Making Live Events an Important Part of Your Marketing Plan

Your audience wants to engage with your brand.

That fact is backed up by the recent “WE KNOW Experiences 2.0” study. This research found that:

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There is also a clear correlation between participating in live events and brand success. Research sponsored by Splash and carried out by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services found that the fastest-growing companies (those that have seen revenue grow 30 percent or more over the past two years) also increased their event activity the most. That’s likely why 40 percent of the 700 business executives surveyed stated they would spend more on hosting events in the year ahead.

While many brands have embraced the benefits of live events, there a those who are hesitant. If the above stats weren’t enough motivation, here are some more compelling reasons to make live events part of your marketing plan.

Live Events Guarantee Consumer Attention

How long do you have with a consumer when they see your ad on Facebook? How long does a Tweet resonate with your audience? How much time do people spend watching an ad on YouTube as they anxiously await pressing the “skip ad” button?

Digital marketing is an important part of most marketing plans. However, advancements in ad-blocking software and consumer’s improved ability to turn out these ads have made digital marketing not as crucial as it used to be. While it is extremely useful for promoting an event, digital marketing cannot guarantee to captivate a consumer’s attention the way an activation event can.

However, it is not accurate to claim that an attendee at a live activation is part of a captive audience – smartphones have effectively destroyed the concept of a captive audience. Your content must be compelling to enthrall attendees. Still, a live event is a significant advantage over other forms of marketing because attendees elected to be present – they want to engage with your brand.

With live activations, brands create and moderate the experience of their attendees. It is possible to elicit emotional reactions that are unthinkable through most forms of marketing. As long as the content is compelling, your audience is receptive, even anxious, to engage with your brand.

Increase Brand Awareness

A live activation is one of the most effective ways to engage and connect with consumers. Your brand is more than a logo; it is a narrative, a history. Whether your brand is five days old or fifty years old, there is a story behind your brand. The best way to tell, to accurately convey, the power and import (or fun and whimsy) of your brand is through a live event.

According to a Bizzabo survey, 84 percent of brand executives “believe in-person events are a critical component of their company’s success,” and 95 percent feel that “live events provide attendees with a valuable opportunity to form in-person connections in an increasingly digital world.”

Live events enable brands to form strong connections with consumers. A compelling live event creates a memory, and memories become more powerful over time. By creating meaningful relationships with consumers, live activations help convert participants into brand advocates.

Improve Lead Generation

A live event provides marketers and the sales team with a distinct advantage: the ability to gather information about attendees before the event begins. Thanks to event registration and pre-event surveys, much of the fact-gathering that used to take place on-site is out of the way. Armed with this advance knowledge, it is much easier to personalize interactions with prospective clients.

Plus, it streamlines the process of scheduling meetings with prospects, which can significantly save money on lead generation. According to a report from CEIR, the average cost of an in-person meeting at a live event is $96. Conversely, to schedule an off-site meeting with a prospect costs $1,039. That amount includes $443 to first identify the candidate and $596 for the field sales call.

An in-person meeting at a live activation saves an average of $943 per prospect.

The CEIR research also found that closing a sale is more cost-effective if the lead found at a live event, which costs, on average, $2,188. That includes the initial $96 and the average cost of 3.5 sales calls, which is $2,092 (the report used 3.5 because it found that 54 percent of sales initiated from a live event require three or fewer sales calls to close).

However, without a live event meeting, it costs $3,102 to close a sale. That figure includes the initial $1,039 and the average cost of 4.5 sales calls, which is $2,659 (the report found that 61 percent of sales from sources other than a live event require more than three sales calls to close).

So, a company’s cost per sale is an average of $914 less when discovering a prospect through a live event.

Another study from CEIR found that 81 percent of attendees have buying authority. The prospects who attend live events do so because they are looking for solutions and are ready to take advantage should they find those answers.

Thought Leadership

Speaking at live events, such as conferences and trade shows, is a great way to establish your brand’s thought leadership in your industry. Someone who is getting started as a speaker may need to begin with smaller events or volunteer to be part of a panel discussion (which is just as good as a solo presentation for establishing brand leadership).

Speaking and participating in panel discussions also ensures that you to stay up to date with the latest industry trends, helping your brand to avoid compliancy. At live events, you will learn from other industry leaders and share your knowledge and information with them, forming partnerships and strategic alliances.

Events are Easily Measurable Ensuring Consistent Improvement

Measuring the success of an event used to rely entirely on post-event surveys and gut instinct. Today, thanks to technological advancements, including event software, RFID wearables, beacons, and more, events can be evaluated in real time.

Concepts like brand awareness and thought leadership are no longer nebulous ideas. Each can be measured to ensure you are achieving your goals and to hone and improve your efforts. You simply need to define your metrics before launching an event.

Brand Awareness

  • Did the brand’s social media mentions increase? How can you attribute the increase (or a portion of it) to the live event?

  • Did you sell tickets? How many people attended compared to the number of tickets sold?

  • Did you receive media coverage? How did it compare to the coverage you received at a past event or a competitor’s media coverage?

  • Did you create an event registration page? Did web traffic improve? How much of that came from the landing page? Where did the remaining traffic originate?

  • How many attendees visited a previous event?

Lead Generation  

  • How many leads were generated by the event compared to the number of prospects?

  • How many sales were closed in the sales cycle (or cycles) following the event?

Thought Leadership

  • How engaged was the audience?

  • Did they ask questions?

  • Did your presentation include a product or service demonstration? What was the immediate feedback? Has that feedback changed as salespeople follow-up with calls and emails?

  • Did you provide attendees with a post-presentation survey? How many responses did you receive? (The number of responses can be just as informative as the answers.) What did they say?

Live events build a relationship between a brand and its consumers that is difficult or impossible to create otherwise. These activations deliver a marketplace advantage that successful marketers embrace.