Raj Girn: I’d like to really take a moment to welcome my fabulous guest today who is going to help deep dive into some of these things that I really feel that you need to know about what’s happening as the opportunity for events today, for you to grow your brand and for you to be able to really dial in your business. Her name is Jennifer Rabanillo and she is a veteran event producer and the founder of Styleworthy.
This is Part Two of our conversation:
Raj Girn: A lot of people are needed to ensure that an event is executed properly. What are the general rules around hiring that you feel people need to know about? Because without getting this part right, the event experience itself could be a disaster and work against you using it as a platform to create authority for your brand and business. Can you share maybe some high points there that people can really sit with and and and think about? Because that piece is the piece that is public-facing. It is the experience that the attendees are going to have that really requires a very well-executed and trained team of people to really make sure that it is an experience that people don’t forget.
Jennifer Rabanillo: Absolutely. Look, when you when the attendee walks into the event, the moment they step foot on the property, you are already sharing your brand. So in terms of your team and hiring a team, not only is it already hard to find individuals who have the right reason to be there, to be a part of your team, but it’s a challenge when it comes to attaining and having the same passion that you do or the host does. Now, there are two different types of hiring that you can do. There’s paid and there’s a volunteer. Here’s the thing with volunteers, a lot of individuals say, okay, we’re going to go to the schools, we’re going to volunteer for this fashion event, etcetera, but you have to really hone in on what department or what type of student you want to come, because if it’s a fashion event, but you want them to execute an event with a fashion student, then that that might not work well for you.
They don’t have the skill set.
And don’t have the skill set. But also that’s a catch 22 because you can mentor. So you can when they come in, when you have your meeting before it starts, you can ask them, what do you want to learn about events? Here are the key leaders that we have that can provide that experience for you so, you know for your future. But that, to me, the volunteer is very important to me. But what’s even more important is their energy exchange and what they learned from the experience. Because if they come on and you’re just giving them a laundry list of things to do and you’re not helping them and you’re not answering your questions, then why are they going to give their all for your clients, for you? So that is a number one tip for volunteers. And if you’re good, the volunteers will follow you for years. Raj, you know that.
Right, We’ve had that. Absolutely.
We still have it.
We still have the youth who have now graduated who now I mentor. So that’s the value of understanding the energy exchange for volunteers. Now paid. With events, it’s not necessarily a full-time job and we’re going to touch upon it, later on, it’s not necessarily a full-time job. So you have to find individuals who are loyal, passionate. They’re there for the right reason and they want to continue to learn. So a marketing PR background, advertising is things that I look to when I hire these individuals. And just to tip the individuals that I have hired now, were once volunteers.
I love that. So this is important, guys, for you to really think about because people who do this for a living expect to get paid and your expectation as someone that hires them is that they have a higher commitment level, discipline level and also come up with certain skill sets that you’re hiring them. For people who are coming in from a voluntary perspective, it’s going to be a longer onboarding game to train them. But the advantage is, that it gives you the opportunity as the person that is able to mentor their journey, which is a whole other advantage as well.
“For people who are coming in from a voluntary perspective, it’s going to be a longer onboarding game to train them. But the advantage is that it gives you the opportunity as the person that is able to mentor their journey, which is a whole other advantage as well.” ~Raj Girn
So, you know, I know from my experience of having done events for about the last 15 years is that a good combination of both goes a long way to jump. Let’s now move this discussion into events today. What an interesting time for events to be a part of your authority building and your marketing strategy. Let’s talk about the obvious. How has the event scene changed post-COVID versus pre-COVID?
So there are different types of event planners. So if you’re still not passionate about events during, I want to say it’s posted, then perhaps you might have found a different career in between the last 18 months of events evolving. So a lot of things that I had lined up with other clients, it would have been a prosperous past 18 months and that quickly disappeared. However, being a part of the events industry for 20 years was the break that I needed to reset. So you’re asking how is it or how has it been? It has been a challenge. It has been a journey. But if it’s truly in your blood and that’s a passion that you have, you probably would have continued to do events during which I did.
And I think what the big thing there is, based on what you just said, Jen, is that the entire kind of evolution of the event experience has changed drastically with kind of the lockdowns and then not being the opportunity so much for the live experience component of it.
So let me ask you this: In-person events are a lot easier to create networking energy with online events being a lot more difficult to be able to do that. And again, it’s based on some of the things that you’ve been talking about, the energy exchange. Because interactive experiences are a lot easier to create positive energy flow because the mix is mingled, having drinks, going for dinner, live entertainment. These are all kind of directly related to you being able to kind of have that beautiful energy exchange.
This is a lot more difficult to accomplish with online events, which is kind of been the way that a lot of live events have had to pivot during this time period, especially if their objective is to create opportunities to make money. They obviously needed to figure out how to pivot online. I want to ask you this from your experience, from the conversations you’ve been having with a lot of people in the event space, how have they pivoted the opportunity to be able to optimize that “energy” force from a life experience to an online experience? Like what are some of the things that they’ve had to do?
I want to quickly talk about the different types of individuals that go to events. So typically the four in-person events, the individual that goes to attend, they’re outgoing, they thrive off of interactions and networking and all the mingling. Now, the opportunity that has happened is that the online event, not only is it a larger reach now worldwide, your expenses are lower based on the experience you want to provide. But it also now can include the individuals who may have been protecting their own energies or their social abilities. They have a challenge with it. So you have now opened it up to individuals who might have accessibility issues, who can now be a part of this experience, of course. Oh my gosh, digital detox right? That’s a whole other podcast.
But with all of the online events that are happening the way that we have pivoted with the clients that I did retain and the events that I did on my own were those in-person experiences, the activations that we would have could be directly delivered to the individual’s door. So that is a paid ticket to attend an online event where you can literally get the sponsorship items or the gift bag delivered to your door, which provides a beautifully curated experience. And you can wear the four-inch heels if you want, the gown that you’re usually uncomfortable with while you’re sitting or you’re standing. So it’s all in the mindset of the individual’s planning and the brands who are a part of it.
Of course, after a while for an event, you do want that interaction online. And so the way that you can do it is through breakouts. So you can do breakout networking versus a host or an entire panel continuing to speak. That’s education. But if you want to collaborate and bring in the community, that’s what you can do. And that’s how I’ve pivoted. That’s how others have pivoted. And I think now it just becomes more of an opportunity to reach more.
Absolutely. And just to expand a little bit on what Jen is saying here, all of a sudden this online live experience is allowing you to be able to go into events anywhere in the world. So that’s one massive advantage that live events are not so cost conducive because you have to fly out, get a hotel, etcetera. The other thing is, is that you get into virtual rooms with some major celebrity-type personalities and people that ordinarily you may see from a far distance in a live event you are seeing in the same virtual room. What I’ve noticed a lot of people, a lot of my clients have been saying a lot of events people have been saying to me has really been advantageous because the interaction is a lot more informal, which then creates higher engagement and connectivity between the people who are hosting the event and the people who are attending.
“All of a sudden this online live experience is allowing you to be able to go into events anywhere in the world. So that’s one massive advantage that live events are not so cost conducive because you have to fly out, get a hotel, etc. The other thing is that you get into virtual rooms with some major celebrity type personalities and people that ordinarily you may see from a far distance in a live event you are seeing in the same virtual room.” ~Raj Girn
And also makes a lot of these more people, who aren’t really into the limelight as Jen said earlier, it gives them the opportunity to be able to feel more comfortable and confident, maybe asking that question or speaking up and maybe feeling a little bit less uncomfortable, being able to be a part of the discussion. So there’s a lot of advantages of the online space. And, of course, they are a lot cheaper. Again, it’s a lot cheaper to be in those rooms. And I know from a lot of my corporate executive clients, a lot of founders as well as a subject matter expert clients have been saying to me that it’s become a lot easier for them to be in rooms with people that ordinarily they may never have had the opportunity to be in rooms with because now these same people are also challenged with the same thing. How do I get in front of the consumer? So they are coming down to meeting us where we’re at, which is a fundamental pivot that’s happened with events that potentially aren’t really there so much.
When you’re going to a live event, you may not have the opportunity to be able to mix and mingle if you don’t have that ticketed or VIP tag ticket, which Jen talked about earlier. So a lot of these things are really worth thinking about. You yourself as a business owner, a creative someone that’s looking to be able to mix and mingle with people that will never let you feel that you may not have had the opportunity to go into these online events because they’re very accessible in that environment. And it could really change the game for you. This is why in places like Clubhouse have become quite interesting opportunities and platforms for people to exchange their ideas and get known in front of people that, as I mentioned, you’d never be able to have access to even if you do go to those events that are more life event experiences. Is there anything that you want to add to that before we move on?
Absolutely. So, yeah, there are so many more opportunities by using a Clubhouse where you can actually also be a panellist in one of these and share your expertise. But another pre would be a program like Slack. So you can have a conference or an event that you’re going to have but two weeks before you can create that. So if you have different types of panellists, you can have little communities that are something where if one of the attendees really wants to talk to that fashion mogul, they have that. They have access to that sort of media mogul, to the app mogul. It is fantastic what these platforms have done.
I wish I had stocks in them before this happened. I just wanted to share and you can reach out to us. There are other ways, all of these types of programs that are accessible to you. Automation is key nowadays. That will save you so much time. The subscription to those outweighs how much you would pay for a venue. Then you can provide these curated experiences that could be delivered to your end users’ homes, which is better because then they have it. You can explain to them what the product is versus them grabbing the gift bag at the end of an event and then just going through it, not knowing what it is.
Right. If you have an engaging opportunity to really be able to leverage them is almost one on one, which is the feeling you get when you’re in an online event environment. I want to ask you this. Those events or those people who need kind of sponsorship support to be able to activate their events, the online space is a very different ball game to the space in person, because a big part of why companies sponsor live events is the experiential component that comes with it, which isn’t so much there when it’s a virtual environment, although, as you mentioned, they can kind of deliver things to your home to give you an interesting maybe Plan B to that experience. If you are one of those people that needs to bring in sponsorships, what are some sponsorship leverage abilities that people can do with online events that people need to know about?
Sponsorship is also another level of marketing, which, again, if you want to execute an event, are all the things that you have to think about. But then again, you can come to the professionals who are more than happy to help with sponsorship.
It’s such a big animal right So we need to hold for a second right.
I don’t want to diminish other individuals that do social events that want to become professionals. However, it is a journey that you really have to learn a social event versus a corporate or a beast, like what we do is completely different than a one-day event that you do. So sponsorship is key if you’re looking to do an event you have to have that sponsored baby, and if you don’t know what that is, come to Raj, come to me and we can explain that to you. We can help you.
In-person events, it’s easy, you have the logos everywhere you have to step and repeat, people take their photos. However, there’s a catch 22 right. When it’s an in-person event you have people engaged again, these are individuals who have signed up for your event and they are watching so much like you see in all of the television shows, there’s product placement. When you get a sponsor to sponsor you, when you drink that sip of coconut water or that water, everyone has seen that.
So it suggested subliminal marketing of your product placement, which you can hitch to your sponsor. There is also, let’s say, a sponsor who is doing, let’s say luxury cars, you can have a taped segment of that car and the host or one of the panellists in the car during these times experiencing it and why it’s a good family car or good electric car because people are watching.
So how is this being transferred over into the online sponsorship opportunity? Like what have you seen brands doing outside of your normal billboarding, which is standard?
So now, for instance, I just use the luxury car experience because when you do segments in an online event, you’ll open, you’ll throw in a segment and that’s when they can get sponsorship money that they can put towards your online event is literally showing a commercial. You’re literally showing a commercial for product placement. They do it on television. Television is online. So if there’s an online event, let’s say The View or one of these shows where it’s a morning talk show, that to me is an online event where you’re watching what they’re wearing, you’re watching what they’re drinking, what they’re eating, what’s in the background.
And that’s an opportunity for sponsorship. So think outside the box and then put your marketing hat on. And if not, go to YouTube to learn about product placement. And that’s a great way to pitch to the sponsor on how they can get within the community that your platform is targeted to. But now it’s worldwide. Now it’s all of North America and a little tip is that also is a little SEO, SEM and hashtagging during your event and pre-event.
“Think outside the box and then put your marketing hat on. And if not, go to YouTube to learn about product placement. And that’s a great way to pitch to the sponsor on how they can get within the community that your platform is targeted to.” ~Jennifer Rabanillo
And these are the things that are really something you think about, right? It’s really interesting that you’re talking about this, because on the flip side, for somebody who perhaps doesn’t want to have their own or isn’t ready to have their own event in terms of hosting one, you have the opportunity to be a sponsor of someone else’s. So you have the opportunity to put your brand in various capacities, depending on the level that you purchase, to put your brand in front of someone else’s audience. So that’s the other thing that is very advantageous to be able to do.
And again, in the online event arena, this allows you to be able to sponsor events anywhere in the world. So think about that opportunity, guys. A lot of times when people come to me, they always kind of pooh pooh the opportunity of events. But whether you are someone that is looking to host your own event in all of the various different ways that we finish talking about, or if you are someone that’s looking to leverage or borrow someone else’s authority and partnering with them or sponsoring their event is the other way to go.
So really think about where are you at with your brand strategy and your brand authority and think also about events similar to media opportunities. These are ways that you can borrow someone else’s authority to be able to automatically because of the alignment you become a subject matter expert, an authority in your specific arena. There really is a long way to go in the opportunity of being a sponsor or a partner or a speaker at someone’s event. Anything there that you want to add before we move on?
No, I think that’s it. And again, it is a lot to digest so you can reach out to us for more.
Oh my gosh, absolutely, because this is so much. So much. And so many variables. So what we’re trying to do here, guys, is we’re trying to kind of give you more benchmarks as opposed to the kind of what you could do in every opportunity, like just the things that pretty much every type of event should be thinking about and what the opportunity could look like in pretty much all types of events. So let me ask you this: Do you have any tips on what brands can do to maximize building authority during online events today that perhaps, maybe I haven’t touched upon yet?
We’ve spoken about them.
I feel quite comfortable that we’ve tapped into what that opportunity looks like, the borrowing authority being the key right?
Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. That’s the best way to grow your community. Could be a small business owner who is making handmade candles for a super large corporation, share and borrow other people’s authority. So I think that’s good for now.
Absolutely. So the scope of online events has grown drastically with the advent of technology also, and then it’s been amplified with the recent lockdowns, so people are utilizing online events for more than exponential centric objectives. Today, the three most common users of networking in online events are pretty much authority building and marketing based, one being promoting your brand as an authority to be creating community around your brand, and three, getting clients making money again. Can you share your thoughts on why this evolution in online events to market your brand is a game-changer for business? Anything that we haven’t yet touched upon?
“Today, the three most common users of networking in online events are pretty much authority building and marketing based, one being promoting your brand as an authority to being creating community around your brand, and three, getting clients making money again.” ~Raj Girn
Here’s the thing. When you have an online event and an individual purchases access to that event it’s evergreen, they can log on over and over and over again if they miss the point that the speaker is talking about, they could go on and check the notes. And guess what? That is creating brand loyalty. So that’s a really big advantage of online events right now.
Absolutely. Enough said. The line between online events and online media also has blurred substantially. I kind of said that at the top of this discussion, that the conversation that you and I are having today, Jen, could easily be siloed into kind of a media communications themed show or a marketing and branding themed show. So I wanted to ask you this: This blurred line is a huge deal that I feel people need to focus on. And the reason is, is that it has the same objective, whether you are in online media or whether you are in online events.
They both have the same objective of providing value to grow authority, community and business enterprise. It’s why the podcast space has exploded to this end. And again, like Jen said earlier, and if you’re just joining us, I want you to rewind back and I want you to watch back, listen back, whatever it is, or read back and go to that place where Jen said something that I feel is a really important crux of this conversation. And that is this whole idea that events are like TV shows, the construction, the opportunity, the experience of online events is like watching a TV show.
And this is similar to the podcast space and why podcasts have become a really great way to be able to find people to add to your tribe and to create awareness. Jen, do you want to add to that at all? I know that you’re nodding and I know that you agree with me. What do you think could be added to the mix because this whole idea of online events just kind of coming from live events isn’t really the full story? It’s kind of like the merging of the live event strategy and the TV show strategy coming together, a.k.a. online events.
Right. Here’s a tip: you can go to an event for whatever reason you want. I always say this. You can live with the hangover and a gift bag. But why were you there? What is the accountability that you have to the person or the host or the brand who just threw that event? What is the ROI for the individual who did that? With online, that really is the opportunity to blend in both and then once you have that viewer hooked, then you can have an online in-person event during this time that safely.
But it’s that individual online can get hooked. They keep coming back for episodes one, two, three and four. It is such a great opportunity for more individuals outside of the industries that we know of who aren’t usually attending online events because Zoom has been around for a long time when people didn’t know what that was. Other individuals such as ourselves, already had the memberships.
It’s amazing. It’s key. If there’s a snowstorm, you don’t have to worry about individuals having to drive and their safety because they can do it from the comfort of their homes. They can do it with groups of individuals from their family or their own teams who want to social distance in their home. Fantastic opportunities.
Absolutely. And here’s the other thing I want to add to what Jen is saying, that usually when you go to an event, that ticket is for like that one person or one person plus guest. The advantage here with online is if you’re purchasing a ticket or if you are invited in for free, you could have your whole team sitting there listening in and watching and getting the same value because all you need is everyone to be in that room with you watching this. That’s the other thing that you want to think about as well.
There are just so many ways to leverage the online opportunity of the event/media that is online events today. So to close off let’s regroup on the importance of including events to grow brand authority so we can kind of come full circle here. What do people need to take away from our discussion? Because we really touched upon many, many different things on how to host events to create authority for your brand. What are a couple of key elements that, if nothing else, this is what they need to take away from our discussion today?
Absolutely. And if people want to find out more, they want to kind of garner more wisdom and your experiential strategies, how can they find you?
You can reach out through our website at styleworthy.ca and everything is there. Super easy, styleworthy.ca.
Perfect. And if they want to hang out with you on social media, where do they go for that?
Brilliant. And for anyone that is really serious about events, can you share a little bit about some of the services that you and your team provide? Is it like the whole gamut of other areas that you’d like to focus on?
It is the whole gamut. So it’s planning and that design and décor content creation within your event and PR. So it’s full-on agency. It’s a full-on agency.
Wow. And you know, I can attest to Jen and her team’s professionalism and just getting shit done. I’ve worked with Jen in many capacities and I really do recommend you having that conversation with her if you’re looking at any size of event for any different opportunity. Because the great thing about the agency that Jen has founded and that she’s created is that for any size of event, she has the capacity to be able to really hone in and manage.
And that’s the magic, Jen, because you know me, over the years, I’ve had so many different sizes of events, so many different intentions with my events and so many different kinds of experiences. And it’s very hard to find the right people to be able to really understand how to be flexible enough and diverse enough with their skill set and with the resourceful. That’s the other thing to be able to make it happen. And I do really support Jen because she’s the one I work with to get my events in order.
So thank you so much for coming on and sharing all of your words of wisdom. And I really do encourage anyone out there that’s looking to get back into events, looking to perhaps do an online event as another opportunity, or just understand more about the opportunity of why events are important to create authority for your brand and for your business to reach out to Jen and have that conversation. Jen, you know I love you and I thank you so much for coming on.
I love you, too. Thank you, everyone, for listening. And have a wonderful day.
Thanks to you all, guys, for hanging out, as you always do each and every week. Me and Jen have had the best time ever. I really hope that you got some real value from our discussion and that you understand that an event play is a great opportunity to get your brand and business in front of new audiences, as well as to deepen your relationships with current consumers and clients. And I also hope that you also understand how accessible the opportunity is to be involved in an event whether you are hosting one or you’re participating in one in any capacity.
For more trainings like these, please subscribe to our YouTube channel at The Open Just Confidence Academy on podcast platforms at Apple, Google and Spotify search ‘The Transform Your Confidence Show.’ And I also encourage you to join our free coaching newsletter community. Just head over to our website at TheOpenChestConfidenceAcademy.com/newsletter and join our free professional development incubator on Facebook app. Transform your confidence, because that’s the opportunity that you have. You have to share your thoughts with other people as well as network. And I always pop in and answer questions. So I’d love to encourage you guys to just be a part of that community because it’s a place where we can really go on a lot of insights from other people as well as share who we are and what we do.
Until next week guys, I want you to always do what I always ask you to do, and that is take care of yourself.
I’ll see you next week.