Case Study: Events as a key marketing strategy

Nick Gold, Managing Director of motivational and keynote speaker bureau Speakers’ Corner, discusses how exhibitions were integral to the company’s early-stage marketing and explains how digital efforts are effective today.

FACT BOX

Company: Speakers Corner
Date founded: January, 2001
Employees: 17
Sector: Conferences and Events

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

The business started when my former partner, who came from the entertainment industry supplying magicians, balloonists and such like for weddings and parties, noticed a rise in a new type of request for after-dinner speakers and comedians at events. Realizing there was a gap in the market for sourcing the right speaker for a specific event, a company called Speakers Corner was born.

Back then, I was working for a FTSE50 company, and I had experience with a couple of start-up dot-com companies. But, deciding it was time for a change, I packed up the city job and joined as her partner, very near the start.  Tim, my brother, joined 18 months later; we bought out my original partner a few years later and have run the company since.

The early marketing challenge

Our marketing focused on meeting clients and gaining presence in the industry. Our main efforts went into one exhibition a year (at the time the key events industry exhibition). We ensured we had a brilliant stand there, and backed this up with our website, which worked as our shop window in the web space.

Ultimately the critical marketing decision we made was our move to a website where we managed the site through a content driven space. This allowed us to maintain the website with new speakers and guarantee all the speakers' biographies were up to date. It was our way of continually ensuring clients had access to the relevant information required.

We have tried at times to be too clever in our marketing. I remember one occasion we sent to some clients what we thought was an amazing box of goodies for ‘Blue Monday’ in January to perk them up. But, the products were too subtlety related to the speakers we were trying to promote and as such the messages were lost (but hopefully everyone enjoyed the freebies anyway!).

The value of personal contact

The internet and social media platforms are still an absolute critical part of our marketing strategy but in this digital age, we firmly believe in the value of personal contact. We pride ourselves on face-to-face meetings, as well as exhibiting at events that allow us to meet clients.  We also host our own showcase events under the Knowledge Guild and Comedy Collective brands which allow us a platform to expose our brilliant speakers and comedians, as well as giving us another opportunity to meet clients.  Finally, we have made a conscious effort to be seen as thought leaders in the speaking space. Through my own speaking engagements and regular guest blogs, I have given voice to industry issues and the value of Speakers Corner as a business.

One marketing size does not fit all

My advice for other companies is to be aware that one type of marketing does not fit all. Consumers and businesses interested in your company will expect vastly differing interactions with you on the plethora of customer interfaces you choose to use, a blanket strategy will not hold up. Understand what the aims of a certain platform are, and align your business to these. Ensure you are both shaping your service to the trends appearing on these platforms and putting your business in a position to be a shaper of influential movements while ensuring that you have consistency in your key messages.  

Marketing in this digital age is such an influential and malleable tool, the fact a child can make a million-pound business through marketing themselves on their YouTube channel is both a powerful and scary idea. Any company can gain an advantage by keeping one step ahead of the trend, and tapping into the available data. Consumers are powered by experiences and emotions hence why we are seeing a rise in extraordinary events. No longer is it enough to go to a boozy brunch, now this is only worth hearing about if it is done in an adult-sized ball pit! In terms of maximizing our own exposure, we, as a business, need to ensure we know what experiential events our consumers are after and how we can ensure our services are meeting both their professional and emotional needs.