Looking to take your conference to multiple territories this year? Check out these 10 incredible event roadshow ideas with real examples you can use to supercharge your traveling get-together.
Event roadshows are growing in popularity in 2019. Why shouldn't they be? They're amazing event marketing tools. In this article, we'll explore what an event roadshow is and why it can be so beneficial for your company. Then we'll share 10 visionary event roadshow examples so that you can begin using this tactic to better promote your brand.
Sound like a plan? Then let's dive in and get started!
What's an Event Roadshow?
Think of your favorite band. Once the group has recorded a new album, they generally pack up their gear and go on a world tour, traveling from city to city playing their new songs for fans.
Event roadshows operate on a similar concept. They allow companies to take their brand and message out into the world and meet both customers and prospects face to face beyond their normal territory. This event strategy gives brands the opportunity to interact with folks they might not have been able to otherwise due to the travel restrictions of their attendees.
There are different kinds of roadshow event types. For example, some companies simply take specific pieces of content from larger, mainstay events and host small gatherings throughout the year. Other times, brands produce a complete, stand-alone event series that's held in multiple cities. The route your business goes down for its event roadshows will depend on the resources at your disposal.
Why Are Event Roadshows Beneficial?
Event roadshows have numerous benefits. First and foremost, they eliminate the geography hurdle (or at least reduce it) for many potential attendees.
What if your customers in New York want to attend your West Coast events but can’t afford the airfare? A roadshow event series that also hosts gatherings in, say, Austin, Texas, and Boston, Massachusetts gives these folks much more viable opportunities to attend. And, once they're in the seats at one of your get-togethers, you can shower them with your brand message and market your company's products and/or services to them.
Sure, one could argue that an online event can produce the same result because any virtual attendee who is interested has access to it. And it’s a much easier planning process for the hosting company. And to that we say, you're right.
Virtual events are a wonderful strategy. If that's the tactic that fits your company best, go for it. But there's still something special about humans meeting other humans face to face, in the flesh. You just can't get that with online-only gatherings and remote attendees.
Event Roadshow Ideas
Looking to take your show on the road and need a few corporate event ideas? We've got you covered! These 10 event roadshow ideas will provide plenty of inspiration for your next mobile conference.
1. Nail Your Speaker Lineup
Yext is a Software as a Service (SaaS) company that allows its users to control their company's brand experience across the internet. These days they're known in the events community for their two flagship conferences: Onward and Explore. Both are fantastic gatherings. But we want to focus on a roadshow series the software provider hosted a few years ago.
In May and June 2017, Yext put on the Yext on Tour event series. The conferences were held in five different cities — Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, and London — and discussed topics like voice search, digital assistants, and how customers interact with businesses using these technologies.
One thing this event series did extremely well was curate a roster of great speakers. First, they had their standard speakers that traveled to each location and delivered a similar keynote to the crowds at each stop. This allowed Yext to plan much of their conference content just once, then deliver it to different audiences in each city.
But not every stop was exactly the same. Yext also did a great job of bringing in unique speakers for each location as well. This made each individual event feel fresh and exciting.
2. Go Where Your Audience Is
The Payoneer Forum is a truly worldwide roadshow event. In 2018, the company hosted conferences in 13 different countries on 3 different continents — which makes sense. Payoneer, a cross-border payment platform, has a global customer base.
Where are your customers? While you may not yet have the resources to bring your roadshow to multiple countries like Payoneer, it's important to remember that the cities you do travel to should be ones where your brand has a strong presence. Or, at the very least, where your industry, in general, has a solid foothold.
For example, a tech company may decide to make one of their roadshow stops San Francisco, CA, even if they don't do much business in that region. The fact that San Fran is the tech capital of the world may be reason enough to select the city.
3. Make Use of Event Sponsorship
Let's face it, while a roadshow series does present enormous growth potential for your company, it's also a huge commitment and a ton of work. Not every brand has the resources to pull off something of this magnitude. Or do they?
Your roadshow series doesn't necessarily need to be completely planned and executed by your company. Why not take advantage of event sponsorship opportunities like Infosys? Throughout the year, the digital services and consulting organization sponsors a wide range of different conferences in their field. Because of this, Infosys gets to host a booth at each gathering.
This tactic may not put your company front and center at each conference you attend. But it will still give you the chance to interface with your target market, show them your offerings, and promote your brand. It's also much a much cheaper and less stress-filled strategy.
4. Let Your Products Take Center Stage
IBM, the behemoth company that has helped lead the technological revolution for the past century hosts their annual IBM Informix Roadshow in many cities around the world. Some of their 2019 stops include New York City, Prague, and Lima.
Unlike other roadshow events, these conferences are entirely devoid of marketing hype. They're completely about the Informix software - event-goers learn how to better use the tool for their own businesses.
Why not take the same approach with your roadshow? Let your products take center stage at your event and simply teach attendees how to use them properly. This tactic has multiple benefits. First, it will educate your current user base. The more adept they are at using your products, the more they'll use them. And second, once they use and love your company's offerings on a regular basis, they'll be more inclined to buy future products as well.
5. Make Your Event Complimentary
Source: Kraft Enterprise Systems
If the goal of your roadshow event is to bring people together and promote your brand to your target market (rather than simply making money from producing a conference), then you should definitely consider making your event free.
That's what Adaptive Insights does for their Executive Finance gatherings. Throughout the year, the business software company hosts both breakfast and lunch meetings for financial teams in different cities across the U.S. and Canada. At each gathering, finance professionals are able to meet with their colleagues, learn the latest industry trends, and see the Adaptive Insights products in action.
Pro Tip: Don't just make your event free, offer free food and beverages too. While some folks may be willing to pass up a complimentary work get-together, not many will decline the opportunity to dine free of charge. Whatever it takes to get them through the door, right?
6. Seek Financial Backing
As we've alluded to, coordinating a roadshow series is an expensive affair. You'll need to hire multiple people to plan and run each event, pay for their travel to each location, rent multiple venues, and more. Fortunately, there's a tried and true method for offsetting these costs: financial backing.
Financial backing can come in a variety of forms. The most common is via event sponsorship. Not only will this method give you the finances you need to host amazing get-togethers, but it will also lend your event credibility. It shows potential attendees that other players in the industry believe in your event.
Patreon is a fundraising platform your company can use to offset event roadshow expenses. If you're not familiar, Patreon is a platform that allows creators to connect with their fans and receive revenue for their projects. Your brand could build up a Patreon through a high number of small sponsorships from followers to help raise funds for your roadshow series.
7. Go Digital
We know, we know. Earlier we said that a roadshow series is great because it puts humans together — something you just can't get with digital events. But what if digital gatherings are the only ones your organization can pull off? Then be like Axonify, a microlearning platform for frontline employees, and take your event series to the internet.
What's great about Axonify's digital events is that each one is completely unique. They don't simply recycle webinars. Every online gathering is live, delivered at the same time every two weeks, and covers topics their audience is interested in. This strategy gives remote attendees a reason to tune in now rather than later. After all, they won't get the same experience if they wait. It also makes each of their events feel unique and special.
8. Tackle Multiple Topics and Audiences
If you work for or own a medium to large size company, you likely cater to many different audience types and help them with a variety of tasks. This should definitely be taken into consideration when planning out event roadshow ideas.
Take Forbes for example. The global media company has a massive fanbase and regularly educates their audience on many different topics. A single event schedule that only caters to a specific subset of their audience would alienate a lot of people.
So instead, Forbes hosts many gatherings around the world based on each of the topics they cover on their website. The roadshow series is called Forbes Live. They have conferences dedicated to philanthropy, marketing, healthcare, and more. They also have gatherings exclusively for women.
How can your company cater to its entire target market? Perhaps your roadshow events will have multiple tracks or separate sessions dedicated to niche topics. Or maybe you'll plan individual events for specific audience segments. The choice is up to you and largely depends on the resources at your disposal. But any time you can personalize the event experience, it's worth doing.
9. Offer Different Ticket Types
Source: Wall Street Journal
Mulesoft CONNECT is a conference that teaches attendees how to better use the company's integration software. In 2019, the roadshow series will visit six cities across the globe: Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Sydney, and London.
One strategy Mulesoft uses that we love is multiple ticket types. Attendees are given the opportunity to buy early bird tickets at a reduced rate or purchase them at a later date for the full price. This is a great strategy that you can use to help build momentum for your roadshow series.
10. Pick the Right Venue
Source: Design News
Tesla, the automaker, offers many charging workshops across the U.S. These hour-long micro events teach attendees about the ease of electric car ownership and educate them on Tesla's growing infrastructure of charging stations.
Since each get-together is hosted in a Tesla dealership, attendees spend the entire time staring at beautiful cars and learning how they work. They also have the opportunity to test drive the autos after the presentation has concluded. Brilliant!
You should pay attention to where you host your roadshow events too. An amazing venue can really help your event stick in the minds of your attendees. If you choose the right place, you may be able to boost sales as well, just like Tesla.
Key Takeaways: Planning Your Event Roadshow
Event roadshows are a fantastic way for your organization to get in front of its target market. If you're ready to start planning your own event series, keep these key takeaways in mind:
- Roadshows are great because they allow humans to meet face to face. Make sure your series visits the cities that your audience lives near or frequents often.
- Face to face interaction is great but if digital meetings are your only option, don't shy away from an online roadshow. Just do what you can to ensure audience engagement.
- Make sure you get the financial details right. Whether that means offering complimentary gatherings or seeking funding via sponsors or Patreon, the numbers have to make sense for your roadshow.
- Lastly, nail the details. Speakers, venue, ticket type, and discussion topics all play a major role in whether your roadshow is successful or not.
Event planning is a complicated business. Roadshows only add to the crazy. But if you're set on using this strategy for your B2C or B2B event marketing efforts, we applaud you! Just remember to use event software. It will make the entire process much easier and enjoyable.