According to research released by Unisfair, which calls itself a “leading global provider of virtual events and business environments,” 60 percent of the 550 US marketers who participated in its online survey “plan to increase spending on virtual events and environments this year… and if budgets were not an issue, 67 percent would host 10 or more virtual events in the next 12 months.”
If “budgets were not an issue,” I suspect those 550 marketers would likely all be driving Ferrari Testatrossas. Whatever.
The survey also noted that “42 percent of marketers plan to decrease spending on physical conferences and trade shows over the next year.” Although I don’t dispute the veracity of Unisfair’s survey results, this does not square with the first-hand reports from folks at World Congress and other sponsors of live events, who claim companies are increasing spending on conferences, seminars and trade shows.
Survey results notwithstanding, whether it’s conducted live or virtually, the most significant shortcoming of event sponsorship is the failure of companies to conduct adequate pre- and post-event merchandising of the related content. An event is an opportunity to communicate with target audiences for a legitimate purpose; a way to showcase thought leadership; and (if the forum is prestigious) to leverage the inherent 3rd party endorsement of the program sponsor.
Most importantly, pre- and post-event merchandising is a great way to reach a significantly larger audience than those sitting in seats or listening in over their laptops. In fact, many events can be viewed simply as a necessary excuse to communicate with important decision makers who don’t waste time attending events of any kind.
If you’re looking for business results-driven ROI on event sponsorship, you’ll need to focus more on the content and less on the venue.