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Pro services pro: 3 trends in the enterprise virtual events market

If you had a chance to talk to an industry insider in the virtual events space and ask him what he thinks is going to rock your world, what do you think he'd say?


That's exactly what we did in this episode of #ThoughtLeaderConversations as V2's Roger Courville, CSP sits down to chat with veteran Jason Mele about what he sees going on in virtual events, hybrid events, webinars, and livestreaming.


Listen in to learn things like:

  • How to improve production value

  • Trends that affect mid- and large-sized organizations

  • Benefits of more tightly integrating virtual events into the marketing stack

  • Strategies for integrating systems

  • Real-world application of ideas to example scenarios

  • And more!






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Sponsor: V2, LLC, expert virtual and hybrid event production, www.VirtualVenues.com  

Host: Roger Courville, CSP, https://www.linkedin.com/in/rogerc/   


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UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT


[00:00:00] Roger Courville, CSP: If you had a chance to talk to an industry insider in the virtual events space and ask what he thought was going to really rock your world in the months and years to come with regard to the technology and the pro services and all that kind of stuff, what do you think he would say? Well, hey, well, hello and welcome.

My name is Roger Courville and we are going to talk to a bona fide leader in the professional space. Services space, particularly working with enterprise clients. My name is Roger Coville and welcome to another episode of Thought Leader Conversations where, uh, we brought to you by the crew at virtual venues where you can instantly scale your team by adding, uh, somebody that'll help you reach your virtual and hybrid event production goals.

By focusing on something other than the technology itself. So with me today is a fellow industry old timer, Jason Maley. I've known him for years and frankly, haven't talked for a while, but, um, he spent a long time with the company formerly known as West corporation slash intercall slash Entrato slash.

That's notified, but importantly managed the pro services crew, including globally for a long time, including this COVID era burst of 480 percent growth going from 50 to 90 people in his staff for a couple months, uh, in just a couple months, he's got the technical chops. He's got the marketing chops and put another way.

He knows what impacts productivity and effectiveness in virtual and hybrid events. Welcome Jason.

[00:01:26] Jason Mele: I don't know how to feel about being referred to as an old timer, Roger, but thank you. Um,

[00:01:33] Roger Courville, CSP: I think I'm more gray haired than you do, and you've been doing this for a long time.

[00:01:37] Jason Mele: You're the one you have to see live for me to come to the realization that I'm an old timer now.

[00:01:41] Roger Courville, CSP: Well, you've got a deep A deep well of experience. So, Hey, before we get rolling, tell us a little bit yourself, fill in another gap or two. What should we know?

[00:01:50] Jason Mele: Oh, yeah. Well, like, you know, in this space, right. You think about like the last 12 years, right. It, we went from like Cisco Webex and MS live meeting and like, we connect to like streaming platforms.

And now like. Streaming platforms have started to commoditize and now it's all about like analytics and yeah, it's it's been a wild ride in a decade and that all comes out of like You know, a lot of us came from media production, I would assume, you know, there's some project management folks, but, um, it's been a rollercoaster last 12 years.

So like, I know, I know you've seen it like through that, but, um, it's, it's an industry, but it's, it's not the same industry every couple of years. You're, you're always, You're always focusing on some new target.

[00:02:42] Roger Courville, CSP: Yeah. Well, I mean, in one sense it's, it's very mature, right? I mean, I started in 1999, so it's crazy enough.

25 years later and still really appreciate the space. And then COVID brought a whole bunch of people into who were kind of the late adopters who were, you know, really dragging their feet with regard to virtual and hybrid. But, but you're right. There are new things going on and things that I think impact organizations in a way they may not have a, uh, always anticipate, uh, particularly in the enterprise level because you get used to it, you know, doing the same thing and the cost of switching technologies or appropriating new opportunities sometimes it's kind of slow.

So we're here to talk about three trends as you see it, but let's start with the problem. Or problems or challenges that you see, what is the underlying pain or pains that, that undergird where you see development going?

[00:03:42] Jason Mele: Well, I mean, the trend, the trends are always like, like, you know, hand in hand with the problems you've seen in industry.

I think, um, anyone who's a veteran in the event space has been through a wild ride since 2020. Um, I'd say that like problem number one is everyone's really struggling because marketing budgets have been slashed. At the same time, like when you look at the spend that's going into programs, um, anecdotally, the numbers I'm hearing is the return on investment from like a lead gen standpoint is like 50 percent of what it was two years ago, obviously.

Everyone's locked down. You've got a bit of a captive audience. So, you know, that's your only way of interacting and reaching folks. But I think the fatigue is really taking the wind out of the sails of the impact. But that shift, while that has made it really challenging when working with like long term customers to help prove your value also kind of leads you to some opportunities.

If you're able to help customers innovate, right, then it really keeps you ahead of the curve. Like, so problem number one. I mentioned it was like, Hey, so your CMO, your CFO, CRO, they're all looking at this marketing budget and they're saying, well, everyone's excited to be in person or everyone's excited to, um, to, you know, do go back to cold calling, you know?

Um, but I'm, it's really always very been, it's always been a challenge for a marketing team to prove the value of digital events, right. Or digital marketing. Um, yeah. You think about, think about a conference, right? You're, let's say you're in person, right? Let's say you're doing a hybrid solution. Think about how you use those analytics to, um, like generate leads.

It's like, okay, so I'm, I'm throwing on a show and I got, I'm providing thought leadership, but I'm also doing lead gen, I want to get info to those BDRs and I need to get it to them quick. It needs to be insightful. So they need to know who you are, what you do. And a couple, a couple of really insightful data points that might help them determine if you're a buyer.

Frankly, they need to be like in your email or calling you on the phone before you leave the hotel. If you're already home and you're playing with your kids in the backyard, half of the information is wiped and they, they're, they're not picking up the phone for you. So thinking in terms of like, not just That you're sending data, but like how targeted and effective the data is and how fast you can get that data over to them.

Um, I always say, like, it's your work on the content work on structure. But at the same time, really, you should start with the value prop, right? It's like, hey, marketing contact, how, how can I help you maximize the return? How do you, like, what is the end of the, like, the sales life cycle for this look, look for you?

So that you can kind of plan in data points for the BDR team. Um, that sales engineer can over, like, we can dial in a couple of data points that they can pre, like, precede that, like, first SE call. And then making sure that, like, every step of the way, you've got a couple of points that are effective to make sure you're having, like, really solid conversations.

And this is just a lead, that's just a lead gen example, but, like, that's an, a great. Use case. I like to think of in terms of like, it's not just, we're putting on a good show and that's important. And I'll get to that next. But like, I think it's also like, how do I help them be super successful and conveying value to their leadership?

Um,

[00:07:38] Roger Courville, CSP: no, that's a great,

[00:07:39] Jason Mele: it's like, well, if you can prove that there's a return, then there's always budget. If there's enough of a return, right.

[00:07:47] Roger Courville, CSP: Great point. If you can prove the return, there's always budget. That's a great point. And that segues well to the first trend that you identified when you sent over a couple ideas.

Completely integrated systems. Define what you mean by completely integrated systems, and how have they transformed the way the execution of virtual events.

[00:08:12] Jason Mele: Yeah. I mean, and, and, uh, I started in this industry in what was your, your former company, which became the intercall team. Um, it was closed system, right?

You join an event, somebody exports some data in an XML sheet or, or an Excel, or, or you give someone a link and they export it and then they have to like parse through it. Um, when you think about a modern enterprise company, right, there's a dozen different stakeholders that need different things. So, you need to, you need to exist as a part of an ecosystem.

You're not a tool, you are a part of a system. It's like, okay, there's the CRM, there's marketing automation and registration, there's, uh, your data lake or your data visualization tool if you're using a third party tool. Um, If you're doing in house data, you, it is an odd data portal. It's a series of dashboards for your, your CMO needs different info than your CRO.

And I always say it's like, it's all accessible. Like nothing's hidden, right? They can always. Dive deep, but I, I, I said this to somebody a, a while back. It's like if the c-suite folks get pulled into a call, or even like a, a, a director or manager, you got a call to talk about your program. You have five minutes notice.

You should be able to go into the portal and see three or four data points that you're gonna say in an executive meeting. It should be already there. You shouldn't be. Having to go parse that out or like go through variables it that stuff's available to you right away And then if someone wants to quality check, it's like cool.

I'll send this to you.

[00:09:55] Roger Courville, CSP: Yeah, no great point Data silos has always been a big challenge or it's frankly. It's still a challenge And particularly when your quote unquote webinar system or virtual event platform is disconnected. So that form of integration, um, frankly is the only way that I know of that really helps you bring that data to real time opportunities.

Because you've got to get it from ON24 or whatever you're working with somewhere else. Reporting mechanisms in these platforms have improved. Uh, to a degree, they're still inadequate, particularly when it comes to that data, that visualization layer, right? That presentation layer, as in how am I going to represent this in a way that just isn't, isn't fields in a CSV?

How am I going to, how am I going to help someone, um, you know, mentally assess what it is and what it means, more importantly? Just out of curiosity, what, what challenges have you faced when integrating different technologies and what did you do about it?

[00:11:05] Jason Mele: Oh, well, um, you made a really good point there, which is, um, yeah, you look at a lot of the legacy systems that are out there, and I came from a world where the perspective is agnostic, right?

If you want to use, you know, Cvent, but you want to use on 24 as platform, you know, uh, what we were like, um, it was the Unisphere platform and BlueJeans, whatever. Like we always took that perspective of we'll take the tools you want and we'll make it work for you. Um, and the issue is, yeah, you, you hit the nail on the head.

It's none of them have. really like advanced in a really aggressive way on data and analytics. And I think there's a good reason for that, which is they have a very wide market. And it'd be extremely expensive to have all of that data architecture work built out. Some of them do better than others, right?

I'm not going to play favorites here, but there's some that, um, I've come, you know, when I was on a one platform team, I've come up against them and I'm going to work it out for me. Um, but I also think like that, the professional services perspective is the let's go dial it in the extra 10 percent of the way with the, with the tools you have available to you.

Um, And I think like when you look at automation like that, the challenge is always, uh, cost at scale, right? It's, um, I can automate this for you. And here's like a project I could scope out. It's going to be, you know, development hours. And the question is always like, how many manual functions or how much time from a project manager are you replacing with automation?

And what I'll do is, I mean, rather than just say, no, I can't do it, I'll usually say, Hey, I've looked this and I've compared our project management team over here versus my team automating this and I'm like, here's the scale at which you'll start getting a good return on this. So if you, if you wanted to let's say commit to, you know, a project like a program of 40 events this year and this guy like that you'll start getting a return and it it says two things it says I'm engaged I'm looking to help you advance your business but I also want to do it in a smart way and I don't want to just take a bunch of money to do a lot of complex things.

I'm showing you the path to that growth and where you can say, Hey, if we grow our programs, I can start getting cost savings down the road too, which is always appealing to executive, those executive resources.

[00:13:54] Roger Courville, CSP: You know, there's a paradigm in the world of business intelligence, which is that, you know, the value of data is decision support.

So what are the decisions that you're going to make? And, and how much better will you make those decisions if you have the data versus if you don't have the data? And it's, you know, it's, it's within that, you know, kind of set of parameters that allow you to then go, ah, is it worth me taking the time to do what Jason was talking about?

And, um, and I think, I think most of the time, um, oftentimes for experienced executives, they kind of have an instinct and they like, I don't need an exact ROI calculation to figure out that. Yeah, I think it's worth of us to put in the a hundred hours to do the integration or whatever. Um,

[00:14:43] Jason Mele: but I think that's really smart in front of their boss.

Um, you know, there's, there's nothing to be lost by providing people are real, like you're helping your customer make their business case that involves you. Right. Um, if you as a leader can provide the kind of guidance that helps them get to their next level. then there's a certain amount of like, you understand this pathway.

Um, and it's about building, that's about relationship building is, um, can I take my technical and industry knowledge and can I amplify my contacts within those companies? Because I want to get them to the next level. Um, but, uh, you said something really important back there, which is like a lot of these larger platforms that have been around a while, like they might fall short.

on some of, on some of these, um, some of these finer points, like, like seamless integration, right? Ease of workflow. But I also think that provides a really important place for like the agency model. So thinking, I mean, you, you work for fundamentally an agency,

[00:16:00] Roger Courville, CSP: right?

[00:16:00] Jason Mele: There's a lot of them out there and they do really great work.

I have some friends who have their own agency out on the East coast. Um, That's going to be a really important model because they can't, at scale, like the big companies, they can't do extremely refined, extremely tailored solutions, but they could couple with, like, preferred So, Preferred agencies that can come in and do that level of, of like fine tuning and deliver that like that, that really detailed ROI data or really particular project management, and they can go to market more aggressively like that.

And that'll allow them to scale. And then. Um, it, it's just, um, it allows them to focus on big core competency, structural stability. Um, and then you can work with them on a, a, a strategic basis to kind of expand out their market to use cases that they just couldn't do. Um, I think as we see the market changing, I think it's a good time for like, like large platform owners to find a good channel and partnership like structure that can help them kind of expand that market.

[00:17:14] Roger Courville, CSP: Are there any metrics that you consider most valuable, or does that make it too general? And would you argue that the devil is in the details, meaning your metrics and my metrics might be different, and therefore what we find most valuable might be, you know, specific to who we are individually as organizations?

[00:17:39] Jason Mele: I mean, it always depends on the program, of course, right? So, I think Um, the most important thing you can do is in either pre or post sales scoping of really working with them to figure out what metrics do you move the needle for them and their company like, um, you know, FinTech versus a true marketing agency versus like pharma.

They all have different, you know, Right. I think though, what I'm seeing as a, as a trend, things that are important is like think Roger Courville attended, right? And he works for an events company. We might want to reach out to him, but things like Roger Courville attended. He works for an events company.

He's the head of strategy. And he engaged, you know, he engaged on XYZ, um, you know, sessions, and he stayed the whole time, and he pulled, he pulled some handouts, and he's in the, he's like in the sort of breakout rooms or something like that, like, those kind of things of saying, not just, oh, it's not just like, oh, time in, in presentation, but it's like, what specific, maybe we can dial in, it's like, yeah, You skipped this session, this session, this session, maybe you're interested in this one piece of our service offering.

So we target our outreach based on what you're interested in. We know what your position is and what you like, how you might be involved in the buying chain. Um, and we get that information to somebody so that when you get outreach, it feels like that person has some context for who you are instead of we've all had like LinkedIn, Outs where it's like, right, , did a robot write this?

A robot wrote this.

[00:19:29] Roger Courville, CSP: Right. You know what, here's a, here's something that came to mind, even as you were saying that, and I think I, in a way, it'll paraphrase a couple things that I heard you say. I, it's one thing to. do the system integration and know what, how you're going to use the system. Say more generally speaking over the course of the next four quarters, call it, you know, here's what we're going to do for the next year or six months or whatever.

It's another thing to do it at the program level. And it came to mind, um, a program that I, I put together with a client once that was an eight hour program. The Toy Story event series, but the most important thing they really wanted to do was to do exactly what you just recommended, which sadly I, I hate to say it.

I see I don't see that done very often and it's such so easy to do. And in this particular case, they, we did, uh, we designed for them events where there was an extra long, Q and a session with one of the sales engineers after the, after the short presentation and put it more importantly, marketing.

actually coordinated with sales and all of the questions were captured, meaning the qualitative questions that people typed into chat to ask questions of the sales engineer. And then that was funneled to the, the sales team who would then make a, basically a warm followup call. So what you were talking about, were they there?

Did they, how did they respond to a particular poll or did they not respond to a particular poll? And what are the, so the, some of those other details become really salient. And to me, uh, differentiating between a functionally a cold call and a warm call, right? And, and so they, they used this data going, Hey, Jason, it sees, I see that you attended the webinar and you asked, you know, one of the questions that you typed in the chat was, you know, do we do this on Tuesdays?

Was your question answered? Did you, did you get the answer you were looking for? Tell me a little more about what's important about to you on, about Tuesdays. Tuesdays, right?

[00:21:35] Jason Mele: We're going to follow up directly on all the questions we didn't get to,

[00:21:39] Roger Courville, CSP: right? And so the, and they loved it because, you know, now sales had a reason to call and, and it was highly contextual, Oh, you're paying attention to me was a really powerful part of that program.

Uh, before we move on to the next trend, any other thoughts with regard to, um, completely integrated systems or maybe how. you know, deep learning or AI will affect all this stuff?

[00:22:07] Jason Mele: Uh, well, first, you know, something is that sales is extremely hard job. Um, it's like one thing I've, I've tried to kind of build in is the, let's understand selling technology.

It's a, it's really hard to do. Like I, I, I couldn't do what an AE does. Right. Um, so respect, um, respect the, the challenge they're under. And figure out how do I provide support to kind of make that process easier, and to that point, right, that's a great example. And that is what you should be doing with your programs, is Thinking in terms of, yeah, there's mechanical functions of the job, but how do I take what I'm doing and constantly improve, like dial it in to make sure that, like, we've got the best solutions for, for like those, those use cases, right?

Like, how do I make, like, if you can turn every cold call into a warm call, I, I don't have numbers for like what that looks like, but I know that, um, there are companies out there. I know, I know, I know an agency in Europe that does this. They will, if you want, I want this buyer, they will get all the Intel you need to like send them a gift and make a warm outreach.

They'll nearly guarantee you at least a meeting. Um, there is a huge industry. If you can kind of tailor that, um, let me say my piece on AI. Um, I participated, I, I taught an AI boot camp for high schoolers here at Warner Pacific University as part of the Mark Cuban Foundation. Um, so I, you know, it's an, it's an emerging technology, so I keep up on it.

It does some things really well, and it does other things not well, and I, and this is where I like to parse. So, um, you said quality programs, right? Yeah, it's all in the creative. thoughts of your program managers, right? So it can automate tedious, repetitive tasks. It's really good at going and sifting through a massive data set to extract like insights that, that a human would not be good at.

What I don't think it's good at is actually decision making. So those companies that are wholesale replacing resources with like AI tools, I think that they're going to struggle. with like customer experience. I think that a tool like sifting through a massive data set and then giving it to a skilled program manager or a skilled project manager who can help like look at the theoretical outcomes of that data set and say, OK, this is what I'm seeing based on my experience.

And now and this is what I'm seeing based on my active listening to you. As the customer as to what's important to you and having that layer of decision making being done by a human with expertise that will be a powerful customer experience versus, um, you've used to chat bot before. And I'm sure you've been frustrated by a chatbot before.

Um, and so that, that's my piece, which is, I think, build a better tool for experienced humans. You'll get, um, exponential outcomes. Replace people with a tool. Um, you'll get people hanging up.

[00:25:51] Roger Courville, CSP: Singing my song, bro. I, well, in that, I mean, that's, that's been one of the data points. One of the things where when I've done, I've done a lot of consulting, one of the points that I would often make is that the, that the data consistently shows the power of live events as part of creating and sustaining human connectedness, right?

Meaning your webinar has potential that the white paper can't. Meet because it doesn't have that same connection unless what you're doing with the webinar is just talking at people and therefore it it has No more interaction than than a YouTube video right there. So there's a missed opportunity and It's amazing what that what the human experience still brings to the table in terms of value creation so

[00:26:47] Jason Mele: So you've heard the cry of the events industry is dead long live the events industry, right?

[00:26:52] Roger Courville, CSP: Right.

[00:26:53] Jason Mele: Um, like it it's just It's just like you need to take that in the perspective like, um, what we did two years ago is dead and we need, we're, we're adapting to what we're doing now. Um, and that, that's a great segue to like that third point I sent you, right. Which is, um,

[00:27:18] Roger Courville, CSP: Oh, well, we'll get there production value.

[00:27:21] Jason Mele: Yeah. Like we spent, we all spent at least two, maybe two and a half years on a lot of virtual events. Um, and like anything you, you know, you've done repetitively for a period of time, especially if you're coupled with a traumatic period of time, you start getting, this is a natural resistance to the way of doing it.

Um, what I've, what I've seen, heard, what's been successful, right, is, um, production value, and when I say production value, it's not just like, oh, lighting, this is like the light out my window, like, but it's just, um, it's like, have we done this in a way that, um, It's just listenable. Um, it, are we, are we doing a two and a half hour webinar?

Are, are we, do we have a focused point? Um, have we given a good agenda to say like, oh yeah, I wanna hear about that. Right. Like, I, I've given some discussions on, um, AI and automation, um, as part of a. Think tank, like networking group I'm part of, and yeah, really good discussions, but it's all out of like, we get a lot of really intelligent people in the room by like thought provoking.

Interesting, maybe some like controversial topics. Um. And when I say production, like, yes, you, your lighting should be good. Yes. I'm wearing a headset, like a helicopter pilot, because my audio was terrible, but I'm trying not to like, like offend the eardrums of the people that are going to choose to like, listen to this for a period of time.

Right. So like just little things matter. I mean, I'm glad we spent the time to make sure. No, let's try to make this sound decent. Um,

[00:29:11] Roger Courville, CSP: yeah, and I think sometimes we think of production value just as the technology part as well. And I, I also put on the instructional designer hat and going, how are we designing human connectedness into this thing?

Right? 'cause what you're talking about, I, I love the fact that you used the word listenable

[00:29:29] Jason Mele: means a lot of, a couple things,

[00:29:30] Roger Courville, CSP: things where people don't generally think about that consciously. It's kind of hits them subconsciously, right? Does it sound good or does it not sound good, or does it, is it pleasing or is it grating?

Um. People will suffer imperfection when the content is good, and more importantly, when I have a chance, I think, to connect with the presenter somehow. Now, sometimes that's just a great keynoter who stands up and they're telling a story in a way that's just utterly engaging. More often than not, and particularly in the corporate world, that's of some form of, I mean, they showed up for a reason, and it's some form of perhaps being able to connect or interact with, either the presenter or perhaps even peers, right?

So of, you know, and people we've had on this show, one uses breakout rooms in marketing events. And not very many marketers do that, but she had developed this killer way of helping people develop peer to peer level connections as part of kind of mini community and had baked that into her marketing program.

And I'm like, genius. That's awesome. So, um, just out of curiosity, what, what elements do you believe are crucial for, what are the most overlooked elements of production value?

[00:30:51] Jason Mele: Well, yeah, I think we covered just like, there's some basics, like, like line your camera up, make sure your audio sounds good. Um, still underrated 30 years of, of probably giving the same advice.

Um, that, that still matters. Um, Ease of use and entry. So like, I've had programs I've worked on that used competitor's technology coupled with ours. Simply because that was more convenient for them to, to, to get like new speakers on really easily and you know what, if that's working for them, great, you know, and just ease of use, whether or not it's kind of what my technical brand would want to design.

It's like, but it's working for you. So that's what we're doing. Um, You know, uh, we know Zoom is a great example of like, they really won the Kleenex game of they're the, they're the name brand, um, you know, everyone's, everyone's mom knows how to use Zoom. Um, and like, if you look at like, the more complex entryways, like, oh, you want to collect all this reg data, right?

And I was saying, it's like, like, collecting a lot is time consuming, but think about things like abandon rate, right? Which is you're filling out a 16 point registration form. I have had conferences that are interested in joining and they're like, reg forum is so long. I'm like, I'm busy. I don't have time for this.

And I just, I just didn't attend. Uh, and I do this, I, I, you know, I spent like 12 years doing this every day and I'm like, yeah, I got, I got the stuff to do. Uh, you know, um, or just like, you know, too many steps to the login process. Just, uh, think about, Think about that user who you really want to see it and how busy they might be and how difficult you might be making their day.

And just think about just like one extra unnecessary step could, could really like, like, let's say you're trying to grab Intel on like a, uh, you know, like a, like a lead gen program. Like I mentioned, you don't need their home address. That doesn't matter. It doesn't matter where they live per se. I mean, maybe their time zone is probably something they chose.

For their calendar invite that's, you know what? Get that stuff later, right? It's just get who they are and what they do and keep it simple, right?

[00:33:28] Roger Courville, CSP: Why Amazon patented the one click purchase, right? Because it's

[00:33:37] Jason Mele: not a good user interface. I, I, I, but I mean, it is, they do have some ease of use. advantages they've built in, even if like, I don't like their marketplace is like a mess at the same time. It's like, yeah, like they've got, they've, they've done some things really well that that gives them an advantage.

I mean, distribution network a lot. Right. Well, and that goes to the same thing too, right? Like not, not everything. needs to be presented live. Some stuff can be some, some stuff people just want, get them a PDF that they can take and they can go read and then they can book something later. Um, have, you know, like think about this, like, let's assume you're showing off something you're not, you don't want to do big complex multi system offering.

You have don't demo at all. And, and when, if people go post event to your site to go see a demo, have a, have an easy way for them to route. To where those demos are and then break them up into different functions. And then they want to watch them all. They can watch them all, but make things digestible. Um, like I said, there's tons of times where people don't want your whole tech stack.

If you try to sell them your whole tech stack, their eyes are going to glaze over and they're, and they're going to tune out. So let, let people figure out what they need and want. And then, then work on their terms. And then if, if you want to compete, um, their, uh, their compact, you know, your competitor in that space, be successful with what they want and what they asked you for, and then maybe next, next time around, then you can kind of kind of talk through that.

Like I, uh, I was, you know, like Salesforce as a, as a CRM, like CRM in Salesforce is usually like, that's what people think of. Um, I think MS Dynamics has. It's as powerful. It's got some better stuff in there in some ways, you know, um, but it has not, you know, it's, it's a little hard to sort of like get people used to it.

Cause there's a lot more there too. So, um, you can, I can make a case for like, oh, we can, you know, with. With dynamics as a CRM, you can do all sorts of things. You can do like project management and stuff like that. You can build in tools that kind of feed from your sales ops all the way to your like delivery operations, support and stuff like that.

Um, but like, it's a lot of work. So like, but like finding use case, you know, and this, this is me coming from the outside making recommendations. So it's entirely up to the customer. But if I want to vet A versus B. Um, if I were Dynamics, I would, I would be focusing on finding underutilized use cases that they can go out there and compete with Salesforce on, right?

Get people in the door, show them how powerful tool it is, and then Start, start clawing market share bit by bit, right? You're not going to go just, you're not going to release a feature that's going to flip the industry on its head. This will get quoted if I'm wrong on that. And they released a feature next year.

[00:37:09] Roger Courville, CSP: All right. Hey, looking, looking forward, what innovations or improvements are you most excited about in the realm of. Production value for virtual events.

[00:37:23] Jason Mele: I think the things that I have seen the most are like the really simple, like things that people barely notice. Like, you know, MS Teams has done a great job. If you notice, like I was, I've been on meetings where I've got the world's, I can only describe it, the world's loudest Australian Shepherd. Like right off camera here barking at the top of his lungs.

I'm like, Oh, I'm sorry for the dog barking. And I was like, Oh, we can't hear it. And it's just like, wow, I'm impressed by the noise canceling. Um, you know, uh, virtual backgrounds, um, just like little, like ease of production value built into the software. So let's say you've got somebody that is not in the event space and they're a guest.

And they don't have an office set up to broadcast from, right? They don't have the ring light and then the, the podcaster mic, they just have audio from their laptop. How can you make that presentation somewhat decent, you know, just off of some basic, like background, does it require nothing? Like they don't need, they don't need an event manager on there per se.

They don't need like a technical understanding or to read a PDF. It's just like, Oh yeah, that's there. And you didn't even notice that we were canceling around background noise.

[00:38:49] Roger Courville, CSP: Yeah, that's, that's a great way of putting it right because I mean, we can aspire to things like, uh, how you address lighting and then you see it, uh, a feature like what zoom just included with version six of meetings that just, that just came out in the last couple of weeks.

that is like a virtual background except it's just a dimming function. So to create that same kind of foreground background separation that photographers would do with like backlighting, right? Try to, try to bring the subject to your attention by, by way of what's going on behind them. It basically uses AI.

to instead of put up, you know, a fake green screen picture of a beach behind you. It just dims the background. All right. And, and, and sharpens you in the image. And I'm like, that's awesome. Because to your point, somebody is in their office. They're not used to doing this professionally. They don't have a ring light and bam, one little thing there.

Could be.

[00:39:57] Jason Mele: That's where all, that's where, that's where all the money is. It's like, it's how do I make this work for, you know, um, you know, executive at the bank who does this once a year for, uh, you know, the, the call he has to do or, you know, CEO doing a town hall, make it easy for them. Um, oh, you reminded me of the big one, which is captions.

Um, do you do, like, do you remember. This is an old timer talk, right? Just back in my day, when captioning required, Oh, I've got a call, and say, Hey, okay, I need a Spanish translator, I need closed captioning, I need Um, you know, I need, uh, both Mandarin and Cantonese about, you know, and you'd have the book and that would, you'd be paying for a human to live translate this stuff.

Um, and you know, those were pretty good. And I think you look three years ago, um, automated captions were, were rough. They were like, they would generally be pretty good. Like you kind of get the role, but you know, in a world where an executive, right, something being slightly misquoted could, could have financial impacts.

Um, like the accuracy of modern, Um, like this comes like worldly and stuff like that that do really good job and you're like, Oh, okay. So, you know, Oh, we've got particular buzzwords or internal terminology and they can, they can kind of upload that for you to ensure accuracy ahead of your, um, ahead of your, your, your, you know, your big town hall or keynote, right?

Just ensuring that, um, accessibility for everybody, but also accuracy. Thank you. Like that's a, that's huge. Cause that was not, it wasn't, it wasn't just that it was cost prohibitive. It was sometimes you couldn't get the resources you needed. And now it's a toggle on every tool and like it's now just like this one's better than that one and it's, it's an arms race of like, that's a job that human beings were struggling to keep up and we couldn't staff enough people for that.

[00:42:22] Roger Courville, CSP: Yeah, it's a very peak loaded activity, right? Oh, once or twice a year. I need somebody in this category. of specialty, and it's hard to like have somebody on staff for something that only happens infrequently. And that's, that's one of the things that where technology is partnering with humans to, um,

[00:42:44] Jason Mele: In respect to those folks, that, that seems like a frenetic job to me.

[00:42:52] Roger Courville, CSP: Say that last part again.

[00:42:53] Jason Mele: Respect to those folks who did that job, because that seems like a frenetic job. Trying to like, like live caption translate in your head while typing in real time.

[00:43:03] Roger Courville, CSP: Right. Yeah, I know. So, three trends, and we've kind of talked about some of these in the latter two episodes.

Intermingled, uh, inter, uh, along the way. Completely integrated systems, production value, and you'd called out automation and ease of use. Now we touched on that a little bit and just kind of along the way, but was there anything in particular about that that struck you in terms of why you thought that was an important thing for folks to pay attention to?

[00:43:35] Jason Mele: That was kind of what I was referring to when I just said, I was referring to like abandon rate and just like, um, how easy is it for presenters to get in and use it? How easy is it for attendees to join and get what they need? Um, again, there's a, there's a lot of fatigue. So the, every, every extra step and every extra obstacle you put in the way is a percentage of audience you lose.

And your marketing team worked really hard to get people interested. They put a lot of thought into the content. They did a lot of targeting. They paid for data to do outreach. Um, and if you're losing, you know, even 5%, 10 percent just on your in, you know, your, your integration between two different systems is clunky or your reg system is just asking too much info.

Um, That's just that you're leaving money on the table. And then that goes, this is like, when I say, like, I gave those three examples, cause they're all interconnected, which is the, um, you know, how, you know, in terms of production value, that's, that's like everything from, like I said, the production value in general, but also like the quality, how interesting your topics are to get people interested.

How do you get them to want to show up? How do you make it so that it's easy as possible for them to do so if they've chosen to? And then the, the, the ROI data is you got them there. How do you actually take advantage of all the, of all the data you got out of that presentation and make it impactful for, like I said, your, your, your sales teams.

And it's just about those are the three pillars of making it worth it, right? Um, it's hard for, to get budget for a marketing program, especially a digital one. So help them every step of that life cycle to, to get the most value. Right. Um, and yeah, I mean, I think that the biggest thing, right. And I guess this goes to production value, but I just want to reiterate just the.

Have a topic that people want, are interested in. Right? Um, you know, like it's okay if it's a, if it, if it's a debate on a, on a controversial topic, right? Like AI is a great one. There's a lot of thought leadership on ai and I see the entire spectrum of kind of how, how's the best case to use that I gave you my opinion.

Um. There's a lot of interest in attending those because whether it be your customer, whether it be a company you want to work for, people want the perspective of where, where folks stand on it. They're judging it like, do I want to work for this company? Um, like how am I going to position my product to this customer I'm talking to so that I'm not in contradiction to their, their ethos on it?

Um, So think about that. Right. And it doesn't like, there's no right answer, but sometimes that's fine. It's, it's okay. Just have it be something that people want to attend because they want to hear what you have to say.

[00:46:46] Roger Courville, CSP: Thank you, Jason. So just out of curiosity, uh, Are there any questions I should have asked you that I haven't?

[00:46:55] Jason Mele: Oh boy, um,

yeah, look, I can't, I'm trying to think, I, I can't think of anything off the top of my head. Uh, you know, I, I normally, like I said, I, in terms of like taking whatever your event platform is, like all the, all the peripheral, like, you know, like your, you know, It's your hub spots and your, your eloquence events.

Like I'm not, I don't take sides in that it's, it's whatever does the look, whether or not I like the product is irrelevant. It's like, is it doing the thing you, you want to do? I guess that that's the only thing I, I w I would say is like, um, how the, like I said, we were talking about the agency model of like, like what's that future look like?

Right. Is, um, I think that you'll see in the coming years. Uh, whether it be, there's like professional services or for just like integrating, like integrating, implementing CRMs, there's consulting firms with like staffs of 50, they just implement Salesforce for people. And it's like, well, Salesforce does that.

It's like, well, they do what they do. those customers actually need from that implementation, even though you could just buy it from there. Like you're paying for a premium layer. I think that every, everybody that's in that agency model where you're reselling another service with, with a human service layer on top of that should really dial in their value proposition.

Like, how do I bring something to market that you. Are not getting from that main vendor, not knocking on that vendor, but just saying like, here's a value add that we provide. I think that the buyer is getting more sophisticated and they want that kind of like really refined, like program. And I think that's, that's going to be really powerful.

I think agencies that understand that are going to do really well in the next couple of years.

[00:49:00] Roger Courville, CSP: Yeah, I would agree. Well, share with the, our audience how they can get on, get in touch with you.

[00:49:07] Jason Mele: Um, yeah. So if they, if, if anyone would like to talk about a particular topic, they'd like input or advice, or they're looking for like professional services, consulting work, um, they can reach out to me on LinkedIn.

Are you able to post like the link to my LinkedIn on the, uh,

[00:49:25] Roger Courville, CSP: I

[00:49:26] Jason Mele: think that's probably the best way to reach me. Um, you know, I do some thought leadership there. Um, I try to stick with my philosophy, right. like how ease of use and like, Hey, you bring the tools you want. And our job is to make it all work together to make your life easy.

[00:49:46] Roger Courville, CSP: Well, I can tell you that, uh, this was just the tip of the iceberg with regard to everything in that guy's brain. So do pay attention. Do plan to reach out to Jason. And I want to thank you again, Jason, for your time. And I want to thank each and every one of you who've been hanging out with us on this Thought Leader Conversations series.

We will see you next time on the next episode.

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