The future of B2B event marketing
Marketing events are a pillar of B2B marketing campaigns, especially in the tech industry. Your clients are choosing solutions that are critical to the future success of their organizations. Marketing events are a key touchpoint in the buyer journey to build trust and bring your technology solutions and brand to life, in inspiring and innovative ways.
Below are some event marketing learnings from the pandemic as well as ways to potentially use those learnings.
IBM Canada puts on an annual conference known as Think Summit, hosted by thought leaders and featuring inspirational figures with transformational experience. It connects clients and prospects with IBM staff and business partners, and features workshops, labs, demonstrations and activations to allow people to interact with the latest IBM technology. In 2020 and 2021, we shifted from a large face-to-face conference to a virtual conference due to the pandemic.
Over the past two years, a great deal has been learned about the effectiveness of virtual conferences. For example, we learned that content curation is key, and quality matters more than quantity. The virtual event platform you select is very important. Regardless of whether content is excellent, the platform should offer a streamlined experience and be conducive to online networking.
Throughout the pandemic, we all witnessed an increase of viewers binging content on streaming platforms like Netflix. The high-quality episodic content and ease of use was attractive. So, for Think Summit 2021, IBM created compelling, bite-sized stories of Canadian innovators who were truly changing the world with IBM technology. We made sure production quality was high and each story was recorded at beautiful sites across the country, rather than in-studio. The event platform was very streamlined, with the audience using one channel only.
From 2020 to 2021, improvements were made to the online experience to provide participants with the ability to network and schedule meetings. We learned that prospects tend not to naturally cruise virtual booths similarly to how they would at a live experience. Organizing hybrid marketing events that combine the best of face-to-face and virtual experiences is an admirable aspiration.
IBM looks forward to the next iteration of event marketing at Think Broadcast and Think on Tour.
Here are a few considerations as event planning moves forward:
- Identify the best elements of face-to-face events and of virtual events. Is there a way to marry these elements at scale? Is it more effective to have separate experiences for online and in-person audiences?
- Consider what the optimal way might be to run a hybrid event to best meet the needs of your audiences and partners.
- Ask what the role and function is of the live and virtual aspects. Determine if there is alignment between these spaces.
- Explore what elements and flexibility can be offered to enhance interaction, lead to more networking opportunities and drive higher engagement.