With the ever-growing dynamic event industry we work with, it becomes a need to keep up with the trends, to highlight the success stories and achievements of event professionals. Interacting with the event industry influencers, knowing how they have developed and managed to achieve success and how the industry has changed in the past few decades. Let’s hear a version from a renowned event marketing influencer — Nick Borelli.
Nick Borelli, who is presently the President/Strategist of Borelli Strategies marketing consulting firm, has been an integral part of the events industry since the age of 14. His specialization covers the aspects of digital marketing strategies through consulting, coaching and brand communication.
Passionate about making an impact in the industry he has not only achieved and fulfilled his goal but also gives direction to fellow event professionals on the same.
He is also a member of the Professional Conventions Managers Association (PCMA) and the International Live Events Association (ILEA). Moreover, he is also the Chair of Public Relations and Marketing for the SEARCH Foundation and serves on the advisory council of the Student Event Planners Association & snöball. He speaks internationally on the latest and trending marketing strategies, digital engagement at live events.
Some of the few titles he’s been awarded are: Won the Smart Business Magazine’s Social Media Impact Award, Awarded: 2015–2016 ILEA International Volunteer of the Year Award, Ranked: #2 Most Influential Event Professional on Social Media in North America, and many more.
Here are some answers to the questions we got an opportunity to ask one of the best Event Influencers of events industry:
1. You’ve had numerous accolades to your name and have worked with a lot of prestigious names in the events industry. How did you begin your journey in the events industry?
In hindsight, I’m very fortunate that my parents pushed me to work early. At age 14, I started working for a local theme park in their catering division. I washed dishes, prepped food, and worked with guests directly in service roles. Being thrown into the workforce at that pace (an organization that fed thousands on Saturday afternoon, I learned most of the lessons I needed to work in the events industry.
Follow the plan until it doesn’t work and then improvise, never let the client or guests see you stressed, and the fact that live events are the most memorable and positive forces in people’s lives (and it’s a privilege to bring them into fruition…no matter the role).
Over the years, I made my way up the ranks in the catering and hospitality world, always through events. I eventually married my career in events with my web-design side hustle into a singular vocation when I began speaking at national conferences in 2006 on topics related to digital marketing, web design, and social media.
From there, I built an international network of professionals with the same passion as me: elevating the live events industry. What made my network grow strong enough to support my own business was my volunteering in the International Live Events Association.
2. How did Borelli strategies begin?
I worked in catering, venue sales, event entertainment, corporate A/V and for a trade show organizer all while freelancing as an event marketer for trade shows. I started working partial weeks at my day job in exchange for more time with my freelance clients.
Eventually, I felt my network was strong enough to pursuit working for my own clients as a consultant full-time. The jump was made possible by my friend and first Borelli Strategies client, Aaron Kaufman of the Fifth Element Group who gave me the opportunity to work with him on a project for the Canadian government.
Since then, I’ve had many diverse engagements with both events and event suppliers while also traveling the world as a speaker.
3. What are the different aspects of event planning and execution where Social Media can come handy?
My clients and friends at Maritz Global Events have identified 8 phases of a live event.
I honestly believe social media as a tool can enhance any one of those phases but there are some that are impacted more naturally than others. Announcing, Attracting and Anticipation can benefit greatly from strategic engagement and storytelling through social media.
Once you get participants to your event and they leave happy, digital engagement (via social media) can be an exceptional medium to extend the earned positive sentiments which can result in a higher chance for conversion. I believe relationships are made real face to face but they can be started and sustained through social media.
4. Which are your top 3 preferred social media channels for live events?
Firstly, I’d say it really depends on the goals of the event. Social media is a tactical tool for live events and the goals, objectives, and strategies need to be in place first in order for you to know which social media platforms to engage. That said, there are tactics that I enjoy using more than others because I believe they reach people in unique ways consistently.
Facebook Live — This is an excellent way to build deeper connections with the most important people associated with your event (speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, etc.) before the event begins. In addition, Facebook Live offers an engaging experience for those who didn’t attend your event to be a part of it while it takes place in order to build fear of missing out that will result in conversions down the road.
Instagram — Events are inherently visual and Instagram lets the content do most of the talking. Especially with Stories, Instagram provides an insider’s view into your event.
Twitter — It’s like what it was for me 6 years ago or more but it still is a great way to listen in on a community’s needs to help inform how you design an experience for them. Most people are focused on social media’s ability to broadcast your message but everyone would benefit from the insights you can gain just from paying attention to those who matter to you most.
5. What are the trends to look out for in terms of digital marketing for live events?
Social Listening. Paying attention to what your community, competitors, and what is being said about you. As social media has more or less settled down over the past two years, it’s becoming more and more important to refine strategies that have been running for a while vs. creating whole new ones. Social listening also gives you options to engage with new contacts and find user-generated content that can benefit your brand.
Micro and Nano Influencers. Most of us in the event world isn’t looking for the macro influencers with millions of online followers to help us with our goals. There are those with either an average or higher than average reach who have the power to convert others when activated. Finding and aligning with these potential partners can make a huge difference in reaching attendance goals.
6. What is the role of influencer marketing in live events?
The role of an influencer in live events can be absolutely vital if all sides are aligned by their shared missions. If so, then influencers can use their greatest strengths: credibility, authenticity, and reach to everyone’s benefit. If you want a successful and fully realized influencer relationship, you should be doing more than using them for their social media broadcasting abilities.
These are tastemakers. Ask them questions and have their answers to impact the design of your event. Making them part of the team is a transparent and holistic strategy.
7. How does event marketing play a role in the overall event experience for an attendee?
Event marketing should not be in a silo. When marketing and design work together, you can achieve a lot more than increased attendance. Especially with the aid of digital marketing channels, your marketing lead is your Chief Listening Officer. They know what your attendees crave from life experience and have their finger on their pulse through every step.
Because of this and the data they have, they are also in the best position to help create unique attendee personas that every event should focus on in order to create more personalized experiences.
8. One tip you can provide for live events that want to stand out?
If your goal is to stand out, take a stand. Be the least general as you can and position your event with a niche focus. That will ensure you will be remembered because you won’t be “yet another ______ show”. Once you have your purpose, make sure your voice is passionate and that your event is your cause. The market is too crowded right now for anyone to enjoy long-term success without a unique point of view and passion.
It was great to have a discussion about the marketing trends in the event industry with an amazing person and an influencer. You can reach out to him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram to have a fruitful discussion and get insights on digital marketing trends.
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