Events hold a great importance in integrated marketing communication. It creates a buzz about the product or brand, it creates a fan following even before the user has experienced the product or service, it creates a positioning for your product or service and most importantly it creates sales-ready leads. However events are difficult to manage, they need meticulous planning, they need a crystal clear message that company wants to convey through it. But still events have held their place in marketing communication.
Each and every company that wants to create an effective marketing communication strategy takes help of events. Be it a product launch like iPhone, be it sports event launch like IPL, be it movies, software are launched through events prominent one being Windows Vista launch at Taj Mahal, even TV shows these days are conducting launch events. Kaun Banega Crorepati held an event before it started broadcasting daily episodes. Even corporate giants take help of events, this includes ‘Google I/O’ an event by Google, ‘F8’ by Facebook, not to mention the glamorous product launch events by Apple. Can you imagine an iPhone launch without the flagship launch event associated with it? In fact so many people tried to watch iPhone 6 launch event that the live streaming was repeatedly failing to cope up with the demand. Suffice to say Apple is not only known for their product quality, now they are known for the events they conduct as well. And people are waiting for their next event to take place. No other marketing communication technique generates so much of anticipation; people don’t anticipate your emails or your newsletters, but with events it’s something different altogether.
Events are part of event marketing strategy, which is in turn a part of the marketing communication strategy of a company. So what exactly is event marketing for B2B marketing communication? In simple words it can be explained as ‘the process of developing a themed exhibit, display, or presentation to promote a product, service, cause, or organization leveraging in-person engagement’. Events can occur online or offline, and can be participated in, hosted, or sponsored. With the advent of innovations in ICT sector, events are going online in the form of webinars; However live events with live audience have a different unique appeal.
Business to business communication is greatly helped by events.
So what role does events play in B2B marketing communication?
- Events create a great deal of fodder for social media. We use social media for promoting our products, our features, corporate policies or brand. But all these things are virtual, whereas events help in creating a real life content which can be used for social media. With the help of events an engagement can be created on social media. To give a simple example probably company can say ‘tweet about the event, ten lucky people will get a free pass to the event’ this drives more traffic to your social media sites and websites as well.
- Events create long lasting impression. No other marketing communication method can match events with this regards. If you have watched Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, then you must be remembering the well-orchestrated human count down. That’s how long the impression stays.
- Print media is considered one of the most reliable mode of marketing communication. And events give you an opportunity to use it very effectively. Whether its pre-event promotion or post-event promotion; events provide a lot of marketing opportunities with respect to print media.
- Events help in communicating your product, your brand at a single go to a vast number of audience. With the emergence of online streaming you are no more constrained by space availability of venue. You can literally reach millions of people. With this technology your event won’t be restricted to a small geography, in fact you can make it an international event. Consider a product launch event where targeted audience in excess of thousands is giving you sole attention. No other marketing communication grabs that much of attention. To state the example of iPhone 6 launch event again, it was streamed in Chinese language voiceover as well, making it a truly international event.
- Events give your brand a sense of reliability. People’s perception about a company that is willing to meet face to face is really good.
- With single event you can promote your brand, your products or services, your company culture etc.
But is holding an event as easy as writing about it is? Absolutely not! In fact events are hard to manage, they need micromanagement, they need a lot of planning and most importantly they need a very clear message that rings in the person’s brain even after significant amount of time. Here comes event management to the rescue. As event management is a specialized job, most of the companies outsource it to third party event management companies. Sometimes companies have in-house event management departments. Be it in-house department or be it a third party vendor, planning and managing an event requires a specific skill-set as unplanned and ill managed events are just a recipe for disaster.Event management is important for the success of the event. Due to difficult nature of managing an event, there are number of event management companies which are doing a great job of planning and managing an event. Due to complexity involved in holding just an event and holding a successful event, event planners or event management companies are getting more and more importance.
So what is it that event management companies bring to the table?
- First and foremost what event management companies deal with is a plan. Without a documented plan there is little chance that events will be successful. Plan for an event includes the pre-event activities, event activities and post-event activities. Different resources are allocated in event management plan including human resources, finance and publicity plan.
- Scheduling is another important aspect of event management. Imagine an event that is launching a TV network channel for kids in the month of March or April. Is it going to create any buzz among kids? No, absolutely not! As all the kids will be busy in exams. Now this is an easy example but events need sophisticated scheduling. To state the point again arranging an outdoor event in the month of June is slightly dangerous as it is the start of the monsoon season in India and there is a high possibility that your event will be washed off.
- An event is something that follows a strict timeline. Inexperienced teams may not be able to execute the schedule properly and an event that is shabbily managed will create a lot of negative publicity.
- Event management companies have people with different skillsets available with them. Whereas if you want to hold an event on your own, you need to start organizing a team which can take a lot of time.
- Everything boils down to money. It should not happen that once you mobilize the plan of event you are short of money. That will be a disaster. So in order to keep money at our disposal till the event takes place is important, it’s very important. Thus handling finances becomes one of the most important part of event management.
- Event is a creative function. Every event needs a unique idea, and as event planners are experts in holding different types of events, they know what idea will create buzz around the event and make it a successful one. Events which havea run of the mill theme and idea do not create the required buzz whereas event planners bring lot of creativity on the table with the creative professionals they have with them. They have number of corporate event ideas which they can execute successfully.
- Promotion is an important aspect of event. Event without publicity is body without soul. You need to publicize the event through newspapers, magazines or TV channels, create an invitation list and invite some prominent guests. But the publicity doesn’t stop after an event. You need to publicize it even after event is over. Companies usually send thank you notes to attendees or they create a press note and keep the buzz around the event going on. Social media channels can be used very effectively as well in order to publicize the event.
- Most importantly event management companies know how to deliver a desired message through the event. An event that does not convey the desired message is not a very successful event. In case wrong message is delivered it can cause lot of trouble to the company. Just remember what happened at the Windows 98 launch by Bill Gates. It crashed with blue screen. Now this is not prima facie a mistake of the event management team, but we can understand what may happen if things go wrong at the event.
All in all events though complex to manage, difficult to execute, are still very important for business to business marketing communication. And success of event depends on management of event. Thus companies with vision will continue to take advantage of events for B2B communication.