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Event marketing | 11 January 2017

How to Hire And Train Your First Event Marketer

Brandon Rafalson

Last Updated January 13, 2017. 

Despite what Simon and Garfunkel may sing, no person is an island in the world of events management. Whether you work at a small agency, a large corporation, or primarily on your own, there comes a time when enough is enough. There comes a time when you need an extra set of hands to help drive up ROI and extend the reach of your event. There comes a time when you need to hire your first event marketer.

In this blog we’ll take a look at what goes into finding, hiring, and training the event marketer of your dreams.

When to hire your first event marketer

When exactly you hire your first event marketer will depend on a number of different factors. It’s worth thinking about what your business goals are:

  • Is your organization experiencing a period of growth?
  • Is your event planning workload unreasonably large?
  • Is there evidence to suggest that an improved event marketing strategy could noticeably improve event success?

If the answer is yes to any of the above, then it just might be the right time for you to hire your first event marketer.

What to look for in your first event marketer

When the events journalist Bel Booker asked a series of event experts about how they hired event marketers, the resulting answers were surprising. Yes, a history with live events and relevant marketing skills are extremely useful, but the overarching qualities that marketing directors and event professionals look for with their first event marketers are enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.

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“We believe in transferable skills and therefore always look beyond the events industry when recruiting,” said Gayle Shepherd, Deputy Director of Corporate Services at the Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre. “It’s important to get the right team fit to ensure teamwork and collaboration.”

Will Curran, Founder and President of Endless Entertainment, emphasizes curiosity and skills over experience:

“In my opinion, a lot of times people overpay for experience. If you get someone who is smart, they should be able to figure it out on their own. Especially if it’s your first time hiring for this position. You don’t know what you want, more than likely. You probably don’t have the processes built in place. If you know exactly what you want, build out the processes and then you can hand it off to a very smart person and they can execute on it.”

While enthusiasm and teamwork will go a long way, you’ll definitely want your first event marketer to have some skills, specifically with digital marketing. Up until this point, you’ve had to single-handedly tackle a number of marketing tasks, in addition to your other event management responsibilities. Your first event marketer may need to step up to the plate in a number of ways – from filming live video to managing online and offline communities.

Below are some technical skills to look for in your ideal candidate.

Essential Digital Marketing Skills:

  • Familiarity with marketing automation
  • Experience with marketing communications
  • Understanding of social media marketing, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • At least basic knowledge of SEO / SEM / PPC marketing

The exact technical needs will vary, depending on your business goals, but some degree of digital marketing savvy is a must. Just make sure that your candidate also has a willingness to learn, challenge themselves and work with a team.

Where to look for your first event marketer

Look at any online survey and you’ll see that the vast majority of those who attend live events, do so because they are interested in networking. In such a networking-focused industry, it should be no surprise that the first place you should look for new hires is in your network:

  • Look within your current organization to see if anyone is looking to expand their role or transition into a marketing position. (Don’t forget about your interns!)
  • Check with members of your event association to see if they have any leads.
  • Tap into the power of your online network by making a public post. Alternatively, you can just send private messages to good candidates.
  • Attend conferences for event professionals and marketing professionals to see if anyone can point you in the right direction.
  • Speak with members of the Eventovation community.

While you’re working your way through your personal network, you can also start investing in job boards. Before you make a post on a general board (like Indeed), we recommend checking out these events industry-specific job boards:

Outside of the events industry, it’s worth posting a job on these marketing-specific job boards as well:

To appeal to the especially tech-savvy job seeker, try posting a position on TechCrunch or AngelList. On top of all that, there’s always LinkedIn and the the general job boards of Indeed, Monster, and the infamous yet surprisingly helpful CraigsList.

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As you begin the search for your first event marketer, know that you have options! Leverage your network, visit specialized job boards, and – if you’re feeling particularly adventurous – post a classified on CraigsList.

How to train your first event marketer

Just as there are certain skills that any event marketer should have, there are also certain lessons that should be part of any event marketer’s onboarding. Before we get into the particulars, let’s take a second to acknowledge the importance of your new hire having a solid grasp of your organization’s culture as a whole.

“We train and manage staff,” says Luke Flett, Head of Global Marketing at Ashfield Events, “with core learning and development principles across the organization aimed at creating an employee experience that drives a consistent culture and reinforces our values.”

In addition to the unique skills of their role, your new hire will need to be familiar with the ins and outs of the company. This is especially important for marketers, who in many ways serve as company ambassadors in their interactions with current and prospective customers.

Now, let’s dive into the marketing-specific lessons that should be a part of any event onboarding.

Brand Voice

Be it in email copy, banner ads, or tweets, your event marketer will need to have a solid grasp of your event’s voice. This may seem glaringly intuitive for you, but your new hire will need some set parameters.

For instance, the voice of PAX South (a conference dedicated to video games, comic books, and other nerd hobbies) is a lot more playful than a post for the CFA Institute’s Wealth Management 2017 Conference.


Note that brand voice may differ for each social media platform. For instance, Twitter will generally be less formal than LinkedIn. Make sure your marketer has a clear understanding of the attitudes, lingo, and emojis that are best aligned with your event.

Data

In order to be competitive, your marketing efforts need to be data-driven. Be it with an event blog or a banner ad, encourage your event marketer to be analytical in the way that promote their marketing tasks. Have them track views, impressions, clicks, and conversions, and draw meaningful insights from this data.

Design

Visuals will go a long way in advertising your event. Just like with your brand voice, establish a design voice that your event marketer should use. Along those lines, make sure they have a solid understanding of image optimization for SEO and social media.

Tools

How does your organization operate? Are there any productivity tools you recommend? When it comes to project management, do you use Trello or Asana? How about communication tools? Do you use Slack or Skype? Whatever tools you use, make sure your new hire has ample time to gradually ramp up in their mastery of them.

Event Technology

Depending on the event management platform that you are currently using, your event marketer will have a number of opportunities to amplify your marketing efforts. Just like with the other tools that you’ll train your new hire in, make sure that your new hire is brought up to speed with your event management app of choice. Not using an event management app, yet? Here’s a guide to determining the best event management software for your needs.

Regardless of your event marketers experience level, they have a lot to learn. Provide structure and training that gradually ramps them up to full speed. Once they’re there, you’ll want to continue to provide opportunities for learning and growth.

Conclusion: Finding the marketer of your dreams

Congratulations! Hiring your first event marketer is a milestone in your growth as an event professional, and the growth of your event organization as a whole. As you continue on your hiring journey, keep in mind how your new hire will help you achieve your business goals. Know that enthusiasm and a willingness to learn will go far, yet at the same time, be prepared to train your event marketer in both the specifics of their role and your larger organizational culture. Good luck!

Event marketing is rapidly changing. The future of the industry will include chatbots, virtual reality, and more. Learn how to best prepare your first event marketer and yourself for the future with our 2017 Event Trends eBook.

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