Earlier this year the Bellwether Report forecasted that the main investments for Marketers in 2019 would be around the internet, media and events. In fact, events would also receive an increase in expenditure from +2.6% to +3.4%, and based on the numbers of Digital Marketing events in October only in London (Influencer Marketing Show, Festival of Marketing and Mobile Marketing just to mention the biggest), we can definitely say that brands attend and sponsor events more than ever.
So with 2020 planning ahead for most marketers, many will be asking the question – what should the priority areas be and what should we invest in? I firmly believe that events should continue to be a priority area. However, the next question is around hosted (an event organised by the brands itself, ex: Facebook Gather) or industry events (an external conference run by an independent organiser, ex: AdWeek London), which ones should brands prioritise?
Ultimately, industry events will help brands be present where their audience already is. This allows them to influence that particular target audience and reach a new one (if your company is perhaps breaking into a new market?) as well as challenge competitors for thought leadership and allow them to be recognised as the expert voice in its sector.
Hosted events on the other hand mostly focus on strengthening the relationship with existing customers. Most importantly, brands and marketers have the opportunity to shape the agenda themselves allowing them to address key business topics, inspire and immerse their customers into the brand universe.
What marketers must realise is that while industry events and hosted conferences will not deliver the same outcomes, they are in fact complementary and will position a brand as an expert and trustworthy partner. Take HubSpot and Huawei. They have hosted their own events in September - October and are also taking the stage at key industry events including Inbound 2019 and IFA 2019.
If a brand or marketers must prioritise one over the other, the preference should depend on their priorities. If you’re looking to increase your brand awareness and to be seen as a thought leader in your sector, prioritise industry events. If your main objective is reinforcing your relationship with your clients and educating them on your business solutions, hosted events are for you.
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Every year, B2B conferences generate more than $1 trillion in direct spending and attract one billion attendees, according to the Events Industry Council and Oxford Economics. And for good reason. Conferences allow you to make valuable connections, network with like-minded people, learn from peers who have accomplished what you hope to accomplish and create more word-of-mouth buzz for your business.