Discover how you can take your events strategy to new heights with these 25 innovative B2B event marketing ideas.
In a survey conducted by Bizzabo with 400 mid- to senior-level event marketers, an overwhelming majority of C-suite executives (87%) believe live events will become increasingly important to their organizations and are planning on investing in them more in the future. What are the possible options to effectively utilize this budget to take full advantage of this rare opportunity with customers? How can we ensure our events are the talk of the town or at least buzzing amongst our prospects?
We have compiled a list of 25 innovative B2B event marketing ideas to inspire your events strategy. Who knows, your next event might just be our 26th addition to the list.
For more B2B event marketing ideas, check out the Moment Marketing Report.
1) Organize a Hackathon
Namely, an all-in-one HR software, hosts an annual Hackathon for its customers leading up to their annual HR Redefined Summit. Their clients team up with Namely employees for a 24-hour hackathon to create brand new Namely tools or feature enhancements. This event helps Namely engage their customers and also serves as an intimate networking event for the participants.
Imagine organizing an event on a private island in the caribbean. That would be memorable, wouldn’t it? Until recently, Wistiafest was Wistia’s annual event for video marketers and in 2017, a sunset cruise was scheduled as part of the event. Attendees got to network, mingle and learn more about Wistia while the ship cruised around Boston for an evening.
3) Design an Interesting Venue
Following the last point on interesting venues, if you can’t rent nor find a suitable venue, create it! GE’s Healthymagination campaign is a good example of experiential marketing in a B2B setting. In partnership with agencyEA, they designed realistic settings of hospitals and clinics in impoverished parts of the world with demonstrations of how GE’s healthcare technology plays a crucial part in such situations. GE couldn’t bring the attendees to the actual location, so they decided to bring the location to them instead.
4) Invest in Exciting Event Swag
Surely you’d want your attendees to leave your event with amazing memories and experiences. But a little swag can also help create a lasting impression. At Facebook’s F8 Conference in 2018, event organizers created a lot of hype by giving out a free Oculus Go VR Headset to all attendees—even though the device wasn’t scheduled to hit the market yet. While you might not be able to hand out a proprietary piece of technology before it hits the shelves, this examples shows how interesting freebies can create a lasting impression, and also generate buzz.
5) Host a Talent Show
Source: Twitter User
The IIeX event series stages 6 events annually to unite market researchers. In IIeX Amsterdam, community partners were brought in to serve as the evening’s entertainment. People from the IIeX community went on stage to deliver a stand-up comedy set or perform a song with their band. This fosters a connection with the attendees by allowing them to be part of the event.
6) Tailored Event Branding
Source: B2B News Network
INBOUND is HubSpot’s annual mega event for all things inbound marketing related. In fact, this event is so influential that it has grown as an event brand alongside HubSpot’s main brand. By investing in the overall event branding, organizers stand to create something truly unique. Do not restrict yourself to marketing an event solely through your own company brand. Make your event stand out on its own.
7) Engage Big Name Partners for Collaboration
This includes sponsorships, speakers and exhibits. Work together with those at the top of your industry to engage them and their knowledge. Stableview Tech has grown to become one of the largest tech events in Canada and has constantly strove to seek big name partners such as major law firms and the fourth largest stock exchange during the event. Finding appropriate sponsors lets you tap on their customer base as well as their logo to entice new attendees at your event. You can learn more about how Stableview Tech leverages partners to create a unique event experience in this Event Heroes Spotlight with David Campbell.
8) Use Event Management Software
Source: Sisense Instagram
Nobody said running an event was easy. But it could be easier if you used event management software to help you manage your contacts and data generated from your event. Saar Bitner, Chief Marketing Officer of Sisense, uses Bizzabo to power his team's processes.
“Leveraging Bizzabo’s event marketing platform for our user conferences and training events allow us to better engage with clients.”
From networking to keeping track of the agenda to lead generation functionalities, these tools can set your event apart from the rest.
9) Organize an Investor’s Pitch Competition
Source: WeWork Creator Awards
WeWork holds an regional Creator Awards events. It’s a pitch competition for organizations within the geographical location of the event. Certified nonprofits and performance artists receive cash prizes while entrepreneurs and other for-profit companies receive funding from WeWork. A pitch competition like this can increase the exposure of an event and can distinguish an organization as an industry thought leader.
10) Utilize Immersive Technology
With recent advances in technology, augmented reality and virtual reality are becoming increasingly viable options for keeping attendees engaged at an event. VNTANA is a company that provides event organizers with their very own patented hologram software. At Computex 2016, one of the world’s largest tech trade shows, Intel used VNTANA’s telepresence hologram technology to visualize Gregory Bryant, Intel’s GM of connected home and commercial clients, on stage as a hologram to address the crowd in real time. Use these technologies at your booth or reception to leave a lasting impression on your attendees.
11) Plan a Live Demonstration
Source: Prime Mover Magazine
When it comes to B2B product and services, it’s difficult to get your target audience to listen to your demonstrations or try your product out. In-person events can help you get your product in front of prospects and clients. In 2017, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC) released their all new electric trucks series at the Tokyo Motor Show. The CEO, Marc Llistosella, drove into the exhibition hall in the new truck before alighting and addressing the press and audience on the functionalities and benefits of their new product series. Talk about an entrance.
12) Establish a Trend
Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is an annual mega conference that’s catered to the developers and users of the Apple community. At the event, attendees are treated to a wide array of new technologies and sessions to help them improve their usage of the Apple ecosystem. However, the most anticipated and hype-generating part of the event has to be the keynote speech and product launch for the coming year by Apple’s CEO. Since the first WWDC, it has been an annual event segment for users worldwide to look forward to. It might not have to be a yearly product launch, but you can consider creating a trend that’s only experienced or seen at your very own event.
13) Organize an After-Party
Source: Liz King Events Instagram
Events are often packed from start to end with keynote speeches, live demos and learning sessions. An event after-party for exhibitors, attendees and speakers of your event is a great way of ending your event on a high note and can also provide a last-chance networking opportunity for attendees. techsytalk LIVE 10, one of the largest events dedicated to event professionals on the East Coast, was an example of an event that had an off-site after-party near the event venue to end the full day of learning and networking with dancing and more networking.
14) Organize a Kick-Off Party
You can end your event a party and you can also begin it with one. Similar to an after-party, the aim of a kick-off party is to give attendees the opportunity to connect with people prior to the actual event. TechDay New York, the largest startup event in USA, hosted a party 2 days before the event. It brought their exhibitors together for a night of informal drinks and snacks to get the ball rolling before the actual event starts.
15) Event Live Stream
Source: Extreme Tech
There are many people out there who might not be able to physically attend your event but would still love to learn and be a part of what your event has to offer. Consider live streaming your event, or at least the keynotes or highlights of it. Take for instance Google I/O, Google’s annual user conference. In 2016, the event organizers recorded the keynote with a 360 camera allowing virtual attendees to watch the speeches live with 360 degree view of the amphitheater. What’s more, they hosted the video on YouTube so that it could be watched for free.
You may be interested in these tips for planning a user conference.
16) Utilizing an Event App
Source: South Summit
South Summit is one of the leading startup conferences in the Europe. To help them achieve their goal of increasing the number of attendees and increasing attendee engagement, the event organizers implemented Bizzabo’s event management solution. Attendees used the app for one-on-one messaging, learning about event sessions and speaker, and engaging in live polls.
17) Explore Your Options for Effective Speakers
Source: Content Marketing Institute
When looking for speakers, we tend to look toward the thought leaders of our industry. Consider exploring niche speakers who may not be within your industry but possess certain skill sets or experience that might be valuable to your attendees. At Content Marketing World 2018, Content Marketing Institute’s annual content marketing event, one of their featured speakers was the award-winning Producer, Writer and Actor Tina Fey. Although Tina Fey is not a content marketer per say, her background in writing and her immense popularity make her a valuable choice for the event.
18) Let Your Employees Take the Stage
Tableau is a Seattle based software company that specializes in interactive data visualization. They host an annual conference called the Tableau Conference. The conference kicks off with a segment called “Devs On Stage”, where engineers are brought on stage to deliver speeches about new products and releases to the audience. Attendees are also given an opportunity to arrange one-on-one meetings with Tableau employees to rectify any problems they might have. This makes the experience more personal for the attendees and increases the stake that employees have in an event.
19) Let Your Customers Take the Stage
Launched in 2006, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a subsidiary of Amazon that provides a cloud computing platform. At their annual re:Invent user conference, AWS features multiple sessions where clients explain how they utilize AWS products. From Nike to Netflix, these sessions position clients as advocates for the AWS brand.
20) Decentralized Event
Airbnb is a home-sharing business that has grown tremendously in the past few years. They host their annual Airbnb Open festival for both the host and guests that comprise the Airbnb community. In 2016, Airbnb Open decided to decentralize their event by hosting it in multiple locations in its Los Angeles citywide event. To mimic their business model of location sharing, they made the city an integral part of the event experience.
Sessions occurred in various Conversation Spaces which were small round table-style events that occurred in local restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and bars. The event deviated from the usual claustrophobic feeling of a huge exhibition hall providing attendees with a unique opportunity to explore Los Angeles while participating in the event’s sessions.
21) Experiential Activities
Source: Killer Infographics
Experiential marketing is all about giving your attendees an experience that they’ll never forget and to associate that with your brand. One example is the “Community Pavilion” within the Adobe Max Conference. Within the event’s Community Pavilion, there are various vendors, creative workshops and innovative technologies for attendees to experience and play with. In particular, a large 3D scanner allowed attendees to create a 3D selfie of themselves as a souvenir.
22) Utilize Social Media Tags
Source: Dreamforce Twitter
Social media can be an effective channel for promoting an event and facilitating discussion among event attendees. One method commonly used is the hashtag to create a virtual “library” of outsourced media and comments from attendees. At Dreamforce, the annual conference for the B2B SaaS company Salesforce, event organizers promoted the hashtag #DF17 to help guide and catalogue the conversation.
23) Feature Live Music
Source: Social Media Marketing World
Social Media Marketing World 2017, a three-day mega conference dedicated to spreading social media best practices, had a few different live music performances planned throughout the event. This includes live R&B, acoustic jams, pop or a DJ set performances throughout the day. There was also karaoke for attendees to participate in and simply have a great time.
24) Provide Exclusive Access to VIPs
Everyone loves to feel special. Consider offering VIP tickets at a slightly higher price with exclusive access and benefits. The Interactive Minds Digital Summit hosted in Australia is dedicated to refreshing skills and teaching digital marketing techniques within the industry. They offer VIP tickets which includes reserved seating during their keynotes and speeches, access to a VIP lounge for networking, a seat at the Speaker's Dinner and access to a keynote introduction. Having this exclusive option can turn your VIP attendees into stronger ambassadors for your brand and can also serve to drive event revenue.
25) Provide Unique Networking Opportunities
Source: C2 Montreal
Networking is an integral part of any event. C2 Montreal, a collaborative event that aims to unlock creativity amongst leaders from all industries, hosts an annual 3-day event with interesting networking initiatives. Some of these initiatives include free question cards for attendees to use as ice breakers, a brain-dating app to schedule meetings, unconventional networking settings like chairs hanging from the ceiling, and chatting while on exercise bikes. With ideas like these, it’s no wonder that this event has become known as “the conference that’s trying to reinvent how we network”.
Explore your options and let your creativity flow in allowing your event to emulate your brand values, business model and influences. Do not confine yourself to any one of these 25 ideas. Try to mix-and-match or simply use this resource as a springboard to inspiring the next industry trend for your next event!
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