Welcome to your guide to event marketing in 2019 and beyond. Discover best practices for selling out your event, leveraging event data, aligning with the rest of your organization and more.
What Is Event Marketing?
Event marketing is the promotion of a product, brand, or service through in-person interactions. There are many forms of event marketing and each can be catered to address a marketer’s specific goals.
Event marketing can be hosting an event to build stronger relationships with prospects and customers. It could also be attending an event as an exhibitor to educate potential customers on your company’s product offering. Event marketing can even include digital events such as webinars or live-streamed workshops.
Each of the above examples leverages the power of live experiences to achieve business goals.
Why Is Event Marketing Important?
According to the Event Marketing 2019: Benchmarks and Trends Report, most marketers believe that event marketing is the single-most effective marketing channel for achieving business goals.
Additional findings from the report include:
- Between 2017 to 2018 the number of companies organizing 20 or more events per year increased by 17%.
- The majority of company leaders are supportive of their company’s event strategies, but this support is contingent on the ability of event teams to prove ROI.
- The most successful businesses are spending 1.7x the average marketing budget on live events.
The bottom line: Event marketing is an essential marketing channel for B2B and B2C businesses.
What Is Different About Event Marketing?
At its core, marketing is communication. It is the ability to clearly convey a message at the opportune time. Live events provide the opportunity for one to connect directly with stakeholders and clearly communicate their message. It’s no wonder that event marketing continues to grow as one of the most important marketing strategies for today’s big companies.
According to Forrester Research, events make up for 24% of the B2B marketing budget. By 2020, 3.2M global professional events will be taking place on an annual basis. Companies are believing in the power of live events and this trend will only continue to grow in the coming years.
Below you will find a thorough and comprehensive guide on event marketing best practices. Whether you’re planning a 3-day conference or attending an international trade show, this guide will give you a more complete understanding of event strategies and how to maximize their impact.
- Types of Events
- How to Measure Event Success
- 3 Tips for Finding the Right Venue
- How to Create An Event Website
- How to Improve Your Event Website SEO
- How to Promote Your Event on Social Media
- 3 Keys to Landing the Right Event Sponsors
- Event Lead Generation Strategies
- Partnership Event Marketing
- Account-Based Event Marketing
- How to Integrate Event Data
- Choosing the Right Event Technology
Types of Events
Improved technology combined with the growing need of events has resulted in a wide range of event types. Having a firm understanding of each type of event will help event marketers determine which ones align most closely their specific goals. Below is a thorough but by no means exhaustive list of event types.
These large scale events make up a significant portion of the events industry. Conferences can be either B2B or B2C and usually have a schedule filled with engaging speakers, educational workshops, and valuable networking sessions. The most successful conferences are the ones that balance a professional environment with an energetic, social atmosphere.
“I would have to say that for us at Franchise Update Media, our marketing strategy stems from our conferences. Not necessarily the other way around. We diligently analyze the successes and failures of each of our events and build our strategy around the successes, or little wins. We tend to conceptualize our overall conference experience and work backwards from there.”
—Katy Geller, Marketing Communications Manager at Franchise Media Update
2. Trade Shows
Trade shows and expos aim to present new products and services from a variety of related brands in a professional manner. Typically these types of events have a theme that ties the booths together.
Seminars usually take place in a more intimate setting and are heavily focused on educating attendees. The smaller group of attendees allows for more in-depth discussions and valuable knowledge sharing. Seminars usually last one day and often times only for a few hours.
4. Internal Company Meetings and Periodic Business Gatherings
Internal company meetings and periodic business gatherings are events used to discuss a select group of topics in order to assess progress, facilitate project kickoffs or to solve a specific problem. They are common in companies with over 25 employees but smaller businesses can also benefit from this event type.
5. Thought Leadership and Networking Events
The goal of a thought leadership or networking events is to present a brand’s authority in a particular domain and provide opportunities for people with related business interests to meet and interact with one another. This event type can include VIPs or focus more on general admission.
6. Ceremonies and Galas
Ceremonies and galas serve a variety of purposes but these formal events have one thing in common: they provide an elegant way of presenting a brand and its product or service. Whether it’s a black tie fundraising event in a rented art museum or a kick off for an annual meeting at a conference, ceremonies and galas provide a sophisticated way of marking a special occasi
7. Product Launches
8. VIP Events
VIP events (or sales acceleration events) focus on providing the most influential shareholders, customers, and other honored guests with an exclusive (and impressive) experience. The goal of any VIP event is to ultimately increase revenue through maintaining the loyalty of these key figures.
9. Job Fairs and Recruiting Events
The goal of most job fairs and recruiting events are to find and secure talent for their company across a number of departments. Typically held at colleges and universities, this event type is popular among start-ups or companies looking to find fresh minds to help expand their business.
10. Team Building
Team building events are internal meetings focused on providing fun and interesting ways for employees to bond. The goal is usually to facilitate relationship building so employees can become better leaders and collaborators. It’s also a helpful way to get people from departments without direct contact to be introduced to one another.
11. Field Marketing and Activations
The goal of most field marketing or brand activation events is to form stronger emotional bonds between a company and its audience. Since relationship-building is the primary focus of this event type, it’s especially important to know which specific audiences you are targeting to plan the activities accordingly.
12. Virtual Events
Virtual events are ideal for companies that may not have the resources to host a full-scale live event and for companies that cannot afford to travel to an international conference. Virtual events allow people to participate from all over the world and strives for a more globalized and diverse group of attendees. As the technology for virtual and augmented reality continue to evolve at a rapid pace, virtual events may quickly become a mainstream form of live events.
In order to maximize the impact of event marketing strategies, it’s necessary to set the right goals and utilize relevant KPI’s. Defining and measuring event success is just as important as the event itself. Below are a list of ways to articulate event marketing goals followed by nine metrics to properly measure event ROI, helping to ensure continued success.
Before diving into the specific KPI’s, it is worth mentioning the S.M.A.R.T. acronym to help you better understand how to achieve event marketing success. Defining goals with this method will help you reach your desired results in the most efficient way possible.
Specific: The more specific you are when articulating your event goals, the closer you will be to achieving them. Asking detailed questions can be a great way to come up with comprehensive answers.
Measurable: Specific goals are all the more effective when they can be quantified because you are then able to measure their direct impact. Easily measurable factors like costs and revenue are the best way to answer the question, “How will I know that my goals have been achieved?”
Achievable: Keeping in mind the difference between ambitious and unrealistic, make sure to set goals that are able to be reached but never out of reach. You should set a goal that you think you and your team will reach 50% of the time if you had to repeat the event. You can set an additional “reach goal” that you think can be reached 10% of the time, which would serve as motivation for you and your team.
Results-Oriented: Goals should measure results, not activities. While it might be helpful to send 50 individual emails to prospective event sponsors, a better goal would be to secure a hard commitment from 5 event sponsors within the next 6 months.
Time-Bound: All goals should have subsequent deadlines. Create a timeline for your goals and analyze how they will develop over different points in time.
For a more in-depth discussion of event marketing goals, be sure to download the SMART Event Marketing Playbook.