The balance…Are Events An Effective B2B Marketing Channel?

10 02 2010

I have been reading some great blog posts recently suggesting that conferences are becoming a dying breed.  It’s provided some great food for thought, here’s some snypets:

  • You can’t charge people to sit in the audience and charge people to sit on the stage at the same time and make them all happy. From Chris Keiff at 1goodreason
  • TED and the notion of abstract conceptual thought from Seth Godin. Who often riffs about how conferences could be better – Thanks for the tips!
  • Why Hub Spot wont’ exhibit at trade shows anymore from Hub Spot Blog. Which generated some amazing comments.
  • It also reminded me of this study from British Airways and HBR. Manaing Across Distance in Todays Economic Climate: The value of face-to-face meetings. http://businessgrants.ba.com/harvard-business-review.pdf
  • All wrapped up by an interesting piece in this month communicate magazine (A Middle East Advertising Age with a poor website, so no link) on event marketing, that said “as a general guide the actual cost of your sponsorship should be one third of the total budget because you need to have sufficient funds to leverage it.”

We live in fascinating times… The digital marketing revolution is killing off so many traditional and ultimately ineffective marketing channels that you start to wonder are events next?

The difference is a “good” event, leveraged properly will always give you a fantastic ROI.

However, As event organizers (full disclosure –  I work for IQPC one of the worlds biggest (& best in my opinion) conference organizers) we must come up with a format that matches today’s fast paced world, the days of powerpoint presentations in dark rooms are most likely numbered. The mix of new innovative formats leveraging technology, solid topic research and challenging speakers will always create a powerful experience that allows people to both learn and network (face to face).

Balacing that with the reality of the costs, means sponsors are also central to the whole experience. Their involvement, handled correctly does not mean the delegates have to sit and listen to pitches. I attended a Hub Spot event in San Francisco last year, it was full of vendors, and to everyone’s credit, barely a pitch to be heard, I meet some great people, the format was energising and I had pages and pages of notes, all of which galvenized my thinking and has been driving change in our ogranization every since.

I experienced, first hand the power of a good event, and it included sponsors, lot’s of them! I think with all the focus on digitial marketing, social media etc, having a strong link to the physical world (a face2face tie in) is more important than ever.

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5 responses

10 02 2010
nomadmarketer

Thanks!

11 02 2010
Anthony Permal

Virtual events are the future. If I can log on to Youtube or a similar site or even an IQPC future site, pay by credit, put on my headphones, grab a Coke and sit back to enjoy the sessions, I will.

The events industry IMHO is going in two directions: stagnation for those sticking to traditional events (including events-marketing whether digital or not), and booming for the virtual industry.

Target audiences of all ages are now more mobilised than ever. If the majority of the delegates attending a traditional 50 to 100 man event is on his blackberry 90% of the time at the event, I’d rather him be reading or following my virtual event on that blackberry instead.

11 02 2010
nomadmarketer

Hi AP,

Thanks for the post, but not sure I agree with you re virtual events….. Hard to shake hands virtually.

The last virtual show I attended was also a bit weak, the technology still has a way to go, in my opinion!

Regards, Jason

12 02 2010
10 Thought Provoking Event Marketing Quotations | Starshot - Strategic Event Marketing

[…] to the Nomad Marketer for inspiring this […]

14 02 2010
Chris Archer

I don’t believe the digital revolution is killing off traditional business channels like conferences.

Though one could argue that online news is killing off print publications, the experience of reading the newspaper can’t be replicated by clicking through weblinks and staring at a monitor.

Let’s not forget that conference’s are driven by the networking potential they create. Get the right people in the room, and the industry will come.

I agree with Anthony too – virtual events are the way of the future, not the only way though. This is why IQPC runs many webinars for business professionals to engage with and learn by simply: “put on my headphones, grab a Coke and sit back to enjoy the sessions”…thanks Anthony.

I think the future of business events exists somewhere in the middle.

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