In-person events are back, and some are bigger than ever
In good news for event marketing professionals, the insurance industry has seen in-person events burst back onto the scene with a vengeance and some have reported record attendance.
The World Health Organization officially declared an end to the “global emergency” phase of the COVID-19 pandemic on May 5, 2023. Nevertheless, COVID-related disruption gave the world, and the insurance industry, a flavor of what is possible when human interaction and event marketing is forced to move online. One benefit of online events, marketers found, was that they made it far easier to take a less city-centric approach and accommodate people who might find it tougher to travel.
Insurance event marketing professionals may now find themselves spoilt for choice, with in-person, hybrid, and entirely online events now all accepted avenues to bring clients closer to companies and build brand recognition. While more options can only be a good thing, event marketers need to make sure they are aligning their strategies and not breaking the bank in this brave new world. This, according to marketing and communications experts at the Insurance Marketing and Communications Association (IMCA), poses a challenge.
Insurance Business asked three IMCA marketing experts how they have been navigating the plethora of options available while sticking to a budget. From cutting down on paper to finding ways to create content that will continue to resonate with online viewers, they shared their marketing top tips.
How can you make your post-COVID event marketing budget stretch?
Insurance Business asked the IMCA experts: In-person events are back and in some cases they are bigger than ever. You had good results with new event marketing strategies during the pandemic. You have the same budget – and now need to prioritize. How do you make your event marketing budget stretch?
Jessica Marshall, senior vice president, director of marketing, CRC Group and IMCA director and treasurer
QUOTE The easiest way to waste your marketing dollars is to be unclear on your goals.
“The easiest way to waste your marketing dollars is to be unclear on your goals. I prioritize spending based on what most closely aligns with our mission of putting the client first. If something helps to differentiate our company and sets us apart, then it’s worth the investment.
“We also leverage social media because it’s largely free, fast, and flexible while providing useful analytics that give us insight into what our audience is most engaged with.
“We also make the budget stretch through content marketing. While it does take time, focusing on quality and delivering value to our clients is a great way to keep costs to a minimum over the long run.
“Focusing on quality and value also enables us to spend money in places where it makes the most sense.”
Emily Hathcoat, vice president, marketing, Risk Placement Services (RPS), former IMCA board chair
QUOTE When we plan events now, we always consider the virtual component.
“I think the challenge we’re facing now in event marketing is the need to accommodate both in-person and virtual access for the same event. Our clients appreciate being able to participate in events but not travel, particularly in more suburban and rural locations, and they still want the convenience experienced during the pandemic.
“While this challenge makes it difficult to accommodate everything within the budget, the opportunity is to develop things for an event that have longer-lasting use. Much of what is created for a virtual event can be repurposed in multiple ways after the event, so you gain some cost efficiency. When we plan events now, we always consider the virtual component. When we create assets for virtual, we consider the longer-term marketing plan and what we can create that can be used elsewhere and even more broadly.”
Charlene Goodwin, vice president, marketing, Admiral Insurance Group and IMCA director (pictured below)
QUOTE Cutting back on paper handouts provides a better attendee experience and saves some pennies.
“You can host an amazing event without a big budget. Being in a relationship business, we always boil everything down to what will allow us to deliver a unique and memorable experience. Just as you would with any marketing tactic, focus on your audience and the goal of the event.
“Consider using low cost options like Fiverr for creative needs, rather than going to an agency. In 2022, we hosted a Step Brothers themed boat cruise and used people we found on Fiverr to write song lyrics and record the song for us. The result was amazing and inexpensive.
“We’re also cutting back on printed materials for our events. We rely on QR codes, marketing automation, and event apps to deliver the documents right to attendees’ phones and inboxes. We print high-level agendas on attendee badges for hands-free easy access. Cutting back on paper handouts provides a better attendee experience and saves some pennies.
“Another area you can usually cut with little to no impact is on upgraded linens, chairs, and china/table settings when hosting meals. I’ve never once had someone complain that the table wasn’t fancy enough!”
About the IMCA
All three of the expert marketers not only have years of insurance marketing experience under their belts, they are also members of the IMCA. The North American marketing trade association was founded in 1923 and is made up of individuals with expertise in marketing, public relations, corporate communications, and emerging digital communication practices. In addition to connecting professionals and seeking to elevate the insurance marketing profession, the organisation also has guidelines intended to maintain brand standards within the industry.
More from the IMCA expert marketers
How have you been navigating event marketing in the aftermath of COVID-related disruption? Do you have any questions for the IMCA panel of expert marketers? Let us know your top tips and the challenges you’re facing in the comments below.
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