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Event marketing | 7 February 2017

Why In-Person Events Embody The Fundamentals Of Marketing

Stephen Kim

In a world saturated with digital messaging, it’s no surprise that many consumers enjoy in-person interactions. According to one survey, 93% of consumers claimed that live events had a larger influence on them than TV ads. Though social media and other tech continue to influence the marketing industry, it is important to keep in mind that at its core, marketing is a person-to-person exchange. In-person events not only drive key marketing metrics but they also create complete movements in and of themselves. In brief, they embody the fundamentals of marketing. 

Boosting Brand Equity

Live events yield many of the results that directly impact marketing KPIs. According to a study conducted by Columbia Business School, event marketing significantly influences  brand equity and the perception people have of the company. In-person events engage consumers in an immediate way, and they help build a positive brand association. The 2015 Event Track study shows that 74% of event attendees had a more positive opinion about the company after having attended the event.

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Clearly, directly interacting with buyers through in-person events helps companies communicate with their markets more accurately and effectively.

Increasing ROI

In addition to brand equity, events also have significant ROI implications. The same Event Track study mentioned above indicates that 48% of brands receive an ROI of 3:1 to 5:1 and 29% realize a ratio 10:1 or higher. Talk about bang for your buck. 

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These ROI implications are relevant to many companies in many industries. Consider Xeikon, a digital printing company in Chicago that put significant investment into an upcoming trade show across multiple marketing channels in order maximize of event engagement. They understood that the trade show would provide an opportunity to present their product in-person in an authentic, memorable way.

In the months leading up to the event, Xeikon focused on targeting their ideal potential customers through email campaigns, postal mail campaigns, and direct phone calls. Doing so allowed them to provide more context and information for their potential buyers. As a result, Xeikon achieved a 300% ROI on their trade show participation, significantly elevating their brand equity.

Though their marketing efforts played a vital role in the increased ROI, those efforts alone would not have been as nearly as effective if there weren’t all tied together by the face-to-face meetings they had during the actual event. Clearly, live events strike a chord with consumers and so represent a central piece to the marketing puzzle.

Targeting A Basic Human Need

While it’s important to measure impact through metrics, the scope of live events cannot be summarized solely through stats. Intangible factors such as passion and excitement are also key ingredients that are central to the power of events. Certain conferences have transformed into entire movements, further indicating that in-person interactions truly resonate with the consumer audience.

For example, the attendance for Dreamforce (Salesforce’s annual conference) grew over 1300% in just 13 years. This rapid growth is a testament to the Salesforce brand, but can also be attributed to the desire for events as a whole.

SalesForce-Dreamforce-growth-min.png

Chris Cavanaugh, CMO of Freeman, one of the companies behind the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), stated, “Live experiences are gaining their fair share of the pie because they appeal to the basic human needs of connecting and socializing.” Hugely successful trade shows such as Dreamforce and CES illustrate that people are craving more face-to-face interaction, without the technological barrier.

Working With Technology

This all is not to say that technology isn’t part of the equation. Yes, in-person human interaction is the unique strength of live events but when coupled with the right technology, as is illustrated with the Xeikon trade show, the impact can become even greater. google-vr-min.jpg

Google Cardboard, one of the most affordable VR experiences.

Augmented reality, 360 video, and artificial intelligence are becoming increasingly in-demand tools for event planners to master. During Google’s 2016 I/O conference, the keynote address was live streamed through 360 video. Attendees who could not physically attend were able to virtually attend from their living rooms.

Additionally, social media has made the event experience much more communal. According to EMI’s 2016 Event Track Report, 98% of attendees create digital content while at live events and 100% of those attendees share their content. In 2013, Evian hosted a foodie photo event where attendees took and uploaded thousands of photos at the multiple booths that were available. By capitalizing on the Instagram foodie craze, Evian was able to build out a large reach for the event and the brand.

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Social sharing and 360 video are just a couple of ways that technology and in-person events can work hand-in-hand. Together they work to create interactions that are much more engaging for attendees and effective for marketers.  

Wrapping Up: Back to Basics

In-person events consistently resonate with consumers and their effectiveness can be directly attributed back to their focus on people. Through the various case studies and statistics, one can conclude that in-person experiences offer marketing value that is unique and singular. Basic human interaction is the foundation of strong relationships and creating such connections is the core to a sustainable business strategy. That idea combined with constantly evolving technology will surely result in revolutionary ways of communicating in the marketing world and beyond.

For in-depth overview of how you can leverage live events in your marketing plan, download our free eBook: The Marketing Leader’s Roadmap To Live Events.

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