The atmosphere and conversations onsite were a welcomed transition from the recovery and survival mentality of 2021, as the focus was on the future. Hot topics amongst the group of hundreds of top trade show, conference, and for-profit event organizers included DEI, returning to revenue best practices, and tactics to overcome new challenges for enhancing the onsite experience – while keeping expenses in check.
However, the most poignant question of the week, in my opinion, was asked by Rich Stone, CEO of EXPOCAD, who asked the esteemed pane of industry experts (paraphrased):
“Now that we have the last two years behind us, what trends did we see during that time that will be with us into the future.”
While the panel spoke ofmacro trends in inflation and technology, perhaps we can outline the top 4data-driven trends that we are seeing emerge in 2022 as a lead into 2023. “Now that we have the last two years behind us, what trends did we see during that time that will be with us into the future”
- Alumni drift. For market or industry-centric events, the drift or movement of employees across companies or out of the industry as exacerbated the challenges at the top of the funnel. Average drift can impact your reach by 7%-15% depending on industry – meaning as an event marketer – the stale data problem is more real than ever and likely to stick around for 2-3 event cycles.
- Emphasis on top of funnel. Given the alumni drift trend and understanding the reduced ability to reach an audience from direct mailings to offices – the average event organizer is likely feeling a pinch at the top of the funnel. The result of this macro trend are the following micro trends:
a. Emphasis on digital conversion channels. We’re seeing increase in retargeting, social media, and paid ad tactics for event organizers.
b. Getting serious about audience management. Whether in a traditional CRM or marketing automation platform, a firm understanding of audience churn or prospect aging is now in vogue.
c. Content marketing to juice top of funnel. Increasing meaningful content distribution to add prospects to the top of the funnel.
- Exhibitor demand for ROI metrics. There’s no question that exhibitors have been one of the first groups to materially jump back into live events. The value of face-to-face, in conjunction with reopening of many corporate policies is resulting in a strong bounce back. However, that participation commitment is coming with a request – show me the data! As companies look at their event marketing mix heading into 2023 and 2024, those who measure and plainly articulate the ROI back to their exhibitors will stand a better chance of returning that revenue to their events.
- Digital sponsorship wave. With increased onsite costs, and tighter lead times, the environment is ripe for new thinking around digital sponsorships. Ancillary benefits for more digitized sponsorships are margin expansion and potentially scaled deployment for the event organizer. Meanwhile major brands are leading the charge on digitizing across their other marketing channels and are looking for that strategic alignment from events they engage in.
This hunger for more digital sponsorship offerings is combined with the desire to have strong measurement, benchmarking, and overall tracking metrics.
By using events to extend brand value, companies are looking to event organizers to supplement their onsite experiences with pre- and post-event sponsorships to extend the value. The time is now, and the strategic mix around sponsorships is happening right before our eyes.
What trends are you seeing in your market? Feel free to drop a comment, we’d love to hear from you.