Tamar Beck spends her days overseeing Gleanin’s sales, marketing, operations and finance. In fact, as CEO Tamar has helped shape Gleanin into the go-to audience acquisition and social referral marketing partner for many of the world’s largest event organisers.

But she hasn’t always been on the event technology supplier side. Tamar spent fifteen years at Reed Exhibitions as Group Events Director for a large portfolio of IT/Comms events, including Infosecurity Europe, Storage Expo, e-business Expo and e-commerce Expo.

Her time at Reed Exhibitions shaped her perspectives on the unique challenges organisers face with growing an event. Read Tamar’s take on visitor acquisition and about stepping out of what has always been done to better the bottom line.

Explain the visitor acquisition challenges you faced during your time at Reed Exhibitions.

When it came to visitor acquisition, we were very, very dependent on email. We were lucky that we had huge databases and massive resources of data. We did what everyone did those days. We churned out emails.

We also made deals with media partners and associations so we could tap into their data lists and send even more emails.

But our return on our database started declining. What used to work wasn’t as effective, and we couldn’t rely on email so heavily.

We tried a few ads, but we were so used to delivering through email and not having to spend too much. And as this was about eight years ago, social media was in the very early stages.

How have the challenges organisers face changed?

If anything, the challenges with visitor acquisition have become even harder!

Getting attendees to register has always been a tough challenge. Added to that, getting them to attend – what we call pre-registered attendee conversion — is an even bigger challenge.

How was marketing technology perceived then?

To be honest, from where I sat, I didn’t thinking about marketing technology at all.

Sure, we had web teams working on our site. Someone else was handling our email technology. Social media was on our radar too, but none of that was considered marketing technology.

Even the term marketing technology was off-putting. Cold-call pitches sounded too techy and complicated so those went straight to our IT team.

In hindsight, none of the technology companies approached me by talking about benefits – what the technology could do. If the approaches had been focused on what it could help me do as an organiser, like find new registrants and grow my audiences, I would have been all ears.

Frankly, that’s one of the biggest lessons I learned during my time at Reed Exhibitions. It’s very important that our customers first understand Gleanin helps them with their challenge of uncovering new audiences and converting them to registrants. Then once they understand that concept, we can talk specifically about how the technology works.

What would your “self” now want to say to your “self” then?

Persevere and be brave.

When everything is working as is, getting budget to try something new, especially an idea that hasn’t been proven yet, is a challenge.

I’ve found that you just have to be clever in finding ways to break out of the status quo.

Luckily today I’ve found more organisers are open to trying something new. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t bumps along the road. If you believe in the idea – especially something that solves a big problem and affects the bottom line, you have to persevere and stick with it.

What advice would you give organisers who are considering new event technologies?

First, make sure everyone aligns to the same expectations. Sometimes we’re working with a customer who had a previous bad experience with a new technology and find that the larger issue was around incorrect expectations rather than a tech failure.

Second, understand what could happen if the technology implementation doesn’t go exactly as planned – and have a plan B in place.

Third, ask event technology suppliers about their customer retention rate. A retention rate quickly says how well a solution works — or doesn’t – and the kind of customer service provided. Companies don’t retain high-level customers if the product doesn’t work or there isn’t good customer service.

CEO and co-founder of Gleanin, a referral marketing platform for events. Previous to the launch of Gleanin back in 2012, she spent 15 years at Reed Exhibitions as a portfolio director and passionately believes in the people, community and social aspects of events.  

Adam is the co-founder and editor of www.eventindustrynews.com Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.