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Event and Experiential Marketing Trends

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By Kayla Goeman

I took a look at one of the world’s most comprehensive annual research studies on event & experiential marketing to breakdown industry trends for you. You can use this data to help justify your trade show or event budget and presence to leadership.

Here is what I found.

Keeping the Goal in Mind

As with most marketing projects, the end goal has to be kept in mind when making tactical decisions.

What is the goal or strategy for events and experiential marketing in 2016? Unsurprisingly, the top two goals for investing in events or experiential marketing are to increase brand awareness and drive sales. You can also expect to see significantly more events and experiences hosted by companies in 2016 than in the past, with a whopping 79% of respondents planning to execute more event and experiential programs this year.

Measurement

Interestingly, the criteria for measurement has changed in the past two years, with total attendance or participation as the highest form of measurement, followed by Facebook likes or social media activity, followed third by leads. The second and third place measurement of social media activity and leads is intriguing due to the complexity of tracking ROI these metrics give. In a perfect world, a lead gathered includes detailed information about a prospect that includes a timeframe for purchase. These types of details are harder to flesh out when someone is retweeting a post or sharing an exciting Facebook status from your company. A lead will often automatically be entered into your company’s marketing automation or CRM platform, whereas tracking someone through social media into your CRM system can take multiple steps. What you measure should be dictated by your end goal for hosting an event or trade show. If brand awareness is the end goal, social media buzz will be a relatively easy measure to track and give you the most reach, whereas if driving sales is a key goal, detailed lead information will set your company on track.

Budgeting

So, we know we will be seeing more events and more experiential marketing taking place over our year. With more events to host, and theoretically more competition for attendance and “buzz” at these events, a sizable budget to help companies stand out has become important to respondents – as budgets are expected to increase over 6%. The 2015 average growth rate of budgets is nearly three times the level of recent U.S. GDP growth.

The Value of Events

The goal is to increase brand awareness and generate sales, which will be done by measuring the total attendance, social media presence, and number of leads with an increased company budget. But why? Why are events worthwhile?

We live in a consumer-driven world, where the customer is expecting much more from a company than ever before. Why is the investment of an event worthwhile? The consumer values events. A significant 98% of survey respondents said that participating at the event or experience made them more inclined to purchase. Is there anything else your marketing department is doing right now that leads to a 98% more inclination to buy? If not, it’s valuable to consider hosting an event. It may even be a good idea to host an event for your best clients if you are exhibiting at a trade show.

If you are attempting to justify an investment in an event or trade show to your boss, know that these consumer and event trends are increasing, and shows the pulse of what’s to come.

About the Author:

Kayla is a Marketing Associate at Skyline Exhibits, based at Skyline’s International Design Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas, is an avid runner and a 7 time All-American in Track & Field.


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