The recession brought doom and gloom prophecies of marketing budgets slashed. One of the first things to go, many thought, was events.
Surely, cheaper digital tactics would lead to a big decline in pricier event marketing, right? Well, if current trends hold true, event marketing isn’t headed anywhere – at least not for B2B marketers.
The Association of Business Information & Media Companies, which tracks B2B media spending, provided the chart below in it’s latest report. Of nearly $12.5 billion, more than $5.7 billion was spent on trade shows – that’s 45.7%. In other words, events continue to represent the lionshare of spending among B2B media, beating out print, data selling and digital handily.
While B2B events saw a slight dip in spending in the first half of this year, longer term trends show spending rising. In the first half of 2010 less than $5.2 billion was spent compared to that $5.7 spent in the first half of this year.
This confidence in event marketing is underlined by a survey from the Event Marketing Institute, which found that 7.8% of marketers believed their event budget would increase this year. Only 3.6% said the same in 2011.
So why do events endure?
Ever since Steve Jobs made the product launch more like a rock concert, marketers who manage events have made concerted efforts to turn from dry presentations to epic shows. They’re on the best opportunities to get in front of press and analysts. And they give sponsors and the folks that throw the event to bring about those precious one-to-one interactions with customers and prospects. That’s gold for lead generation and solidifying relationships with current customers.
Meanwhile, social media seems to be extending the reach of events, rather than pushing people away. If you have a hard time believing that, just follow the hashtag for a big event on Twitter.
Clearly, marketers are going to keep spending money on the face-to-face events. Where the money might get saved is by automating event management, but don’t expect organizations to cut back on actual events anytime soon.
Are you planning on spending more on events?
Speaking of events, are you signed up for Eloqua Experience yet? Register before October 5 and you’ll be entered for a VIP prize.