Inspire your event strategy with these 20 event marketing examples from leading brands. Featuring examples from leading brands like Apple, Glassdoor, Marketo, SpaceX and more.
Events are more than just stuffy meetings and crowded exhibition halls. We know you understand that, but how do you take the idea of bringing people together and turn it into an essential marketing channel?
The short answer is by creating an effective event marketing plan.
The long answer includes incorporating feedback from your attendees, closely measuring event ROI, and learning from other successful examples of real life b2b event marketing ideas to inspire your own. While event marketing software can handle the more technical aspects of bringing your event to life, it’s up to you, the event organizer, to bring ingenuity to the whole experience.
In this post we’ll explore different examples of event marketing and how you can incorporate it into your marketing strategy to bring your events to life.
So, what is event marketing?
Event marketing is a direct way to form new connections, provide learning opportunities, and create memorable experiences for prospects and returning customers alike. Although there are lots of ways to successfully market a product or service through digital means, there is still no replacing the experience of face-to-face interactions.
Some event marketing strategies use traditional event types like conferences and networking events, while other strategies may incorporate experiential activations. No matter what kind of event you plan, event marketing remains the best way to sell out tickets and boost ROI.
Here are 20 successful examples of event marketing that can inspire your own promotion ideas.
Event Marketing Examples Overview
- User Conference - Oracle Code One
- Event Roadshow - Marketo’s Innovation in the Nation
- Experiential Activation - JetBlue’s Ultimate Icebreaker
- Networking Event - Lean Startup’s Networking Event
- Publisher Conference - Content Marketing Institute’s Sales Acceleration Event
- Virtual Event - Google I/O
- Seminar - SQLBits
- Internal Company Meeting - Plum Organics’ Coloring Book Meetings
- Trade Show - CNET’s Computex
- Industry Roundtable - ISFA’s Austin Industry Roundtable
- Award Ceremony - Citizen IBM Blog’s Award Ceremony
- Fundraising Gala - The Canadian Cancer Society’s Daffodil Ball
- Product Launch - Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference
- Sales Acceleration Dinner - Radius’ Executive Dinner
- Recruiting Events - Spotify’s Diversify
- Team Building - Glassdoor’s Board Game Tournament
- Hackathon - Namely’s Hackathon
- Holiday Parties - SpaceX’s Yearly Holiday Party
- Executive Retreats - CommonWell Health Alliance’s Spring Technology Retreat
- Appreciation Events - Piktochart’s Hopeful Awards
1. User Conference - Oracle Code One (JavaOne)
Conferences are a formal gathering of thought leaders, industry influencers, and industry titans. They often revolve around one or two themes within an industry. Attendees should expect activities like special guest lecturers and breakout networking sessions.
At Oracle Code One (formerly known as JavaOne), programmers from all over the world participated in this environmentally conscious event. As part of their “green” initiative, Code One added a plant-conscious menu, carbon footprint reduction lessons, and the option for guests to donate food to charity. As you can see, conferences can perform double duty to promote brand values in interesting and engaging ways.
2. Event Roadshow - Marketo’s Innovation in the Nation
Event roadshows are most often presented as a series of live marketing events physically spread out across a given region. Activities include business meetings and conferences. They are key for engaging customers that in different geographic territories.
Marketo’s Innovation in the Nation roadshow was shown across 11 different cities internationally and they tailored their event to the culture of each location. The broader theme of innovation provided a foundation for each stop, but tailoring each event to a particular audience is what really secured its success.
3. Experiential Activation - JetBlue’s Ultimate Icebreaker
Experiential activations are an ongoing installation that allows viewers to participate in or observe an activity that represents a brand. This type of event often involves a shocking or extremely memorable image like the one you’ll see in our example.
For Ultimate Icebreaker, JetBlue teamed up with the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau to bring this frosty visual to life. Designed to remind viewers that their escape from chilly weather was only a plane ride away, their standing exhibit encouraged onlookers to break the ice by any means necessary. Each participant walked away with a free prize and a funny story.
4. Networking Event - Lean Startup’s Networking Event
Networking events bring groups of people together for assisted opportunities to form connections. Events can be as formal or informal as long as they reflect the host’s brand. Face-to-face meetings become increasingly sought after in our growing digital world making this type of event more and more popular.
At Lean Startup’s most recent conference, they offered inspiring networking events (like an evening at Mob Museum) to promote higher quality guest interactions. Their immersive networking opportunities used global community as their main theme. They also offered a frequently updated public guest list to prove that attendees would find like-minded individuals when they arrived.
Source: Lean Startup
5. Publisher Conference - Content Marketing Institute’s Sales Acceleration Event
Whereas user conferences focus on engaging customers, nurturing prospects and building thought leadership—publisher conferences are revenue drivers for media companies. They often bring together a wide community of readers, provide vast educational sessions and are bolstered by partnerships.
Content Marketing Institute’s annual publisher conference Content Marketing World has a different theme each year. Because this type of event is critical to brand perception among potential customers, CMI made sure to run their theme ideas by the PR team, operations department, and the entire events team to make sure it aligned with their goals. Themes can be quirky as long as they make sense with the purpose of the event.
Source: Content Marketing Institute
6. Virtual Event - Google I/O
Have you heard of the virtual pass event ticket type? Virtual events include digital channels for participation in a live lecture or seminar. A popular example is the streaming of a conference. This type of event is especially useful for participants with travel or budget restrictions, giving them an opportunity to get involved.
At Google I/O, organizers used a 360 degree camera to record keynote speeches so virtual attendees could watch live from all over the world. They even hosted the videos on YouTube, making the whole experience free and easy to access. While the conference was a living, breathing in-person event, the option to attend virtually provided those who were unable to attend with a taste of the experience.
7. Seminar - SQLBits
Seminar are educational events or focused training sessions given on a specific topic. These are often hosted by industry thought leaders (or those looking to secure their status as such).
At SQLBits, data platforms reigned supreme and attendees were eager to deepen their knowledge on cutting edge technologies they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. Their highlights include a guarantee of over 10 hours of training per attendees with more than 150 specialist sessions that provided a deep dive into the material. Any hands-on or experiential product launch would also work nicely for this event type.
8. Internal Company Meeting - Plum Organics’ Coloring Book Meetings
Internal company meetings are informational update or check in sessions amongst company employees. They can involve the entire staff or select teams. Topics range from weekly check-ins to project work groups.
In keeping with their child-friendly branding, Plum Organics inspires the kid in all of their employees by encouraging them to color with crayons and markers during their internal company meetings. During these creative brainstorming sessions, staff members get a chance to color, talk, and decompress. This example proves that company meetings can be entertaining just by adding a simple activity to mix things up.
Source: Plum Organics
9. Trade Show - CNET’s Computex
Trade shows are an opportunity for exhibitors to showcase their products and services. They are usually hosted under a single industry theme. Usually, attendees are contractually obligated to spend a certain amount of money on products and services at the conference—providing an incentive for organizations to brave the price of exhibiting.
At Computex, CNET gave companies like Intel the chance to demonstrate their latest hologram project during a keynote speech. High-profile guests with products farther along in their fields make excellent headliners for this event type. Even if your company is not involved in technology, trade shows can be used to display what’s currently trending in your industry.
10. Industry Roundtable - ISFA’s Austin Industry Roundtable
Industry roundtables are a get together for knowledge sharing between professionals on a given topic. The majority of the activities presented at this kind of event include discussion sessions and expert panels.
At the Austin Industry Roundtable, ISFA brought Surfacing professionals together for both education and networking. In addition to their thoughtful conversations about industry predictions, ISFA added sponsored dinners and tours highlighting their unique event location’s best offerings.
11. Award Ceremony - Citizen IBM Blog’s Award Ceremony
Award ceremonies are a formal presentation of trophies and plaques given to companies representing excellence in their field. Award ceremonies often present various categories of awards as well as a grand prize.
At the Citizen IBM Blog Award Ceremony, the categories for prizes reflected the brand’s higher values, namely volunteering and helping to make the world a better place. Award ceremonies like this one focused on those within their organization but can just as easily be hosted in celebration of long-standing customers and superb community members.
12. Fundraising Gala - The Canadian Cancer Society’s Daffodil Ball
Fundraising events are crucial to non-profits, but not all fundraising events are the same.
Fundraising galas are a more formal take on garden variety philanthropic events. Guests at this type of event include former donors, corporate sponsors, leaders within the community, board members, and perhaps a celebrity or two.
The Canadian Cancer Society’s Daffodil Ball exemplifies the level of class required for a successful fundraising gala. They added live jazz music and invited guests to wear masks to add an extra element of fun to the evening. If you’re interested in hosting a fundraising gala, make sure to heavily invest in decor, entertainment, and general atmosphere building elements.
Source: Canadian Cancer Society
13. Product Launch - Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference
Product launches are events used to build sales momentum for one or more new products that are not yet available on the market. In Apple’s case their product launch focused on showcasing a newer version of a product they already offer but this type of event also works well for first time creators.
At WWDC, Apple makes sure to follow through on its promise to connect technology and creativity. Every year they host talented minds that speak on the greater concepts which powered their innovative processes, leading to the product’s creation. Activities include sessions, hands-on labs, consultations, and get-togethers.
14. Sales Acceleration Dinner - Radius’ Executive Dinner
Sales acceleration dinners are a kick off experience for both sales teams and prospects alike. As the name implies, they often revolve around a meal. They are often private, invite-only affairs where VIPs from key accounts meet with current customers and company executives.
At Radius, sales acceleration dinners are used to facilitate conversation between employees and customers in thoughtful ways. They chose to include speakers who shared real-world stories of their product experiences and groundbreaking best practices that benefit both the seller and the consumer.
15. Recruiting Events - Spotify’s Diversify
Recruiting events are an opportunity for young and diverse talent to meet company representatives. These potential job candidates are given the chance to ask questions and get to the know the businesses while talent scouts get a feel for which participants might be a good match for their team.
For Diversify, Spotify focused their recruiting event towards groups of candidates who are otherwise marginalized within the industry. They used word of mouth to gather names of female participants, resulting in greater representation for the gender within their company as a whole. Using a recruiting event to promote social causes is a great way to provide proof of your company’s dedication to leading your industry into the future.
16. Team Building - Glassdoor’s Board Game Tournament
Team building events are meant to bring employees together to collaborate and form relationships they otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to on a day-to-day basis. They’re often fun and motivational, focusing on particular skill building activities like the one in this example.
At Glassdoor’s Board Game Tournament, attendees got to interact with people they’d never met before while playing games like Jenga and Boggle. Prizes were awarded and friendly competition created new ways for coworkers to bond. Even if you don’t have a collection of board games available, any form of entertainment that encourages teamwork (like trivia or improv) will do.
17. Hackathon - Namely’s Hackathon
Hackathons are an event dedicated to computer programming, usually spanning the course of several days. Teams enter challenges and win awards (like funding for their future projects).
At the Engage Namely Hackathon, programmers participated in a 24-hour product designing marathon centered around the creation of new Namely tools or feature additions. Namely benefitted from both the attendees’ enjoyment of the event and the resulting wealth of ideas they had for their products when it was all done. This type of event also serves as an excellent talent scouting opportunity.
18. Holiday Parties - SpaceX’s Yearly Holiday Party
Holiday parties are events celebrating one or more traditional yearly events (religious or otherwise). These can be centered around large holiday seasons (like the ones that take place in Winter) or lesser known ones that are important to your company and brand (national ice-cream day anyone?).
SpaceX is famous for their holiday party extravaganzas. From renting out a large, multi-level warehouse in a secret location to creating more than a dozen themed spaces, SpaceX provides an example of an event worth looking forward to all year. Even if you don’t have Elon Musk’s budget, holiday parties are a great way for employees to (responsibly) let loose and celebrate their achievements.
19. Executive Retreats - CommonWell Health Alliance’s Spring Technology Retreat
Executive retreats are offsite events for upper management that involve creative brainstorming sessions and collaboration on a handful of specific goals. They usually take place over a long weekend.
At their Spring Technology Retreat, CommonWell Health Alliance gathered members from select technology committees to share knowledge and form work sessions on a variety of critical subjects. Their experience reinforced their shared mission and cultural values as a company. There are lots of interesting and luxurious accommodations available for overnight retreats so be sure to choose one that fosters collaboration as well as enjoyment.
Source: CommonWell Health Alliance
20. Appreciation Events - Piktochart’s Hopeful Awards
Appreciation events are any occasion in which companies take time to celebrate and be thankful for employees, customers, or both. These can involve small events spread out over time or large, yearly affairs like the one thrown in this example.
Piktochart invites their employees to an all-expenses paid trip to the Maldives to participate in the Hopeful Awards. The Hopeful Awards represent both the company’s mission and their reward system, giving out points to employees who demonstrate leadership skills, positive attitudes, or any other desirable trait that contributes to the team’s success. The main idea here is that public recognition for achievement is always appreciated, even if tropical locations are outside of your resources.
Wrapping Up: Event Marketing Example Takeaways
Just to review the big picture, here are some of the common threads between these great event marketing examples that you can apply to your next gathering.
- Throw an event based on your audience’s interests. No need to guess - with modern event software, data can be collected, analyzed, and assessed to help provide clues as to what event you should consider hosting for clients and prospects.
- Have a clear “why”. Even if your entire goal is to provide a fun and memorable experience, take a page from the examples above and make sure you have a specific focus.
- Incorporate your brand’s mission and values into every event you throw. As we’ve seen with multiple types of events, most of the companies in this article used their own company’s messaging for inspiration to create truly unique experiences.
Now, go make something wonderful happen.