Why experiences matter even more in today’s cultured conference landscape

Jack Blog

October 23rd, 2018 By Edward Scott

We know that brands which deliver a superior brand experience outperform their competitors in the marketplace. And according to Jack Morton’s Experience Brand Index – a global survey of 6,000 consumers, spanning 100 brands, 10 industries and six consumer touchpoints – we learned that only 1 in 4 brands stand out to consumers.

conference experiences

So what does this mean for the B2B industry and events and conferences? A lot.

Conferences have become the counterpoint to our culture’s goldfish-like attention span. When done well, they have the ability to:

  • Create experiences audiences crave – and remember
  • Facilitate personal interactions people often miss in their digitized lives
  • Offer immersive, human moments

Our Experience Brand Index also highlighted one key lesson for brands: touchpoints are now proofpoints – and every interaction matters.

Conferences and live experiences: A B2B brand’s moment of proof

Brands and marketers understand the value in creating live experiences for their most important audiences – be they conferences or immersive experiences. And many companies are backing this claim with dollars to support:

  • CMOs of B2B companies spend nearly a quarter (24%) of their marketing budget on live events.1
  • Eighty-seven percent (87%) of C-Suite executives believe in the power of live events and plan on investing in them more.2
  • Eighty percent (80%) of businesses that over perform against their goals will be increasing their live event budgets.2

But it’s not as simple as booking a venue, inviting your audience and presenting from a big stage.

The landscape is changing, as audiences are getting younger, with higher expectations for great experiences. Content is becoming universally available, accelerating the shift of conference value from pure learning to engagement. And more than ever, business leaders are demanding data to validate the investment need for events and conferences.

So, to deliver a memorable and impactful B2B experience, you must not only deliver great content – you must deliver on your brand promise, leave a lasting impression on your audience, and produce a live experience they’ll talk about after they leave.

Who does live experiences well?

Within our Experience Brand Index, Royal Caribbean was the brand in the US most recognized for delivering a superior brand experience through events and experiences. For their Sea Beyond experience, Jack Morton helped them reimagine a press launch and demo experience.

The digitally-driven experience and untethered imagination of what’s new, what’s next and what’s never been done before left attendees ready to share the amazing breadth of Royal Caribbean’s technology DNA and leadership position with their audiences. And through this true experience, we saw a 6x higher tech influencer engagement rate versus industry benchmark.

For containerization company Docker, we’ve created two consistent touchpoints that help differentiate their user conference, DockerCon, from the crowded landscape. An opening experience that brings the product to life, and stays true to the voice of the brand and its customers. And a networking program called Hallway Track that connects like-minded people to meet one-on-one and share knowledge in a structured way that produced tangible networking results.

Conferences are becoming festivals of opportunity, while owned moments are becoming truly immersive experiences. By facilitating real human interaction and innovating outside the core elements of keynotes and breakouts, brands are using conferences and experiences to prove out their promise, and drive impact.

Adding live events to your marketing plan? First ask yourself:

  • Can your experience compete with an escape room? (What makes it unique?)
  • Why should someone attend your session if they can simply read the datasheet? (Think about the WIIFM – what’s in it for me?)
  • How much new business will your event actually drive? (What’s the ROI?)
  • At each touchpoint, will an attendee know it’s your brand’s event? (Is your brand promise felt?)

Brands that create conference experiences, not just conferences, will deliver on their brand promise for their most important customers and become experience brands.

1 The Bizzabo Blog. (2018 January 22). Event Budgeting: The 2018 Guide for Event Marketers. Retrieved on October 17, 2018 from: https://blog.bizzabo.com/event-budgeting-guide

2 The Bizzabo Blog. (2017 October 19). 2018 Event Marketing Statistics, Trends, and Data. Retrieved on October 17, 2018 from: https://blog.bizzabo.com/event-marketing-statistics