Before 2020, B2B industry events spend was on pace to create a $20 billion annual market. Industry events and trade shows bring the perfect fusion of education, collaboration and sales. Leads, product demonstrations—business growth. Deals are closed, terms are discussed and innovation reigns.
But not this year. Not right now. This core staple of the B2B universe is paused. So, what is a marketer to do? Is this the year to wait it out, and hope for better luck next year? That’s one option, but if your competitors don’t do that, they might gain some of your market share.
But savvy marketers adapt. Entrepreneurs innovate. And luckily, 2020 technology can make the cancelling of events a catalyst for growth and new opportunities.
If events mean business, then how does the lack of events mean the same? Too many companies are now promoting “virtual events” with little description of what that means. Are they just going live, and broadcasting a speech? That would represent the education side of trade shows, but not the social and the collaborative.
For virtual events and live broadcast to replace some of the value from trade shows there must be a social and a community format. Brandlive is one platform that MarketScale offers that allows not only live broadcast for virtual events, but comments, community and collaboration.
But a live broadcast is just one moment in time, and certainly, a tradeshow budget can offer much more in terms of value, when the goal is to educate buyers, create new leads, nurture existing deals and command premium pricing in B2B markets.
To determine this investment, we should turn to economics and evaluate two forms of costs: variable and fixed. Variable costs go out the window as we consume—they vary “based on the amount of output." Fixed costs, however, are the same regardless of the unit of output.
Tradeshows were definitely variable costs, but in re-deploying tradeshow budget, companies should seek to invest in fixed costs or even capital expenditure—investments that lift the company’s capabilities and produce value through lower variable costs and scalable production.
Building media capabilities allows marketers to do this. To invest in technology and capabilities that are fixed costs and capital expenditures.
The following investments play well with this strategy, and offer the ingredients needed to build a media brand that will drive value over time. These tasks and similar activities should be at the top of every B2B marketer’s list right now.
- Building a studio for video
- Acquiring equipment for recording and editing podcasts
- Technology for remote video capture
- Video editing equipment
- Video production (variable costs to produce but low marginal cost to distribute)
- Software to enable creative production
- Software to automate and integrate platforms saving time and money
- An online publication—even just a robust blog
- Licensing for a podcast channel
- Live broadcasting platforms
- Learning Management Systems (LMS) and content (variable cost to produce but low marginal cost to distribute)
- Hiring broadcast, podcast and creative talent
- Content assets and support library: Move variable education, and customer support costs to ‘fixed’ by establishing a base of useful material
With investments in media, B2B brands can create a renewable, ongoing source of content, which enables community, facilitates education and drives a thought leadership effort by your teams and channel partners on social media.
But we still haven’t replaced the social nature of the industry event?
Or have we?
Analytics across media efforts allow for better attribution for marketers than the traditional event. Each interaction can be measured with efficient follow up. Information won’t live in silos, as marketers have visibility into more customer interactions. This even strengthens the switching costs companies see during times of employee turnover; media driven customer interaction is more likely to transfer to analytics tools and CRM, making the conversations, notes and feedback an asset of the company, not just the sales, marketing or events teams.
To close, consider the fun you’ve had learning about businesses through the lens of media. Maybe you’ve watched Duck Dynasty or any HGTV, Discovery Channel or other reality show that is media built on a business. The phenomenon of leading your marketing by building your own media channel is the reason Kylie Jenner’s makeup company famously reached $1 Billion in valuation, surpassing industry leaders in record time. The interaction, engagement, product education and digital distribution enabled by becoming a media brand enable unprecedented growth with superior economics.
Many a consumer brand has built its business by becoming a media company.
And today, B2B companies can do the same.
Hopefully, trade shows and industry events return to the marketer’s playbook in 2020. But in the meantime, redeploying resources to establish a media component to your business is a sound economic investment in fixed costs, fixed assets and increased capabilities which will reduce variable costs, defend against competition and become an engine for growth.
Interested in launching your own media channels?