How Event Marketing Will Evolve in 2019, Part 2: Focus on Strategy

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Marketers today generally are being asked to help move prospects not only into the sales funnel but also through it. Findings from the new How B2B Marketing is Changing report.

This is the second of three posts detailing big changes planned for B2B event marketing this year and next. The first post explored an increased focus on quality for live events.

One useful takeaway from the report and the related webinar, 7 Key Insights from the "How B2B Marketing is Changing" Report, was mapping content marketing assets to the sales funnel. As marketers think strategically about content marketing, they may use a model something like this: 

B2B-funnel-content (1)

Similarly, as they think strategically about event marketing—how to coordinate their use of online and live events, as well as third-party (trade shows, conferences) and their own corporate hosted (road shows, customer conferences) events—they may apply a similar model, like this: 


In this model, industry conferences and tradeshows are primarily lead generation channels, though they of course serve other functions as well such as connecting with local clients, hosting arranged meetings with known prospects, and media relations. Invitation-only executive events such as those arranged by IQPC or CIO Magazine are expensive but can be effective at generating a small number of very high-quality leads.

Vendor partner events (Dreamforce is an extreme example), webinars, and road shows are a combination of lead generation and lead nurturing, helping to move existing known prospects further down the funnel. 

As the marketing director at a customer experience (CX) software company articulated this idea, "We're doing more of our own hosted events than in previous years, and we're doing them differently." In addition to the company's big annual customer conference, she said her firm is also "finding that smaller, more intimate, lunch & learn type events have a big impact in moving the needle from a raw lead to more of a qualified opportunity."

B2B sales cycles, especially for complex high-value products or services, generally require multiple brand touchpoints prior to closing. While email, social media, and even direct mail can all play a role, live events provide a powerful way to move the relationship forward, shortening the path from brand awareness to a signed purchase order.

At the bottom of the funnel, client or customer events can lead to add-on revenue as well as providing opportunities to encourage customer advocacy.