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Event orchestration | 10 October 2019

12 Imaginative Events from SAP

Jacob Thomas

SAP has mastered experiential marketing and creative event production. Read on to learn the company’s top tactics and strategies alongside real examples from the brand.

Everyone knows that successful events are usually hosted in desirable venues and feature amazing, well-known speakers. But what else can your company do to push its event marketing game to the next level? SAP is a master at these less-than-obvious “next level” tactics.

If you’re not already familiar with the brand, SAP stands for Systems, Applications, and Products in Data Processing. It’s a German-based mega-company that makes enterprise software and has a customer base of over 400,000 people in 180 different countries.

In this article, we’ll look at 12 effective SAP events and experiential activations and what you can learn from each. Sound like a plan? Then let’s get started! 

1. SAPPHIRE NOW

SAPPHIRE NOW - SAP Event MarketingSource: SAP User Experience Committee

The SAPPHIRE NOW conference happens in May every year and is a joint effort between SAP and ASUG, a trusted SAP advisor that trains many people how to use SAP products. At SAPPHIRE NOW, attendees can ask SAP experts questions, participate in hands-on workshops, demo new products, and learn from top-notch keynote speakers. It’s an amazing event for anyone that regularly uses SAP products.

Key Takeaway: Hosting just one event requires a ton of work and effort. There are just so many details to work out and lock down. But the thing is, your event strategy probably calls for more than a single conference, seminar, or trade expo every year. If you’re feeling the stress of planning multiple gatherings all by yourself, don’t. Instead, take a page out of SAP’s book and partner with another company for your next event. That way you can split planning and hosting duties between the two of you.

2. NBA Ultimate Training Camp Experience

NBA Ultimate Training Camp Experience - SAP Event MarketingSource: AV Magazine

In 2019, SAP partnered with NoSlate Production Partners and Under Armour to create a one of a kind experiential marketing campaign at SAP’s annual SAPPHIRE NOW conference (mentioned above). The NBA Ultimate Training Camp Experience featured visual effects, digital animation, interactive design, and more while allowing event attendees to showcase their hoop skills. Not only was the experience incredibly fun for all involved, it also helped SAP tell an important story: performance can be improved when data from a variety of sources is captured and studied.

Key Takeaway: To really make the most of each event you host, we suggest planning niche gatherings and experiences within the events you already have on your schedule. This will allow you to cater to specific demographics (we’ll talk more about this in a later section) and provide a better event experience to all attendees. That’s what SAP did with its NBA Ultimate Training Camp Experience during SAPPHIRE NOW and it was a smashing success.

3. SAP TechEd

SAP TechEd - SAP Event MarketingSource: Europe IT Consulting GmbH

SAP TechEd is the place for members of the SAP community to gather, learn, and network together. Event attendees come from a variety of different backgrounds — business intelligence and process, database management, development, etc. — to study the latest SAP products and how they can be used to propel businesses forward.

Key Takeaway: SAP TechEd is one of SAP’s biggest, most important events of the year. Because of this fact, the technology company did its best to reach as many of its 400,000+ customers as possible in 2019. TechEd was hosted in three different cities around the world: Las Vegas, Barcelona, and Bangalore. If your organization has the resources, we suggest adopting this strategy as well. By taking your events to your audience rather than the other way around, you’ll make it easier for them to attend and probably improve your event ROI.

4. Fan Energy Zone Powered by SAP

Fan Energy Zone Powered by SAP - SAP Event MarketingSource: SAP

Is there a bigger annual event than the Super Bowl? In America, at least, the answer is no. So SAP’s event marketing strategy to partner with the NFL and create a unique experience for Super Bowl attendees was pure genius. In 2016, SAP introduced the Fan Energy Zone, a series of interactive, motion-capture games that put folks right in the middle of the action. Participants could throw passes and dodge tackles on a digital screen while wearing a virtual reality headset. SAP then tracked and displayed top scores for all to see.

Key Takeaway: SAP’s Fan Energy Zone reminds us that all successful events excel at creating memorable moments for attendees — moments that surprise them, take their breath away, make them laugh. What can you do to ensure your gatherings have this effect on people? Maybe you use technology like SAP does. Perhaps you bring in a musical artist and host a stellar afterparty of sorts. You could simply unveil a new product. Whatever you decide to do, try to craft memorable moments that your attendees won’t soon forget.

5. SuccessConnect

SuccessConnect - SAP Event MarketingSource: Rizing HCM

SuccessConnect is one of the top HR events of the year. The 2019 gathering featured quality keynote speeches from well-known actresses like Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Goldie Hawn as well as top business professionals like Eric Hutcherson of the NBA and Holly May of Starbucks. The event also included plenty of breakout sessions, training seminars, and networking opportunities for attendees to participate in.

Key Takeaway: The actual SuccessConnect event is amazing. But we want to focus on what SAP does after the event concludes: SAP uses recordings of the conference as marketing materials. This is a great idea, and one that your company can easily use. Simply capture your keynote speeches and breakout sessions on camera. Then use the footage to promote your brand. For example, you could post small clips on social media to build up anticipation for next year’s event. Or make the entire conference free to view online in exchange for an email address. The options are endless.

6. SAP Controlling Conference

SAP Controlling Conference - SAP Event MarketingSource: Erp Corp

In the company’s own words, “SAP Controlling is a conference for SAP professionals covering detailed topics in the management accounting module of SAP. ” It’s a great event for end-users who work with master data, configuration, reporting as well as other complex areas of interest. The best part? The conference offers multiple tracks so that attendees can customize their experience and learn the information that’s most pertinent to them and their careers.

Key Takeaway: When it comes to B2B event marketing, hosting multiple conference tracks is a great idea. Your guests are attending because they want to learn new information that will propel their careers forward. By offering customizable tracks, you’ll give them this opportunity.

7. Player Comparison Tool

Player Comparison Tool - SAP Event MarketingSource: SAP

SAP has an excellent working relationship with the NFL and the Player Comparison Tool is another great example of this. It allows fantasy football players to analyze player matchups like never before. By showcasing real-time stats on NFL players, fantasy football participants can accurately decide which players to choose on a weekly basis. 

Key Takeaway: This is another great experiential marketing campaign from SAP. It also illustrates the need for event planners to get creative. How can you serve your target audience in new, outside-the-box ways? Always be on the lookout for fresh opportunities to promote your company and further its event branding initiatives.

8. Presentación de Estudio de IDC: El Viaje Hacia la Nube

Presentacion de Estudio de IDC: El Viaje Hacia la Nube - SAP Event MarketingSource: SAP

“Presentación de Estudio de IDC: El Viaje Hacia la Nube” translates to “IDC Study Presentation: The Journey to the Cloud” in English. This SAP event was used to share the results of a new study regarding Mexican and Brazilian companies and their adoption of cloud technology.

Key Takeaway: SAP understands that a large portion of its user base lives and works outside of Europe and the United States. So they craft events that cater to these people. How can your company serve smaller, perhaps forgotten, demographics? While these kinds of event will likely be much smaller, you’ll be able to build strong, lasting relationships that will serve your company well in the future. 

9. The Biz.ONE Conference

The Biz.ONE Conference - SAP Event MarketingSource: Pioneer B1

The SAP Biz.ONE Conference is the “largest gathering of SAP Business One users in the world.” At the event, over 500 attendees from 200 different companies learn how to better use SAP software. They also get to hear tons of inspiring customer success stories. Plus, they get to network with each other afterwards. 

Key Takeaway: Earlier we mentioned how difficult it can be to host even one successful event. But another way to bolster your company’s event strategy (without adding more stress and chaos into your life) is to let other organizations host events for you. All you have to do is vet the organization and provide oversight then let them do the rest!

10. Your Move to SAP S/4HANA

Your Move to SAP S/4HANA - SAP Event MarketingSource: SAP News Center

Your Move to SAP S/4HANA is all about educating attendees on how to use the SAP S/4HANA product. Event goers learn about the solution and its capabilities via in-depth sessions and demonstrations while networking with other users. It’s a wonderful training event made even better by the fact that it’s hosted in multiple cities around the world including places like Dallas, Toronto, and Milan.

Key Takeaway: Teaching your customers how to better use your products is a fantastic idea. And what better way to teach them than via a live, in-person conference dedicated exclusively to the topic? Training events of this nature are both fun and useful to attendees. And your company will benefit because customers that understand how to use tools don’t often go looking for solutions from other providers. It really is a win/win scenario for all involved.

11. Unleash World

Unleash World - SAP Event MarketingSource: Unleash Group

Unleash World calls itself the “epicenter of workforce revolution” and serves folks in the HR industry by educating them on the Future of Work and HR technology solutions. In 2019, the event took place in Paris, France and welcomed over 4,500 attendees. In 2020, the conference will be hosted in Paris again as well as Las Vegas and London. While this technically isn’t a SAP event, it is one that they sponsor and endorse.

Key Takeaway: Proper corporate event management will include event sponsorship opportunities. Sponsoring conferences, seminars, and trade expos in your industry — as long as they aren’t hosted by direct competitors — is a great way to get your company in front of a new audience and to begin building relationships with them. Fortunately, this isn’t a hard strategy to implement. You just have to find the event types that fit your brand and approach them about sponsorship opportunities.

12. Data Bits & Bites for Busy People

Data Bits & Bites for Busy People - SAP Event MarketingSource: SAP

Lastly, we have Data Bits and Bites for Busy People, a collection of webinars produced by SAP and available to view on its website. These webinars are hosted live every Tuesday and Thursday, covering a range of topics related to SAP products. For folks who use SAP regularly, there’s a lot to be learned from these amazing online resources.

Key Takeaway: Online events have exploded in popularity over the past few years. It isn’t hard to see why. For starters, digital gatherings are easier and cheaper to produce. They also allow companies to reach more people. While we don’t anticipate online events becoming the norm anytime soon — there’s definitely something magical about getting a bunch of people together in the same room for a live conference — they are an important piece of the event strategy puzzle.

Main Takeaways: How to Host a SAP-Level Event

SAP is an innovative brand with an excellent events team. It produces many quality gatherings and experiential marketing campaigns each year – and there’s a lot to be learned from them! Here are the three main takeaways from this article that you can use to improve your own events:

  1. Partnerships Are Key: Many of the events and experiences listed above find SAP partnering with another brand. This enables them to host and take part in more high-quality events. Your company should consider using the same strategy.
  2. Experiential Marketing is the Future: Modern consumers don’t want to see another typical marketing campaign. They’re bombarded with them every day which means these strategies have begun to lose their effectiveness. Instead of delivering the same old event, be sure to craft experiences for your audience that they’ll remember forever.
  3. Diversify Your Event Offerings: Don’t become too dependent on the same corporate event ideas that you’ve always used. Think outside the box to make creative events for your audience to attend. This will keep them excited to participate year after year.

And don’t forget about event software! This essential planning tool will help you keep track of details and ensure your gatherings are executed to perfection.

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