There is no marketing channel in the world that can compare with B2B events. It’s those three days of the year when your employees, your prospects, your partners – everybody that matters professionally – are all in the same building. If digital advertising is about attracting anonymous people on the Internet to your web page, events are a different beast entirely; they occur deep down the funnel and offer the best opportunity to actually close a deal. The best event organizers are able to architect and instrument their events to maximize the business that gets done; whether it’s sales, education, or networking.
And EVERY event is a who’s who for something. Pubcon is a who’s who of SEO. Marketo Summit is a who’s who of marketers. HIMSS is a who’s who of health IT. IMEX is a who’s who of event planners. You get the idea. Great things can happen when you have the best minds from a category / industry / vertical / niche in the same building, at the same time.
The tragedy, of course, is that the magic is over in 48-72 hours. People take the lanyards off, get on their flights, and become inaccessible once again. The conversation and ideas and networking and learning come to an abrupt end, and it’s back to the grind.
The flower has died, until next year.
What if those conversations didn’t have to end? What if those relationships could stay warm until next year’s event? What if the closing keynote signaled a beginning and not an end? The ideas could keep flowing, and business could keep happening friction-free across companies.
I believe that it’s now possible to extend the shelf life of the event, and to prolong the bloom beyond three days of glory.
The key is to use technology to extend the event’s reach. Once the physical world interactions end, virtual is the only way to keep the magic going.
A quick look around the landscape for consumer and enterprise apps shows that a new sort of app has emerged to engage communities year round, and it’s not the social networks. The most engaged and fastest growing apps in the world are all messaging apps. WeChat, KakaoTalk, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and on the enterprise side, Slack and HipChat have become the rocketships. Why? Because people yearn to stay connected and to collaborate, and one to many blasts is not always the right format. Sometimes you need one to one, or one to a select group. Casual, targeted, digital conversation is what’s required, not curated posts.
At DoubleDutch, we believe that this trend is the key to unlocking the year round power of events. Specifically, we are betting heavily that Messaging / Channels will be the Next Big Thing for events, and have the power to transform an event from three days of magic, to hundreds of days of ROI.
In this new messaging enabled world, conference apps will become vertical phonebooks in which the top minds in any niche are a tap away for anyone who bought a pass. User Conferences will become Customer Networks in which all of your prospects and customers are talking to each other year round, about your product, your people, your vision. Sales Kickoffs will become year round ideation and mentor networks for global sales teams. Tradeshows will become year round centers of commerce where buyers are interacting with sellers for three days face to face, and online for 362 days. Training and development conferences will morph from campus like learning to online, and back to campus again. Etc. Etc. Etc.
An event is a truly unique explosion of engagement and interaction; there is nothing like it in the professional world. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of people walking around with their name, title, and company hanging around their neck desperate and hungry to network, to learn, to do business.
The mistake we have made is treating events like a perishable; like an ephemeral flower that will bloom and die in three days. Events should be elephants. Thundering on for a 100 years, and remembering everything. This is the promise of what events can become, of what the physical world and software together can accomplish. Watch this space.