Between events and trade shows, nearly a quarter of the average B2B marketer’s budget is spent on events, dwarfing all other marketing mix categories, including website and advertising spending. Your customers agree that in-person events are highly influential. For example, in our Q3 2012 survey of business hardware buyers, 68% of respondents state that in-person events are important for researching and evaluating what to purchase.
As an analyst, I both attend and participate in a number of different trade shows, customer events, and industry or role events each year — including our own Forrester Forum For Marketing Leaders April 18-19 this year in Los Angeles.
No matter what the event, vendors have event giveaways — or swag — for their customers and prospects. Marketing swag — when done right — can help you get the most value out of the events you are already running or attending. How? People will remember you favorably, and that's a good start to a follow-on sales conversation or marketing touch. Unfortunately, many giveaways fail to reach that objective, and waste both time and money.
I’ve created an interactive tool for clients, with three major categories of factors used to evaluate your event giveaways or swag. Consider:
If the swag connects back to your brand message enough to be worth offering it all: The $2 bill test; Company branding; Value alignment.
How valuable and useful the swag is for your intended audience: Usability; Interactivity; Durability; Portability.
How practical the item is logistically: Unit cost; Reusability; Portability.
First, our final lineup of external speakers is confirmed. All of our main-stage speakers are from companies featured in our new book, Outside In — some of them are even the subjects of case studies in the book.
Many of you have asked us to feature more business-to-business content in our events, so in response, we have both Randy Pond, EVP of operations, processes, and systems at Cisco Systems, and John Taschek, VP Mof market strategy at salesforce.com. Both companies are in the book, and Randy is the executive sponsor of the program that won one of our 2012 Voice Of The Customer Awards.
In addition to Randy and John, we have Dr. Jim Merlino, the chief experience officer for Cleveland Clinic, a world-famous, $6 billion healthcare provider. The work he is doing is as applicable to organizations outside of healthcare as it is relevant to all of us who have ever been (or will ever be) patients.
We’re also excited about our main-stage panel on building a customer-centric culture with Nancy Fratzke of US Cellular and Kelly Harper of BMO Financial Group. Transforming a culture is one of the hardest things any of us will do, and both of these panelists have successfully done it.
After moving to a new apartment in September, I needed to get a new TV. My first instinct was to gather information from a few sources. I browsed online retailers to get an idea of prices, and I looked at manufacturers’ marketing content to understand the latest technologies like 3D TV. After all of that, I turned to consumer reviews and discussions to get a feeling for whether I would actually find those features valuable. (For example, some customer reviews helped me confirm that I didn’t want 3D TV.)
Where did I find those reviews? Everywhere — there are star ratings and comments on product pages at retail sites (like John Lewis and Amazon.com), technology media sites (like CNET) and manufacturer websites. Interestingly — I got the feeling that the manufacturers still aren’t entirely comfortable with the transparency that social media brings. They’d like to put a spin on the message, even if they can’t entirely control it — For example, Panasonic’s UK site has a page that promotes “5 Star Reviews Of The Month” (see the screenshot below). I can't think of a situation when I'd want a firm to guide me only to the most positive reviews of its products. Can you?
And I must say I am particularly keen to get into the thick of it this year. We’ve got some really interesting ones coming up; in relatively quick order, I have three different IQPC events (reflecting our growing partnership with IQPC):
Business Process Excellence in Financial Services Exchange in London on September 19 and 20. Here I will be delivering an opening keynote and chairing a panel between BPM heavyweights IBM (Phil Gilbert), EMC (Chris Preston), and Pega (Russell Keziere). That should be really interesting — we’ll have the heads of all things process-related from most of the big banks in Europe in the room. Looking through the delegate list, I can’t wait to meet them all — so much to learn from their experience and insights. Of course, I’ve got my own views, but nothing like testing them with those on the coal face of change.
Then in October I am chairing, keynoting, and running an active research session at the BPM Leaders Meeting in Amsterdam (October 20-21). Again, a really interesting lineup of speakers — a truly pan-European bunch, where we will focus on four major themes over the two days, culminating in a workshop format at the end where all the themed sessions/discussions feed into our active research session. My objective is to create a series of documents/blog posts/discussions that derive from the insights we’ll collectively build at the event.