As marketing channels become increasingly fragmented, what of the tried and tested corporate event and its place within a promotional strategy?

As many executives now use webinars and conference calls for that direct, personal contact with potential and existing customers, it would be easy to jump to the wrong conclusion and think that corporate events have had their day. However, having important delegates under one roof, whether for a trade show or charity event, is still a valuable approach to customer relationship marketing. It’s not a case of the new, virtual versions taking the place of the real thing, rather how they can complement each other.

And is such experiential marketing where firms can have quality, face-to-face interaction with customers, still one of the most effective ways to ‘seal a deal’? Or is it more about raising a company’s profile? It’s certainly much trickier to say ‘no thanks’ in person than it is on an email and companies find that one-on-one communication is a useful way to persuade or change the attitudes of those in attendance.

Businesses of all kinds spend millions of pounds on exhibitions, seminars, parties, AGMs and client entertainment each year, and finding an efficient way to measure return on investment would go a long way to justifying their presence in future marketing campaigns.  This is particularly tricky as events are often held to leave people with positive feelings towards the host company; that they are organized, welcoming, creative and trustworthy. As such, attendee feedback and follow-up relationship building are just some of the ways to establish whether an event has been a success.

Events can also be held for the benefit of employees and are an effective way to motivate and congratulate. These are perhaps even more difficult to evaluate, but increases in retention, staff morale and productivity can often be tracked back to internal gatherings where individuals have been made to feel valued and important members of the team.

Whilst traditional in the sense that they have long been utilised as part of a marketing strategy, corporate events are fast becoming prominent within social media. With regards to driving people to an event, some of the most effective methods are via Twitter (by setting up a hash tag), Facebook (by creating an ‘Event’), LinkedIn and through a blog.  Elsewhere, free online listings across the websites of local papers, TV and radio stations are ideal for that quick and easy plug.

Nowadays, marketing and promotion can continue to occur even as an event is in process through real-time updates via Twitter, location-based apps such as Foursquare, live blogging and sharing photos and videos.

In short, corporate events can still be a highly valuable component of the marketing mix and can be the backbone of a highly successful integrated campaign.

NDL Group are a specialist marketing agency, creating prize promotions solutions, events management and motivation schemes

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