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December 6, 2006

EventView 2006: 12 months in event marketing

As an introduction to the EventView 2006 survey, Dawn Myers, director of research for MPI (Meeting Professionals International), states: "The critical role that meetings and events continue to play in the overall marketing mix is one of the clear messages of the EventView 2006 report. The undeniable effectiveness of face-to-face interaction is increasingly attractive to marketers looking to cut through the information clutter."

This year is the fifth annual EventView survey, co-sponsored by The George P Johnson Group (GPJ) and MPI. Between May and June 2006, almost 900 marketers in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific from industries including automotive, high technology, healthcare and finance were interviewed by telephone to discern their views on events as a part of the marketing mix.

The survey makes a number of bold statements, not least: "It is clear the events industry is establishing a stable, lasting foothold in the overall marketing mix"; and "Event marketing provides the best return on investment (ROI) in marketing". However, these are backed up by methodical research. For example, one in four respondents to the survey stated that event marketing provides the greatest ROI in marketing. A figure almost identical to last year's survey... in fact event marketing has held that top spot for the past three years.

Furthermore, companies appear to be confident that this is not just a flash in the pan, with almost 50% of respondents stating that the future of event marketing would either be increasing or increasing strongly. A further 42% indicated that the disciplines importance would remain constant.

Where the smart money's going
With regard to budget allocation, the survey states that for specific external event types, 59% of respondents stated that trade shows accounted for the majority of spend, while 35% pointed to conferences. Interestingly, 40% indicated that trade shows provided the best ROI and 21% pointed to conferences.

The survey goes on to highlight the fact that, on average, event marketing represents 25% of respondents' marcomms budget. This is a significant amount, but may simply convey the fact the conferences and exhibitions are expensive to put on.

More measuring
Measurement is a high on the agenda for all those involved in the events industry at present, and this is apparent from the fact that 71% of respondents stated they engage in some post-event measurement activity - a significant increase from last year's 60%. It's also a clear sign that event marketers are under pressure to demonstrate their results.

The key performance indicators companies are using to measure this ranged from leads (36%), to sales increases and overall communication effectiveness (both 31%). The most common tools used to measure were sales reports (28%) plus onsite (26%) and post-event (24%) surveys.  
Interestingly, the survey points to the fact that, from their statistics, companies measuring their events are three times more likely to see an increase in their budgets.

However, the report sounds a note of caution here, claiming that many event marketers are too focused on events as a lead generator and are measuring ROI purely from that standpoint. The survey is keen to point out that this is only one part of the sales cycle and that companies need to be guided through and beyond purchase, and that events marketing can be a major addition to the marketers armoury when guiding companies through this process... this "event portfolio"  
system has been a key offering of GPJ for the past few years.

Better at brand differentiation
What will probably have experiential marketing agencies singing from the roof tops is that the study claims a massive 87% of respondents said that they may eventually make the transition to experiential marketing techniques, while 74% definitely said they will be moving forward with experiential marketing in the next 12 months. The most common reason for this was the ability to better convey brand differentiation.

Finally, the survey concludes that while event marketing appears to have secured a consistent foothold in the marketing mix, this is by no means an indication of its permanence. There are many more pretenders to the live marketing throne, but the survey writers believe that the spirit of innovation within the industry will ensure the continued success of live marketing as a powerful marketing channel.

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