Join the conversation:
In Show 176 of the c-suite podcast, co-hosts Russell Goldsmith and Graham Barrett discuss the topic of Event Marketing with three guests, two of whom partnered with the c-suite podcast at events last year – Miranda McLean, Chief Communications and Sustainability Officer at Banking Circle Group, and Adam Burak, Events Manager at Freemarket, plus they were also joined by Emma Duncan, UKI Events Leader at IBM.
Regardless of the industry, many trade and exhibition shows are available for companies to showcase their products and services, strengthen partnerships and find new business.
Throughout the episode, the guests share their insights on topics such as designing exhibition booths, maximising event sponsorships, and measuring success at events. The hosts and guests provide valuable tips for companies looking to enhance their event marketing strategy.
Emma is the first to explain the importance of having clarity on business when selecting events for a company’s marketing strategy. She notes that events must be a cohesive part of the overall marketing strategy and should align with the company’s client journey mapping. She outlined five key factors that IBM considers when selecting events:
Based on these factors, Emma suggests that companies can make decisions about the mix of events, including third-party multi-sponsor events for new client acquisition and meeting existing clients, third-party sole sponsorship for more bespoke events, and proprietary events for building on existing relationships. By carefully considering these factors, companies can maximise the impact of their event marketing strategy and achieve their desired business outcomes.
Miranda then introduced Banking Circle Group – a financial technology platform with a licensed bank that provides businesses with financial services solutions to build out their own customer propositions. The company launched in 2015, using an event as its launch platform to raise brand awareness, promote its propositions and generate demand for new customers. Since then, the company has grown and won multiple awards, becoming an established business with a more targeted event strategy. The strategy now focuses on meeting customers and connecting with them face-to-face, as well as lead generation. The company attends both big and small conferences, with a more integrated marketing campaign approach to events that maximise its presence and engagement. This includes pre-event marketing, landing pages, speakers or moderators who attend key sessions and follow up by writing a summary blog at the end of each day, and social media updates with photos of the stand and what’s going on. The company views events as partnerships and works with conference producers to integrate into the event and maximise its presence. Miranda mentions that although their sales cycles are usually long, they have signed clients at events. However, it’s more common for deals to be made later on. Emma emphasised the importance of attending an event where their clients are, whether they are new or existing clients, as this increases the chances of achieving successful outcomes.
Adam, Events Manager at Freemarket explains the company’s key value proposition, breaking down barriers to international trade and remittance, is communicated through events. As a small company with 500 corporate clients, brand awareness is crucial to them and events are one of the key factors in achieving this. Adam also emphasises the importance of attending the right events sponsoring them and being partners. He states that as a sales-oriented events manager, his main goal is to drive sales and close contracts. While they do sometimes sign deals on the spot, Freemarket’s sales cycle is quite long and could take up to a year or more to close a prospect they met at an event.
Miranda shares that face-to-face meetings are a big focus for them at Banking Circle and their salespeople are looking for that engagement with the market. She notes that in a recent poll at the B2B FinTech Marketing Conference, 71% of attendees said that in-person events were driving the most impact for their business, while 24% said hybrid and 5% said virtual. Miranda believes that most people are still looking for that face-to-face engagement, especially post-covid. It’s about connection and as humans, we want to connect with people, which is why face-to-face interaction is so valuable. It works well for their subject matter experts and sales teams on site, as well as the delegates, who get to have more quality interaction and experience. Overall, live events provide a sticker and higher value experience for everyone involved.
Building a presence with event organisers is about knowing your target audience and how you want to interact with them. Of course, budget plays a role as well, but it’s important to consider whether it’s worth demonstrating something or having a platform to talk to a group of people. Exhibition spaces can range from small to large, and event producers may offer additional add-ons. While event producers try to create packages that make sense for many people, it’s always worth having a conversation with them to see if there are aspects of the package that could work for specific needs. Ultimately, event producers want sponsors to get value from the exhibition, so it’s important to communicate your goals and see if there’s a deal to be made.
Miranda discusses the difficulty of getting deals from event producers and emphasises the importance of assigning value to events. It’s important to be selective about the events you attend and not to try them out cold. Send delegates first to check out whether there’s value in having a presence. She advised that if you do decide to exhibit or sponsor an event, make sure it’s a good fit for your business and your target audience. If an event doesn’t work out, don’t be afraid to skip it in the future, ultimately, it’s in everyone’s interest to make events work for both the client and the attendees to ensure the longevity of the event.
Bigger sponsorships at events are typically more successful businesses, but it may not always be the case as a company’s strategy can change from year to year. She notes that people tend to make associations in their minds based on the sponsor’s level and size, and being a five-star sponsor puts your best foot forward and reinforces your success to those who are already working with you. Stating that there may not be a big difference between five-star or four-star sponsors, but being a five-star sponsor definitely benefits from additional branding and visibility at the event, both pre-event, during the event, and post-event.
Adam revealed that 60% of the yearly marketing budget is devoted to events with their company. Miranda also shared that in a B2B FinTech Marketing Conference she discovered, 39% of respondents said that 10% to 25% of their budget goes to events, while 35% said 25% to 50%.
Miranda works with a stand design company called We Are Pie, which is a B Corp and focuses on sustainability. The design process for a stand starts six to nine months out from an event, especially for the large ones. The team focuses on having a clean design that delivers impact whilst being on brand. When designing the stand, the team considers how it will be used, where things like the c-suite podcast will be located and how It will impact the rest of the stand. They also consider how to stand out from the crowd at events and how to make an impact that will be noticed from across the hall. Finally, sustainability is a big consideration, and the team builds stands that are 100% sustainable, can be recycled, and donate furniture or pieces of material to charity when they can’t be recycled.
Emma discussed the importance of having a clear messaging architecture when designing event stands. She explained that everything on the stand should be in service of telling a story that the company wants to convey to potential customers. She also emphasised the need for synergy and clarity rather than just randomly placing items on the stand.
The c-suite podcast attended FinTech Connect with Freemarket and Adam the events manager noted some of the benefits he saw from the day:3
Miranda shared the benefits from her perspective when the c-suite podcast has joined Banking Circle Group on two events at Money20/20 last year:
Miranda shared some tactics that get people to come over to their booth, for example, launching white papers that are specific to the industry to gain engagement, sharing blog content, launching a partnership and using one of their stages as a platform to talk about it, setting up a demo area on the stand for people to learn about partnerships and working with local member associations and hosting events on the stand to bring people from the industry over.
Capturing data after an event is crucial for companies to follow up with potential customers but it must be done correctly in accordance with GDPR regulations. Signage should be used to make it clear that allowing a badge to be scanned is giving consent for data to be passed to the sponsoring company. Companies should also collect the right permissions for adding someone to the marketing database.
When it comes to planning events or sponsoring them, there are a lot of things to consider beyond the logistics of the event. One important factor is sustainability and this includes everything from the materials used in the event to the carbon footprint created by people flying in from all over the world.
However, sustainability in events can be difficult to achieve, especially when some expos still throw everything away after the event without any thought for reusing or recycling. Despite this, there are efforts being made to reduce the environmental impacts of events such as the ILA framework which helps people understand the carbon footprint of an entire event and the B-Corp status that event producers can work towards.
Capturing the success of an event is crucial to ensure that the money invested is coming back in some way. For Adam at Freemarket, the measurement of success is quite simple. They just need to do their job well when they are bringing in the business and then need to provide the high quality service to keep them in. He added that it is much more effective for them to go to a big event and reach tens of thousands of people over three days, then trying to reach hyper specific targets via a targeted ads on LinkedIn, for example, because they are already engaging with them, whether they have a podcast studio, for example, or any kind of challenge like a cold pressed fresh juice shot challenge where you need to figure out four of the ingredients and then you get a giveaway when you manage to figure out four of those – it is already a connection. It’s much, much easier to convert that to a lead and then to on some point of the journey, convert them to a client.
At IBM, Emma looks at the number of people you planned to talk to versus the actual number of people who were spoken to. This requires a diligent team that captures all relevant information. Another metric is to look at the proportion of the people spoken with who convert into an opportunity as well as the downstream opportunities that result.
When it comes to measuring the success of an event, Miranda believes that it starts with pre-planning and continues through to post-event follow-up. Before the event, the sales team reaches out to potential attendees and schedules meetings to ensure they have a full diary. Quality engagement is key and the team focuses on generating high-quality leads that have a higher chance of converting into sales opportunities.
Event marketing is a powerful tool that can help businesses build brand awareness, generate leads, engage with customers, and ultimately drive sales. By creating memorable experiences that connect with attendees, event marketing can leave a lasting impression that drives long-term loyalty and advocacy.
So whether you’re looking to build a buzz around a new product or service, connect with prospects and customers in person or differentiate your brand from the competition, event marketing is a strategy that should not be overlooked.
Go to auderecommunications.com for more information about our event podcast offering and to get a head start for your next exhibition stand!