Ashley Okay, here we are, welcome to SaaS Breakthrough. I'm Ashley. I'm here today with Tiara Yracheta-Udziela who is the marketing coordinator here at Banzai and Tiara just went to her first in-person conference since COVID. She went to Content Marketing World a couple weeks ago which was in Ohio and had both an in-person track and a virtual track and I want to hear all about it so Tiara share your thoughts with us about how you think the event went, and everything that you experienced while you were there.
Tiara So Many things. Yes, it was, it was definitely a an experience. It was about 4 days long which I was, the beginning and the end days were not full conference like with keynotes and the breakout sessions and everything but they had, they each had their own value. And my initial impression of an in-person experience after Covid, I guess if that's what you want to say, I mean we're still kind of dealing with it. But was that it definitely was not what I expected it. So I went into it knowing that the capacity was reduced, I think for you know, a combination of reasons being that people just didn't really feel comfortable going back to live events yet and there was still concern for safety so they were trying to keep it a little bit lower capacity. But I didn't expect how drastically that would impact my experience there. I mean when when I think about going to a conference, a big live event like this. I think of it being like filled with people and like everybody's walking around and you know mingling with each other and and there's just that like human element that is you know that's why you go out in person. It was definitely there. There were people around but because there were so there was such smaller crowd of people. It's kind of felt lonely at times. And you know I will say that that part of that's on on my side for having you know purposely been trying to kind of isolate a little bit and you know keep my distance but I kind of felt like it was this event where the people who were there they were alumni and they had been going for for years or had already been there and they knew exactly where they were going and had you know some colleagues to meet up with and you know it was, it was a reunion that that for me as as a new participant, a new audience member, I didn't really get to share in that. So that that's definitely something to consider I think for all future live events when you're saying you're back in person after COVID you know, consider that that this might be completely brand new experience for everyone and everyone is going to definitely feel it differently than they did if they attended any live event before COVID.
Ashley Right, absolutely. Talk to me a little bit about what the engagement and networking opportunities look like. At Banzai, we talk a lot about engagement marketing. That's our big thing. And that really is a lot of the perceived value of in-person events. That virtual events are continuing to figure out how to do well. But given the pandemic and given social distancing and given safety precautions, what is networking look like at an in-person conference like this?
Tiara Yeah, so I would you know I didn't really see anything that said that networking was happening that much differently because of COVID but again because of that reduced capacity and that the fact that there were fewer people there, I think it was less on people's minds that that was something that they they were there to do. That there was there was value in this event beyond just attending the breakout sessions and the workshops and all of that because you're there with other people. And as far as engagement goes, I will say that when you're looking at an an event like this. That's huge live conference and it kind of has a purpose that I think is defined as a learning experience more than anything else. If there is an intention for there to be networking as an aspect of that it really has to be considered and emphasized and and I think it's similar to the dialogue that we use when we talk about hybrid events where you're saying you cannot just say that you're going to split up the activity between you know, live and virtual. It has to be considered fully the experience for both sides. And even within the the live aspects of this when it when you're in the sessions and you're meant to be quiet and you're listening and taking it in but then you leave what are you doing and what's the value there. So for me at this event it kind of just felt like I was running back and forth to classes like back in college. And the networking was was a little bit more difficult to achieve because I think other people had the same mindset.
Ashley And do you think that's a reflection of like you were saying lower capacity thereby lower numbers because of COVID. Maybe some concern over distancing etc, etc. Or do you think that's just sort of the impact of what in-person events look like. Like do we not know how to do this anymore? Do we not know how to be together, how to network, how to engage, is it is it just content focused.
Tiara I Would definitely say that the latter is more of what I experienced and what I gathered from when I was thinking about why that happened and why it was different. I knew at least for me like when I was talking about going to this event and I was like oh my God I have to talk to people again in person you know like that that felt like unfamiliar in a way and kind of uncomfortable. So yes I think that it's it's that we have to like retrain ourselves in how to do it in this new world. This new lens that we have for safety and and social distancing. When you're attending an event like this, when content is key. It's hosted by Content Marketing Institute. If there is not that emphasis on networking, I would say with dedicated networking opportunities, beyond just saying here's your time to network. I think it needs to be facilitated more basically. There needs to be icebreakers or conversation starters or like you know breakouts where you're getting people of you know, different industries or the same industry in a room and and having a conversation because otherwise it's you know, we're in this mindset still of of isolation.
Ashley Yeah, absolutely so let's talk about content since that's the big focus of this event. Obviously you know we've been talking a lot with our customers in the market about hybrid. You know the definition of hybrid. What that looks like and businesses are really defining hybrid in a multitude of different ways. One way is that the content itself is happening in person and that content is streamed out also virtually to people in their homes. Another version that we're seeing is that people are actually streaming the content but the in-person part is the networking. So we all come together to watch that content, that keynote speaker or whatever it is. And CMW is interesting because they actually had 2 very separate tracks 1 for virtual 1 for in person that actually had different content which we think might be sort of the future of what hybrid looks like. As an attendee of 1 of those tracks, the in-person track, can you speak to that a little bit? What what you found interesting or great or not so great about these 2 kind of tracks?
Tiara Definitely. I Loved that there was there was a voice being spoken to the virtually attending people so when they were able to be a part of the keynote that they were kind of bringing them into the room with us so that we recognize like oh hey people at home like you're getting the same thing like it's so much bigger than just where we are right now. And I also say that I was kind of envious of the virtual people because they had some really interesting sessions that I wanted to attend that I think that I could find you know a reasonable fa so simile at the live versions but it it was I think that that's that's key and that's exactly what we want to see with hybrid events is like both sides need to have that feeling of like exclusivity. So that if you're the virtual attendee you're getting something that the live people, the in-person people are not and so that was interesting to experience like oh well for once you know I'm not there virtually so I just I don't get to know?
Ashley Yeah, it's interesting that it it sounds like we're generally speaking the in-person value is being with people right? like that's the that's the ticket and a lot of people also love learning in different ways right? like some people love packing up their laptops getting on a plane and really immersing themselves versus the potential distraction of like a virtual setting where you have slack open and you're looking at content and whatever. But. The people and the engagement and the networking really seems to be the driver and I'm curious if if that isn't you know up to snuff yet at in-person events and certainly we don't know when it will be. What is the value of in person events like what? Why do we want to go back to particularly larger conference events I mean I'm not talking about like smaller field marketing type events but these big huge conferences. What do you think is the future for them.
Tiara Honestly I kind of you know I think about like Dreamforce where this was 1 of the first years of I might be wrong that it was the first year that it it was virtual this year but they had some big box names like Will Smith was there presenting some some content and they had the foo fighters do a presentation. So you know when I saw that I was like okay well that kind of makes sense like if I'm in person at a huge conference like that it should feel like a concert you know like and like an event like that They they're part of this thing with these people that you're all you know on the same track. You're all really excited about it and it's It's only going to happen in that context in that moment.
Tiara That's I think that the the key that needs to be emphasized with live events going forward if they're going to stay large like this. and I definitely agree that you know recognizing that people have different learning styles and and our understanding that being in person is I mean we've experienced that with the past you know couple years and. Kids struggling to to learn. Virtually there is huge value in being in person and being in a room and actually being able to ask questions live like that that I think virtual is doing a great job of trying to simulate but that would be another element of of in-person events that. We can probably build upon and do better is you know, like like with the workshops at at cm worlds there was a day of workshops where they kind of all took place within the same hour and you had to pick which 1 you wanted to attend. I I would say more of that in this event would have made it feel. That much more valuable for that learning experience and like collaborative element for being in person right? exactly.
Ashley More hands on group oriented conversational less presentational type of content. What do you see or what are you anticipating is. As the future of in-person events you you just spoke a little bit about larger events. But what are you thinking about for the smaller regional kind of field marketing stuff.
Tiara I think that that just kind of sums it up that what we're going to be moving towards more are the regional events that are a little bit more specialized that especially because of my experience with seem world. What I want to see happen with these types of regional events is you know curating a group of people that want to get into a room to have a great discussion. And you know maybe it's working with a member of an industry that you don't really expect that you would have a connection with but that you can really end up having a great relationship after meeting them here. Ah, great relationship with after meeting them here. so I think that that's what is going to come from regional events is just really thoughtful. Super specific focused events on a group of people or a problem or an interest rather than like. Broader experience of content marking where this 1 also served people from all levels of experience so you could attend an event that was you know intermediate or kind of an expert level. It would probably benefit us to localize that a little bit more so that people can get the most value out of the the all of the information that's being presented to them.
Ashley Right? That makes sense. Yeah, so and this is something that we've seen marketers. Do you know for years but is becoming ever more you know relevant now these smaller kind of customer vip dinners or industry verticals from from a certain region or something. That's interesting because obviously those had to pivot so quickly virtually due to COVID and and seem to be the thing that people are really hankering to get back to are these smaller more intimate events. maybe even more so than these larger kind of blowout.
Tiara Yeah, absolutely and I think that another focus there from from what you've just said is that smaller like human engagement so you know at Banzai we we were really emphasizing that engagement marketing is the key. It's the future and 1 of the best ways to do that is through events.
Ashley Conferences. Yeah.
Tiara But a lot of events aren't actually doing that right now. So it's you know it needs to be less about like even the topic that you're presenting or that you're discussing and more about the humans and how they interact with that and developing an experience for them If you're going to be in person that again they can't get if they're not there in person. It's unique to that 1 time and and with those people that group of people.
Ashley Um, right? Absolutely what else do you want to share with us about this event.
Tiara Yeah, lots of things. I think and kind of keeping on that track. in in no way to say that this event wasn't valuable because it was but as a lesson for those who are trying to do. Larger in-person events in the future to remember the purpose of your event and clarifying that ahead of time to your attendees because as we talked about I went in expecting there to be a lot more opportunity to Network. and what I kind of. Ended up getting which which did end up being valuable. But for some people they might be disappointed if that wasn't what they were expecting was you know a 1 ne-directional experience. So the event served the presenter really well they have a literal stage and there all the attention is on them. and you know the time to be able to get their point across. But for the listener unless you're just meant to be there and listen it's not really an Experience. You don't really get to interact with that that Keynote speaker or you know ask any questions.
Tiara Unless there was dedicated time for the Q&A which sometimes you know it went over and there just wasn't so I think remembering that even though the the idea for these larger events is to get a ton of people into a room together and talk about something remembering that they aren't just a massive of humans but they are individuals as well and that their experience needs to be considered.
Ashley Yeah, that's a great point. What else?
Tiara Yes, I think that you know I nobody really wants to hear anymore and we're sick of it but just considering pandemic related concerns. You know it means a lot. For me as an audience member attending an event like this to know that my safety has been considered as a priority. and I would say that they they did a great job of you know, implementing a lot of of little things that you could see oh you know little Markers on tables and desks that said this hasn't been sanitized yet. So don't sit down here little hand sanitizing stations with like wipes and that kind of thing so that you can keep everything clean. They definitely checked to make sure that you were vaccinated or that you had proof of negative COVID test 72 hours before you arrived. but it's 1 thing to say that you're doing those things and another to like really put them into practice because I would see those tables that said that they weren't sanitized yet and where's the person that's going to sanitize it. You know I want to sit there right now. So And that I think is just applicable to pretty much every aspect of of an event where if you're setting an expectation you really have to beat that expectation
Ashley Let's go back to small regional events for a little bit talk to me more about what you Anticipate. What's the value there for marketers. Why should we as companies who are looking to send our marketers to for 2 opportunities. Ah, for professional development. My my weight. No No hang. YeI need to think about this before I actually say it. Okay, let's go back to smaller in person Events. So as a company or as a marketing leader looking to build a marketing strategy. How do I know where to put my dollars am I going to host or sponsor a huge large in-person conference am I going to host or sponsor a huge large virtual event multi-session type event. And or am I going to focus on these smaller in-person regional events What is going to be the most value for my bottom line.
Tiara Great question. And I think that the first step for that is is research and is as much as possible getting to talk to somebody who's been there. That's not a representative of of you know the the event organizer. and really imagining what it looks like for your brand and your product and your people to fit into that experience does the culture Match. Do you think that you're really going to be able to speak to the people who are there in in a context that they're going to be able to that that will resonate with them and. I think that when you're going to events like this and you're trying to look at value if you're just looking at it from a brand awareness perspective. Huge event where you get to go and stand up on a stage and talk about your product or some new innovative thing that your company has come up with by using your product. Great. Then there's probably a value there. But if you are like Banzai and you really want to have that 2 way interaction with maybe not even your customer yet. You know, maybe this this person hasn't even met your your product in your company. This is not the way to do that these large like large conferences are just not going to express that as much as you are personable and engaging and you know putting all of this effort into really trying to see through that screen to that person. I definitely see the value in in-person events for doing that because you do get into a room physically with that person and you have a little bit more time to be able to explore that but it needs to be more than just you on a stage in a virtual or a literal context.
Ashley Yeah, it's a great point. Tiara what else do you want to share with us about this event before we wrap up?
So Takeaways from this event I will list off some of the experiences that I had and the learnings that I'm going to take to my next 1 number 1 will be. Try and meet up with some people ahead of the time ahead of time from the event find some of your ICP or maybe you know just a great partner that you think you might be able to work with and dedicate time to meeting up with them either during the event or afterwards really have your elevator pitch. Ready to go because you know after being isolated for so long and you know getting used to talking over you know text or chat we're not as eloquent as we probably think that we are. so it really helps to to maybe do some like small networking opportunities in your community before you go out to an event like this just to make sure that you're ready to to really have these conversations in person. and don't be afraid to Attend some of the the sessions or you know conversation topics that you that are unfamiliar to you or that you don't have the most experience in this type of event is is made for. Getting all that you can out of it while you're there and so absorbing what you can from these expert leaders while you're there in person and able to ask them. You know vulnerable questions if you are able to pull them aside and have some time with them I think it's it's super important to remember that you have that opportunity because it's again we we all know the the value of being in person it's it's nothing like talking to somebody on the phone or through an email when you can just have that that human connection. and that's from you know the experience of of an audience member. My takeaways as a marketer and how I'm thinking about events after this and and how you know we choose to partner with other large events or conferences and considering those partnerships in the future. I will definitely put what the experiences that we want from. I will definitely say that we want to look at the experience of the audience first and really imagine as best as we can how that's actually going to come across with relation to our brand and with our product and and our talking tracks.
Tiara Are they actually going to be able to interact with it in a way that isn't distracting or goes in one ear and out the other or that just just falls flat doesn't feel authentic because it's super important to our brand and it probably is to yours as well. don't get. Blindsided by the big glossyness of you know huge events like this unless again, your goal is to just have brand awareness because I think it's great for that really look at the value of the experience. Events are experienced through and through and so. As if you're putting yourself in the the audience's shoes and you know that they're going to walk away feeling like man I made a new friend or I just found a really cool new product that I'm excited to go back to or you just you know even information that's valuable that I want to share with my team that's going to make me a better professional. then you're probably in the right place.
Ashley Those are great Takeaways. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. We're so grateful and where can people find you learn more about you. Do you have a Linkedin or a Twitter handle give us a little shout out where people can hunt you down?
Tiara Yeah, come find me on Linkedin that's where I'm most active and it's just Tiara Udziela at Linkedin. Actually I can probably pull up the actual thing if that's something that you want.
Ashley We can link it in the show notes.
Tiara Okay, cool so you will find in the show notes a link to my Linkedin profile if you want to connect with me more and talk about your experience at seem world or any other experience that you have with in-person events I'm down for a conversation. Thank you Ashley.
Ashley Thank you Tiara.