#EventIcons podcast is all about talking to the cream of the events industry and getting to know what they do, how they do it, and what the current event trends are. Today’s guest is somebody with years of experience and a lot of charisma. Meet Kristin Horstman, the senior director at Salesforce!

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Together with the rest of the world, she had to make a quick pivot to virtual events last year. Today, she shares with our audiences what she had learned. As a marketing leader, she focuses on marketing virtual events. And since our host Sarah is the head of marketing of Endless Events, the conversation is all the more worth listening to!


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Where Marketing & Virtual Events Meet

Sarah kicks off the conversation about blending marketing and virtual events together by asking Kirstin what is her role at Salesforce when planning virtual experiences.

“We have a large team in our strategic events team. We sit under corporate marketing and then within that, we have multiple event leaderships across other companies that we partner with. In my role, I sit with a group of other leaders. We take a look at our events and decide how we’re going to do strategy and partner with our product marketing team.”

Last year was all about adjusting to the new normal, and the biggest lesson Kristin took away was the power of listening. “It’s taking everything that we’ve learned hearing from our customers and what they’re looking for and how their business has changed.”

Virtual Events Are Just Not The Same As In-Person

As the head of marketing at Endless Events, Sarah knows that it’s important to meet your customers and attendees where they are at when marketing virtual events. She wants to know how Kristin facilitates conversations that ensure that.

“Just like in our own personal lives, we miss human connection. Your customers are missing. We haven’t really cracked the nut on the virtual networking part of it because it is hard to have it on the screen. If I went to an educational conference in person, it was in the hallway where I took away key insights from my colleagues.” And as we all know, that’s not possible via screen. “The Zoom fatigue is real. If you’re going to get my attention, it has to be really engaging. We also need to ask ourselves how do we make our business relevant.”

marketing virtual events

Marketing Virtual Events: Make It Interesting!

Next up, Sarah asks the following question: “Have you found any solutions to really bringing that experience in a virtual space?”

“People who had been to a virtual Salesforce event really understand that there’s magic there that we like to bring between the experiential, the educational, and the networking,” explains Kristin. “We try to provide some sort of fun through the online as we did at in-person events.” So, how do they market their virtual events? “We bring in a luminary speaker, somebody who is fun or important.” She also mentions the power of music for virtual events. “We had a musical at one of our events.”

“We started internal ‘be well’ series, but then, we shared it with our customers,” Kristin adds. “The series included things like meditation, how to take care of yourself at home, and how do you cook. We had our culinary team come on, for example. It continues to be really popular. And then online, just to break up those 30 to 60 minutes, we incorporate a break: whether it’s music from Hawaii or somebody doing yoga.”

In her opinion, the point is to take people away from the mundane day-to-day of being at home. “Another virtual marketing idea is sending something to your attendee’s house. Think about how much we don’t even get mail anymore! So going back to a little bit of that old school, the snail mail and sending somebody a surprise, it gets people excited for that online experience that you’re going to have them engage with.”

marketing virtual events

Marketing Virtual Events: We All Love On-Demand Content

“Everybody has to decide how they want to engage with the content that they’re looking for. We’re taking  inspiration from Netflix. They come out and have a library of movies that you can go and access anytime, anywhere, on any device. That’s great. It’s my choice.” While last year was all about pivoting to virtual events, this year is all about personalization. “It’s going to be the real buzz word,” says Kristin.

“You can push out so much content in the virtual world that people are not going to see it all. So if you can, repackage some of it and put it out there for people. Look at your content library and ask if this is really out of date or is this something that we can repackage for our audience.”

Another thing that Kristin mentions in regards to marketing virtual events are podcasts. “They’ve gotten huge! You can listen to them anywhere, anytime. Those are the things that we have to look for around us.”

“It’s funny, we just have a new CMO and she was telling us she has a 16 year-old daughter. That age group doesn’t do anything with Facebook or email.” It’s all about watching the environment when it comes to marketing virtual events. “Right now, we need to look at people’s behavior in the world. Where are they  getting inspiration and how are people engaging?”

In Conclusion, Breathe!

As is customary for #EventIcons podcast, Sarah wraps the episode up by asking Kristin to share one piece of advice for event planners. “Last year was tough for everybody, so just breathe. We know the foundational things that we need to do and be okay with it. There are going to be fails and successes. Last year, our footing got ripped away, but now, it’s coming back. We will feel a little bit more solid towards the end of the year.”

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