Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Live Events: "I'm Not Dead!"

Forbes Insights just published an Executive Report, “Business Meetings: The Case for Face to Face.” While the report, for the most part, is positive news for live events and events marketing professionals, there are also results which provide some food for thought.

The good news for live events is – to quote the peasant in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, “I’m not dead.” That was proven very true in the survey – of the 750 business executives surveyed, 84% responded that they preferred “in person, face-to-face meetings” to “technology-driven meetings” and 87% said face-to-face meetings had "tangible benefits" over technology-driven meetings. So despite speculation and discourse around technology squeezing the live event business out of existence, there is a strong recognized, identifiable value to convening. In this light, the struggles the industry has recently seen can certainly be attributed more to the economic environment than technology replicating or replacing the value of the face-to-face.

There are valuable points for Event Marketing professionals to consider regarding the identified benefits of face-to-face events. In a nutshell (and to not reiterate what’s in the report), there is a strongly embedded value in networking, meeting people, reading people, and being able to take deeper, more strategic onsite dives into issues and challenges attendees face. To that end, a couple of questions/observations:
  • Is your marketing message leveraging networking/face-to-face interaction as a USP? While content delivered at an event is critical (if the event is not presenting anything germane, don’t expect huge turnout), in this day and age this information, overall, is not truely unique. The unique value is the interaction – and marketing messaging needs to drive that home throughout the course of the campaign.
  • Structurally, is the event geared towards leveraging on-site interaction? I’ve contributed to and seen some very innovative initiatives around small discussion roundtables, attendee networking badges/pins which indicated attendee verticals or expertise (to facilitate discussion) as well as traditional show floor interaction, sponsor receptions, etc. These all improve the on-sight experience - and score well on attendee satisfaction surveys - and provide a facet of the event to manage your marketing message around, as well.
  • To bring the social media aspect to the live event – do you have, or are you planning on building communities around attendees? Outside of traditional “Alumni discounts,” the SM technology available should be utilized to continue the interaction initiated onsite to build greater lifetime value for the attendee.
The lesson overall is to survive the storm – business executives still value the live event for a set of identifiable, unique reasons. However, event marketers do need to be diligent in communicating this value, and working to ensure the advantages inherent in the live setting are leveraged and delivered.

Good luck!


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1 comment:

  1. Interesting article. I believe companies really need to think twice before cancelling events. I recently blogged about this topic. Check out to read.