The last year witnessed an explosion in event marketing, with over 63% of marketers planning to invest more in 2018 according to a study done by Bizzabo. With event marketing comprising 20-25% of overall marketing budgets, it is obvious that event marketing is here to stay.
Clearly, not everyone needs a giant ferris wheels at Cannes Lions (thanks Snap) or the Bumble Bus at SXSW, but companies are realizing the power of experiential event marketing. With this explosion comes the question…what will come next?
And, how does a company stay on top of the rapidly changing event atmosphere? Instead of pondering the answers ourselves, we turned to leading event experts and asked what their predictions for B2B event marketing in 2018 are.
Experiences Continue to Dominate
We said it last year, and we’re saying it again; event swag is dead.
“People aren’t as interested in receiving their t-shirt or pen at the booth for a sales pitch, they want to learn through experiencing the product. Sponsors are going to be pressed to come up with unique ways to do that, whether it be VR, games, or problem solving at the booth,” says Kevin Benson of G2Crowd.
Kevin has been on their marketing team for three years now and has scaled G2 Crowd from sponsoring and attending 10 events a year to over 55. Pretty impressive.
In 2017, Kevin’s team sponsored Dreamforce and featured several online and offline ways to experience the G2 Crowd brand in real-time during the event. They were a part of seven different sessions at Dreamforce, hosted an intimate VIP dinner, an executive breakfast, a party at Hakkasan, a happy hour, and sponsored Ops Stars.
They also created their digital “G2 Crowd Dreamforce 2017 Grid®!” to help sponsors prioritize who they should visit in the Cloud Expo at Dreamforce, which was updated in real-time.
That’s a lot of experiences and everything is focused on defining their brand, which, if you didn’t know, is one of the largest B2B software review sites.
We beg you to stop with socks, coasters, mints, hand sanitizer, candy, usb drives, flashlights, backpacks, notebooks, pens, water bottles, tote, phone chargers, t-shirts, keychains, Moleskins, phone cases, paperweights, sunglasses, bluetooth speakers, baseball hats….
Video Goes Mainstream at Events
“Video marketing will continue to grow, with short, snack-like formats.”
Michael Heipel is an event professional with over 25 years of experience.
“Video keeps playing a more and more important role in online communications. Every event needs a video communications strategy, which implies not only one single content product (e.g. a wrap-up movie), but lots of small bits of “content snacks” in video formats,” says Michael.
But, as Michael points out, it’s not just about the big flashy wrap-up video – it’s about the bitesize chunks before, during, and after the event. We predict creating a cohesive video strategy that B2B companies can reuse in their other marketing efforts will be at the forefront of many marketer’s minds this year.
Michael gives some helpful hints about producing these “content snacks”.
Focus on… “creating animated infographics, short interview snippets, impressions videos, Facebook live interviews, broadcasts etc. in high frequencies.”
CMOs Want to Know: What’s the ROI?
“It is becoming increasingly more important for event marketers to defend their budgets, and the best way to do that is to prove the ROI from a given event.”
Preach, Tom Spano. Tom is a Global Director of Event Marketing, a keynote speaker, and one of the founders of Haute Dokimazo – dubbed “a new kind of conference”.
“Gone are the days of post event surveys and registration successes. We all know that a packed house doesn’t mean higher sales. We need to prove that the right people packed the house and we need to show the sales were attributable to that event so we can do it again next year. Or, more importantly, we can decide not to do it again next year if the ROI was not at an acceptable level.”
New Trends are New Opportunities
Event technology that can solve the biggest hurdles event marketers face including attribution and ROI are poised to dominate the market this year. We’ll continue seeing new ways brands can connect the offline event experience to their online audiences, especially through video and virtual experiences.
What event trends do you foresee coming to the forefront in 2018?