by Special Contributor Tony Lorenz, co-founder and CEO BOB.tv
We are in the third inning of an important game that will never end.
In this game, more than two teams are at play. Physical events, digital events, social media channels, media platforms, and content are converging on one field to create extraordinary new value.
Marketing strategy and planning shape the game strategy and line up.
In 2007, social media use was on the cusp of an explosion. And explode it has, on a massive scale, outpacing event attendance.
But while revenue/direct spend for social media has also exploded—by orders of magnitude—it has not come close to events. Event attendees pay on average $1,300. Average spend for a social media user? Practically zero, with paid subscribers an exception.
Think about what would happen to the user base in the combined social media platforms if each one had to pay $1,300 US to have one or more social media accounts. The user base would undoubtedly shrink.
Does it make sense to compare social media and events? Maybe not. While attendees are the customers at events, in social media users are typically the product.
From one winning strategy
In 2007, physical events were about to receive a thrashing from the market because, as an industry, we did not define or defend our value to the public or private sector very well. We were a $260 billion industry with a complete lack of supportive data, which communicated to the rest of the world that we were expendable. As an MPI Foundation Board member at the time, I was part of the issue.
After the damage was done, we pulled together as an industry and commissioned inspired work, which communicated our value to the public sector, thanks to an unprecedented cooperative effort at Meetings Mean Business Coalition.
Now that social media is in the mix of BtoB events, we have a much clearer view of our value thanks to data. But there is much more work to do.
And on to the next
The average business event drives 1.4 million touches, communications, connections, shares and impressions per event. That said, this is just a small part of the value of events. The real power of these events is in the face-to-face interactions that move businesses and careers forward.
The difference between today and a few years ago is that the goldmine of content and community created by events can now be amplified through digital channels. This can make individual events much more valuable than they have ever been.
The digital channels are doing for BtoB events what radio, broadcast television and eventually ESPN, other networks, and the internet have done for sports.
Bringing physical events, digital events, social media channels, media platforms, and content onto the same single field creates extraordinary new value for the business community. In this game, events are the MVP.
Value that was previously bottled up for physical attendees in a hotel room or convention center is now uncorked. As event organizers we have not yet begun to fill the glasses of our potential audience, but the promise is there, so that is okay—for now.
Events can be extraordinary content generators, more powerful than any other media on the planet.
Thanks to the digital amplification of face-to-face interactions, events are becoming a measurable keystone for any BtoB marketing strategy.