In the ever-evolving landscape of event marketing, understanding its intricacies isn’t just the forte of marketing executives. Marketers seated at discussion roundtables, too, have a unique vantage point.
In an exclusive invite-only virtual roundtable held on the 24th of January 2024, marketing leaders in B2B SaaS companies discussed the exploration of innovative strategies and emerging trends that are shaping the future of event marketing in 2024 and beyond.
Heading into 2024, event marketing remains a dynamic force in shaping business growth. It stands at the crossroads of traditional marketing practices and future-forward strategy, evolving through diverse events, from trade shows to intimate roundtables.
Driving this evolution are key elements like AI-driven personalisation, innovative experiences, and an increasing emphasis on personalisation. How these factors will blend with traditional marketing principles and what new opportunities they might unveil remains a topic ripe for exploration and discussion. As the landscape evolves, the balance between approaches and strategies presents a fascinating area for debate and creative thinking in the marketing world.
- What new event marketing challenges have arisen recently, and what innovative strategies are marketers employing in response?
- In the current climate, how can companies optimise their event marketing mix? Should they lean towards physical, virtual, or hybrid models?
- What does the future hold for event marketing in terms of integrating global trends that are expected to rise in 2024?
The roundtable discussion on optimising event marketing strategies for 2024 opened with the moderator acknowledging the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the event industry. This set the tone for a comprehensive exploration of current trends, challenges, and innovative approaches in event marketing.
A guest began by highlighting the transition to a hybrid model of webinars and in-person events, with a 70:30 ratio favouring the latter. This shift was noted as a response to the changing preferences post-COVID, where in-person events were starting to regain popularity, especially among senior audiences. Drawing from their recent experience in a new role, they were keen to understand if this hybrid model was a common trend across the industry.
Building on this, another participant discussed the challenges faced in organising face-to-face conferences in the current climate. They pointed out the lingering hesitation among customers to attend physical events, a stark contrast to the pre-COVID era. They emphasised the need for flexible cancellation policies, reflecting the prevailing uncertainty and the cultural shift towards caution in committing to events. This highlighted a broader industry challenge: ensuring event attendance in an era marked by unpredictability and rapidly changing preferences.
Another guest brought up the topic of virtual event engagement, which had seen a significant drop post-COVID. Initially, there was a surge of interest in virtual events due to their novelty and convenience, but this enthusiasm waned over time. They mentioned a 40% drop-off rate in attendance at physical events, indicating a broader trend of declining engagement across event formats. This led to a discussion about the need for more specific targeting and tailoring of events to maintain audience interest, emphasising the importance of understanding and adapting to the evolving preferences of event-goers.
A representative from an event organising company then shared insights into the increased difficulty of maintaining high attendance rates. They pointed out how easy it had become for people to register for events and subsequently fail to attend. This trend raised questions about the effectiveness of current event marketing strategies and the need for more engaging and compelling event formats to ensure actual attendance.
“People are looking, very clearly, for personalisation. They’re making sure that what’s being served up to them, from an events point of view, actually fits their businesses’ needs.”
A legal professional spoke about the stability in event attendance within their sector, noting that their events, mostly consortiums and group events, continued to be well-attended. This contrasted with the general trend of declining event attendance, suggesting that certain sectors might be less affected by the post-COVID changes in event marketing dynamics. The professional highlighted the effectiveness of focusing on knowledge sharing and providing tangible value to attendees rather than overtly focusing on product sales.
The conversation then shifted to explore sector-specific differences in event marketing strategies. The group discussed the trend towards smaller, more intimate events, particularly for C-suite audiences. This approach was seen as more effective in creating value and fostering meaningful interactions, as opposed to larger, more impersonal events.
A participant from the software space delved into the challenges of audience acquisition in the current landscape. They discussed the shift from larger roadshows to smaller, more intimate luncheons and private dining events, focusing on discussions rather than product demonstrations. This shift was attributed to the changing preferences of their target audience, CFOs, who were less inclined to attend large-scale events post-COVID. They also touched upon the necessity of outsourcing audience acquisition due to the increased difficulty in digital marketing to this particular demographic.
A tech company representative then discussed the observed increase in no-show rates for large events post-COVID, estimating a 20-25% rate. They stressed the importance of event design and strategic planning in ensuring attendance, highlighting the shift towards events that provide meaningful experiences and thought leadership. This included a focus on private dining events and experiences that drive value for attendees rather than mere product showcases.
The discussion then moved towards the importance of tailoring events to specific audiences. The group agreed on the necessity of adopting a problem-solving approach in event marketing rather than focusing on product features. This approach was seen as more effective in engaging tech-savvy audiences who are more interested in solutions to their challenges than in product details.
The moderator then summarised the discussion, underscoring the consensus on the effectiveness of smaller, more intimate events that provide genuine value and useful information. The conversation concluded with an open question about experiences with virtual events and how the blend of physical, virtual, and hybrid events was evolving in the post-COVID landscape.
“Some of the events we organise are all about the customers. We don’t sell any product, so we can’t attach ROI to that. Perhaps 6 months or a year down the line, we could. So, it’s almost having to chalk that cost up to a long-term investment.”
The conversation continued with an examination of the role of virtual events in the current landscape. While acknowledging their utility in reaching remote regions or areas where physical presence is limited, there was a general consensus favouring physical events. This preference was attributed to the higher commercial rates and enhanced engagement opportunities offered by in-person interactions.
The discussion highlighted a certain fatigue associated with virtual interactions, particularly in the context of the widespread shift to remote work during the pandemic. The group reflected on the desire for more tangible and personal connections in the post-COVID era.
The roundtable then moved to the concept of personalisation in event marketing. The group discussed the importance of tailoring events to specific audience segments, emphasising the need for collaboration with sales teams to identify and understand target audiences. They also explored the role of analytics in informing event strategies and the value of customer feedback in ensuring that events align with audience needs and preferences.
A major concern that emerged was the increasing cost of organising physical events. It was noted that inflation and the rising cost of living were driving up event costs, impacting the event marketing budgets significantly. This led to discussions around justifying the increased expenditure, especially in light of the risk associated with high dropout rates. The challenge was to create distinctive events that offered substantial value to justify the higher costs. The participants discussed the necessity of balancing the risk with the potential return on investment and the importance of delivering events that stand out in a crowded market.
Another key topic was the scrutiny of marketing budgets. The group noted that while digital marketing efforts were increasing, leads from physical events were perceived to be of higher quality and more quickly convertible by sales teams. This observation sparked a debate on the effectiveness of different types of events in generating leads and maintaining customer relationships. The discussion highlighted the complexities of measuring the return on investment for events, especially in comparison to digital marketing, where outcomes are more readily measurable.
Guests then shared their experiences with innovative event strategies. These included engaging with sports stars to create unique experiences, hands-on product demonstrations, and leveraging partnerships for cost-effective and impactful events. Such strategies aimed to create memorable experiences that fostered deeper connections between the attendees and the brand, going beyond traditional event formats.
Towards the end of the discussion, there was an emphasis on the importance of localising event strategies within global companies. The trend towards account-based marketing (ABM) and the necessity of tailoring events to local markets and audiences were highlighted. This approach was seen as crucial in maintaining brand relevance and ensuring that events continued to play a vital role in the marketing mix. The group acknowledged the challenges of balancing global strategies with local needs and the importance of autonomy in executing effective local events.
The roundtable concluded with reflections on the future of event marketing. The group recognised the need to stay ahead of trends and continually innovate to ensure the effectiveness of events in a rapidly evolving landscape. There was a shared understanding that while digital marketing is gaining prominence, events remain a critical component of the marketing mix, offering unique opportunities for engagement and relationship building.
In summary, the roundtable revealed a nuanced understanding of the current event marketing landscape, highlighting the challenges and opportunities that have arisen in recent years. The discussion emphasised the importance of adaptability, audience-centric approaches, and the creation of meaningful, value-driven event experiences to engage and retain audiences in a rapidly evolving market. The roundtable provided a comprehensive overview of the current state and future directions of event marketing. It highlighted the challenges of balancing virtual and physical events, managing rising costs, and the need for innovative and personalised approaches to engage and connect with audiences. All in all, the group agreed on the importance of strategic thinking, audience-centric approaches, and creating meaningful, value-driven event experiences to navigate the complexities of the post-COVID marketing landscape.
Marketing Roundtable Discussions With The Ortus Club
The seamless optimisation between traditional marketing practices and future-forward strategies is more critical than ever. In this convergence of ideas, The Ortus Club stands out as a prime example of excellence. With their adept event marketing services, they not only understand the pulse of the market but also craft experiences that resonate deeply with audiences. For those navigating the innovations of marketing, partnering with experts like The Ortus Club can transform potential into profound impact.