What is Event Marketing
Are you looking to connect with broader audiences and target demographics? Do you enjoy the energy and buzz of crowds? Do you want to use enthusiasm and passion to help you sell more effectively? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions above, event marketing is sure to be of interest to you.
Event marketing is a powerful means to bring people together for a common interest. The reasons to hold an event are nearly limitless. Typically, the focus and strategy of activities are highly-customized to provide a value-added, immersive experience for attendees.
For instance, companies may hold private events for employees, vendors, partners, or investors. These events could include team building activities, ongoing training or education, employee recognition, making company announcements, or held to invigorate attendees.
Additionally, businesses may participate in larger, recognized, public industry events to connect with broader audiences. Some examples of recognized Top-Tier Industry events include the North American International Car Show (held in Detroit, Michigan,) the Content Marketing World Conference and Expo (held in Cleveland, Ohio,) and Comic-Con International (held in San Diego, California.)
It’s essential to keep in mind that event marketing can work for any size business or organization. While you might have trouble filling the San Diego Convention Center, there is always room for smaller events to fill the needs of local interests.
Benefits of Event Marketing
There are numerous benefits to participating in event marketing.
Directly Connect With Fans
One of the most significant benefits of event marketing is having the opportunity to directly connect with fans, peers, partners, prospects, and new contacts.
To maximize the value of your presence, always be sure to collect contact information from people who stop by your booth. Using this information, you can schedule a follow up with these leads at a later time. All of these actions help build stronger relationships with cold contacts, leads, and prospects.
Events help build brand awareness, as well as brand affinity. Further, they are an excellent platform for doing product demonstrations, offering product samples, giving away promotional items, or doing sales presentations. They are also ideal for selling merchandise if making a direct profit from your attendance is a clear business objective.
Connect With Partners / Vendors
In addition to connecting with new prospects, having a presence at events also helps you make valuable connections with other vendors and service providers. Companies and entrepreneurs can use these event opportunities to network with other professionals and explore ways to work together. In many cases, there are lucky breaks for co-branding, making referrals, and other lucrative business arrangements that are ‘win-win’ for everyone involved.
Another clear benefit of having a presence at industry events is that many meets receive press coverage, either locally, regionally, or nationally. Since these are often big-budget affairs, it isn’t uncommon for organizers to set a humongous advertising budget to attract vendors, exhibitors, and attendees.
As an exhibitor or sponsor, your company reaps the benefit of more substantial marketing and advertising efforts from the top-line down. With multiple vendors and exhibitors, there is sure to be something there for everyone!
Types of Event Marketing
These days, there are several types of events that people can choose to attend. Let’s review some of the different options.
Expos and Trade Shows
Trade Shows and exhibitions are typically large-scale productions. These shows can be as short as one day or last for several days or even weeks, depending on the nature of the show. Expos and trade shows are ideal because they offer visitors a way to see multiple related products and services in the associated category, such as automotive, electronics, outdoors, technology, business, leisure, or hobbies.
While somewhat similar to expos and trade shows, conferences tend to be smaller productions. Typically, these meetings bring together thought leaders and other attendees to discuss ideas. The length of these meetings usually lasts two to three days.
Sometimes in life, new inspirations and ideas are the fuel needed to advance personally and professionally. Depending on the nature of the speaker session, this type of event could include one or more keynote and guest speakers. Speaker session events could last an hour, a day, an afternoon, or an evening. Frequently, expos and trade show incorporate speaker sessions into their event as part of the schedule.
While not always the case, networking events can get held in less formal locations, such as restaurants, libraries, bars, or co-working spaces. Regardless of whether you are pursuing personal or professional pursuits, networking events offer an opportunity to expand your circles. To find networking events, you need not look further to find them taking place all around you. Facebook and Meetup are both helpful resources, with listings for networking events for fun and business.
Stats Proving The Value Of Event Marketing
- According to recent statistics at EventForte, 77% of B2B companies embrace in-person events and use them as a part of their overall content marketing strategy. 65% claim that event marketing is directly related to their sales (EventForte).
- 41% marketers believe that events are the single-most effective marketing channel over digital advertising, email marketing and content marketing. This reflects a 32% increase since 2017. (Bizzabo)
- Between 2017 and 2018 the number of companies organizing 20 or more events per year increased by 17%. (Bizzabo)
- 84% of leadership believe in-person events are a critical component of their company’s success. (Bizzabo)
- 68% of B2B marketers use in-person events for lead generation initiatives. This is particularly important considering 73% of marketers are prioritizing lead quality in 2018. (AdStage)
- Conferences and trade shows account for one-fifth or more of planned meetings activity in North America and Europe. (American Express)
- 223 hours per year is the average time saved by businesses using event software. (Bizzabo)
The Basics of Event Marketing Strategy
Having a plan and strategy in place is critical to having a successful event. Regardless if you’re hosting a small networking event or being an exhibitor at a leading trade show or expo, you’ll need to set budgets, delegate tasks, and plan accordingly. While there is always some amount of lore to putting everything for an event together last-minute, this approach to event planning is more stressful, haphazard, and prone to errors.
Step 1: Set Your Goals and Budget
Like with any great marketing campaign you need to set goals to determine success. Your event goals are what your event marketing plan is based on, so you must set them before moving onto the next steps.
Step 2: Define Performance Evaluation and Success Metrics
In your event marketing plan, define exact metrics you’ll use to evaluate your event’s performance, such as the number of attendees, networking activities, or social media posts.
Step 3: Set Event Content Creation and Management
Step 4: Leverage Your Event Speakers and Attendees
Speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors all want to attract more attendees to the event and increase your brand visibility. Use this common goal as part of your event marketing strategy to motivate these event participants to help promote your event.
Step 5: Promote Your Event
Make sure you are promoting your event to the correct people. Start with identifying your target market by using attendee demographics and psychographics to get the most value from your promotion.
Step 6: Define Your Communication Tactics
Marketing an event is all about engaging audiences, so you’ll need to define your communication strategy so that all of the people who are representing your event are all focused on getting the same message to the attendees.
Step 7: Develop Vendor and Attendee Outreach Tactics
It’s important to tailor your messages in a way that attracts people’s interests. If you’re marketing to previous attendees, engage them with statistics, videos, or pictures from a previous events. If you’re marketing to new attendees, show them highlights of your upcoming event, and offer discounts for early-bird tickets.
Step 8: Establish Attendee Promotion and Engagement Tactics
Two great tactics include; providing a place for attendees to virtually interact with one another ahead of time, and providing discount codes for your speakers and vendors to send out to their communities to help increase ticket sales.
How To Measure Your Event Success
Trade show success can get measured in several ways, depending on the objective of your sponsorship and the type of event you host.
If you’re at an event to sell items, the most direct measure of success is your overall sales figures. Ideally, you want to earn a profit from the event, so it’s crucial that items get priced accordingly. You’ll want to double-check that you have enough inventory on hand to satisfy demand. If you fear you don’t have enough inventory, consider ordering more items just in case. No one wants to visit an empty-handed booth with nothing going on.
If direct sales don’t play a significant role in your event marketing approach, other ways to measure success would be by the number of new leads or prospects you amassed during the event. While these individuals may not have bought from you directly on the first contact, having their contact information allows for further followups. As you can imagine, this is a great opportunity to build stronger customer relationships over time.
You can also measure success using feedback from attendees. If the people who visited your booth or other event are raving about it, you know you did something right. With social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and others, they can help spread their positive message about your brand, products, or services to others in their circles, which is always good for business!