awareness to consideration conversion.

[00:13:24] How we’re overcoming that is just the integrated data management and looking at the data analytics through power BI, through dynamics. Whatever you have at your disposal. It could be an Excel sheet that you’re just tracking. That’s how we’re overcoming it. We’re setting the process, we’re setting the foundation so that we have some type of tool in place for us to be able to have that historic data to use as that benchmark for us to improve.

[00:13:51] Rachel Moore: It’s interesting you bring that up. There’s a piece of this that’s about general brand awareness. There’s also the piece that it’s part of the sales funnel and you’re trying to make sure those two align. And then. I like that you just mentioned and Nicola, I’m sure you agree too, where there’s that cascading down. How do you make sure that the events team is seeing the data, whether that’s power BI or Excel or whatever you’ve got it in, but then it is getting translated down throughout the rest of the team so they understand how the data impacts what they do.

[00:14:21] Any comment on that about making sure there’s that visibility to the same data across the board? 

[00:14:28] Nicola Kastner: Of course. So I actually just wrote a post about this on LinkedIn today, so the timing is perfect and it’s a total coincidence. But, when you think about objectives, 

Two types of Event Objectives (Nicola)

[00:14:37] Nicola Kastner: there’s two types of objectives.

[00:14:38] There’s success objectives, right? What is success about the event? And those generally fall into four categories. You’ve got brand and awareness, you’ve got sales impact. You’ve got financial performance and then you’ve got engagement. Those are the four big buckets, and within those, there’s different categorizations of objectives.

[00:14:59] Those are success. Those are what your senior stakeholders care about. Then there’s other objectives that I consider and called diagnostic metrics. That’s where you’re looking at, how did your content perform? How many demos did people go to? Were your sponsors happy? How much interactions did they have?

[00:15:16] Those are the things that tell you why, they don’t tell you if it was successful. So understanding the difference between the two is critical. You don’t, in many cases, you don’t you shouldn’t report the why up to your senior stakeholders, they wanna know the success story, and if you’ve aligned that in advance, that’s way better.

[00:15:36] But your teams and your event teams need to understand the why and the detail and the nitty-gritty. So it’s almost a two-tier strategy as far as I’m concerned. 

[00:15:45] Rachel Moore: Nice. All right. We, I know we’ve gotta keep moving on through the rest of our our questions, but these were excellent. Thank you so much.

[00:15:52] Very insightful. Let us move into AI. I bet most of us, me included, would answer that we can write a mean ChatGPT prompt. Oh yeah. Mean as in awesome. We need more AI. We need more of our data analysis needs to be better too. Let’s move beyond the write an event description prompts and into how our experts are using AI with data.

[00:16:12] Jon, going to you first. As AI continues to mature and as we mature with it what biases or biases should event planners be watchful for as we ask AI to process and extrapolate post-event data? What’s out there? What should be red flags? Pitfalls to watch out for? 

[00:16:30] Jon Wolff: Yeah, so it’s funny who knew our Silicone friends could develop such a strong opinion about which hors d’oeuvres to use or that are trending compared to keynote speaking speakers being overrated.

4 types of AI biases (Jon)

[00:16:43] Jon Wolff: I think to, to your question, when I think about the biases that we are facing, it really comes down to four really, that are that, I think it’s selection bias. So again, the certain type of data or attendee demographics may being skewed, as we converse with chat GPT, and we asked the question, we’re facing some biases on attendee demographics, and that’s important to know your target audience and having those conversations with the show organizers to understand how that can relate to you. 

[00:17:11] Confirmation bias, so existing assumptions that’s that are present in the data. Data biases as well, what’s population as it represents at the event. And then obviously the historical bias. There are numbers that we get from show organizers that are not as accurate as we are led to believe sometimes.

[00:17:30] So again, it’s doing a due diligence, taking on that role of chat GPT as an event planner and you asking the questions to show organizers and making sure that, you are getting all that historical information that you can use then to make those informed. But to your question, Rachel, it’s the selection, confirmation, data, and historical biases.

[00:17:51] Rachel Moore: Yeah. Tons out there too. And for those of you that might be a little bit new to this, it is it’s a lot harder than just popping in a question and asking a ChatGPT or any other AI tool you’re using. There’s always these considerations. Nicola, before I ask you a little bit more too about how smaller organizations can use AI effectively.

[00:18:07] Any comment there too about some biases that you are wary of when it comes to using AI? 

[00:18:13] Nicola Kastner: AI is a big meaty topic that could be several conversations here. But I think what’s really important, and I think your comment about writing a mean GPT prompt, I would love, I wish I’d thought about this earlier, I would hazard a guess that many people don’t know how to do that. We’re still in the infancy stages of that, and I think that’s where we are with AI overall. A generative AI’s been around forever. Let’s make no mistake like you use Uber, you’re using AI, you use Google Maps, AI’s been there, it’s generative AI and access to generative AI for the every individual that’s new, but organizations don’t know how to use it yet, right? It’s like when the internet came out in the early nineties, people were not allowed to use the internet. In many cases, people in corporations are not allowed to use ChatGPT to support them. So we have this conversation about, Hey, how do you use ai? And we talk about all these things and they’re like, I can’t even touch the thing.

Two categories of AI (Nicola)

[00:19:18] Nicola Kastner: So what does that mean? So for me, I segment AI into two categories. I look to my providers, my tech providers. To me it’s table stakes. AI needs to be built into their applications to give me the insights that I need from the data that they have for my event ’cause they’ve already gone through InfoSec.

[00:19:34] So that’s one of the things. The other is when you’re looking at ChatGPT, there’s all these privacy considerations. I don’t work in a big corporation anymore and I have my own business, but I can’t upload my clients data to ChatGPT and say, Hey, analyze this and tell me if it’s right.

[00:19:50] That we still don’t know what’s feeding the beast and feeding the machine yet. And I’m not gonna put any of my client’s data in there at this point. I use ChatGPT all the time. I’m a big fan of it. I use it for writing inspiration. But I just think we have to be really careful when we talk about and think, make everybody feel like I should be embracing this because we are still so new. Our organizations are getting ready to use it. There’s some amazing resources out there that, that talk about this dynamic that make me feel better about where we are in our industry with it, because it’s not just us, it’s every industry. That said AI can be incredibly effective in our vendor tools to tell us, help us make in intelligent decisions and give us insights that are beyond even what we could figure out on our own. Yeah. So we, if I think about pre-event, AI can drive efficiency and productivity. If I think about during, it’s really about personalized experiences.

[00:20:56] And then post, big data objectives, reporting fanatics. Helping to segment the data, figure out the right insights, especially at that diagnostic level, right? Like just because somebody, one session only had seven people, if they were the right seven people, maybe it was a success.

[00:21:12] So these are things that are beyond necessarily the human capabilities that AI can help us. As well as content reposting. That’s where our repurposing, that’s where I see huge value in AI and helping us figure out how to take snippets of our content and make them consumable. I’m sorry I got on a little bit of a high horse about it, but it’s something I feel so, so passionate about because we’re not behind as an industry. Nobody knows how to use it effectively at an enterprise level yet. 

[00:21:40] Rachel Moore: We’ll be right back with more Event Experience after the break. 

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[00:22:31] Rachel Moore: We’re back with more Event Experience, where our guest experts are about to share their best recs for generative AI prompts. 

[00:22:41] Rachel Moore: Do you have any suggested prompts. If you had to write a prompt into AI to work on event data, do you, can you think off the top of your head, like what would you use as a prompt to ask it to do it? Jon, I’ll go to you first. Yeah. 

[00:22:53] Jon Wolff: Yeah. And just to, before I get to that question, so one of the things that we actually saw corporate-wise was a, as you use ChatGPT, refrain from using company name in the prompt. We actually heard that Samsung leaked their future warehouse facility into chat GPT. And that is what, everyone then gravitated with, okay, Samsung is gonna have this location. We know now where they’re going. And so from a corporation wise, they’ve instructed us, you can use it, but refrain from putting company name in there ’cause, to your point, we don’t know what’s feeding the beast and where this information going is going. And it is public. So yeah, it just making sure that the security is there, not only for you as the user, but for that company. 

[00:23:39] To, to your question, 

AI Prompts and Repurposing Content (Jon)

[00:23:40] Jon Wolff: I think there’s a number of prompts from, identifying the trends.

[00:23:44] How can AI analyze or help me analyze feedback and engagement data? Predictive analysts, how can help me evaluate historical event data from X event to predict future attendance around the session. Also around content curation. I think that’s one of the biggest things that we struggle with is how can we make sure that we’re getting a plethora of people to the session versus just the six people and help me recommend a title, abstract content, or I’m developing a presentation. I need to develop four slides. Help me fill this and not ChatGPT, but it’s called Gamma, G-A-M-M-A. It’s actually a PowerPoint chat GPT, where you can actually put in a prompt on developing a pitch deck or a sales presentation.

[00:24:35] Help me fill it out and it’ll actually tell you, okay, here’s the prompt. It will populate recommended slides if it’s a pitch deck. Okay. Slide one’s gonna be this, slide two, this, et cetera. And then you need to tweak that, obviously. But leverage these resources that are out there not from A, It’s gonna take my job in two years, three years, but the more I can be versed in large language models, generative ai, the more that I can put forth and add to my tool toolkit or my toolbox, so to speak.

[00:25:07] Nicola Kastner: I was just gonna say couldn’t agree more just because it’s maybe not necessarily widely embraced at the enterprise level it will be. So the more that you personally can take the time to learn, to understand how to embrace, to drive your own efficiencies will put you so much further ahead.

[00:25:23] Rachel Moore: Yeah. Bizzabo even has a whole blog about suggested AI prompts that you can use as an event planner. You know what? We’ve gotta move on to our next topic, because time is flying and so is data. I was thinking about data. It’s a really great dating relationship. I’ll explain. It, I think it’s super important to not misread what it’s telling you.

[00:25:43] You need to invest plenty of time and attention into it. And you need to let it help you be better in the long run, a good dating relationship. So let’s date some data with this next set of questions for our experts. Nicola, I’m going to you first. Can you briefly share your process for interpreting a key event data metric or two, and then how do you convert them into new strategies and plans?

[00:26:06] Nicola Kastner: Wow, that’s a neat question. So let’s, it depends on the objective. Let’s pick one. Let’s pick accelerating existing pipeline. Very common one in a lot of B2B events. If the objective is to accelerate existing pipeline, we need to, number one, make sure we got the right pipeline there to accelerate.

[00:26:27] Number one. So that’s the first strategy. Like your data and your objectives drive your tactics. So how do we make sure that we enable the sales team? Because truly as event professionals, we don’t own those relationships. How do we make sure that we get the right pipeline at the event. That’s about creating sales enablement when they’re at the event, what do we need them to do? Jon mentioned meetings. Meetings is one of the most critical components of whether it’s a hosted proprietary event or even a third-party.

[00:26:56] Fledge or a trade show. Meetings are critical. So how do we design the right meeting program to get the right people there to have the right conversations? And then post-event, how do you analyze those inputs to determine did it work? What should we do differently in the past, in the future.

[00:27:17] In the future. I’ll give you an example. A client I was working with would report that we have x percentage of the registrations are big deals that I’ve registered. And I was like that’s great, but what percentage of your big deals overall does that X percentage represent? If that’s 1% of your big deals, that’s not a metric that you should be proud of, right?

[00:27:39] So flip the script. Think about the business. I talk often about the business of events versus the events business. Think about the bigger picture and then how events can support it. 

[00:27:49] Rachel Moore: Yeah. Excellent. I think what so many of our event planners, you’re a consultant for the people who are stakeholders in the event.

[00:27:56] They may say, oh, this, let’s go for this metric. But you’re like, okay, but no, let’s dissect that a little bit. What are we really talking about here? And helping them realign those expectations. Jon, I wanna go over to you because that, that to me feels like it segues into this next question.

[00:28:11] Red flags have, what red flags have you seen when it comes to event teams and even the extended event teams and stakeholders ignoring or misreading post-event data? It goes back to what we were saying earlier about standardization, is everybody looking and seeing the same thing, but can, what are some red flags that you’ve seen event teams and their extended teams do?

[00:28:33] Jon Wolff: What data are we talking about? No, just kidding. The issues or the red flags that I’ve seen. So the “we know better” attitude when event planners brush off data with a confident wave. They’re not really focusing on what’s happening post-event. It’s, we did this event, the stakeholder is happy, okay? But we need to analyze and make sure that we have that foundation. 

[00:28:55] I see this all the time the cherry picking strategy. So we’re selecting the data that supports the preconceived notion or desired outcome versus it didn’t work. We’re not gonna highlight that. We’re gonna just focus on the highlights versus those lowlights. 

[00:29:11] The one size fits all approach. So applying the same old strategies event after event regardless of what the data is saying to us. Again, example here, we did an event in London. We were sold, and I’m sure everyone listening and watching this is the same way, this event is gonna bring in this result with these attendees. So we, we did that.

[00:29:31] We had the sponsorship when the, we got the data post event when in fact only 25% of the attendees were our target audience. And so that was the. It’s not gonna work for us. Let’s cut the loss here and make the note that, hey, it didn’t work. And we’re gonna measure those low lights and the highlights.

[00:29:53] And then obviously that last point that I made the joke about is what data sometimes data mysteriously just vanishes. 

[00:29:59] Nicola Kastner: Can I just quickly add on that? If we wanna change the narrative about our industry, we can’t have that attitude that it’s not my job, I shouldn’t care about the data. At the end of the day, every single event is designed to drive a business outcome, whether it’s internal or external.

[00:30:16] And if we continue as an industry to perpetuate that, we are not gonna advance right. And we will be the first to be cut. And so I’m very passionate about it because events are powerful and we’ve learned it was proved when they were taken away during the pandemic. Event. Event teams have to lean into the data.

[00:30:36] If they can’t, find partners in their organization that can help them or find partners externally that can help them and build it in as a line item of the budget saying You don’t have time, can’t be an excuse anymore. 

[00:30:49] Rachel Moore: Definitely agree. And hopefully too, we just, we, the last topic we just talked about was AI, some of these tools out there that can help do some of the heavy lifting for you.

[00:30:57] We’re all strapped for time, right? Where it’s and some of these people maybe, I’m the one person here doing this. Totally understand, and everybody’s really busy, but you’re right. It really, I always talk about, it’s like I’m trying to aim for a dartboard, but it keeps, someone keeps moving it, but I’m just gonna keep going the same direction and hope I hit it. It’s not gonna work. You’re not gonna win at darts. 

[00:31:15] So really great points and thank you thank you both for some those awesome insights as well. 

[00:31:20] If you had to pick three killer metrics, what would they be? Jon, I’m gonna ask you first three killer metrics.

[00:31:30] Jon Wolff: Say meetings, I’d say Mark qualified leads. So again, it’s the lead that has been qualified by sales. So it’s not just your, here’s the scan from the booth. And then I would say I’d add this social metric. So if we’re doing on something on social media what were. Social or emails one of those. So we have in person, we have a meeting, and then we have digital marketing.

[00:31:56] So is it more, are we trying to have that conversion rate from a pre-event email to, to drive awareness? Or in our pre-event follow up as we built the follow up email, are we continue that customer journey, that touch point either to book a meeting or to continue that nurture campaign.

[00:32:17] Rachel Moore: Awesome. All right, great answers. Nicola, I’m gonna go over to you three killer metrics. You have to pick only three. 

[00:32:22] Nicola Kastner: There is no answer to that because it all depends on the event type and the objectives. And to say, for me to say, these are the three things that you were, should look at, and they don’t align to what success looks like for your event or your organization would be leading you the wrong way.

[00:32:39] I believe in this discipline so much. And so I spent, I share a lot on LinkedIn because. I can do it at scale that way. And if you look at today’s post, that’ll give you your answer to that actually. 

[00:32:51] Rachel Moore: How do you work with sales to measure the success of an event using data? 

[00:32:56] Nicola Kastner: It is critical if there is not a partnership between sales and marketing or wherever you sit, it’s not gonna be successful. And so personally, I start with alignment meetings. I talk to all of my stakeholders to find out what are their key objectives, and usually they all align and that includes the head of sales and the next levels down in sales. And then once we’ve aligned on what successes I tap them to hold their teams accountable to drive the right results.

[00:33:25] It’s a two-way partnership. I can’t deliver you something and expect it to be successful if you don’t play your part. So going back to your dating analogy, it’s like being married. 

[00:33:35] Rachel Moore: It really is. Jon, how about you? What do you think about with the sales data, 

[00:33:38] Jon Wolff: Oh, I echo those comments? I think it’s, if you’re in that corporate role, know who the players are and have that time to build the foundation and that relationship with those leaders. ’cause if you’re gonna show up, if you don’t have sales, buy-in, you might as well not be in an event because they’re the ones that are having the conversations, they’re the boots on the ground.

[00:33:57] And then taking it a step further, as you have your lead development team or a team that follows up on these, you need to have that relationship with the lead development team and sales because as we have the handoff from marketing at the event to sales, that funnels through that team. And if they’re not working together, it’s coming back to you and then your leaders are saying, what the hell are you doing at this event?

[00:34:19] There’s no results from it. So it’s that. It’s that marriage, it’s that relationship. It’s the collaboration and making sure that, everyone is aligned. 

[00:34:27] Nicola Kastner: If I could just add on Jon’s point, ’cause he makes a really good point. The event doesn’t end when the event is done the last day of the event.

[00:34:35] Sales are the people that move what we did forward. So events shouldn’t be this three-day moment in time and then they’re done. And that’s all we care about at the events level. We need to make sure that sales are engaged to continue driving that momentum and impact forward. 

[00:34:53] Jon Wolff: And we even, to take it a step further, sorry Rachel, like we have the, I have a bi-weekly or a cadence set up post event that we have these touch points throughout.

[00:35:02] So to Nicola’s point, hey. This event happened. We know that you’re following up. I don’t trust you enough to just say that you’re following up. So I’m gonna have this time that we’re setting up so that we can just have these pulse checks to make sure, if we’re done if the leads have been followed up.

[00:35:18] Awesome. 

[00:35:19] Rachel Moore: Yeah. And I think that’s super important, like you said, too, normalize that this is not, that’s not an unexpected thing. That should be normal to make sure that those pulse checks are there and they’re expecting that. So it’s not oh, I’m doing you a favor by, coming in and listening to your stuff about event data.

[00:35:33] It’s no, this is part of everyone’s job. And I wanna ask another question. How many of the events you host or plan are made with the intention of feeding sales funnel versus building general brand awareness.

[00:35:45] Jon, I’ll start with you. Do you have a spread of which ones are strictly for sales funnel versus brand awareness? 

[00:35:53] Jon Wolff: Tough questions loaded. So I think. So I represent the solutions and services arm of Lenovo. Lenovo for the hardware part of, we’re a new business unit within the last two years, and so it was that first year, let’s build the awareness.

[00:36:07] Now where we’ve transitioned that is let’s build more of the sales driven conversion leads from this. So it’s. It depends ultimately on what the objectives are, but I think for us it’s more of those sales led events. Where we, and again, this goes to making sure that you know what your portfolio is. Is it around thought leadership?

[00:36:29] Is it sales? Is it x, y, and Z? And so as you build your portfolio and strategy, you need to adjust that sometimes year over year to make sure that it’s meeting what the business bottom line is. So again, it could be thought leadership, it could be sales led. You need to make sure you’re doing it. What’s most important to the business.

[00:36:49] Rachel Moore: Nicola, how about you? 

[00:36:50] Nicola Kastner: Agreed. I mean at the end of the day, it’s what’s the business strategy will drive the mix. I think you need to look across the customer journey, the entire customer journey from awareness right through to loyalty, adoption, renewal. It doesn’t stop when the sale is made, especially in a tech space where I come from, that renewal business is critical.

[00:37:12] So continuing that relationship, making sure the customer is successful, is really important. So what I often do is when I work with a client is I’ll understand what are their mix of priorities across that funnel, and then how do they build events? Because certain events like you are not gonna get prospects at your third party flagship conference in Las Vegas from, think about it, if as an event professional, if you’re buying tech, are you gonna get on an airplane? No. You might listen to a webinar, but you’re not getting on a plane. Same thing for no matter whatever the customer, no matter the product. So matching the right event, fishing where the fish are, but also being focused on your customer success is critical. So that, that balance of all based on objectives really depends on your business strategy.

[00:38:00] Jon Wolff: And meet the customer where they’re at. There’s still a need for those large industry events. I think what we’re seeing post covid post pandemic at this point is a shift back to, in-person a desire to go to the, Las Vegas or that destination event, gain industry event knowledge to revisit and have conversations.

[00:38:19] So there’s still that need for large industry, but there’s also that shift to more of the customer doesn’t have the opportunity to go there either ’cause of a budget perspective, so go where they’re at and then work with the sales team. Here’s that sales conversation to go to their city to have that conversation, bring the event to them.

[00:38:38] Rachel Moore: Excellent insights, both of you. And like I said, we packed a lot in today, but it’s been amazing. I wanna thank you. That is all the time we have for today. I wanna extend our heartfelt thanks to our distinguished speakers, Nicola and Jon.

[00:38:50] We’re very grateful for your time and knowledge. There was a lot that you shared today in a very short time, so it was amazing. Have a wonderful rest of your day, everyone.

[00:39:11] Thanks again to Jon Wolff and Nicola Kastner for sharing their expertise with us! And thank you for listening. 

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