The Virtual CMO

Virtual Events - The New Normal in a Post-Covid World with Joe Davy

May 31, 2021 Eric Dickmann, Joe Davy Season 5 Episode 7
The Virtual CMO
Virtual Events - The New Normal in a Post-Covid World with Joe Davy
Show Notes Transcript

In episode 73, host Eric Dickmann interviews Joe Davy. Joe is a serial entrepreneur who founded Banzai to take make the marketing of professional events easier for Chief Marketing Officers and event coordinators around the world. When the pandemic hit, Joe was able to successfully pivot Banzai to success by acquiring a virtual event and webinar platform to build the first truly end-to-end SaaS-based professional events company, Banzai.

With clients like Dell, Adobe, Pure Storage, and more, Banzai has become what Grit Daily has called a "marketing automation giant." Joe has created multiple companies during his journey as an entrepreneur. Joe is at the tip of the spear when it comes to event marketing, attendance, and growth.

For show notes and a  list of resources mentioned in this episode, please visit: https://fiveechelon.com/virtual-events-new-normal-post-covid-s5e7/

A fractional CMO can help build out a comprehensive marketing strategy and execute targeted campaigns designed to increase awareness and generate demand for your business...without the expense of a full-time hire.

The Five Echelon Group - Fractional CMO and strategic marketing advisory services designed for SMBs looking to grow. Learn more at: 

https://fiveechelon.com


Eric Dickmann:

Welcome to The Virtual CMO podcast. I'm your host, Eric Dickmann. In this podcast, we have conversations with marketing professionals who share the strategies, tactics, and mindset you can use to improve the effectiveness of your marketing activities and grow your business. This week, I'm excited to welcome Joe Davy to the podcast. Joe is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Banzai. Banzai is a leading marketing automation platform that helps marketing teams discover market and manage professional events. Joe has created multiple companies during his journey as an entrepreneur. Today, we're going to be talking about the relevance and importance of virtual events for businesses in the post COVID world. Please help me welcome Joe to the program. Hey, Joe, welcome to The Virtual CMO Podcast, very glad you could join us today.

Joe Davy:

Yeah, thanks, Eric.

Eric Dickmann:

So we're going to get a chance to talk a little bit about virtual events today. Boy, you picked the right business to be in a when COVID hit.

Joe Davy:

It's actually funny because when COVID hit we really were not that heavily into this business, and we had to figure out how to adapt pretty quickly. Uh but I agree with you, it has turned out to be a it has turned out to be a really good business to be in.

Eric Dickmann:

So a lot of what you're doing around virtual events was a pivot from where you were prior to COVID starting?

Joe Davy:

You know it's interesting I wouldn't say a pivot, but uh we've we've always been focused on events and uh engagement and that's really what our our business is about And our products are about For us when COVID hit, you know we had to adapt like everybody else, our uh our core product, you know 87 percent of our users were from uh you know field marketing, doing in-person events like regional events and dinners and lunch and learns. And then we had to adapt quickly to help support them on virtual events. So that was the big change.

Eric Dickmann:

I live here in Orlando, Florida. This town is built on theme parks and convention business, and you know it's been devastated obviously by the fact that all these in-person conferences have been canceled. Now things look like they're starting to warm up especially in the second half of the year. Do you really feel that there's a pent up demand? Are you seeing that for in-person events again?

Joe Davy:

Absolutely. There's a there's a pent up demand for in-person events, there's also a new awareness of the benefit of virtual events, and I think the future is going to be some combination of the two. I think in general you know what we've learned in the past you know 12 months that has been going on is that Virtual events are never going to be a substitute for in-person events. Not really. Because so much of what you want to do at in-person events, you can't really do at virtual events. You know people don't just go to in-person events to Learn. Um if you want to learn you can pick up a book or you can watch a YouTube video or you can watch An interview such as this, you know there's a lot of different tools that you can use if you just want the learning value. The reason that people go to events ultimately is the engagement that they get, the connection that they get while they're there. They want to build relationships you know, they want to build friendships. And so it's learning in that context and virtual events um have replicated some element of that, but not uh you know nowhere close to the the the same experiences as being in person. And by that being said, you know there's many ways that virtual events are better than in-person events too. Uh So there are trade offs obviously to both then. That's why I will say I see the I see the future going forward is really being you know somewhat of a combination.

Eric Dickmann:

Yeah, you know you can't get that tote bag at the virtual event the same way you can at the in-person event, or stand in line at the buffet waiting for the uh somewhat marginal food. Those are the kind of experiences that you miss. But I agree I did events for a long time and there's no better place really to have those one-on-one conversations than when you're with somebody personally. And uh I would agree that we're going to a hybrid model. For this audience it would be great to take a little bit of a step backwards and talk a little bit about the evolution of virtual events and how we got to where we are today. I remember years ago there are platforms like On 24 and others, and they had created something like a 3D rendering where you would sort of meander through using your avatar, and it was clunky and it was slow, and it wasn't very compelling at all. Where do you see the technology today, and where do you sort of see it going?

Joe Davy:

It really reminds me of the early days of the internet where you know you the first thing you had before search engines would you had directories. Directories were basically bringing your your yellow pages online. And uh that's what's happened with with the first wave of virtual events There's been a lot of these attempts to physically recreate the experience of being in Uh an exhibit hall But obviously to do it in a retreat that physical experience in a virtual way Look I I've been to some events like that And I have to say that some of the new technology especially things like VR do make those experiences interesting and impossible even compelling The big question for me is You know when are we going to see major league baseball start to adopt these things right I think that's just a it's just a perfect analogy because what we're seeing is just that You know whatever happens in And things like entertainment where they're producing these large scale live events Um the the business events are going to lag that right Um professional events are gonna lag that because of the audience they can't reach Uh and segment the audience in the same way historically Using mediums like television And so they haven't adapted as quickly as you know something that has an audience Of you know millions or tens of millions of individuals can do Um So you know w w On on on on I think the experience going forward is going to be a lot like you know Going to Uh Going to a uh you know a Seahawks game or you know in your case maybe a a Buccaneers game Going to a professional sports game you have options, right? You can attend in person and you can buy the $12 beers and you can buy the $200 tickets and sit in the stands and you get that kind of experience. Or you can watch it on your television on your couch from the comfort of your own home or you can watch the highlight reel on ESPN later. I I think its going to be very similar type of experience for in-person events uh in business transitioning over to support these additional mediums where you can watch it from your office, you can watch it from a hotel room, you can watch the highlight reel later on demand, and uh so we really see everything moving to that offline online on demand paradigm.

Eric Dickmann:

So a couple of examples come to mind based on what you said there. So obviously you know during the early stages of COVID, we had the NBA bubble here in Orlando. They did the games, they had a virtual audience set up so that you know there were screens in the stands and fans could put a placeholder there to show that they were supportive. So they were really trying to recreate that virtual experience to bring the fans in to make it exciting for them. And the second one that comes to mind is what Tony Robbins has done with his events, you know he would get tens of thousands of people to show up for his events. And now he's created this studio that literally has thousands of people on these little screens all around him so that he can feel uh the the interaction of the audience and the audience can participate with him. But it's all virtual. Now, they're all sitting at home instead of in an arena or something. Other examples come to mind of what you think are some stellar virtual events that have been put on so far?

Joe Davy:

You know one one example I really like has been what Drift has done with their Rev Growth series And the reason that I liked this is I have felt for for a long time even way before COVID that uh there was this this huge content investment that companies were making And when you think about producing an event whether it's a Tony Robbins event or whether it's a baseball game or you know whether it's a CMO round table, the challenging part is the content, right? Creating great content is not easy. Companies and event producers invest millions of dollars into these events sometimes to produce the content You know they hire speakers they fly them out They put them in five star hotels Uh they go to all this trouble with production and lighting and everything else And a lot of times they're even capturing this stuff digitally you know they are recording it Um Or where they are at least you know rebroadcasting it up onto a bigger screen or something in the conference hall Things like that Um but the model that has worked really really well has been Ted And they've done it for years Uh you know With taking the content that they produce at Ted And putting it online That's why people know what Ted is not because Ted's a really successful conference But because Ted has done a great job at creating content Their conference is a venue for creating that content It's a way Uh that they produce it and then they take it and put it online and make it accessible to other people Putting it online that on demand component I have the content for Ted is where all of the value comes from You know for most people most people will never get to go and sit in a Ted conference You know what they can watch just about any talk online So that's that's you know what I think the future is going to be really uh is going to be companies capturing uh and doing more with the content that they're creating that they're investing so much money to create That CMOs are going to realize wait a second You know we're spending A half a million dollars to produce this conference and we're walking away from it with you know a bunch of good feelings and and everybody's happy What are we actually walking away from it with a lasting asset you know that we can continue to uh to build on And that's what I see that that that digital transformation of conferences going towards Yeah And not just conferences I mean we we think you know this is going to happen even more with Uh other types of virtual events like webinars Uh where we already see this happening You We're we're producing Thousands of these things a year are not producing them but you know they're hosted on our platform Uh So It's it's pretty obvious to see uh you know where the where the future's going.

Eric Dickmann:

So explain to our audience why a virtual event is really different than a webinar or a series of webinars? What really brings that virtual event to life? Cause I agree with you content is king, right? You've got to have good content, but the technology matters too. We're in an era where people are getting a little zoomed out. How does a virtual event take that to the next level?

Joe Davy:

So we think of virtual events as a big tent. There's a lot of things that can happen under virtual events Webinars are one example round you know virtual round tables are another example Uh Virtual conferences are maybe the big example right On the on the far end there are platforms that support all all range of different types of experiences Right Um You might even say that you know something like uh something like a stream yard is a type of virtual event on the very low end where what it's doing You know broadcasting across LinkedIn live and things like that you know Those those can be you know the guy standing in the street uh doing magic tricks Is kind of an event right Um so we that's the online equivalent um in terms of how this plays out Uh For you know companies and thinking about their content strategy which I think is kind of what you're getting at You know I don't see a lot of purely virtual conferences going forward I see a lot of Uh uh in terms of virtual events you know what we believe the future is is going to be You know better investments in uh webinars and possibly multi-session uh PO possibly multi-session You know single day Uh type of experiences Uh I think it's very hard to ask somebody to spend two or three days In front of a computer uh watching and interacting with your virtual conference the same way that they would spend two or three days In a hotel Uh interacting with your you know In-person conference So Uh so I just don't see that paradigm continuing what I do see continuing is you know When companies are producing their in-person events But they have a better understanding now of the value Of capturing that content streaming it putting it online Uh ultimately you know making it available on demand Uh and building a library of those assets that they can store and share And uh and even that they can get personalized recommendations to people who are interacting with them about the type of things that they might want to interact with Uh that that's what we see as the future.

Eric Dickmann:

Interesting because I know in events from the past, I think one of the tools really that event organizers use is they basically are locking you in a room, right? They're holding you hostage. You don't want to be rude and get up in the middle of a presentation and leave, and so

Joe Davy:

That doesn't matter online at all you know online you're one LinkedIn live stream uh competing with a hundred other things at that person could engage with and with one tab on their browser. And if your browser is anything like mine it probably has about 20 tabs open at any given time, so you know capturing that attention is really tough. I think it's going to be a lot more about you know bite-sized content things that are 10, 15 minutes long the highlight reel you know uh that you can put online

Eric Dickmann:

Well I was going to say too that it does put the focus on content, really making great content that people are going to want to stay engaged with for the full session. And I think it also creates this great evergreen content. You know a lot of presentations at conferences, there are one time in one time only, right? If you're not there to see it live, you don't see it, because they can't afford to film every session that's going on. So a lot of that content gets lost. But I think these tools provide you a way of creating more evergreen content, and as you say you can break it up into shorter pieces that's a little bit more digestible to folks. Uh do you see that really as a trend as well?

Joe Davy:

100 percent, yeah. I think that Uh The competition right now is again like I said for engagement right The awareness is basically a saturated channel at this point Right The marketing of more that some people like Matt Heinz talk about Is it's it's a bygone era right Um The the future is going to really be defined by uh companies that can drive engagement with their customers and with their buyers And that engagement is you know it's up to them right You can put out whatever you want The buyer has to choose to engage with you and that so that choice you have to give them a reason to choose to do that You know The quality of the content is really everything And uh So you know the platform can make a huge difference In terms of the quality of the content that you're producing Right That's what we've seen You know with our platform we've had customers that talk to us and say Gosh you know I've been doing webinars for years And I switched over to your platform And all of a sudden I doubled the number of leads I was getting per webinar Like why is that It's because the platform itself the whole experience is part of that engagement It's not just you know a video where I'm talking to you but it's you know can we chat Can we do polls Can we You know create an interactive experience that makes people want to engage with that Uh it it does go beyond just Um you know having a great speaker although that never hurts.

Eric Dickmann:

Have you seen in the webinars that you've helped produce, have you seen a sort of a leveling across the year, or have you seen when COVID started, that webinars really took off and then as people fatigued a little bit, they started to drop in terms of their attention. What have you seen in terms of metrics?

Joe Davy:

Well we hosted over 4 million uh attendees on webinars last year. So we have quite a bit of data about this uh the thing that we've seen is the trend is continued in terms of uh in terms of people attending more webinars, but the competition has also increased. So uh you know people do want uh to move away from platforms like zoom or go to webinar or things like that that they don't feel are very engaging or that they feel are not differentiated Um you know we're we're hearing from a lot of CMOs that they want to create You know branded experiences that they want to really control into end The experience that the attendee has within that webinar And uh you know But the big thing is just companies You have a bigger fight ahead of them In terms of that differentiation and standing out You know and the in-person world It was a little bit easier because uh you could kind of buy your way in It was easier for some companies right It had a lot of money If you were a big fortune 500 company and I'm not disparaging them w we have a lot of fortune 500 customers But you know it was easier for them because they could say Oh well we're just gonna have a steak dinner and invite 40 people to it that you know A Michelin starred restaurant And you know it's a great approach Honestly if you have a lot of money like that will draw people in Um The virtual events have really leveled the playing field You can't do that anymore You know you can't have these you know exorbitantly uh produced Events anymore Uh that you know where the event itself is the draw And the content is kind of secondary And so uh you know companies these days really have to think about the engagement and the platforms and everything that goes into it uh in a bit more uh in a bit more detail.

Eric Dickmann:

Hey, it's Eric here and we'll be right back to the podcast. But first, are you ready to grow, scale, and take your marketing to the next level? If so, The Five Echelon Group's Virtual CMO consulting service may be a great fit for you. We can help build a strategic marketing plan for your business and manage its execution, step-by-step. We'll focus on areas like how to attract more leads. How to create compelling messaging that resonates with your ideal customers. How to strategically package and position your products and services. How to increase lead conversion, improve your margins, and scale your business. To find out more about our consulting offerings and schedule a consultation, go to fiveechelon.com and click on Services. Now back to the podcast. I hadn't thought about it that way, but you're right. I think it really does level the playing field quite a bit. If you're a big company and you have big sponsorship dollars, you know you can slap your name on a lot of different things, but you don't have the same visible physical presence that you maybe would at an in-person event. It gives the smaller guys more of an opportunity to stand out, which I think is great. And from a cost I would think that the costs are considerably less If you're spending $15, $20,000 to have a small sponsorship a 10 by 20 at a at some convention, I would imagine that same you know $20,000 buys you quite a bit in the virtual event space.

Joe Davy:

I think you can produce you know an entire year's worth of webinars for most companies for the price of you know one large booth at You know uh at a national conference Right Uh I mean these booths can run into the 50 or a hundred thousand dollar So uh you know Setting aside the cost of the people but just in terms of the cost of the technology and the the the sponsors and everything else You know you you really can stretch your dollar much further I think it's a it's a huge opportunity for marketers Uh people look at it like it's like it's been you know a big challenge But uh it much of the same way that you know regulation helps big companies stay in business and keep small companies out of business Um marketing is the same way in some ways right Awareness Uh for a long time Was the defining factor in you know which companies would wet And if you were Coca Cola and you could buy more ad space then you know you would ultimately have the winning product It's not like that anymore Um you know the we we've moved past the era of you know Opens and clicks and uh You know eyeballs as being the defining metric of success for marketing and we've moved to an era Of you know 70 of buyers have fully educated themselves now before they ever have Uh an interaction with a sales rep And about half of them have already made their purchase decision Before they have the first interaction with a sales rep So what that means is just driving awareness is not enough anymore for marketers Marketers really have to Uh in many ways take on A lot of the responsibilities Of uh of educating their customers This sales has been doing for the last hundred years

Eric Dickmann:

Very

Joe Davy:

uh and so so now you know we're we're adapting to that and it and it is leveling the playing field for many small companies where all of a sudden you know just because you have a giant Salesforce It doesn't make as much of a difference um as it used to you You have a thousand sales reps versus a startup that has two Well guess what You both just have one website Um you both just have one YouTube channel you know you both just have one opportunity To engage your buyers And so Uh it really is you know Yes it is a challenge for uh marketers especially in the enterprise to adapt to this Uh but it's also a huge opportunity because you know the companies of the future are going to be the ones who really succeed Uh at engaging They're buyers and the real winners here are the rest of us Right The professionals who are who are out there who are trying to get educated and trying to learn and make good decisions Uh and you know see new uh techniques and approaches and things like that Professionals uh are really the winners of this This war here because everyone is trying to Uh provide value to uh the professional And so uh I I just see that trend continuing to uh to escalate Uh from here.

Eric Dickmann:

That makes a lot of sense and I think based on what you've said and what I've seen in the marketplace myself, it just seems like engagement is going to be such a critical factor going forward, I think there's era of Zoom calls where people are on there, they're participating, you look at the success that a product like Clubhouse has had recently, you know that's not new technology, right? It's just technology that's been repackaged, but it's all about people engaging as opposed to just listening to static content. And when I think about webinars or events I think about the ability to really get involved to get engaged, to share in that content in some ways. And that seems to be what this technology is going to enable going forward.

Joe Davy:

Absolutely you know It's about a lot more than just is this a conference or is this is this a virtual conference Is this a virtual webinar Is this uh uh you know Clubhouse event You know it's about a lot more than that It's about engagement and uh you know I think the companies of the future in terms of MarTech at least, are going to be the companies that provide those platforms to power those type of engaging experiences.

Eric Dickmann:

We're sort of coming to the close of our podcast here today, I'd really like to learn a little bit more about your platform in particular and the kinds of things that you do to enhance webinars and facilitate uh virtual events.

Joe Davy:

Sure Well uh you know bonsai is a MarTech company we're really focused on this emerging idea of engagement marketing And uh you know as I said the idea is that You know buyers today are educated before they ever show up to have a conversation with sales And so whereas before marketing just owned the awareness layer of the funnel just trying to drive leads into a sales funnel Uh you know today the sales funnel has really become in many ways a marketing funnel Marketing now owns the engagement and the consideration phases of the buying process And uh in many ways sales is is you know has become order-takers Now that's not a hundred percent true and it's not true in every category And certainly there Are many talented uh sales folks out there As it's not a reflection at all actually on the talents or skills of salespeople at all I think I think actually it's much more challenging to be a great sales person today than it was 10 years ago Uh and in many ways it's just a reflection You know on the way that the buyers Are changing their perspective Uh bonds I R you know mission is bringing that human connection Back to marketing Where uh you know it was you know lost in the past two eyeballs and open rates and you know The marketing of more and the marketing of metrics Right And so our uh our products and We basically have uh a product focused on three areas You know one is uh the uh Engagement you know helping companies drive more engagement through their virtual events through there Uh hybrid events hybrid conferences Um through their webinars and uh we have uh uh a phenomenal uh webinar product called Danielle Which is the number one rated uh webinar product Out there Uh and it's you know it's designed specifically for marketers You can think of the difference as you know product like a zoom or go to webinar or WebEx You know they're not really marketing products they're designed for Uh for meetings Uh and and they're designed to be meeting products and somebody said Hey let's put a webinar feature on the side of this What we're doing uh is building products from the marketer first Right And from the attendees of the audience experience first And so it's a totally different type of experience Um and I encourage everybody to uh go take a look At our website uh you can uh you can find that product [email protected] Uh and then you know our our uh You know the the rest of our business really Uh about Uh you know the data and uh and helping marketers understand what's going on Uh with their audiences and with their engagement And it's about Uh the marketing automation behind that So you know how do we drive more uh targeted focused audience How do we discover that audience And how do we tap into that audience and engage with that audience Uh and you know a very tailored and a very focused and targeted way And so that's what our our reach product is about doing Uh and so that's you know again used by Uh companies have ranged from You know startups to the fortune 500 Uh but the idea is really simple You know we uh uh I'm like a normal webinar where you post your event online and wait for somebody to come find it You know reached as the opposite You put an event in reach and reach we'll go out and figure out the audience that's best suited for your event and invite them proactively And it'll automatically do things like follow up with them to make sure that they Uh attend send them the on demand content You know track their engagement across it So you understand as a marketer Uh you know who the right audience for you is and uh and how they're engaging with you And so that's that's really what we're about Uh as a company is just driving more of that engagement and in the future you know we're going to invest more Uh in in other types of engagement marketing we think fit that trend.

Eric Dickmann:

I love everything you said there because it's really from the standpoint of a marketer just like you said and so many of these products you know the other webinar platforms, you're right, they're just for meetings they're they're terrible for webinars and you see people fumbling all the time. You know how do I share my screen, and you know is this working and embarrassing how bad some webinars can be because the technology ends up being a hindrance. And obviously not many branding opportunities either. So that's great. I will make sure that we have links to all that in the show notes If you would, just tell everybody where they can find you online and we'll make sure to get all that linked up.

Joe Davy:

Yeah Great You can follow me on Twitter at J P Davy D A V Y Uh and the same thing uh on LinkedIn Uh um linkedin.com/in/JoeDavy And uh I I post most of my updates there and you know I'll obviously follow Banzai uh is uh Banzai_IO or banzai.io

Eric Dickmann:

Okay that's great. Like I said we'll make sure to have all of that in the show notes. Joe, this has been great. I've really enjoyed talking to you today, learning more about your platform, learning more about what you view the future of virtual events and interactive webinars. It's all about engagement and content, that's what I'm walking away with today, and those are two hot button issues for me and my clients as well. So I think we're all on the same page. This is great I really appreciate your time today

Joe Davy:

Great to talk with you Eric.

Eric Dickmann:

Thank you for joining us on this episode of The Virtual CMO podcast. For more episodes, go to fiveechelon.com/podcast to subscribe through your podcast player of choice. And if you'd like to develop consistent lead flow and a highly effective marketing strategy, visit fiveechelon.com to learn more about our Virtual CMO consulting services.