It’s 2019, and we can bet this year’s event scene will be bigger and better than ever before. The possibilities seem limitless when it comes to companies experimenting with new ways to reach customers, persuade event attendees to become brand champions, and wow prospects with the latest gadgets or flashiest showroom floors.
Through all this noise, event marketers will need to leave their mark and make a lasting impression this year, and appealing to the individual will be top priority. You heard from our own CMO, Kristen Alexander, in VMBlog about how B2B marketers will scale back in 2019 and do more with less, championing the channels that really allow them to connect with their audiences instead of feeling the need to flood people with content across every touchpoint.
Now, top industry experts and marketing influencers share their predictions for B2B event marketing in the new year – from leveraging new wave tech to getting smart with data.
Building Brand Advocates Will Require Bigger and Bolder Moves
With more noise than ever before, expectations for companies to stand out from the crowd will only increase. At events, attendees will want to see and engage with brands that provide bold points of view.
“Attendees make time to travel to events in order to pick their heads up from day-to-day work and discover the narratives that shape their realities back in the office. That brings a level of expectation with it. I believe brands have a responsibility to these attendees to continue to push the agenda of their industries.
For that reason, I predict 2019 to be the year of the rabble-rousing brand. These attendees need brands to show a bold vision for the future and help them make sense of their worlds. The pace of change in the business world is such that individuals who are willing to take bold stances in-market, promote a unique POV about their industries, and make that POV clear on stage and through their sponsored event experiences are the only ones who will break through the clutter – and event organizers should make space for, and celebrate, these brands.” – Katie Martell, Marketing Consultant, On-Demand Marketing
Data, Data, Data
At this point, we all know more data equals more insights. Why, then, does so much of it go unused? This year, leveraging data for valuable insights will be the means for events to prove their worth in an increasingly digital world.
“While I think a lot of marketing technologies are in the theoretical and trial stages of implementation for events, there are a few that can and should be fully realized in 2019. First among them would be an influencer marketing platform. Empowering those closest to your event such as speakers and stakeholders to authentically engage their audience to attend your event represents the lowest hanging fruit for audience growth. I’m utilizing snöball to these ends with the events I’m working on.
The other practical and necessary advancement in marketing technology adoption in 2019 is increased data collection and analytics. CMOs are investing in live events more and more often because they’ve a more proven strategy now because of actionable outcomes. Organizations such as Bear Analytics are creating proprietary data dashboards for event organizers and marketers to audit experiences in almost endless variations in order to prove the effectiveness of their live events.” – Nick Borelli, President, Borelli Strategies
“As people are more and more overwhelmed by the infinite amount of information and data available to them, they are going to look for resources to be delivered to them in a highly customized way. Whether it’s personalized suggestions on a website, emails that are tailored to your interests, or a chatbot that allows you to get your specific question answered right away, the consumer is already shifting into a mindset where they want brands to respond to them as an individual. With that in mind, putting more energy into customer data capture, custom content, and conversational marketing efforts is key.” – Zontee Hou, President, Media Volery LLC
Cool Consumer Tech Will Find Its Way at Events
In 2018, robotics, virtual and augmented reality-enabled gadgets made moves into the mainstream. This year, we’ll start to see new business use cases for such technology – particularly, how it’ll be utilized at events to enhance the attendee experience.
“Virtual reality is really an underused tool and partially that is because not all consumers have the headset. But given that you can watch virtual reality videos as 360 versions on a phone or app, and not very many events are using them yet, it’s the perfect time to jump right in and make this strategy a big differentiator for your company.” – Christoph Trappe, Chief Content Engagement Officer, Stamats Business
Marketers Will Still Lean on Traditional, More Personal Ways to Communicate
For events to have lasting impact in 2019, companies need to be able to continue engagement with prospects well after the last speaker steps off the stage. Getting in touch is half the battle – it’s staying in touch that matters. For businesses to remain relevant beyond their events, mastering personalized digital content will be key.
“Event organizers will treat their email newsletter programs like the rare and precious flowers they are, in need of regular love and attention. (Thank God.) ‘Hold up,’ you’re thinking. ‘EMAIL? Is this 1999 or 2019? Isn’t this the age of AI and Facebook Live and video and VR for events?’
Here’s why I believe in the power of email newsletters even more strongly today, as we head into 2019:
An email newsletter is the only place where individuals—not algorithms—are in control. So what if marketing leaned into that inherently personal space?
Most event organizers today use their email newsletter as a distribution strategy. What if we focused not on the news but on the letter?
In January I re-launched my personal newsletter (annhandley.com/newsletter) as a way to talk directly to my audience. It’s taught me a lot about what works and what doesn’t in content and in marketing more broadly. I think the best email newsletters are also a kind of proxy for the best marketing in 2019, period.” – Ann Handley, Bestselling author and Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs
We can bet 2019 will be the busiest year yet for marketers – and the experts agree. Building brand advocates will result from companies taking stronger stands in the market and on stage. Data will help marketers cut through the noise to reach the folks that matter, and mastering traditional forms of content will help brands reconnect with their core audiences. With bigger brands and bolder tech, 2019 is a year of opportunity, and we’re ready to see what event marketers will achieve!