The Event Tech 12 – snöball Edition

I have known the online version of Rachel Stephan for a long time. We have interacted on the Twitters and the Facewalls since like forever, but, we had never had a chance to meet in actual “real world” but that all changed at the MPI World Education Congress in Toronto this past June… In fact, it went down just like this…

Boom. Blown away… Rachel is a real deal, ass-kickin, event marketer, of the first order… and she and her company have super-powers when it comes to a specific type of marketing know as “Influencer Marketing” which once you get past the fancy name is just a niche of marketing that focuses on targeting your industry leaders, a.k.a. influencers, to drive your event’s message and provide awareness to other folks in your industry. Message and awareness puts butts in seats.

Sounds simple enough but it is harder than it seems which is why you are going to want to read on through the latest EventTech 12 and then visit snöball so you can learn how to get your speakers, sponsors, and yes, your attendees helping to spread the word about your amazing conference or event.

Welcome to the EventTech 12 snöball Edition

These are 12 questions that we asked Rachael Stephan, snöballer-in-chief at snöball, event influencer marketing. We hope that this gives you a little insight into influencer marketing and the company that can help your conference or event leverage this amazing marketing channel.

Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.

I’m one part creative, one part entrepreneur, a 4-time mom (sensov/ event marketing, Charlie, snöball event influencer marketing, and Grayson) and an event industry speaker. I help meeting planners grow their event attendance with results-driven event marketing strategies.

My story started in Lebanon where I was born and where I got my Master’s in Advertising before immigrating to Canada in pursuit of higher education to complement my degree. Born into an entrepreneurial family, I knew that one day I’d start a business of my own, which I finally did in 2001. I launched my event marketing agency, sensov/ event marketing, after working for five years at a publishing house that focused on events as a core business. That was my introduction to the fascinating world of events.

My 18-year background in the events industry has given me a sensov/ worldliness. I am an ideas person, a creative gal, a challenger of the status quo! Naturally, I felt the need to keep pushing the envelope and to create a legacy in our event industry, so I got a snöball rolling. Snöball is a cloud software that mobilizes event stakeholders to amplify an event’s reach and bottom line. In less than a year, snöball was named a top-5 finalist at the 2017 IMEX Pitch as well as an IBTM World 2017 Tech Watch Award finalist and won the IBTM Best use of PR Award. Additionally, snöball was shortlisted at the 2018 Event Tech Live Awards.

We have always found that clients have a good understanding on content, social, and traditional marketing but have no idea how influencer marketing works. What is influencer marketing and why is it important to #eventprofs.

Influencer marketing is a form of digital marketing that focuses on targeting key people and organizations to drive brand messaging and awareness among a specific market of consumers.

A few of the biggest pain points for event planners include low ticket sales or registrations, a lack of participant engagement, and a need to increase the bottom line.

Recognizing that word-of-mouth is 3X more effective than traditional advertising, snöball helps event planners put their event’s influencers at the heart of their event marketing campaigns by arming their speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees with their own personalized digital marketing toolkit that drives registration, conversions, and conversations.

What is the number one thing that you would tell any event organizer about using influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is a tangible solution to work smarter, not harder. Most event organizers are short on time and sometimes resources too. What planners may not realize is that they have people right in their network that they can easily mobilize to boost event ticket sales, exhibitors and sponsors, and engagement.

What is the number one mistake that organizations make when starting an influencer marketing journey?

The number one mistake in planning out an influencer marketing campaign is focusing on a very limited number of high-profile people, like their top speakers or advisory board, and hoping to generate huge results from that influencer strategy alone. The key is to realize that if you democratize influence and consider everyone in your organization an influencer, you can expand your message’s reach exponentially. Spread your net wider at first and plan to dive deeper with a phased approach to implementing the event influencer marketing campaign.

What is one thing you wish every new client knew before they contact you?

I wish they knew how effective influencer marketing is and that word-of-mouth is the most efficient marketing strategy they’ll ever use. I wish they knew that they don’t need to have the know-how or internal resources to start an event influencer marketing campaign, and how easy it is to find influencers.

Take us through your process of working with a new client.

First things first, we get on a call and get to know the client: we listen, ask many questions, and brainstorm together on strategies that they might consider trying for their specific audience. We then get the ball rolling for them, which is as simple as handing over their brand assets and data – from there on out, it’s hands-off. We operate as a DI(F)Y software, where we strategize, create, design, implement, manage, monitor, and recommend next steps for our clients.

That is the first step. The event marketing campaign subsequently evolves in a way that allows us to connect with the most engaging and engaged influencers who can help take the campaign a step further. We would then co-create content with our star influencers, which can be in the form of videos, blogs, or interviews that invite them to elaborate on what potential attendees can expect from attending their session, or visiting their booth. Influencers’ content and video can then be repurposed to diversify the event marketing campaign and offer an incentive to drive registration.

In your mind, what is your greatest client success story?

My greatest success story is when I hear a sigh of relief from the event planner on how smooth and quick the process was. I am on cloud nine when the client says they ended up hitting and exceeding their registration goals and that they’d like to renew again for next year’s events. If I have to pick one success story, I’d pick CompTIA’s creative approach to mobilizing their exhibitors in an incentivized influencer marketing campaign that saw big ROI.

What’s the biggest challenge that snöball is still trying to solve?

Butts in seats. It will never get old. As long as there are meeting planners organizing events, attendee acquisition will be a top priority. The challenge is how to stay current and adapt your event marketing strategy to stay in front of the right audience. The biggest challenge for event planners is the lack of resources and time to execute and adopt new strategies, we help them save time and money.

What’s the best advice you ever received? (can be life advice or business advice)?

“SHIP IT” (borrowed from Seth Godin’s AltMBA). That was the advice that my mentor/friend Dahlia El Gazzar gave me about starting snöball. It moved snöball from an idea to a product that is in full avalanche-mode, and the best part: event planners LOVE it and truly need it to optimize their event marketing initiatives. And I love helping them – for me, it’s all about connecting and creating relationships with people.

What is your favorite productivity app?

Slack, it keeps me connected to my team and clients while I’m on-the-go and I can practically run everything from there.

What is your favorite “waiting for a train” app?

Audible, it gives me the chance to catch up on all the books I want to read.

Want to Learn More about snöball event marketing?

To learn more, visit snöball’s website or check out the link in this tweet to see how others are using influencer marketing to drive attendance at their events!

Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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