Nick Borelli

LIVE from the Northwest Event Show with Nick Borelli

LIVE from the Northwest Event Show!

Join Lisa Schulteis, Founder of ElectraLime Marketing and Nick Borelli from Zenus as they discuss Event Marketing!

Full Transcript

Lisa Schulteis (00:00):

Hey everybody, it’s Lisa Schulteis here with ElectraLime Marketing and we are live from the Northwest Event Show in Seattle. And I am joined today by Nick Borelli. He’s the marketing director at Zenus. I don’t actually feel like you need an introduction,

Nick Borelli (00:14):

<laugh>, I mean everyone, you know, like the industry’s really small. In some ways. So like if anything I get to be like, you know, a fish in a small pond. But like that said, there’s corners of it that usually don’t even intersect. Like the trade show people rarely know the conference people and this and that. My only luck is I’ve been able to like, move around all of it. Cause I find it all like super fascinating and interesting. Like I’ve been to bridal shows and like whatever, like if it’s an experience, like I’m in,

Lisa Schulteis (00:41):

We’re in. Absolutely. So we wanted to talk today about event marketing. We both love it.

Nick Borelli (00:47):

A hundred percent. I’m all in.

Lisa Schulteis (00:48):

Yeah, a hundred percent. It’s changed a little bit over the last couple years… Just a little bit. And now that we are kind of post pandemic, right? We’re looking at what events were like back in 2019, where are we taking events now? But really where are we taking event marketing? What do you think?

Nick Borelli (01:08):

Yeah, I mean, the biggest pain point I think that there is, is that people got trained to get their content online and they don’t have to fly somewhere to get content and sit down in silence looking at someone delivering, like they don’t have to get it that way. There’s more options, right? So you’re trying to market like the main thing that you have as this like killer piece of content that that’s somewhere they’re like, it’ll be somewhere eventually. Like that’s the thought. So creating like a fear of missing out in the live event for marketing around content. Super difficult, right? If you just present it in a way that’s always done.

Lisa Schulteis (01:43):


Nick Borelli (01:44):

And there’s the challenge.

Lisa Schulteis (01:46):

Yeah. So we have to come up with these, you know, marketing’s, we always have to come up with like new and creative ways, right?

Nick Borelli (01:52):

Yeah. We get the hooks.

Lisa Schulteis (01:52):

It seems like now it’s just that much more complicated and, and, and a little bit more of a challenge, right? We we have, we have new expectations we’re dealing with, right? For what’s gonna be happening at the live event or what’s gonna be happening at the virtual event or whatever type of event we’re doing. We have all these new expectations. We have, you know, people that are, are changing their mindset about events. Right?

Nick Borelli (02:19):

Habits were broken, right? Like, people reevaluated things that they were on autopilot, right? Like there’s shows that I’ve been to where if I like sat down and like had to be like, all right, is there really ROI here? I never did it. I was just like, every time on the first week of February I go to this, it’s just what I do. And all that stuff stopped. And now you’re looking at it, you’re like, you know what? Like, do I need to, am I missing anything on not going that? And that’s a challenge for event marketers because now you have to actually put something out there that like can’t be said no to, like, you have to make an offer they cannot refuse. So to do that, you have to be able to do something that is like not the autopilot of design and the autopilot of marketing, which frankly is what most people do.

Nick Borelli (03:00):

So I think that the opportunity is still, the bar’s still low I think for innovation. Like for the most part, like shows are shows and like that’s, that’s a thing that you can break. You just have to give them something that is not found anywhere else and in a format that fits that format and only that format. Like, like for instance, like if a session, if you could more or less get away from the same feeling of it from watching it on YouTube, then maybe you need to break up how you deliver that content in order to have it be something that is more participatory experiential, that there’s more giving of back and forth things that you can only do in person. Maybe you need to lean into that because now there’s so many more options and people are reevaluating everything.

Lisa Schulteis (03:40):

Yeah, absolutely. And you know, I think so many people, you know, if you, I ask people all the time, you know, why are we doing it this way? Right? And you know what the answer is because I’ve always done it that way. We’ve always done it that way and it doesn’t work. Like we have to change that, that perspective. We have to change that thought process and start really evaluating, you know, and you can’t do it across the board, right? So you

Nick Borelli (04:09):

Have to get some wins, a little, a couple little wins

Lisa Schulteis (04:11):

So, you know, from our scenario, right? We have all these different types of clients, right? Different markets, different industries, everything else. If I go and approach that and tell people, oh well we do marketing, you know, we do event marketing this way, right? Well, it’s not gonna work, right? Because in different industries, different markets, different audiences.

Nick Borelli (04:28):

Your job is to listen, and to be and innovate creatively, as opposed to, just say, you know, keep just wait for your turn to talk and be like, anyways, this is how we market an event. Like, you want to know how to market an event. I have no idea how to market an event. Right? I have no idea. Honestly, none. I know how to create, get the goals that someone asks me to deliver on if I can build up enough, you know, listening to that, that I can do. But is there a silver bullet to marketing all events? No. And there’s so many more tools to do that now that like, the mix is everything. So you have to be of an awareness of like all the things that are around us right now, you have to know like what every one of those things do…And then it’s the unique combinations of those things that create something that’s never been done. Because if you’re doing the same thing and your competitors are doing the same thing, it’s a coin flip if they attend your event. Like that’s it.

Lisa Schulteis (05:19):


Nick Borelli (05:19):

It’s just a matter of time

Lisa Schulteis (05:20):

It’s a matter of why. Right? Why are we doing it? And then it’s a matter of, okay, what is our goal? Right? What’s the end goal? Because if I don’t know what you want to measure and what is a win and what is a success for you, I have no idea how to build it on the front end.

Nick Borelli (05:37):

Right. Your win and your success is not the same as someone else’s for sure. And it’s really like looking at like where you can make, like a change in the attendees where they, they know that there’s no choice but to attend, right? Like there’s something that’s happening there, there’s an energy that’s happening there. And when they, when they they get into that, they become part of something. And, and that’s inclusive design, that’s, that creates a sense of belongings. So someone looks at that and says, oh, that’s not for me because like, I’m not built that way. You have to, you know, know that and understand your personas. So you have to listen to the, you know, the client or whoever the organizer is on, on those things. You have to make sure that like, it’s, it’s something for everyone is there, but it also can’t be missed.

Nick Borelli (06:20):

So like those two things are, are harder to do now in a world where there’s so many more options. But the good news is, is that like, especially when it comes to virtual events, is that I think that that’s another thing that people have been on autopilot before of like a virtual event is when there’s a camera placed in the corner of a room shot at my live event. And it’s like, no, that’s barely an event or barely an experience. If anything…

Lisa Schulteis (06:44):

It’s a live stream, if anything.

Nick Borelli (06:45):

It’s a live stream. Yeah. It’s nothing. And, and also like synchronous events, like I like CES, good example of of a reason to have a synchronous event. Everyone there is is delivering something that’s newsworthy. It’s coming out, it’s fresh that day. Now your dentist association probably doesn’t have that stuff, right? It would probably would do better to wait three more months so you can focus on one thing at a time and deliver two different experiences that are thought like with a strategy from beginning, middle, and end as opposed to an afterthought.

Nick Borelli (07:14):

So like I would say one of the other like big lessons I’ve had over the last couple years is like, do you really need synchronous? And then one of the questions that people I think now are asking in the event, virtual event world is they all, lay off all their people are finding out that planners are saying, do we need a virtual event at all? And I think that’s the short site. I think Yes, you likely do. And the reason for that is, is that there’s so much money left on the table with your, with your sponsors to be able to deliver them value to that. So I think there’s money to be made, that will support great content that will help attendees. So like attendees needs are not something that is, could be met in two days exclusively for a year.

Nick Borelli (07:55):

Like they need more, they need a touch point they need instead of the off and on. So like if you really want to foster a community and you want to be able to create opportunities for them to come together, virtual makes that really, really frictionless. Like, I don’t have to get in a plane or I don’t have to, you know, get a babysitter. I can just log in for two hours a day. Like virtual events don’t have to be the same length as live events. Live events are like, this have to be all day because you bought this room, right? You have to get all the juice out of this. Right. You know, you got the, you know, av, all that stuff. Like, you don’t wanna say, okay everybody, we’re gonna come to Seattle, we’re gonna come for two hours, you’re gonna go back to your office and we’re gonna do this for the next week.

Nick Borelli (08:30):

You know, like that’s, I mean, the expense of booking out a place like this for that is absurd. But for virtual you can say, let’s have a two hour, you know, session. Uh, let’s learn how to do something. And the rest of your day you’re gonna do that thing. You’re gonna bridge the gap between learning and doing, it’s so flexible. Like you can just do all these things. So like to not use that tool is such a shame. So like I think planners are doing themselves a disservice by saying all or nothing, which I’m seeing is this kind of reflection period because, uh, I think virtual events were adopted at gunpoint. I mean, they didn’t want to do them, they had to do them, right. They could have been doing them years before that. Right. And, and so like now it’s a shame that all these attendees have been trained on how to behave in those spaces. Like the hardest work is done, like take advantage of that energy.

Lisa Schulteis (09:18):

Yeah. And you, you, you can’t see it behind us, but we actually are running a very official poll today.

Nick Borelli (09:25):

Oh I love it.

Lisa Schulteis (09:26):

Where we’re asking people what’s the future of events, right? And people are throwing the ball in the appropriate base and,

Nick Borelli (09:33):

Ooh, is live events crushing it?

Lisa Schulteis (09:34):

You know what live and hybrid are getting pretty close. So it’s kind of good, kind of interesting to see, right?

Nick Borelli (09:39):

Smarter crowd here.

Lisa Schulteis (09:40):

But yeah, so just to wrap up real quick, let’s talk about the one thing you and I both love about virtual events, metrics.

Nick Borelli (09:46):

Yeah. I mean, you just get ’em, I mean you don’t have to spend a lot of money. It’s an inherent part of the platforms. You get to know, I mean, it’s like a focus group, right? Like you get focus group like data of like where people spent their time, where they bailed. Do you know how easy it is to walk out of a session, virtually walk out of a session? It’s easy. And that’s great cuz what you get to know is there’s people sitting in live sessions that are like, ah, this is not for me. But I don’t want to make myself embarrassed or embarrassed someone. But like virtually you just get up and go. So like that data of knowing like what people actually care about or the moment they lost them. Super cool.

Lisa Schulteis (10:21):

Yeah. And I’m actually gonna plug you guys for a second because one of the things…

Nick Borelli (10:24):

You can do that in life.

Lisa Schulteis (10:25):

I know, right? One of the things that I actually love about what Zenus does is I speak, right? I’m a speaker all the time. And you know, you wonder, right? Like, am I really getting to them? Is my content interesting? Is there a point that I lost them? So you guys have this pretty cool ethical facial recognition, right? That you can actually watch the attendees in the audience and see their reaction to the speaker and know that, you know, the speaker was doing great, doing great, doing great, doing great. And oh my gosh, they just said something insane.

Nick Borelli (10:58):

They said the word recession or something.

Lisa Schulteis (10:59):

I think that’s really interesting feedback that we can start incorporating into live events to give us more information about not only, you know, what are people reacting to, but who our speakers should be. Right?

Nick Borelli (11:13):

Totally. So I mean, you can have a actual back and forth with your speakers to have them like gain that intelligence too. One of the coolest things is, is that all my sessions prior to this have all been rated on a binary. You know, you get like those outlier three people that actually fill out the event survey and they’re like, not enough food and the speakers suck and it’s like pass fail, right? But in this, it’s all passive, right? And like you get to know like on an aggregate, like what, where the elation came from and it’s like I was able to see my PCMA scores and like I tell jokes when I present, like that’s my, I like to do that. And like that scores better for obvious reasons as far as elation. So like if you take those lessons and you can apply it and be like, Hey everybody, this year we’ve, we’re gonna take last year’s or last month’s or whatever it is, you know, data points and say like, sprinkle this into your sessions.

Nick Borelli (12:02):

Like, I really don’t like, and I’m, but I’m saying this ahead of time, I’m wrong. I really don’t like those things when session, when speakers say, all right, everybody like stand up and move and clap and move around and talk. But you know what? I’m wrong.

Lisa Schulteis (12:13):

I know.

Nick Borelli (12:14):

You know why we don’t like it?

Lisa Schulteis (12:15):

I don’t like it either.

Nick Borelli (12:15):

Do you know why we don’t like it? We’re jaded. We’ve seen more sessions than anyone ever will ever get to. And we’re like, we know that trick, right? It’s a trick and you know it, and you’re like, I’m not a dog. Don’t treat me like a dog. But I will say the data actually sources out that the, that the sentiment not only peaks, but actually stays higher if you do that. So that’s one of those things where if I get over my own personal bias of like, my own thing, like I’m like, you know what? I’m just gonna let the data be the the thing. Yeah.

Lisa Schulteis (12:41):

It’s right up there with icebreakers for me.

Nick Borelli (12:44):

When they put the things on the table to tell you like a question to say in a networking, I’m like, I would never do that. Like, treat me like a human being. But…

Lisa Schulteis (12:51):

It works.

Nick Borelli (12:52):

Some of these things, sometimes it actually works. If we’re built like ourselves, we don’t have any problem talking to people, right? Like that’s easy, but it’s for the people that don’t. So I, I like seeing the data to prove that like we all have biases and like the data is, is absolutely the data. So yeah, I mean like that’s the thing that we need to get into to get taken seriously. Like the presentation on the panel I’ll be on today by thinking like a CMO. Like that’s one of the main like points that I want to get across is we know what we know, but proving it is what gets us the recognition gets us the, the money we deserve, the people we deserve. Like we know we’re actually probably almost always right, but we just go with that because it’s faster. But show your work that you’re always right as, as a planner, like as a smart event professional, just showing your work makes a huge difference.

Lisa Schulteis (13:37):

Absolutely. All right, so I’m gonna end on that note because that’s a really, really important note. You and I could sit here for five hours.

Nick Borelli (13:44):

We can just do this whole show, but there’s probably other stuff we have to do.

Lisa Schulteis (13:46):

I know. Well, I think you have to be on stage soon. I have to be on stage soon, but, you know, whatever. But, uh, thank you for taking the time today, coming over here and, and chatting. And yeah, you need to, to hang out with Nick and have a conversation with him and, check out Zenus too. They’re, they’re doing some pretty cool things over there. Thanks everybody.

Nick Borelli (14:06):



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