As companies compete in an ever-crowded marketplace, they look to new methods to get their message and products in front of new customers. While digital and social marketing can reach far and wide, nothing replaces putting your product in the customer’s hands. You can’t test drive a car, hear the depth of sound in headphones or smell the aroma of a freshly brewed pot of coffee by staring at a computer screen. At some point, your advertising needs to put your products and your customers together.
That is the purpose of event marketing. There are endless examples of event marketing from the lady handing out cheese samples in the grocery store to full-blown expositions like the Geneva Motor Show or the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
But, does event marketing pay for itself or is it a loss leader? We’ll attempt to answer this question right now.
Is Event Marketing a Thing of The Past?
As we’ve mentioned, event marketing is an advertising strategy that puts your company and products face-to-face. The venues vary considerably such as grocery stores, concerts, fairs, and sporting events. This promotional strategy merges entertainment with marketing, reaching new consumers through direct sampling or interactive displays. It’s an effective form of promotion because it engages consumers while they’re in an eager, participatory mood.
However, like the circuses of the past century, is event marketing too costly or demanding to be sustainable with today’s consumer market? Not according to most recent statistics. 63% of marketers plan on investing more in live events in the future both in budget and number of events, and 80% of marketers polled believe “live events are critical to their company’s success.”
Events ranked as the second-most effective marketing tactic used in 2016 for driving demand and revenue, according to respondents. Direct marketing edged event marketing for the highest average rank of the 6 channels measured, with content marketing next, ahead of email marketing. Webinars ranked as the lowest-performing tactic of the six.
So, the answer to the question, “Is event marketing a thing of the past?” is a resounding NO!
Types of Event Marketing
There are many different venues for event marketing, such as:
- Tradeshow Exhibits
- Workshops and Seminars
- Webinars and Training Events
- Press Conferences
- Product Demonstrations/ Hosted Field Marketing
- Anniversaries and Milestone Celebrations
- Sporting Events
- Grand Openings
There is an event for every product limited only by the budget and imagination of the company promoting it. The real test is when you measure the results. What we want to know is…
How Does Face-To-Face or In-Person Marketing Add Value?
You need to determine the purpose of the event. Is it to introduce a new brand or to capture leads? Next, you want to ensure the event adds value in one or more of the following ways.
Creating an Approachable, Humanized Brand – Customers and prospects can associate a face with a brand at live events, giving you a leg up on the competition if they only contact customers by email or phone.
Memorable Customer Experience – Whether it’s a first impression or an ongoing relationship, events offer a unique opportunity to create excitement and positive buzz about your company.
Multiple Touchpoints to Your Company – Events add a personal touchpoint from the customer to your business.
Increase Your Value – Since you are instrumental in organizing the event, from hiring speakers to hosting networking parties, your client will remember you for other jobs in the future. Your company can position itself as the go-to source for additional marketing opportunities.
Referral Opportunities – Customers are more likely to give a referral or introduction to people they know and trust. An event is a perfect venue to build that personal trust and break down barriers. It only takes one strong referral to increase your ROI.
Events increase your brand’s visibility and create touchpoints with new and current clients. But, one question remains...
Is There Enough ROI to Justify the Cost?
To answer this, we need to find out the goal and then a way to measure that particular ROI. While some argue that ROI is a measure of participant engagement, there is no arguing with a dollar for dollar measurement.
One of the best explanations of converting event data into dollars ROI comes from Chris Clegg of PortMA. He suggests using an Ad Value Equivalency or AVE modeling approach. This AVE model equates the value of an impression to the dollar amount required if that impression was purchased directly. For example, if you bought media at a rate of $12 CPM (or $12 per thousand impressions), then each impression that reaches the same target audience is worth $0.012. You would need to use event software to measure the impressions or engagement and divide the cost of the event to determine a dollar cost ROI.
Mobile apps, surveys, and social listening are three ways to gain insight into attendee engagement. Kissmetrics has some useful strategies for leveraging those methods.
In all, there are at least ten methods that companies use to measure ROI or engagement including:
- Revenue Generated
- Attendee Engagement
- Brand Awareness
- Qualified Leads Generated
- Upsell/Cross Sell opportunities Created
- Pipeline Created
- Pipeline influenced
There is only one way to find out if the ROI justifies an event and that’s by doing it and measuring the results. Recent statistics bear out that it is generally worth the effort and expense.
A survey conducted with decision-makers from 151 companies with 1,000 or more employees revealed that 76.8% rated event marketing 4 and 5 out of 5 stars for driving business related results such as pipeline acceleration and demand generation.
The evidence is conclusive that not only is event marketing here to stay, but marketers believe it is the #2 best marketing tactic.
However, pulling off an event requires experience, meticulous planning, and having many irons in the fire. Unless you do this often, consider hiring an experienced marketing agency to handle the details.
Lastly, your ROI is only as good as your follow up. How you handle the day after and the next seven to 30 days will determine your actual ROI. 60% of marketers say that it takes four days or longer to follow up on leads after an event. To increase the event’s effectiveness, have a plan in place to record every interaction and follow up with every lead within a day or two.
Outsource Your Event Marketing For Better ROI
There are three solid reasons to hire a third-party to handle some or all your event planning.
- Saves Time – The smaller the staff, the more difficult and time consuming an event is to manage. Reduce stress by delegating tasks such as site selection, contract negotiation, registration, lodging, logistics and event marketing. Let your staff concentrate on what matters most.
- Experience – As with any specialized business, event planning, requires a set of skills and expertise to plan and execute all aspects of an event successfully. Seasoned event marketing companies have the experience to make improvements based on best practices and avoid the mistakes that inexperienced planners can make.
- Reduced Costs – Event planning firms have connections that can give them buying power that individual planners or companies don’t have. They have their finger on the pulse of prices and availability of providers such as hotels, keynote speakers, caterers, audio/visual rental companies, content technology providers and travel agencies.
Outsourcing all or part of your event tasks will pay for itself in time, reduced stress, and cost savings.As with any marketing effort, when properly planned and executed, event marketing will provide a positive ROI. However, it is a venue that is best left to experts to handle most or all the details for best results.