People love events. A recent poll of adults aged eighteen plus revealed more people are attending live events than ever before. This increase comes as good news for SMEs who are looking to connect with their customers, prospects and partners in a more meaningful way.

Attending and partaking in events is one of the most effective marketing methods for SMEs as they give you more face-to-face access than any other channel, helping build brand awareness and generate leads.

But just like any other marketing strategy, you need to understand the channel before you use it.

What Is Event Marketing?

Event marketing is a promotional strategy that allows for direct face-to-face contact between SMEs and their customers at events such as conventions, fairs and festivals.

A successful event marketing campaign provides value to attendee beyond information about a product or service, whether through a discount, free sample, charity alignment or fun event.

Many brands will put on an activity or entertainment such as hosting a contest to engage prospects with their brand. The goal of event marketing is to grab attention and leave a lasting impression that will resonate in their minds.

Why Is Event Marketing Important?

According to the Event Marketing 2019: Benchmarks and Trends Report, most marketers believe that event marketing is the most effective marketing channel for achieving business goals. The same report found between 2017 and 2018 the number of companies organizing twenty or more events per year increased by seventeen percent.

In conclusion, event marketing is an essential marketing channel for B2B and B2C SME businesses.

Types of Events

Improved technology paired with the growing needs of events has resulted in a wide range of event types. It’s essential you understand your audience to identify which event type will appeal to this demographic. Events include:

  • Conferences – can be either B2B or B2C and usually have a schedule filled with engaging speakers, educational workshops and valuable networking sessions.
  • Trade shows – typically trade shows are great for presenting new products and services with likeminded businesses in a professional manner.
  • Seminars – take place in a more intimate setting and are heavily focused on educating attendees.
  • Networking events – great to establish authority within your industry and build relationships with related business interests.
  • VIP events – focus on providing the most influential shareholders or customers with an impressive experience with the goal to increase revenue through maintaining loyalty.
  • Pop-up activations – great for relationship-building, helping to form strong emotional bonds between a company and its audience.

Effective Event Marketing

For effective event marketing, it’s essential you identify your target audience and the right event to appeal and interact with this demographic, creating an experience that remains in the participants’ memories.

For example, a company specializing in sporting equipment may take part in a sports event hosting a mini-tournament, a drinks company may attend a music festival handing out samples to thirst quenched festival-goers and an up-and-coming company from the technology sector may partake in a convention, allowing attendees to test their state-of-the-art products.

Through effective event marketing, you’re generating buzz during and after the event as well as associating your SME with positive interactions. These positive interactions create long-lasting relationships.

As each event is different, they should be approached differently through marketing. By doing so, you can tailor your event to best impact each audience, creating separate chances to make a lasting impression.

Measuring ROI and ROE

Events can be a huge marketing expense, so when an SME decides to invest in event marketing, they must be able to evaluate their successes and failures. That’s where Return on Investment (ROI) and Return on Engagement (ROE) come into play.

ROI is used to calculate the financial value of the event by determining the number of direct sales and sale leads. However, short term financial gain is not the only reason for organizing events. Events help increase brand awareness around your brand, services or products and develop valuable relationships with customers.

If an event aims to improve brand performance in the long run through valuable interactions, considering financial indicators (ROI) of success does not give the best insight into the customer’s journey and the brand experience.

ROE measures engagement with your brand. Whether mentioning your SME on social media, recommending your products to family and friends or browsing through your company’s website and buying a product after the event, an engaged audience is more likely to act and consequently, are more valuable.

The aim of ROE is to determine the impact of the event on the brand strength in terms of audience participation, perceptual change and company visibility.

There are several ways to measure ROI including session attendance, session engagement (such as average session length and the number of questions asked), number of samples given, number of trails and demos, social media mentions, PR coverage and in-event surveys.

In Conclusion,

Event marketing is one of the most essential marketing channels for SMEs. Whether your SME is looking to host your own event, take part in a tradeshow or simply network, there are many diverse ways to participate and benefit from event marketing. The key to remember is knowing your audience and measuring ROI and ROE.

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