The great French scientist Louis Pasteur said that “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” There is a lot to prepare for. 2015 will be a pivotal year in experiental and event marketing.
Four megatrends are driving the change:
- Events play a unique role in the marketing mix. Ever-more empowered customers are choosing to engage with sales and marketing later in the purchasing cycle. Face-to-face meetings offer a powerful way to personalize the conversation. And rich experiences are essential to promoting sharing.
- The old meeting/conference model is officially broken. Over the past few years, the technology in each attendee’s pocket has changed it from “one to many” to something like “all of us to each other, all the time.”
- Most corporate audiences are now a subset of the social media audience. The crossover creates a huge number of touch points, each of which needs to be optimized to ensure that the customer journey is relevant and consistent. Integrating this will put increased demands on event managers and bring new players to the table.
- Metrics are the new normal. The unlikely combination of social media and Big Data have picked up where direct marketing left off. Season with KPI’s and if it’s not being measured, it will be soon. Marketers no longer have to rely on opinions, they can (and will) now demonstrate their value to the C-suite with numbers.
For this post I have assembled 7 forecasts from some of the best thinkers I follow. My goal is to provide you with context you can use to prepare for the year ahead.
The State of B2B Event Marketing 2014
Despite the title, this survey by Regalix is as much a look at the year that will be, as the year that was.
B2B Event Marketing continues to be viewed as a critical thrust area in a company’s overall marketing mix. Of the executives surveyed, only 4% say events are not significant.
As many as 57% of marketers find Event Marketing extremely significant in accelerating lead generation and growing the sales pipeline.
The top 4 objectives (percentage of respondents) are revealing.
- Lead generation – 80%
- Brand-building – 80%
- Customer engagement – 64%
- Customer education and training – 36%
My Prediction: The availability of content online 24/7/365 is changing the raison d’etre for event producers and attendees alike. The opportunity to network and interact is the new reason to attend. Clients and their agencies will have to learn how to further their own agendas, while creating experiences that enable the audience to accomplish their sometimes competing goals.
A knock-out big picture piece from Brian Solis at The Altimeter Group.
Looking beyond post-PC devices, what digital transformation is really about is the impact of new devices, networks, apps, pervasive internet, et al on you and me, how we knowingly or unknowingly change and what companies need to do to get in front of it.
In the face of disruption from not only new competition, but also customer behavior, what do businesses do differently moving forward?
There is a lot more available on the Altimeter site including The 2014 State of Digital Transformation which delineates how this process is unfolding within the enterprise.
My Prediction: The report goes to great lengths to point out that this must be a cross-functional initiative. But one clue is that more often than not, the transformation is being led by the CMO.
Great report from the UK that really sums things up. Here are the 5 trends with my comments:
- An ‘active’ audience – enabled by social, this is a recurring theme in all of the forecasts.
- Mobile first – ditto.
- Blurred lines – between events and social – one of the 2015 megatrends.
- Measurement – absolutely unavoidable – way beyond ROI – this will increasingly be all about customer experience management.
- Technology in the back seat – had to happen.
There will be a definite move from technology being at the centre of the experience to technology being a facilitator that allows brands to create connections with the target audience.
Bryan writes “I’ll be focusing on how, why, when and where we share and how it will change the way customers do business with people and brands.”
He has identified 6 disruptive trends:
- Video Becomes Experiential
- Shareable Experiences
- Invective Marketing
- Transmedia Storytelling
- Personalized (Human) Marketing
- The Narrowing of API’s
KEY TAKEAWAY: Sharing will be at the epicenter in 2015. We have the tools and technology right now – the challenge will be to exercise our own human ability to change the paradigm of how we tell stories, tolerate inhumanity online and exercise discernment in how much we let technology lead or control how and what we communicate.
My Prediction: This one is easy. Sharing will continue to permeate the pre, on-site and post-event experience. (The next article discusses some of the tools that will enable this.)
From a business perspective there will be an increased demand to create content and experiences that customers and prospects value enough (or just like enough) to share.
I featured this story in the new ck Curates section of the website. Written for Mashable by James O’Brien, it is a savvy look at how technology is changing the way #eventprofs will plan and attendees will experience #events.
- Audiences are now engaged.
- Social media enables shared planning.
- Audience now interacts with presenters.
- Data is personalized.
- Increasing use of augmented reality on the show floor.
- Wearable technology changes how data is shared.
- Mobile is mainstream.
- Drones are on the horizon.
My Prediction: Not if – but how much and how soon.
Six marketing visionaries describe how in five years marketing will be transformed.
This is a stunning series of interviews. Plus the design makes it a must see as well as a must read.
The Economist gathered an eclectic group.
- Seth Godin: Make things worth talking about (Ed Note and who will be back with the last word.)
- John Hagel: Attract, assist and affiliate.
- Gavin Heaton: To see five years ahead, look ten years behind.
- Aditya Joshi: The modern marketer: Strategist, technologist, analyst.
- Marc Mathieu: Find a truth and share it.
- Jim Stengel: Marketing is at the center of strategy.
Conclusion: Passion trumps everything Marketing processes, skills and technology will continue to evolve over the next five years. Not every marketer is ready for every change. But at the end of the day, those who want to adapt and win have the power to do so.
Wheelhouse Advisors is a consulting firm that is technologically savvy, data driven and focuses on the intersection of sales and marketing. They created an infographic to present their 10 predictions saying that:
Established brands are struggling to create awareness and interest as they are competing with an increasing amount of noise.
So how do you make yourself heard?
The infographic is offered as an aid to people preparing 2015 budgets. It’s a clever way to get in the “wheelhouse” where command decisions are made.
Three of the predictions are particularly relevant to event marketers and their agencies.
#1 The continued rise in popularity of content marketing. Content is one of the top 3 reasons that people follow brands. As to that, B2B firms that blog generate 67% more leads than those that do not.
Which is why this bubble is nowhere near ready to burst.
Wheelhouse predicts that spending will continue to increase beyond the ~25% of their budget most (many? some?) marketers already allocate to content marketing. Hard to say which budgets all of these content dollars are being taken from, but the likely donors are advertising and events.
#5 Adoption of video. Being numbers guys, Wheelhouse has a kind of deadpan style asserting that “Video has become a useful part of marketing.” The factoids they use to support this statement reflect the new metrics of utility by which everything is judged.
- Salesforce added a video to their homepage and increased conversions by 20%.
- High quality videos are increasing shopping carts by 174%.
- 75% of executives watch videos one or more times per week.
They predict that more firms will commission videos to enhance the user experience and support lead generation.
#8 Microtargeting and hyper-segmentation. The advent of usable Big Data is leading to a much better understanding of audiences and interests.
We expect the ways to target audiences to increase and the sizes of the end audiences to decrease in 2015.
My Prediction: More and more effort and thought will have to go into taking what was traditionally a one-to-many mass event, and making it feel like it is one-to-one.
Take a look at results from the Preferred Access Pass concept that Scott Schenker and his team at Microsoft tested at their recent Convergence event. Hint – the people who bought the premium passes were also the people who were the most satisfied with the event.
The purpose of predictions is not just to tell us what might happen. It is to get each of us to think about what we want to happen.This post from Seth Godin sums it up as only he can.
What does a good day look like? A good week?
Who do you want to work with?
Who are you trying to please?
What sort of feedback brings you down?
What’s your tolerance for being misunderstood? By whom?
Is it about process or projects?
Which part of the project makes you happy?
At the end of the project, what would you like in return?
What diminishes the work?
How high do the stakes need to be?
How close to the edge do you need to dance? Risk? Resources? Failure?
What will you take? What will you give? Who will you connect?
How much freedom will you sacrifice to get what you want? How much commitment will you promise?
What are you measuring? Smiles, comments, traffic, cash, media response, friends, peers, insiders, outsiders?
Will they miss you when you’re done with this?
Love to hear what you see up ahead.