How to Go Above (or Below) and Beyond in Event Marketing
Do you have Zoom fatigue? Haute Dokimazo CEO Liz Lathan and President Nicole Osibodu are willing to bet you’ll never get tired of a virtual shark dive. In the first of four virtual events known collectively as Convo 2021, the two event virtuosos sent nearly 80 sales and marketing executives jaws to jaws with, well, Jaws, from the comforts of their own home.
While it seems like a deep-sea adventure that only the wildly creative Haute Dokimazo team could imagine, Lathan and Osibodu note that event planners have the capability to create memorable experiences — whether attendees are together in-person or not.
They key — to maintaining engagement, brainstorm, teambuilding, network, you name it — is to get folks talking. And nothing breaks the ice like a great white. “That shared experience is the door opener,” Lathan said.
Convo 2021 was built out of a necessity, Lathan said. Many of the event professionals Haute Dokimazo collaborated with were no longer with their companies. The great pandemic left marketers as planners in many cases. Unfortunately, what didn’t change was the inevitable but unfortunate disconnect between marketing and sales departments. “It’s the industry’s biggest gap,” Lathan said of the marketing-sales frayed relationship.
For companies in any industry to survive, a new way of thinking needs to be developed. That starts internally. Nothing breaks down barriers like travel. But in an era where travel was stopped in its tracks, the need for adventure was never greater. Lathan and Osibodu decided to change not only the way sales and marketing teams integrate, but the way they talk.
Forget ROI — you need to find the ROE, as in return on emotion.
“We’ve created once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that probably wouldn’t happen in-person,” Osibodu said.
And they are just getting started. On April 27, Convo 2021 will talk turkey at the Grand Bazaar and on September 28, the event is Zooming to outer space.
The trips sound cool, but are not picked out of a magician’s hat. They are the physical, albeit virtual, manifestations of themes to be covered during that event. Nothing says going for a deep dive on data than suiting up underwater. The Grand Bazaar covers account-based marketing. The space odyssey will focus on human-centric marketing.
“This is not a screen,” Lathan said of a computer. “It’s a portal where you would like to go.”
Haute Dokimazo is essentially daring event professionals, and especially marketers, to come up with ideas so grand that C-level executives and other decision-makers won’t dare say “no” to. Haute is a vehicle for attendees to explore and imagine, without fearing they will damage their company or cost them their job.
“At a Haute Dokimazo event, failure is fun,” Osibodu joked.
It’s easy to say that when your company is already established as a risk-taker with a devoted following willing to go to the ends of the Earth with them without even knowing their final destination is.
COVID scrapped Haute Dokimazo’s signature and secret “family reunions” to parts unknown (the landing spot is announced mid-air) but has done little else to deter the company. It pairs corporate clients with destinations for unforgettable moments like shark dives, and Haute Dokimazo remains a hub for innovation among event professionals. “We’ve been to 28 countries last year,” Lathan said. “We couldn’t do that in-person but could on Zoom.”
The day of in-person experiences returning is nearing, but Lathan said that won’t erase virtual from the new reality. Knowing when is the right time — and experience — for computers will be a true measure of success.
“Why would we do a virtual event that involves something you should have done in-person?” asked Osibodu. “That’s just a misuse of technology.” Likewise, she added: “My worst nightmare is I fly to Florida for some event and I have to sit at a table and have a virtual meeting with someone who didn’t fly.”
The grand finale — aka the shark and space — will naturally be the lasting impression, but don’t skip steps. “The invitation is important,” said Lathan. “If you feel like you’re getting invited to something incredible, that's not a waste of their time. It’s a gift you are offering them.”