Innovation Week @Heidelberg – a truly global digital event

Innovation Week @Heidelberg – a truly global digital event

Heidelberg recently held its first global digital event, the Innovation Week.

I asked Head of Marketing Barnabas Szantho about the background to the event and the insights gained from it, to get a glimpse behind the scenes.

Could you briefly explain what Innovation Week is?

Of course. Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG is a leading manufacturer of industrial-scale printing presses, with a global market share of well over 40 %. Innovation Week was our main event for 2020, and ran from October 19th to 23rd. Over these five days we presented product innovations and organized expert talks. This allowed us to reach out to several thousand high-profile decision makers from more than 100 countries across the world.

What were the reasons for developing this kind of event?

Covid-19 had a major effect on the B2B selling process as well, with the result that trade shows and live events suddenly could not take place. Leading companies across the globe scrambled for the right solutions to replace these highly efficient customer touchpoints. The Heidelberg Innovation Week was our answer to the problem.

We had multiple goals. Obviously, we wanted to tell our story well. We also wanted to create a digital event that would enable a similar amount of sales discussions to a live event. And on top of all that we wanted to harvest the benefits of digitalizing such an event, from marketing automation to lead scoring and nurturing.

Were there any best practices you followed? If so, what were they?

Holding a purely digital global event was something fairly new, so we had to start from scratch. Being a market leader ourselves, we looked at the market leaders in other industries. Among many others, our neighbor SAP was on the list, as well as Adobe. Our marketing colleagues registered for a multitude of events, and we gathered the insights in a systematic way.

This groundwork made finding the right solutions much easier. It became very clear, for example, that the old saying “less is more” is very true when it comes to this format. We found that there are many advanced platforms for creating digital events, but with the perks they offer comes complexity. And the masses have still not fully accepted this complexity, moving around in a 3D virtual environment, talking to avatars, etc. Since our event was targeted at a wide, diverse audience, in the end we decided to build a very intuitive microsite instead.

What tasks did the marketing team take on when setting up Innovation Week and how much time did you have to pull off the trade fair?

The marketing organization was the initiator and project leader behind Innovation Week. But due to the sheer scale of the event, almost every department at Heidelberg chipped in. Within around 60 working days, we worked through a to-do list of more than 100 deadlines. With the help of expert talks, product videos, case studies, and much more, the entire Heidelberg portfolio was covered.

We wanted to target a global audience, therefore we made sure our content matched the expectations that come with that. We also made sure this quality content is available in eight languages. Individual customer requests on top of that were covered in more than 30 languages. But content was only one part of the story. We had to create a microsite with a registration feature that would comply with the GDPR regulations in all stages before, during, and after the event. We connected the data coming out of this microsite and the customer journey to our CRM system, and matched it to our lead scoring model. This enabled us to do a proper follow-up.

We organized internal training courses not only about the event itself, but also to explain to our sales force how to use our digital solutions’ advanced features.

How did Heidelberg inform the world about the Innovation Week?

At live events like drupa you benefit from the so-called trade show effect, in other words your competitors’ customers are also present. This does not apply to a company event, therefore we had to make sure that the entire print industry was informed about our digital trade fair. The marketing team decided to run a very aggressive campaign using all owned, earned, and paid channels at our disposal. Heidelberg is an industry leader when it comes to number of social media followers. These channels therefore served us very well.

The placement of advertisements on industry-specific websites was particularly successful: Heidelberg’s click-through rate was among the top 10 best campaigns for the year. The click-through rate for our e-mailing campaign was also double the industry standard.

What was the major focus of the digital trade fair concept? And why?

The main goal was to achieve a similar proportion of customer contacts as with a live event. We therefore created the concept of one-on-one sessions.
Participants were given the opportunity to dial into a video call and have a conversation with one of the approximately 300 Heidelberg employees available worldwide in the local language and at local time. This enabled open topics and questions to be clarified directly and individually.

What was particularly well received by the customers?

In addition to the expert talks and product demos, we also put together a media library for our visitors that offers deeper insights into the individual topics. With the help of white papers, case studies, and detailed product videos, we gave interested parties the opportunity to obtain more information. Surprisingly, it was this media library that was particularly well received by our customers.

Did the Innovation Week pay off from the marketing team’s point of view? And how do you measure the success?

The major goal of our marketing organization is to support sales in selling more. We do this by telling our story well, and by identifying, filtering, and prioritizing leads. We measure ourselves by the number and value of opportunities created by sales. In this regard, Innovation Week surpassed our expectations, and the benefits are still being felt.

Besides the hard facts, we were also able to measure a significant, positive effect on the overall image and perception of the company. We created a digital, smart event, and the hard work of all the colleagues across departments who went the extra mile to make this event a success eventually paid off.


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