MarTech Interview with Ben Hindman, Co-Founder and CEO at Splash

“When you build assets and a marketing database that are yours, the sites you publish become much more valuable and the people you reach become much more targeted and engaged.”

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Hi Ben. Tell us about your role at Splash and the team/technology you handle.

Splash is the Event Marketing platform that’s powering scaled event programs. We know there’s a growing group of people inside an organization focused on connecting in-person with prospects and customers because the data shows that in-person event experiences drive business goals really powerfully. The more these in-person events show success, the more we see all departments within a company craving events to support their goals.

An Event Marketing platform built for scale, like Splash, helps teams across an organization do in-person events easily, and it also protects brand integrity and data. As CEO at Splash, I’m ultimately responsible for all the operations that make us successful — but our success has truly been a team effort. I’m inspired every day by the game-changers here. Their passion for connecting people through events is what helps our customers unlock the power of people across their organization.

What special skills and abilities do you seek in your team members/new hires, when you’re building a new product from scratch, or expanding to a new market?

We are always looking for new team members who can help in our mission to make hosting events unbelievably easy. To make sure we have the right crew on board, we look for new hires with diverse experiences and backgrounds — but subject-matter expertise in events is a huge plus for me. Having people on the team who have been event marketers and can sympathize with their biggest hurdles helps us make a better product that teaches business leaders and event marketers a new way of thinking.

But not having an events background isn’t a deal-breaker. As long as new hires bring a passion for how events bring people together, they’ll add tremendous value to our team. And we’re always looking for people who can think beyond the status quo. We’re not just expanding into new markets — we’re fundamentally creating new markets. That’s why we look for people who can aggressively innovate and who get excited to approach solving problems in ways they’ve never been solved before.

Google is stopping third-party cookies from 2022. While Splash helps brands democratize events, do you see this move making an impact on how you operate?

Google’s decision to ban third-party cookies in the next two years was inevitable. Large publishers are always changing the digital landscape. And since consumer privacy is becoming a big priority (and they’re touting increased privacy as an effect of this move), I’m not surprised this is happening. It’s decisions like this that make it clear why having your own proprietary lists are important.

When you build assets and a marketing database that are yours, the sites you publish become much more valuable and the people you reach become much more targeted and engaged. And of course, when you get this laser-focused, it makes the events you host much more meaningful because the right people are in the room engaging with you and each other.

What is the future of Mobile Commerce and technology? How does Splash fulfill the dynamic Marketing needs of retail groups and publishing companies?

Many retail experts don’t actually think brick-and-mortar stores will go away, but that they need to figure out how those stores can work together with online and mobile shopping. Splash has a number of retail customers with booming in-store sales and traffic, and they’re doing that through a scalable Event Marketing strategy.

The ones doing it right are using Splash to do a few things. One, they ensure that all elements of their event are on-brand, from their event page to registration form to email templates. Two, they do that while giving stores the freedom to host their own creative events that are attractive to their local markets. And finally, they connect Splash to their other business systems, like CRM and Marketing Automation, so home-office event marketers can quickly and thoroughly understand how their store events are performing. It’s also important for leaders to blend the data collected from these store events with data from e-commerce and mobile commerce to tell a more complete story of their consumers or reach their consumers in new ways.

For example, marketers can use consumer data from in-store events to expand their database and communicate with attendees post-event to drive targeted mobile or e-commerce purchases. Similarly, marketers can use consumer information from mobile or online purchases to invite specific individuals to in-store events based on what matters most to them.

Your product is leveraged by a diverse group of companies. What new markets and user-groups are you targeting in 2020?

As we move through 2020, we’ll be focused on helping event marketers across all markets democratize events even more. One of the areas that’s super interesting to me right now is how management consulting firms are using events. They’re seeing events as a way to drive opportunities, interaction, and thought leadership. To them, events are no longer focused on a single goal.

Every event serves multiple purposes: engaging existing customers, finding new customers, and driving value through education. We’re working on new product features that’ll help companies using this event model to deliver more dedicated learning opportunities and value.

How do you foresee events evolving in an ever more digitalized world?

Almost everything today creates data. We take calls from watches, lock front doors with phones, and stream music from refrigerators. The amount of new technologies emerging every day is astounding, which means digital overload is only going to become more intense. That’s why the power of human connection is so strong — nothing replaces it.

Buying decisions that we make every day are based on trust and building an emotional attachment to those things. Having solid, trusting relationships with your customers is what keeps them coming back for more, which is why the smartest leaders are building these connections offline. And they need the technology that’ll support building those relationships in a scalable way.

How can marketers utilize the digital world to increase event attendance?

One of the most important things marketers can use to increase event attendance is their own Marketing database. Companies that are doing this right are integrating systems and connecting teams to more easily target the right people. Top brands know increasing event attendance is all about time, urgency, context, and intention, so they need to leverage event data and put it in the hands of marketing incredibly fast.

With that data, they then have the opportunity to drive event attendance or desired outcomes using the digital channels that matter most to their audience. I also want to stress the power that beautifully designed digital experiences, like landing pages, registration forms, emails, and social share cards can have on the overall guest experience. These digital assets can drive attendance on their own, plus encourage internal teams and already-registered guests to share your events through their own digital channels.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as an Event Marketing leader?

Just like every other technology consumer, event marketers want to ask smarter questions and better understand their customers — and they’re looking to a new generation of platforms that leverage Automation and AI to do so. They want to target the right people, personalize the experience for those people, connect attendees to each other, and gather insights on attendee behavior, all with minimal work needed from event marketers.

The fact is that Event Marketing has lagged behind other areas of business, like Sales and Product Development, when it comes to disruptive new technology with AI-enabled functionality. This is another reason why Event Marketing at scale matters. When event marketers can scale their programs through a platform — particularly one that integrates with so many other business systems — they’re already way ahead of the game when it comes to automating customer data and understanding what they need.

Thank you, Ben! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Ben Hindman is the co-founder and CEO of Splash, an event marketing platform that helps companies execute, measure and scale event programs. He works alongside technologists, designers, marketers, and party planners to make sense of the events industry by anticipating trends, identifying unspoken user needs, and finding the next great laser light.

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Splash is a platform championing the next era of event marketing by helping businesses market, measure, and scale their event marketing programs. From beautiful event pages and customized registration forms, to email follow-up programs and easy integrations with other business systems, Splash empowers teams across the organization to design on-brand, measurable, and compliant event marketing programs that deliver exceptional experiences and inspire quick action on attendee data. See why Fortune 500 companies work with Splash to scale their event marketing programs and unleash the power of in-person.