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Event orchestration | 30 August 2019

12 Imaginative Events from Forbes

Jacob Thomas

Did you know that Forbes, the respected publishing company, hosts many stellar events? In this article, we look at 12 of them and teach you how to plan similar gatherings.

Forbes has been publishing well-loved and respected business magazines for over a century. But in its 102 year history, the publishing company has also branched out and started offering content in other formats — most notably, live events.

Today, Forbes hosts many different gatherings and event types. We discuss 12 of them in this article and give you key takeaways from each. That way you can learn to host amazing events just like Forbes. 

12 Forbes Event Marketing Examples

1. Forbes Under 30 Summit

Forbes Under 30 Summit - Forbes Event MarketingSource: Forbes

The Forbes Under 30 Summit is more than a conference, it’s a completely immersive experience that features musical performances, A-list speakers, investor speed-pitching sessions, a “legendary” pub crawl, industry-focused field trips, and more. The annual event is geared towards young world-changers (hence the name) and is truly life altering for those who attend. In 2019, the slate of speakers includes successful entrepreneurs like the founder and CEO of Squarespace, Anthony Casalena. But it also features famous athletes and celebrities like Serena Williams, Kevin Durant, and Normani. 

Key Takeaway: Do your best to craft special experiences for your guests at each event you put on. You can do this by bringing in highly sought-after speakers, hosting concerts and dance parties, or by doing something else entirely. Just make sure that you’re able to entertain your attendees in unique ways and that your next conference, expo, or trade show isn’t just another run-of-the-mill event.

2. CMO Summit

CMO Summit - Forbes Event MarketingSource: Forbes

The motto at Forbes’ CMO Summit is “Promise to Practice.” The entire goal of the event is to encourage attendees to move from talk to action and market their companies with authenticity, trust, and purpose. Event goers learn about new innovations in the field of marketing from business leaders at companies like Target, Citi, and L’Oreal. Attendees also have the opportunity to network with each other and share ideas. What’s interesting about the CMO Summit is it’s invite-only, which can be an amazing event strategy for the right company.

Key Takeaway: Have you ever considered hosting an invite-only conference or seminar? If not, perhaps it’s time to start! Invite-only events have multiple benefits, including the fact that folks who get an invitation will be flattered and appreciate your company more. You’ll also be able to easily curate your audience and the content you create for them.

3. Healthcare Summit

Healthcare Summit - Forbes Event Marketing

Source: Forbes

The Healthcare Summit by Forbes is known as the “world’s most influential healthcare event” and aims to provide attendees with “solutions for brain, body, and business.” Event goers gather in New York City every year to learn about new break-through drugs and medical devices from top-rated speakers. In 2019, conference topics include gene editing, cancer immunotherapy, and the internet of medical things (IoMT).

Key Takeaway: Speaking of top-rated speakers, Forbes always manages to book knowledgeable and exciting keynotes for its Healthcare Summit. You should pay special attention to who you ask to speak at your events too! The right speakers will help drum up interest in your conference and lend it more prestige.

4. Shook on the Road

Shook on the Road - Forbes Event MarketingSource: Forbes

Shook on the Road is a joint effort between Forbes and SHOOK Research. The event brings together some of the world’s foremost wealth and financial advisors for a day of learning and enlightenment. The event series will visit Los Angeles, New York City, and Boston (amongst other cities) in 2019.

Key Takeaway: In all likelihood, your business has fans and customers from all over the world. But, unfortunately, not all of these folks will be able to come to your flagship events due to budget or scheduling restrictions. That’s why we recommend hosting an event series that travels to different cities and gives your audience more opportunities to attend. By running multiple events in various locations, you’ll allow attendees to pick and choose the dates and cities that work best for them, thus boosting the amount of people who can buy tickets and contribute to your event ROI. Win!

5. AgTech Summit

AgTech Summit - Forbes Event MarketingSource: Forbes

The theme at the 2019 AgTech Summit is “The Future of Food.” The Indianapolis-area event will bring together “some of the smartest minds in technology and global agriculture to tackle the world’s most critical challenges to our food supply,” while providing attendees with plenty of networking opportunities. It’s an ambitious event that is made possible, at least in part, because of Forbes’ impressive slate of sponsors.

Key Takeaway: Who’s sponsoring your next event? If the answer is no one, you may want to rethink your corporate event management style. Event sponsors will benefit your gatherings in multiple ways. First, there’s the financial contribution. It can be really difficult to actually make money when hosting an event. Sponsorship can help offset the cost of renting venues, booking speakers, and all of the many other event expenses. The right sponsors can also boost your event branding and make it seem more interesting to potential attendees.

6. CIO Next

CIO Next - Forbes Event MarketingSource: Forbes

Do you work for a technology company? Then you might really appreciate CIO Next, an invite-only event that caters to Vice Presidents, Chief Information Officers, Digital and Data Officers, and even Chief Executive Officers — basically anyone who has to answer the question, “What’s our AI strategy?” for their company. The 2019 event will feature amazing speakers from companies like Fannie Mae and Bank of America with the aim to help attendees stay on the cutting edge of technology in business.

Key Takeaway: When crafting content for your next event, make sure you push boundaries and cover future-focused topics. Your attendees want to learn about where their industry is headed and how to stay ahead of the curve. Give them this kind of information!

7. Women’s Summit

Women's Summit - Forbes Event MarketingSource: Forbes

The Women’s Summit by Forbes is a two-day conference for (surprise!) women that aims to inspire and teach those of the fairer sex to “re-architect industries, spark major movements, and unlock opportunities for others.” Past and current speakers include professionals from CBS and WeWork as well as celebrity personalities like Ashley Graham and Jennifer Garner. But the event is about more than just amazing keynote speeches. It also features plenty of networking opportunities for attendees.

Key Takeaway: You’ve heard the old saying, “When we try to please everyone, we end up pleasing no one.” It’s good advice — especially for event planners! So when it comes to corporate event ideas, we definitely recommend catering to specific audiences and/or demographics rather than trying to create the perfect event for every potential attendee. So decide who you want your event to serve then design the entire conference experience to suit their needs and preferences. Your attendees will appreciate it and you’ll likely find that your events are much more successful when you take this approach.

8. Cloud 100 Celebration Dinner

Cloud 100 Celebration Dinner - Forbes Event MarketingSource: Forbes

2019 marks the fourth year in a row that the Cloud 100 Celebration Dinner will have taken place. The event is a partnership between Forbes, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Salesforce Ventures. It exists to recognize “the best and brightest of the cloud.” Companies involved with the celebration dinner in previous years include notable brands like Deputy, Calendly, and Teachable. All in all, it’s another fun, invite-only event under the Forbes umbrella.

Key Takeaway: Who says you have to host every single event by yourself? When you partner with other companies, you open yourself up to numerous advantages. For one thing, you won’t have to plan and fund the entire conference or seminar alone. You’ll also have an easier time with event marketing because both you and your partner company can promote the gathering to your own tribes.

9. Philanthropy Summit

Philanthropy Summit  - Forbes Event MarketingSource: Forbes

The Philanthropy Summit by Forbes brings together 200 philanthropists and socially conscious business leaders to discuss how their wealth and resources can be used to solve important problems and make the world a better place. In the past, well-known names like Warren Buffett and Matt Damon have attended.

Key Takeaway: Not every event your company puts on needs to cater to every single person or tackle every imaginable subject. Consider hosting conferences and seminars that focus on one burning issue and the ways in which it can be solved. That’s what Philanthropy Summit does. The entire gathering is dedicated to discussing how wealth can help solve modern problems. It’s as simple as that! Take a page out of Forbes’ book and hone in on one or two specific issues, challenges, or topics for your next event.

10. Forbes Small Giants

Forbes Small Giants - Forbes Event MarketingSource: PR Newswire

Forbes Small Giants is another partnership event, this time with the Small Giants Community. It aims to recognize the 25 best small businesses around. Specifically, the event honors companies that choose to be great instead of just big. Nominees include organizations with fantastic work environments, break-through products, praise-worthy services, and a certain “mojo” that can only be classified as special. The Small Giant events features a whole day of “compelling content, interactive discussions, ample networking opportunities and more.”

Key Takeaway: The Forbes Small Giants event does a lot of things right. Many of the things, in fact, that we’ve been talking about throughout this article. But what we really want to focus on right now is the event’s afterparty. That’s right, when the conference ends the fun is just getting started! Afterparties are a great way to show your company’s playful side, entertain attendees, and build deeper bonds with target markets. Try hosting one after your next event and see if the experiential marketing tactic works for your organization.

11. #BoardForward Awards

#BoardForward Awards - Forbes Event MarketingSource: Forbes

The #BoardForward Awards, a partnership event between Forbes and theBoardlist, recognizes both companies and individuals who use innovative techniques and strategies to make their workplaces more diverse and inclusive. The entire event celebrates progress and makes a special effort to spotlight gender biases as well as ways to eliminate them in business settings.

Key Takeaway: The #BoardForward Awards are a great reminder to all event planners that customer recognition events are extremely beneficial. When your company takes the time to single out specific users and recognize them during a live event, you’ll be able to build deeper bonds with your audience than ever before. After all, who doesn’t want to be recognized and appreciated for their business or support a company that treats their customers so well?

12. Forbes I.D.E.A. Summit

Forbes I.D.E.A. Summit - Forbes Event MarketingSource: Forbes

Last but not least, we have the Forbes I.D.E.A Summit, which is yet another partnership event for Forbes (which means we can comfortably call partnership events a trend at this point)! But unlike the other joint conferences and award ceremonies we’ve covered so far, this gathering’s sole aim is to empower diversity in the workplace — not because “diversity” is a buzzword, but because it’s essential for business success. The inaugural summit took place in 2018 and featured business leaders from Target, Spotify, and Instagram.

Key Takeaway: It’s important to remember that the almighty dollar isn’t the only reason to host an event. You may want to put on a conference, seminar, or other gathering simply to uphold a specific company value. But interestingly enough, when you host these kinds of events, you’ll often find that certain business benefits are present as well. It’s worth considering: would you rather support a company that actively fights for diversity or one that couldn’t care less? Your audience probably feels the same way.

Key Takeaways: How to Host Stellar Events Like Forbes

Forbes is a B2C and B2B event marketing powerhouse, as evidenced by the 12 stellar events mentioned in this article. Want to host amazing gatherings like them? Follow these three tips and you’ll be well on your way:

  1. Break away from the status quo. Forbes isn’t afraid to do things differently and think outside the box with their events, so you shouldn’t be either. Plan conferences for specific demographics, host invite-only gatherings, and take your flagship events to multiple cities — whatever you have to do to differentiate your event brand.
  2. Partnership events can be extremely successful. Many Forbes events are partnerships between them and one or two other companies. This is a brilliant strategy that’s obviously working for them. Consider partnering with other companies who have a similar customer base to yours but aren’t direct competitors.
  3. Your events should be about more than ticket sales. Finally, ticket sales aren’t the only event metric you should be tracking. Brand recognition, networking opportunities, and the chance to stand up for important company values are also worthwhile reasons to host an event!

There you have it, 12 imaginative events from Forbes and the important lessons we can learn from each. And here’s one more lesson for you: invest in event software to help the planning of your next gathering go smoother. You’ll be glad you did!

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