People love events. A recent survey of adults over the age of eighteen found that more people are attending live events than ever before. This increase is good news for SMBs looking to connect with their customers, prospects, and partners in more meaningful ways.
Attending and participating in events is one of the most effective marketing methods for SMBs because they give you more face-to-face access than any other channel, helping to build brand awareness and generate prospects.
But like any other marketing strategy, you need to understand the channel before using it.
What is Event Marketing?
Event marketing is a promotional strategy that enables direct face-to-face contact between SMEs and their customers at events such as congresses, fairs and festivals.
A successful event marketing campaign provides value to attendees beyond information about a product or service, whether through a discount, free sample, charity alignment, or fun event.
Many brands will host an activity or entertainment, such as running a contest to engage prospects with their brand. The goal of event marketing is to grab attention and leave a lasting impression that will resonate in their minds.
Why is event marketing important?
According to the Event Marketing 2019: Benchmarks and Trends Report, most marketers believe event marketing is the most effective marketing channel for achieving business goals. The same report found that between 2017 and 2018, the number of companies holding twenty or more events per year increased by seventeen percent.
In conclusion, event marketing is an essential marketing channel for B2B and B2C SMEs.
Types of events
Improved technology coupled with growing event needs has resulted in a wide range of event types. Understanding your audience is key to identifying the type of event that will appeal to that demographic. Events include:
- Conferences – can be B2B or B2C and typically have a schedule filled with engaging speakers, educational workshops, and valuable networking sessions.
- Trade Shows – Generally, trade shows are great for showcasing new products and services with like-minded companies in a professional manner.
- Seminars – take place in a more intimate setting and have a strong focus on educating the participants.
- Networking Events – perfect for establishing authority within your industry and building relationships with related business interests.
- VIP Events – focus on providing the most influential shareholders or customers with an impressive experience with the goal of increasing revenue by maintaining loyalty.
- Pop-up activations – great for relationship building, helping to form strong emotional bonds between a company and its audience.
Effective event marketing
For effective event marketing, it is essential to identify your target audience and the right event to attract and engage with this demographic, creating an experience that stays in attendees’ memories.
For example, a sports equipment company may participate in a sporting event by hosting a mini-tournament, a beverage company may attend a music festival by handing out samples to thirsty festival-goers, and a rising technology company may participate in a convention, allowing attendees to test their state-of-the-art products.
With effective event marketing, you generate buzz during and after the event and associate your SME with positive interactions. These positive interactions create lasting relationships.
As every event is different, they need to be approached differently through marketing. By doing so, you can customize your event to have the best impact on each audience, creating distinct opportunities to make a lasting impression.
Measure ROI and ROE
Events can be a huge marketing expense. Thus, when an SME decides to invest in event marketing, it must be able to assess its successes and failures. This is where return on investment (ROI) and return on engagement (ROE) come into play.
ROI is used to calculate the financial value of the event by determining the number of direct sales and leads. However, short-term financial gain is not the only reason for hosting events. Events help increase awareness of your brand, services or products and develop valuable customer relationships.
If an event aims to improve long-term brand performance through valuable interactions, considering financial metrics (ROI) of success does not provide the best insight into the customer journey and brand experience. .
ROE measures engagement with your brand. Whether it’s mentioning your SME on social media, recommending your products to family and friends, or browsing your company’s website and buying a product after the event, an engaged audience is more likely to act and, therefore, is more valuable.
The objective of ROE is to determine the impact of the event on the strength of the brand in terms of audience participation, change in perception and visibility of the company.
There are several ways to measure ROI, including session attendance, session engagement (such as average session length and number of questions asked), number of samples given, number of tracks and demos, social media mentions, PR coverage and ongoing investigations.
Event marketing is one of the most essential marketing channels for SMEs. Whether your SME wants to host its own event, attend a trade show, or simply network, there are many ways to participate and benefit from event marketing. The key to remember is to know your audience and measure ROI and ROE.