InVision Powers 365-Day/Year Event Strategy for Siemens Digital Industries Software Portfolio
Every successful corporate event is powered by suppliers. Once you’ve found the right agency and/or suppliers to work with you, it’s impossible to underestimate the importance of the partnerships — because that’s truly what these relationships are. Together, you can make your events greater.
Siemens Digital Industries Software (DI SW) has worked with InVision Communications since 2014 to ensure consistent, high-impact performance for their portfolio of 20 global events each year. We spoke with Lynn Randall, senior solutions strategist at InVision, about the relationship between the two organizations, how InVision has helped Siemens and her recommendations for how all event planners should be using audience data.
When and why did Siemens first approach InVision?
Lynn Randall: We were approached by Siemens Digital Industries Software back in 2014 about reinventing their global sales kickoff. Their attendees were finding the networking time more valuable than sitting in the session and going through the specific training that they needed. Siemens was looking for a way to get the audience excited and engaged in the training and also provide a forum for informal exchanges and networking. They needed a strategic communications partner who could help maximize impact across a wide range of events, and that’s where InVision came in.
How did you approach this challenge?
LR: We flipped the event on its head, by creating an ongoing, long-term engagement campaign where we would drive people to specific online training modules. So by the time they got to the physical event, it was more about bringing the training to life, sharing how people are using Siemens DI SW solutions, what’s working, customer success stories, etc. We even rebranded the event — taking it from literally “Global Sales Training” to “Converge,” which the client felt better described what the event was all about.
What were the next steps?
LR: We asked, “How are these audiences being equipped to do their jobs? How can we help enhance that through this 365-day-a-year engagement? How can we convey consistency in the way that they talk about who Siemens DI SW is and what they do? We began to engage in other events, like their annual user conference and leadership meetings. The Siemens team appreciated our strategic thinking about where they were headed and their brand consistency across multiple channels. And from there, the partnership grew.
What types and sizes of events are you helping Siemens with, and what type of assistance do you provide?
LR: Right now, we’re involved with six of their events each year, but the content from those lives on in many others. The events range in size and scope from intimate high-level leadership meetings to the 5,000-person global sales event we began with. We helped them bring their annual user conference back under the Siemens banner as well — it had previously been run by an outside user board.
We help them design the attendee journey from content prioritization through message typing and organization and also help them determine the medium to best deliver it. We conduct “visioning sessions” that help them [address] what our business, Siemens DI SW needs to do in order to succeed, and how this audience plays a role in that.
We help with communications plans, event audits, rebranding media pieces and development of global plans for everything from measurement to how things are displayed on screens. We also suggest ways to use staging in regional events versus the larger global events that may kick off a series that falls under the same audience set.
How do you design programming that is going to appeal to new audiences and still keep your older audiences happy?
LR: I have this mental Venn diagram that I create. One of the circles is what the stakeholders want and need; the other is the audience's needs and objectives. Where those two things cross over, that's where strategy really happens.
For Siemens, we conducted in-depth interviews and gathered direct feedback from representative audience members. Then, we created audience profiles, categorizing groups of people. The profiling directly informs the type and level of content that each group requires, as well as the best method for engaging with them in an event experience or in a content environment. There are usually a multitude of audiences and audience profiles at any given event.
And then there are learning styles. The old standard for delivering an experience was to stand at the front of the room and talk at people. That's not really how most people consume content, and that's not how our human brains work. So we ask questions like, how visual is it? What is the sound that we can evoke that can open up memory, which allows that message to really stick with people? How can they physically get involved with something?
If you tell an audience something, they remember about 10–20 percent of it. It’s 20 percent if they hear it and see it. But if you can get them hands-on engaged with the message, they'll remember closer to 80 percent of what you want them to remember. So understanding human nature really shapes that decision-making and has a huge role in building out what that experience is and what the event content looks like.
Do you help Siemens reach new audiences, and if so, how?
LR: To expand and attract new people we look at things like, what roles are currently interesting and where, what's the vision of where the company is headed and how do we look at how that will impact audiences as this organization morphs and changes into that future ideal state? It’s not just roles — it’s demographics and psychographics: geographies, distinctive characteristics, attitudes, preferences.
What are the criteria for gauging success?
LR: We work with Siemens to figure out the right metrics. In our visioning session, we ask key stakeholders what they want the audience to think or feel differently about when they leave the event, and how that will help move Siemens’ business forward. It goes far beyond just raw numbers like butts in seats — if you have the wrong people, it's not going to help your business achieve its goals.
Depending on the audience, we’ll create a different experience and have different metrics. Maybe you want people to use more of what they've already purchased versus just buying more — so you need to target the people who are using the products. Our metrics are specific, like “we need more engineers, programmers and software developers to attend versus the people who are the decision-makers, because we want to increase usage of our solutions.” It would be completely different if it's an event where you're trying to influence VIPs and leadership to purchase more of your products.
How do you use data to influence event design?
LR: We now have more tools at our disposal to make measurement more precise.
For Siemens, we conducted pre- and post-event survey measurements along with quarterly surveys throughout the year. But survey data is only one input. You have what a person says they intend to do, but analyzing the data on what they actually did is even more useful. We have registration data. We have badge scans into various breakout sessions, so we know where attendees are. There's RFID and heat mapping that tracks them. And sometimes you’ll find that that behavioral data tells a different story than survey-based self-reporting.
Siemens wanted that real data on attendee behavior. What do they actually click on and consume, and which are the pieces of communication or training that we send out that most effectively move them to do what we want them to do or take action on?
All that data can be overwhelming — there’s so much of it that it can be hard to figure out what’s important and how to look at it. We work with Siemens to take the metrics all the way through to recommendations and what actions they should take. For example, if this percentage of attendees said this, did this, felt this – your senior executives care about this but your audience doesn’t. And you can address this by creating a special experience that emphasizes what you want them to be excited about, change the perception of, or act on differently.
We encourage the use of a business intelligence platform that gives you multiple data dimensions that you can track and analyze on an ongoing basis. This requires a strong partnership with clients on the back end as you’ll often want to connect data from their systems.
Are there any trends you’re seeing with Siemens or any of InVision’s other clients?
LR: Personalization and hyper-personalization are key to attracting and retaining audiences today and in the future.
If you think about personalization in the era of technology, we can walk into a Starbucks and the barista will say, “Hey, Lynn – want your regular today?” and she'll start working on my Trenta black iced tea with two stevias before I even order it. They'll have it ready for me (with my name spelled correctly on the cup). That's personalization.
Hyper-personalization really builds an entire technology identity for each user. It's holistic versus transactional, which would be walking in and saying, “yeah, give me my regular coffee.” It'll create what we call momentary markets: It delivers the exact right content or exact right experience at the exact right time based on all of the information that we have gathered from various sources.
For example, if I haven’t used my Starbucks card or been into my local shop in a while, I might receive an offer for a new flavor of iced tea. When I walk in the door, the completed drink is waiting for me.
It really ties back to that underlying business intelligence platform. If we gather all of this information, just like retailers are doing, we should be applying that to the experiences that we have onsite at events.
Nothing gets more personal than who I am, where I'm from, how I think, how I'm wired, the culture, life experiences, music, how I view and interact with the world. That's what makes up me. And if you can incorporate those things that I personally care about into my event experience, then I have a more of an indelible bond with your brand. I care about you and your brand because of the way you’ve treated me throughout every experience both online and at your events.