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We can tell the last ten items a consumer bought on our site and we can tell the open rate of our email marketing campaigns, but few of us can say how long any one visitor at our event booth spent there and what they picked up.

The swag, a brochure, your business card, your hot intern’s telephone number, which was it?

This not-knowing is weird, says Liz Miller, overseer of daily operations at the CMO Council (CMOC), a global affinity network of top brand marketers. “Since when did a marketer get shy?” she asked recently.

With 45% of senior brand marketers identifying events as the top demand-generating tool for their organizations, according to Customer Attainment from Event Engagement, a report released last month by the CMOC, shouldn’t we be asking more from event marketing?

I spoke with Miller to find out more and to get a preview of what she’ll touch on at our Google+ Hangout today.

Is event marketing the black sheep of integrated marketing?

For some strange reason, events have been able to escape the eye not only of integrated marketing, but also the evolution that every channel has had to go through in the last ten years: heightened measurement and analytics.

That’s the whole point of integrated marketing: to be able to look at the entire ecosystem and connect all the dots. Somehow events get set on the sidelines.

The fault lies in equal parts with the event organizer and the marketer.

Seems like the perfect opportunity for a tech company to come in and develop measurement tools, which we’re seeing a bit of already in terms of QR scanning.

I’m talking about the type of engagement tech where the event producer can turn to the exhibitor and say, “Hey, your CEO just spoke at this keynote and ‘x’ number of people downloaded that whitepaper.” That doesn’t necessarily take new technology.

What it takes is a new strategy, and that’s a challenge right now because we, as marketers, are not having that conversation with event producers. The conversation we’re having is why did this cost so much, and why is the price going up?

What if we went to our event producers and said, “I invested more money. We’re doing a panel. What are you doing to make that a value-add for me? What are you doing to get me more insight and information about your show attendees that can actually supplement what sales learns about them at the booth?"

Maybe event producers can provide this data, but they don’t because they don’t hear the demand

We’re not asking the right questions. We’re sitting back and saying, “Gosh, I wish we had analytics.” Since when did a marketer get shy? It’s the most bizarre thing, but the same call-to-action has to go to the event space.

It has to be a two-way conversation. We need to evolve how we view and measure events on both sides of the fence, because events really represent one of the last bastions of the marketing mix.

What amazes me is when you have conversations with show producers [who say], “It’s incremental. You get more booth space, you can bring more salespeople, you get more leads. It’s a bigger presence.” 

My question would always be, “Well, okay, how are you going to offset the costs of the new eighteen-wheeler I’ve got because I just bought two more 10-foot sections?” I’ve got to ship all that, put power to it, pay ten more union guys. My costs don’t end just because I paid the show fee.

So, how do I look at the totality of that and find areas where I can extract unexpected value to evolve the event’s worth to my brand? It might involve leveraging a new technology to see what that person’s dwell time was at my booth. Do we look at it as a website and say how many questions did they ask? How much content did they take?

These are the same things we ask of our website engagement. Is it time to ask those questions of our event engagements?

Cielo Lutino

Published 15 May, 2013 by Cielo Lutino

Cielo Lutino is a writer and producer for Econsultancy and other organizations. 

32 more posts from this author

Comments (2)


Nathan Fulwood

I think Imagination have done a good job for Ford, using RFID, engaging activation experiences and lots of opportunities for painless data capture.

Google Imagination / Ford / Motor Show for some case study work.

over 3 years ago

Cielo Lutino

Cielo Lutino, Writer / Producer at EconsultancySmall Business Multi-user

Did you attend the motor show, Nathan?

I'm curious what attendee experience was like. Does having to do things like scan a QR tag to get into a conference panel or other event annoy attendees? I think marketers and event producers have to be careful not to add friction in their quest to get better data about event-goers.

over 3 years ago

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