Future of Field Marketing Recap

Matt Heinz

Ask a bunch of B2B chief marketing officers to envision what a post-COVID field marketing strategy looks like and it doesn't take long to start discussing (and complaining about) in person events.

It's clear that marketing events will never be the same, that what attendees and producers and sponsors prioritize has shifted over the past year.

What will come back? Which adjustments will now be fixtures? What will be hybrid?

People will drive before they fly. Local events will come back first.

If you want to know what CMOs think of events, what they need, what they won't stand for anymore - highlights from last Friday's CMO Coffee Talk discussion follow:

Selling sponsorships will require a lot more value to the buyers to justify investment....and CFO scrutiny will be bigger factors with approvals.

Virtual events do take just as much, but I am not willing to pay as much for them as people don’t show up and there are so many.

More people attend virtual, but the quality of leads has degraded with volume.

We are also doing regional based virtual events and see much higher show rates too.

We’re doing regional events as well. It offers more of a feel of the local community where people can benefit from post-COVID connections.

We’re committing to events for late third quarter/fourth quarter BUT I’m negotiating guarantees that the participant to vendor ratio will be AT LEAST 2:1.

We run a large virtual conference and we don’t offer booths. Vendor assets are presented in the same screen people watch speakers from (we use PathFactory). Sponsors can also secure speaking slots.

We have our reps pay attention to the people that are commenting in chats and those are the ones they will work. For those that actually are engaging at the event.

I think hybrid events are going to be harder to figure out than virtual events.

We are doing our big user’s group in person in late October and doing the virtual piece on demand later. We have a small team and I knew we could not pull off a hybrid event with live content that also streams.

We flipped our September user conference to virtual this year, physical next year. Our customers say even if they wanted to travel they have no travel budget, CFOs took them back in cost cutting. So even if people may want to travel, they may not be able to fund it.

We are already starting to think through a hybrid model for our big global event that used to be all in person in Vegas, was all virtual this year, and we believe we must be hybrid in Feb’22. The Board loved the massive amount of registrations and attendees we had when it was 100% virtual, so they want that again, and we’re worried that we will cannibalize the in person registrants/attendees.

No one wants their event to be a super spreader (could still happen with the variants).

We're only considering hosting small (under 30 people) roadshows towards Q4. No in person events are our schedule - everything pushed to 2022.

I get why sales wants to get back on the road, but its more about what our prospects are doing.

The questionable events are toast. Attendees will be VERY selective on where they’ll spend their time and travel.

I think there will be a shift to smaller, more intimate events. 100 people or less, at a venue that’s more like a resort, where the focus is on quality time together and relationship building.

So did we learn anything from the forced online of the past year? Feels a little lazy to just go back to the way it was. Seems like we have a moment to build and optimize, and really find a real ROI on that spend.

You own guerilla and satellite efforts around an event is an alternate strategy to official sponsorship....dinners and passes to the event to meet with key clients.

There’s a “career reunion” social aspect to many events: with networking, career catchups, mentoring, and ad-hoc conversations. The content and product shopping can be done all-digitally but not the value from networking.

A live virtual event is a step in the digital customer journey - can you actually track the engagement and tie it to all other touchpoint and understand the impact on revenue? That’s the holy grail!

We would have one set of giveaways for attendees and another set for the union workers (to get our crates earlier).

It's one thing for a vendor or venue to put on an event, quite another thing to assume customer/prospects are willing to get on a plane at critical mass to attend.

Video mailers have been successful for my teams in the past, but part of it relied on the novelty and in-office sharing of it.... the remote work environment doesn't allow that in-office viral exposure...

Automated address verification has worked WONDERS for my sales teams. I now use that in marketing and it boosts conversions way up!

I suggest sending emails 'before' sending a gift to home addresses to 'opt-in' the target audience. This is especially important when you are targeting senior leadership so not to damage relationship.

I think the next phase of this is actually Hybrid. Virtual plus a VIP in-person.

CFOs are used to having reduced travel spending so they aren’t necessarily going to be willing to free up the travel spending.

Are others seeing hybrid sponsorship costs higher than the in-person events of old? I'm seeing the prices 25-50% higher "because there will be a larger audience." Having trouble stomaching that.

The definition of success of unperson and hybrid events will change - expect more “conversion” “influence” with boutique and intimate ones instead of the big show, per attendee. the main event will be streamed by default and mobile-first…but the target buyer persona will probably be higher cost/attendee for the host but the payback way higher than today.

Our lawyers are exploring asking our attendees to sign a waiver.

As long as sales people attach them to deals won... we will have in person events.

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