Event Execution

Episode 36: Reinventing Events for the Future: Strategies and Best Practices Feat. Will Curran

Will Curran, founder of Endless Events shares insights on personal branding, successful event marketing strategies, embracing technology, sustainability, inclusivity, and event design.

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Key Takeaways:

The Power of Personal Branding

  • Benefits of building a personal brand such as targeting audiences, providing value and expertise, and receiving more RFPs.
  • Importance of owning the Google result for your name and having a website to showcase speaking engagements.
  • Being a little controversial for engagement.

Key Factors for Success

  • Importance of having a great team and creating a flexible environment to facilitate scalability.
  • Endless's documentation process using tools such as Slab and automation methods through Rippling and HubSpot.
  • The benefits of automation for saving time and focusing on revenue-generating activities.
  • The importance of embracing technology to remain competitive and profitable.

Event Planning and Marketing Strategies

  • The importance of innovation and pushing the envelope in event planning.
  • Events as a valuable tool for marketing.
  • Adapting to changing trends such as community and outbound marketing.
  • Identifying the declining effect of traditional content marketing.

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Read the Transcript 📚

Intro: Welcome to Corralling the Chaos Podcast, where we talk publicly about the things you're worried about privately. My name is Angela Alea and I'm your host. This is the event industry podcast for companies and crew where we're gonna dive deep into things like, what does our industry need that it just doesn't have?

[00:00:18] What are the things you wanna know, but you're just too afraid to ask? And what are the biggest opportunities ahead for our industry? We're gonna go deep and nothing is off limits.

[00:00:36] Jess Cook: Hello and welcome back to another episode of Corralling the Chaos. I'm your guest host today, Jess Cook, and today I'm very excited to be joined by Will Curran. As the founder of Endless Events, creator of the event profs community and host of the event industry podcast, event icons, event Brew and Event Tech podcast, will has been named one of the most influential people in the meetings and events industry.

[00:01:00] He has been producing in-person virtual and hybrid events since high school, so I'm really excited to hear about that when he started his first company. And now he's worked in the management of large events with clients like Emerald City, comic-Con, Anheuser-Busch, Warner Brothers, Morton Sal, Uber. You've probably heard of a few of them.

[00:01:17] His team's mission is to simplify the event planning process by creating the equation for an event's perfect solution. Will welcome to COR crowing the Chaos.

[00:01:26] Will Curran: Thanks so much for having me, Jess. I'm so happy to be here. Hopefully we get to drop some knowledge bombs and blow some people's minds. I

[00:01:33] Jess Cook: can't wait.

[00:01:33] That's amazing. First, will, let's hear a little bit about endless events and how you, you got started and got into the

[00:01:41] Will Curran: events industry. Ooh. It's a very, very long story, so I'll try to give the abbreviated version of it. So I actually started endless when I was in high school. So it started as a DJ company.

[00:01:54] Basically I was like DJing backyard parties, moved on to middle schools. Eventually I got to [00:02:00] college and basically discovered high school dances and college events and realized like, Kind of sucked. My, my high school dances sucked. So basically I brought like large scale production basically to high school and college events.

[00:02:10] So basically by, you know, creating that amazing experience, we like blew up and grew really, really fast. And that's where I learned everything I needed to learn about production, because I was hiring these production companies and I was talking to 'em about like, what is a line array? What is a, you know, why, why do we hang the l e d screen this way?

[00:02:26] All that sort of stuff. And like, L e d screens were just starting to become popular, I think back then too. And you know, basically I learned a lot about production, but realized like 80% of my revenue was production in that, you know, I saw this kind of trend towards laptop DJing starting to happen. So I was like, okay, I think we wanna like phase out being a DJ company and become a production company instead.

[00:02:46] So we bought our own equipment, bought a warehouse, all that fun stuff. And basically started a production company. We started doing that for a while and then started moving into corporate events cuz we realized like, hey, like our professionalism and our culture and things like that were really, really great [00:03:00] for that.

[00:03:01] And then kind of where we started to see a massive amount of growth was when we started doing a lot of content marketing, which is a lot I. Where a lot of people know about us. Some people don't realize that we were an actual event company, not just a content creator, but basically, you know, we were writing blogs, we're doing tons of social media, we started our podcasts, all that fun stuff, and basically started growing nationwide and doing events all over the country.

[00:03:22] Right around that time too, you know, people started talking to us more about event technology and we got passionate about registration systems about. Beacon tracking, all that fun stuff. Basically everything outside of just the general production stuff. So we started really evolving to more like an all-encompassing event technology company.

[00:03:40] During that time too, we also started getting asked to do a little bit more than just production, but we always like tried to phase, stay away from being an event management company because so many of our clients were event management companies. Boom, the pandemic happens. And because we're positioned so well with all of our content and everything like that we basically saw like a tremendous amount of growth.

[00:03:59] We grew like [00:04:00] 400% in 2020. And basically, You know, everybody was coming to us for the event technology. You know, we'd been producing hybrid and virtual events for so long. Everyone just kind of knew us as the people to kind of go to when it came to that. And you know, during that time, you know, when you, when you're doing a virtual event and you're an event technology company, you're really doing the entire event.

[00:04:19] You're basically an event management company at that point. So we made the position and started transitioning to kind of realize what we had already been for many years, which was starting to do full vent management services. So now as endless, we would describe ourselves as a full scale event management company.

[00:04:34] And basically we do everything soup to nuts from the technology, which we're really well known for, to the strategy, to the nuts and bolts of putting people's heads in beds and all that fun stuff. So yeah, that's basically kind of the, the long story short of it all. Along the way create lots of content and kind of made a name for myself in the, in the influential space that is event trends.

[00:04:56] And yeah, that's mainly I think the, the life story of, of [00:05:00] Endless Today. That's incredible.

[00:05:01] Jess Cook: I love hearing how content marketing and just marketing in general really gave you that leg up and was kind of the saving grace in, in the pandemic. I think that's a relatively new skill for a lot of event production companies.

[00:05:16] And so it's really cool to hear how well that worked for you.

[00:05:19] Will Curran: Yeah, I mean like it literally, it, it's what positioned us perfectly during that time. You know, like I remember it was like March or April of 2020 or something, like we got like 1500 RFPs in, and that literally wouldn't have been possible without all the content that we were doing for sure.

[00:05:32] Jess Cook: That's amazing. Speaking of content, I took a look at the case studies that were on the Endless Events website and you're doing end-to-end stuff like from creative concepting right down to AV show, calling for these like really huge household names. Everything from corporate conferences, big brand experiences.

[00:05:50] How do you structure endless events? How do you structure the business so you can handle such diverse events and experiences?

[00:05:57] Will Curran: I think the first thing is you gotta have great people. I mean, like, that's the [00:06:00] thing that everyone's gonna tell you is that having really awesome people. I think the other thing is too, is like creating a space for flexibility in a lot of ways as well.

[00:06:08] You know, that's one of the great things is that because we have such a, a talented team and very diverse skill set of team we're really capable of doing almost anything in the entire world. So I think that really, really helps when it comes to the structure of things. I, I think the flexibility within endless is really built into the culture of.

[00:06:25] You know who we are. You know, we went remote in 2000, what, like way before pandemic, like, I think 2000 14, 13, 14 or something like that. So, so we were really always, I think. Capable of being able to scale up and scale down very, very easily because we were used to remote communication. We were used to working with teammates that maybe we haven't even met in person.

[00:06:48] We worked really well with you know, I think working with clients that we had never even met in person and communicating and planning events without having had seen the venue and all those things like that. So I think that's what really, really helped a lot in being able to [00:07:00] structure the team in the right way is that flexibility.

[00:07:02] And not feeling like there's this corporate rigidity. But what's really interesting is most people don't realize is like endless is also very system and process oriented at the same time. So while we have a lot of flexibility, we also are really driven by documentation, by having very specific processes that lead to customer satisfaction.

[00:07:20] And that's what really I think, leads to the outcome of of all of our clients being so happy.

[00:07:25] Jess Cook: I'd love to hear a little bit more about the, the systems and the processes. Like what are, what are what's one example of that that you think has really just made things more efficient and, and streamlined for your

[00:07:37] Will Curran: team?

[00:07:38] Yeah, definitely. For, for, for us, the documentation piece was probably one of the most critical pieces. So we use a tool called slab. It's kind of like a notion, if you've heard a notion it's basically like your internal Wikipedia. I like slab because it's definitely designed for documentation.

[00:07:53] It's not trying to do like all the database stuff that notion's really trying to do. But one thing I love about it is that whenever you write a document in it, you can set [00:08:00] an expiry date. You can say in a year, whoever owns this document. Check back on this to make sure it's still up to date. And if they don't update it or re re-verify it in that case then it shows as expired.

[00:08:12] So you constantly know what, what is your well-documented stuff really, really easily. So slabs been killer for us and really, Honestly, I think in the beginning when we started doing documentation, I think you're gonna get a lot of pushback from employees. Why am I cheat writing down how to do this when someone else is gonna come and do this job afterwards?

[00:08:29] Like, why should I do that? And then it becomes, I'm too busy from work. Once they start to see the value, they go, I'm too busy. My actual work, I don't have time to document. But then, Once you've been doing it so long and you really build up this massive database and new employees come in and then that's how they learn and they know where to get, find the information, the culture becomes that everybody's so appreciative of it that everybody wants to help.

[00:08:51] Make the content and the, the documentation better. So yeah, documenting things and having step-by-step guides, having you know, kind of like [00:09:00] baseline rule sets for things and, and like this is moving beyond just the typical Yeah. Write your culture code, code, write your mission, vision, values you know, have your handbook in there.

[00:09:08] We're talking like, you know, if, even if you're doing a job that's super complex and I know a lot of event people say there's so much. Difference. And there's a lot of skill that comes into it and things like that. But there are baseline things that you do that make things just go that 2%, 3% better.

[00:09:24] And I think that's really where it makes a big difference. So you talked about like the case studies. That was like one of my favorite processes to document because like I found this perfect process to writing it. And you'll notice with a lot of the case studies, in fact, we're like just rehauled that entire process.

[00:09:36] So a lot of the new ones coming out are gonna look totally different, but a lot of 'em have that same formula. It it starts with, you know a lot of stories with the clients. It mixes in stories with the employees and then usually there's like will sprinkled all in it, and usually I'm the glue that kind of helps fill in the extra gaps to create a complete narrative, but a lot of the shots look exactly the same and things like that because we found that those were super successful and they're super engaging.

[00:09:59] They [00:10:00] had long view times. So the documentation was, I think, was really, really key as one of the first things. I think the other thing is automation. So we really love software at Endless. So we use a lot of software to automate things. So for example, employee onboarding. I hated setting up Google accounts, slack accounts you know, having it set up the lasso account for every employee over and over and over again.

[00:10:22] Right. And I wanted to make it where I could like, streamline it, where like the person signed the contract. Boom, their accounts got made, they got a welcome email. It gave them the tasks of what they had to do, like the things that like I was doing over and over and over again that didn't really use my mindset and my, my mind power.

[00:10:38] I wanted to automate those. So like we use tools like rippling, for example, to do all of our payroll and automation. It automatically installs antivirus software on the computer if the employees being off boarded, it wipes their computer, it deletes their accounts, all that fun stuff. And then other ways, like using HubSpot for example, for all of our automation, of all of our, you know, CRM processes, our marketing processes, and.

[00:10:56] Things like that, like a, you know, a lot of this stuff can be [00:11:00] automated and I always want to try to find a way to save that five, 10% of time because we're in a very like, labor intensive industry. So the more you can save labor time and make people's jobs easier, it frees up more time to do the things that are actually making you money.

[00:11:14] And all that fun stuff. So it's like, those are probably two keys.

[00:11:17] Jess Cook: It, it's that five or 10% of time that puts you ahead of anyone else that could consider themselves a

[00:11:23] Will Curran: competitor. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, for

[00:11:26] Jess Cook: sure. I wanna read a little expert excerpt of something that you wrote that really stood out to me.

[00:11:31] I think it'll stand out for our listeners, so I'm just gonna read it. During the pandemic, we saw a change of leadership. Those who weren't tech savvy, retired, or moved into different careers, and those who knew how to use technology to create great experiences, knew how to use technology to communicate, and knew how to use technology to grow their businesses Thrived.

[00:11:50] So what do you think event companies should take away from that insight? Like what specific kinds of technology should they be getting on board with to grow and thrive? You know, we just talked about [00:12:00] automation, like where, where should they be looking to apply that technology?

[00:12:04] Will Curran: Yeah, so I've gotten lucky that like I've gotten to interview so many different event professionals over the years through event icons.

[00:12:10] And like in the beginning when I started the podcast, it was this move away from the binder. It's time to embrace Google Spreadsheets and Excel and all these things like that. And then now it's like if you're using a binder, you're like, definitely and dinosaur ages now at this point. And like now I'm trying to move people away from Google spreadsheets and Excel documents to more streamlined tools.

[00:12:30] So what I think about it when it comes to that technology piece is that it's the thing that you're going to use again to optimize and save you a ton of time. And the thing is that if you're not utilizing that technology, someone else is, and that's gonna allow them to do two things. Either they're gonna be more profitable than you because they're doing.

[00:12:48] More work with the same amount of money or they're gonna undercut you when it comes to pricing cuz they're able to do more work for less money. So I think when it comes to the technology piece, every, [00:13:00] when the pandemic, it kind of forced everybody to do this, right? Like if you didn't know what Zoom was or using Zoom and you felt frustrated by the process, that is Zoom.

[00:13:08] You probably retired at this point. Right. And, and, and for some people, and I, and I'm talking also just about like zoom fatigue and the, the preference of video calls versus in person and things like that. It's just, just purely your ability to adapt into this situation and feel calm going into a, a video call.

[00:13:26] So I think like those sort of things are always what's happening to us. What's amazing is right now we're. We're feeling that exact same thing happen, but it's not just affecting the end events industry, it's happening the entire, like multiple industries. And that's this like large language model AI movement that you're hearing things like Chachi, BT Open ai right now, you're kind of at this point where you don't have to use these tools, right?

[00:13:51] There's no like, Pandemic or there's no robot overlords telling you to take to these things. So I think a lot of people right now are like, yeah, you [00:14:00] know, I'm not really gonna worry about it. Oh you know, that I don't really like this AI stuff and where it's going. I, they're, they're arguing about like the ethics of like generated AI images and things like that.

[00:14:14] They're getting stuck. In the past and I see this exact same thing happening. So like I believe right now, if you're not using a tool like Chat, G B T or Bing as a new search engine, you're not using these large language models and figuring out how to streamline and save you that five, 10%. Someone else is going to, and it's not that, like the thing I keep hearing is like the, it's not that a robot's gonna take your job, it's that somebody who uses the robot is gonna take your job.

[00:14:42] So I think that's really like, where it feels very, very similar is that you have to embrace technology. And otherwise you're gonna get left behind. And I can tell you, I'm like extremely tech savvy. Like I'm the dude who's like always looking for the best app and will replace a app in the heartbeat, right?

[00:14:59] Like I changed my [00:15:00] entire password manager, which is like the biggest process ever, because I wanted like 5% better improvement, right? But when I saw, see things that are massively changing and I start to feel behind when it comes to things like AI and all these large language models, tools, like Get Ready, it's gonna change everything.

[00:15:16] Jess Cook: Yeah, I heard a podcast the other day that they, they said something to the effect of, we're in a printing press moment. Mm-hmm. Right? I mean, it's that big. And so even just to get in there and familiarize yourself, play around a little bit so that it doesn't feel so foreign. And, and try to find ways that, yeah, it can just save you a little bit of time here and there so that you know, hey, the time comes when you absolutely have to have it because everyone else is now using it.

[00:15:42] Like you're at least

[00:15:43] Will Curran: comfortable. Totally. The, the, the analogy that I use is like, you know, everyone knows the Steve Jobs quote, where he said like, the computer is like the bicycle for the mind, the, all these large language model tools in ai. It's like handing a Ferrari to your mind. It's no longer do you [00:16:00] have to pedal hard and work for like a couple hours, go want you literally just press go on the pedal and choose the direction it goes, and you're gonna be there in an instant.

[00:16:09] Absolutely

[00:16:10] Jess Cook: will. You yourself are a brand. You've done a ton of work to grow personal following on LinkedIn and YouTube and Twitter. How has that helped endless events grow? You know, I think we see this kind of new trend of, of personal branding and, and using it in a way to help you grow your business and using your employee's personal brand as a way to grow your business.

[00:16:33] So I'd love to hear your thoughts about that and any tips you have for people. You know, event company owners looking to build their own personal brand to help their company grow.

[00:16:42] Will Curran: Yeah. You know, so for a long time, like Will and Endless were the exact same thing. And I think that can be good and bad in a lot of ways.

[00:16:51] You know, it's good because like basically all the energy you're putting into yourself, you're also putting into your company. But at some point too, like you also want to [00:17:00] build your personal brand because you want to. Take advantage of probably one of the greatest marketing tools that exist, which is education and helping teach people.

[00:17:08] And you know, like we talk about the podcast, we talk about blog posts where people quote you and link back to your website, which is great for seo. You talk about you know, your ability to, for people to then see you as an expert. So then they think, Hey, if Will's an expert, I wanna hire his company and they're full of Wills, you know, we wanna hire these guys to do their events.

[00:17:28] One of the things I think that is, Really, really powerful when you build your personal brand. And this is what I kind of recognized early on in shouts to Alex Platon, who I think really encouraged me to do this cuz he was a very, very popular speaker in the events industry. And I was like, you know what?

[00:17:41] I'm gonna build like a little website. I think I owned Will Kern for many years, but never really did anything with it. But I built a little mini website where I put like my top two sessions that I was doing my bio and like a couple links to my social. And I wanted to make sure that people knew like Will Kern existed outside of Endless.

[00:17:59] And I think [00:18:00] sometimes when you are, are doing your, your personal brand is the same as your company's brand. It can create spaces where it's awkward for you know, in this case events to hire you to speak. Because they might have a sponsor who does what you do all these things like that. And if there it is only they have to go through endless to do all these things.

[00:18:19] It feels like sponsored content and you get in this kind of weird space, but, Hiring Will Kern to speak. People will do that all day long. So one thing that's been really, really successful for me on the personal branding side of things is focusing on speaking engagements. I found that like my personal brand is of like high energy.

[00:18:37] I, I like to think that I'm smart. I don't think I'm always the smartest person in the room, but like, I like to think that I'm smart and I got some cool things to share. I like being a little controversial. And I just like, also just like bringing that energy. So like I kind of pair that together and people love it and they go, oh, we want, we, you know, we gotta talk to Will, we gotta have him on a podcast, we gotta have him at a speaking engagement.

[00:18:57] And what's so great is that that gets me [00:19:00] then in front of my target audience, you know, and prior to us being an event management company, we were targeting a lot of planners. Now we're targeting a lot of planners internally, we're event marketers internally at companies, but it gets me in front of the places that they're gonna be at conferences.

[00:19:12] I can educate and help them and give value. But then they come up to me and go, oh my gosh, can you just please help me with this? I don't know what I'm doing. You know? And that's again, like you saw that with us in getting 1500 RFPs during the pandemic, is that by getting ourselves out there, people then came and associated the brand back to me.

[00:19:30] And so a lot of things I'll do is do, like q now, I do QR codes. I, I try to do QR codes before the pandemic and people are like, what the heck is this black box? But now, like, you put a, a QR code on the screen, everybody busts out their phones and scans it. But I do that to have people download additional content if they wanna reach out and get consulting from our company, or if they wanna hire us to do all their event management, they can do that really, really easily.

[00:19:51] And so it's been really killer for me to focus on like, Building Will Kern too. And let's be honest, as a business owner, I also wanna build my personal brand because [00:20:00] as much as like you're in it right now, at some day and age, you are going to need to hire someone to replace you as c e O and for you to kind of.

[00:20:09] Make that new threshold. And if you are your brand, you then don't have anything you can build them on for your next project. So that's what's been really great for me. So a lot of people actually don't know this, this isn't necessarily public knowledge. But like in December, I actually hired someone to.

[00:20:25] To delegate my role as c e o to, and I finally hit that after 16 years, I can finally exit my business. I still own it. I still, you know, do all the con help with all the content. I'm still super active in the, the, the vision of the company, but for me, like it's allowed me now to leverage my personal brand.

[00:20:44] For my next project which a lot of people are starting to see that I built this event profs community. It's basically a community built upon all the influence in the, the, the personal branding I've then put in, and now I have, you know, a second option, a second business to move towards that isn't just [00:21:00] endless events, which is really great.

[00:21:02] That's

[00:21:02] Jess Cook: amazing. What would you, what advice would you give to someone who's like, okay, I wanna give this a go. I've seen other people do this. I think I, you know, I, I have things to share. What's one piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out?

[00:21:14] Will Curran: So you gotta own the Google result for your name, so you know, your LinkedIn page needs to be on there.

[00:21:20] Your, you know, I highly recommend if you don't already own your name.com, like own. You know, will kerin.com and get a website up there, put a a box that says you're hireable for speaking engagements. And as you start to do this content and stuff, you know, people will Google you. They'll see this and then they'll go, oh Will was so awesome in, you know, lassos podcasts.

[00:21:40] We gotta have them like come to our conference and that. And I wanna make it easy for them to then see the clear path to being able to me then create another speaking opportunity engagement on there. So I think that's huge. I think the other thing too is just like, Don't, you know, everyone's gonna obviously tell you to post content on social media and things like that.

[00:21:59] Don't try to be [00:22:00] everywhere all at once. Like, I concentrate a lot of my energy on LinkedIn. But you know, when it comes to when, and you're doing that, don't be afraid to be a little controversial too. I think a lot of people play it safe and they're afraid that, you know, oh, if I say this one thing or I talk about this one topic, I might, you know, Make people upset.

[00:22:19] Like there are definitely some things that you like, common sense, let's avoid 'em as much as possible. But one thing that having the podcast Event Brew has taught me is like, now we're on three years of doing this. I said the craziest shit on that podcast and sorry, I cussed on your podcast. No go.

[00:22:34] Allowed to cu We're for that here. Okay. But we say like the craziest things. I've never got an angry email. I've never got someone say, I'm no longer gonna be your customer. But plenty of people say, Thank you for finally telling how it really is, and that's probably gotten me more customers and more respect than ever playing it safe and saying the same things that everyone else is saying.

[00:22:55] Jess Cook: 100% and probably more of the right customers because if they align with maybe that [00:23:00] controversial take that you have, they're much stickier customers, right? They're not wishy-washy. They believe in what you believe in, and so they already see the value of what you provide at endless events. Absolutely.

[00:23:11] That's great. You're absolutely a trendsetter. It's very clear. I would be remiss not to touch on trends with you for a minute. I know a frustration that you mentioned when we asked you to be a guest on the show was that and I'm doing the air quotes for anyone listening, everyone does it the way they did in 2019.

[00:23:27] Oh yeah, yeah. And I loved that. So what trend or trends is the industry ignoring right now? And what should they be doing to get

[00:23:34] Will Curran: ahead of them? Yeah, I think the big thing is like recycling budgets, like doing the exact same structure of budget, putting the same money in the same buckets that you were in 2019 or even, you know, your last year's event.

[00:23:45] So I think like the biggest thing is like no one's really like scrapping and being like, what do we have to do to rehaul an entire event? So here's a great example. I think C2 Montreal is considered like one of the most innovative business conferences in the entire world. And for years they've been in the [00:24:00] same location doing the same event.

[00:24:02] Oh, like, you know, and, and, and they're, they're innovative too. So this is what's crazy is they're like considered so innovative, but they're always doing the same place. What they decided to do is they said we're not just c2, like that's the name of the company, but we're Montreal as well, so how can we highlight the city so they move the entire event into the city center and are now incorporating large groups of the city.

[00:24:22] So people are literally walking around experiencing the culture, experiencing the food, and I think that's really, really impactful. And I think it's their ability to constantly be thinking. Five, six steps ahead of, for everybody that's making it. So then they're constantly pushing the envelope. So like a common trend that I tell people is that you need to be like, not just thinking outside the box, you need to crush the box.

[00:24:43] So that means like if you're spending a ton of money on catering, get rid of it. Right. And I'm sure a lot of people out here are, are, are, are agency owners and things like that too. So you're like, yeah, why the heck does my client spend so much money on, on, on, on catering? The thing is that us as an industry, we need to.

[00:24:58] Push and encourage our clients to [00:25:00] experiment and take risks because we're in an industry where Murphy's Law is so commonplace that like something is gonna definitely go wrong. So we minimize as much as possible for risk in potential problems and things like that. But the problem is that if you keep doing things over and over again the same way, You might see a slight decline the next year in your attendance.

[00:25:19] Then the next year you might see a little lower. And the problem is that everybody then attributes this to things like, oh, everyone's just coming back from Covid. Maybe, you know, we, we lost a little bit of our attendees. Then the next year it's, oh, maybe it's the economy this year. But before, you know, if you lost 30, 40% of your attendees and your experience at your events before, you know your event's gonna be dead.

[00:25:37] And so I'm telling people like, you gotta be pushing the envelope for what's possible when it comes to that. Let me try to give another one. Cause that one's very, very planner focused. On there. I think the other thing is you know, we need to also be prepared that this year specifically, like marketing is changing and however you were marketing your business, pre pandemic during the pandemic, and then [00:26:00] I immediately after you also need to change it again.

[00:26:03] I think that like we, you know, for example, we were talking about content marketing. I actually think that content marketing is kind of hitting a point where like, It's kind of stale now in a lot of ways. It's really, really hard to do because so many people did it when I was the, you know, like, you know, doing event icons.

[00:26:18] I was like one of five active podcasts. Now there's like 30 and you're like, Jess, you're killing it. You're like hosting better than I've ever hosted a podcast ever in my entire life. So I'm like, oh man, maybe I need to get, maybe do a little bit better job on my podcast. Right? And so like the thing about it is I think that most people used to be that you could put an ebook up.

[00:26:37] People downloaded it. You could call 'em up and say, oh, you had this challenge. Here's how our company's a solution. And people would be like, wow, amazing. Now people are like, I dunno about you, but I block all unknown callers. I barely ever talk to anybody on the phone. I wanna just text all the time.

[00:26:52] And I, if people try to come in at me outta the blue with a sales proposition, I'm usually like, I would come to you if I wanted this right? [00:27:00] And so I think for a lot of people they have to recognize that that's a big trend, heming. So that's just one example. However, con, because content's so good at building brands and loyalty to brands, I don't think you should stop doing it, but it's not gonna generate the leads that used to be.

[00:27:13] So we need to be thinking about like, what's the future of marketing and. I don't, haven't necessarily the answer for this yet because there's not enough data and it's that a lot of these ideas haven't been around long enough. But the big things I'm seeing are partner marketing. So partnering up with a bunch of companies, sharing leads with each other, doing, you know, active exchanges where, hey, if you refer me my customer, I'll help you get another customer and I'll maybe give you your referral fee and things like that.

[00:27:35] Doing co joinin marketing efforts on there. Right? That's one thing that's super successful. The other thing is I think community marketing is huge right now. People are looking for places to ask questions, get help, all those things like that. And I think it's brand's ability to give people a space that they can then talk with is what's gonna create a deeper alignment with that as well.

[00:27:54] I'm seeing a lot of a good positive results from outbound marketing, which is wild cuz complete opposite of [00:28:00] inbound marketing. And I've been permission based for so long. But I think a lot of people are open to the idea of, you know, sometimes. Out of the blue. I've never heard this brand before, at least how I'm aware of it.

[00:28:10] And then I think the last little bit that's been really, really successful when it comes to marketing is, you know, just doing, I think ran like doing individual ideas that take a lot of effort, but then might push you into another market. But those things aren't like necessarily scalable. You have to get really creative.

[00:28:26] You have to think really uniquely about it. It's not like it's systematized as like, Content marketing can be and it's not systematized as, you know, outbound marketing can be in a lot of ways, but that's what I'm seeing a lot of success in. So I think for a lot of people in trends wise, like we have to think about how marketing is totally changing.

[00:28:42] I'll add one last thing. Events are an amazing tool for marketing as well. Yeah, and it's funny cuz we're in the events industry, so we don't think sometimes like how events are actually successful, but we're doing it for our clients and they're seeing so much success. So consider potentially doing an event.

[00:28:57] For your own company as well, [00:29:00] and maybe also preaching to a lot of these customers. If you're working directly with a brand or a marketing team or something like that, you gotta increase the value because these events are working really, really successfully and are becoming really, really critical for a lot of companies core marketing plans.

[00:29:14] Jess Cook: That's amazing. Fantastic. Predictions. You heard it here first. Folks will kerin human magic. Eight ball, triple ball. Yeah, remember that will, I think we're finally, it feels like back in a place where people are ready or maybe even like ravenous for in-person events. And I think what we have seen and, and what our, our customers are seeing, what I've seen personally is clients and attendee expectations are through the roof.

[00:29:45] All time high. Right. They're ready to get back out there. They, like you said, they don't want the same old things. So what can event production companies do to leapfrog some of those very, very high expectations?

[00:29:56] Will Curran: Yeah, I mean, like production value can be huge right now. Right? [00:30:00] So like, I'm finding that a lot of the events that don't really have great high production values are tending to be the ones that people are kind of forgetting about.

[00:30:08] You know, In the initial like 2021 kind of timeline, people were just so excited to be in a room. You could have put 'em in a room with bright lights on, you know, it could have been no music, just put 'em, bunch of high deals and they've been just happy to see each other in person. But that's changing now because now they've gone to a couple events.

[00:30:26] They started seeing. You know, the event wasn't really worth my time, and I think that attendees are more critical than ever about events. I, for one, have totally changed. I used to go to so many different conferences and try to be everywhere all at once, and now I go to one single industry conference and that's it, because like, I want to be so particular about my time.

[00:30:49] That I want to be super duper you know, successful when I'm spending that time. I think a lot of attendees are now doing that as well. Especially the ones who don't like to travel. They don't like to travel. They're like really trying [00:31:00] to cut back on where they go. So I think focusing on production value can help a ton.

[00:31:04] I think the other thing too is that We have to recognize that content is no longer the main purpose of especially conferences for corporate events. But you know, obviously like a music festival of content, it did everything. Cause that's why people are there. It's the music. But like when it comes to a conference, a lot of people are starting to wonder, Why should I c fly all the way across the country to watch a talk I can watch on YouTube?

[00:31:27] Yeah. So what used to be, and again, like I, I owned a production company, so like I totally know what this is. Like you, you wanted to have as many speakers as possible. You wanted to have this amazing, smooth running show. But I think a lot of, for a lot of events, like where they shouldn't be spending their money is dropping a million dollars on a GS for five speakers, maybe instead having like one big speaker.

[00:31:51] Through the whole conference and spend the rest of the time for people interacting, building upon that knowledge and things like that. I feel like that's really where the future is, rather than like [00:32:00] let's stuff content down people's throats because people can get content I think, anywhere. So I think for production companies, the more that you can create experiences that are less about content, content, content, content, content, and that are more about facilitating things like networking.

[00:32:16] And interaction and integration of learning. The more that they can start to take what they've learned and actually do something with it. I think the ones that are gonna make the events more sticky in that they're gonna feel like, Hey, this was worth me flying across the country, spending $400 for registration and a thousand dollars for a hotel, $400 for my flight, and then plus a bunch of food and all that fun stuff, plus loss of work, right?

[00:32:40] And then I think the last little bit of it too is that, you know, remote work has really changed a lot of ways. So I've been preaching this for, for many years cause we've been remote for so long and I've been just selfishly wanting this. But consider creating spaces at the events that allow people to work.

[00:32:54] I. So I call this like a co-working space. So you can do this by, you know, working with your local [00:33:00] furniture company, set up a bunch of tables, make sure there's lots of outlets so everyone can charge, maybe some hardwired internet for the people who have to upload big video files and all that fun stuff.

[00:33:08] And make it a place where people can do calls, where people can get some work done. And you know, I think that's where people are really gonna be craving for. If you don't do that, they're gonna go back to their hotel rooms. And they're gonna end up just doing the work in their hotel room. And at that point you've lost an attendee.

[00:33:22] Has anyone ever gone back to your ro your room just to get a little bit of work done? And then before we know it's five o'clock and you're like, the whole conference is over. That's literally, I think what's gonna be happening a lot more often now. So I would encourage production companies to be thinking about how they can create those spaces for people to continue their work on the road.

[00:33:39] I

[00:33:39] Jess Cook: think that's so smart that you said that it's nothing. It's something I'd never thought of, but something I've absolutely experienced. Right. I go to a conference now and I think before the expectation was, oh, Jess is at a conference. We're not gonna hear from her for a few days, and now it's, Jess is at a conference.

[00:33:54] I bet in between, you know, talks, she'll hop back on and make sure this thing's ready to go. Right, exactly. The [00:34:00] expectation is there that we're always wired. So I love that idea. I think that's so smart to, to just give people that space and kind of respect the, the era that we're in now of remote

[00:34:10] Will Curran: work.

[00:34:11] That's great for sure. And adding in lots more white space, I think too. You know, like it used to be that we tried to cram it where it's like, come into the Gs, go to breakouts, go to lunch, come back to Gs, go to breakouts, end with Gs. But now it's like people really need that space again to digest, but also too, like people really think are craving that space that yeah, the expectations to change.

[00:34:31] They might need to go step out for a meeting, but people can go and have tons of white space and still absolutely love what they've done. And been that experience that they've had.

[00:34:43] Jess Cook: Absolutely. Will. I'm gonna ask you one last question. This is something we ask all of our guests. Sweet, and we love the answers we get.

[00:34:49] So what do you hope for our industry? I.

[00:34:53] Will Curran: Ooh, hope is a dangerous thing. Right? You know what, what I think I [00:35:00] hope for in the industry, I'll pick like a really, really big chewable thing that is, that I think that, you know, I can talk about, like, I hope that everyone gets more technologically advanced and things like that.

[00:35:10] You know, I think that's starting to happen. But for me, if I picked a really big topic, I hope that we as an industry can continue all the efforts we had prior to the pandemic in D E I efforts and also sustainability efforts. I think a lot of what we're doing right now in the industry is recycling what we've done before and kind of saying, yeah, sustainability's important.

[00:35:32] Yeah, d e I is important. But then at the same time, we did things like, Hey, we got rid of all the hybrid streaming sessions that we had out of our conference. So now like, All the people who physically or maybe you know, monetarily couldn't attend our events, now can't that just kills d e i. Right? And then same with sustainability too.

[00:35:51] What if someone's like, I want, you know, I don't wanna fly all the way from London down to LA for this conference that's a big you know, carbon emission right there. [00:36:00] I'd rather attend virtually. Why are we not doing those sort of things? So what I hope for the industry is that, you know, we can move past the.

[00:36:06] The initial like you know, oh, this is what I needed to save money, or This is what feels good or this is what's easy. And we can start to make some of the hard decisions that allow us to, I think, start making some dense and sustainability of DEI.

[00:36:19] Jess Cook: I love that. Options and accessibility for All right.

[00:36:23] Yep. Absolutely. Make it open. I love it. Will, thank you so much for joining us on Corralling the Chaos. It was a pleasure having you. Thanks

[00:36:30] Will Curran: so much, Jess. I really appreciate g to come here and get some drop, some knowledge bombs.

[00:36:35] Jess Cook: Amazing. Thank you all for joining us for another episode of Crowning the Chaos.

[00:36:39] If you enjoyed what you heard today, please subscribe to follow along, and if you have any questions, we are here to help. Please reach out to us@podcastlasso.io. We'll see you next time.


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