Event Marketing Makes Gains

Event Marketing Makes Gains
Feb 11, 2009
-By Kenneth Hein, Brandweek

NEW YORK Although marketers are getting more tech savvy, it seems they still have a soft spot for good old-fashioned event marketing.

More than half (53 percent) of the 300 senior marketing executives who participated in a recent study said event marketing is the discipline that best accelerates and deepens relationships with target audiences.

The EventView 2009 survey, which was completed earlier this month by George P. Johnson, The MPI Foundation and the Event Marketing Institute, includes a healthy swath (41 percent) of marketers whose companies pull in revenue in excess of $1 billion.

More than a quarter (26 percent) of those surveyed said event marketing is the discipline that drives the greatest return on investment. “The economy is forcing marketers to elevate their game to survive, specifically in regard to deploying direct response marketing such as events to drive top-line performance,” said Bruce MacMillan, president and CEO of MPI.

Twenty-nine percent of marketers will transition their strategy from event marketing to experience marketing in the next 12 months. The difference being that experience marketing “involves integrated live and online experiences that drive deep brand interaction through highly relevant storytelling and brand immersion,” per the study. A third of those polled said they already made the switch.

The findings underline two converging trends, said David Rich, svp of strategic marketing, worldwide, for experience marketing agency George P. Johnson. “First, a downward economic spiral that is forcing brands to invest in channels like events that demonstrate measurable ROI; and secondly, the maturation of strategic event and experience marketing, which takes the strategic, creative, media and digital capabilities of above-the-line marketing and activates them through the on-the-ground execution of an event portfolio made up of different types of internal and external events,” he said.

Despite the need to watch spending, marketers are increasingly ponying up to green their events. Sixty-six percent of those polled said they plan on implementing or have already added green initiatives — up from 32 percent in 2007.

Of that group, 44 percent are doing so because of a corporate mandate. Green spending makes up 13 percent of their events budget.

Overall, “the real challenge for brands in 2009 will be how to best balance their traditional budget allocations against these trends to drive measurable results,” said Rich.

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