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The Complete Guide to Event Marketing 

We’ve all heard of iconic events like New York Fashion Week, Coachella, or the NFL Super Bowl. Although you may have never attended or watched any of these events, chances are you’re aware of them. Why is it that all these vastly different events have become household names? It’s all thanks to the impact of well-crafted event marketing! 

Event marketing is an essential business tactic for every industry. Whether your brand works in retail, food and beverage, technology, non-profit, or any other field, running an event focused on your brand offering can be a huge benefit to your business. This guide will equip you with the fundamental knowledge you need to get into event marketing and leverage it effectively for your company’s marketing plan. Here’s everything we’ll cover in this guide: 

  • What is event marketing? 
  • Why is event marketing valuable for brands? 
  • 5 key event marketing objectives 
  • 5 common types of event marketing 
  • Event marketing ROI: how to measure success 
  • Event marketing jobs: how to break into the industry 
  • Master event marketing management with key services 


We’ll start with the basics by explaining what event marketing is all about. 

What is event marketing?

Event marketing is a strategy that brands can employ where they organize and host an event with the intention of promoting their products, services, and overall brand. This can include both online and in-person sessions, and is an amazing way to connect with your target audience and business partners. 

1. Event marketing vs event management

Event management is the organizational process of planning, organizing and overseeing an event from start to finish. Event managers are responsible for ensuring that the event runs as planned, and typically also collect and analyze data about the event after the fact to evaluate if it was a success. 

Event management is different from event marketing because while the event manager is concerned with the logistics of the event itself, event marketing is focused on things like branding, defining the target audience for the event, running promotional campaigns, and even creating social media content about the event. 

2. Event marketing vs experiential marketing

Experiential marketing is building experiences for the brand’s target audience to create brand awareness and get them interested in the product or service the brand has to offer. These experiences are most effective when they are unique, attention-grabbing and memorable enough to build brand loyalty. 

Experiential marketing is different from event marketing because the experiences crafted for experiential marketing are not necessarily associated with an event. Experiential marketing is generally more interactive, while event marketing is typically one-way communication including presentations and exhibits. Experiential marketing can be combined with event marketing as they fit together nicely, but these are two separate marketing strategies. 

3. Event marketing vs event sponsorship

Event sponsorship is when an organization or individual sponsors an event financially or otherwise, usually in exchange for advertising and exposure for the sponsor at the event and in promotional materials. A sponsor may participate by supplying swag for giveaways, providing guest speakers, exhibiting in the expo hall, advertising around the venue, and so much more. 

The difference between event marketing and sponsorship is that event sponsorship involves the event having a partnership with one or more sponsors, while event marketing is the overall marketing strategy and process for an event. Sponsorship may be a portion of an event’s marketing plan, but there is much more involved in comprehensive marketing of an event. 

Why is event marketing valuable for brands?

If you’re looking for an effective way to reach potential customers and partners, event marketing is the way to do it. Here are some of the top benefits of event marketing: 

  • Building brand awareness – Running an event is an amazing way to get your products in front of your target audience, make them aware of your company, and show them why they should work with you (or for you). 
  • Connecting with customers – Having a chance to meet face-to-face with current and prospective customers allows you to build and strengthen relationships with those who support your business. 
  • Lead generation – After registering for your event, attendees can become new entries in your brand’s email list and new leads for your sales and marketing teams to nurture. 
  • Customer research – Conduct your own consumer research study tailored to your brand while marketing and hosting your event. This allows you to learn more about your potential customers, what they want and need, and how your products and services can be the solution they’re looking for. 
  • Promoting new products – Build hype for new and upcoming product launches by giving your attendees an exclusive opportunity as the first to see and experience them. 
  • Establish your brand in the industry – Showcase your company as an innovative leader in your industry with thought-provoking talks, presentations, demonstrations, or access to exclusive thought-leadership resources. 

5 key event marketing objectives

When crafting your event marketing plan, what goals should you have in mind? Here are 5 top objectives of event marketing to consider in your strategy. 

  • Customer engagement – If keeping customers coming back is a concern for your organization, your event marketing can help drive customer engagement and increase your retention rate by reinforcing the continued value of your brand and your service or product offering. 
  • Boosting sales – If you’d like your event to help increase sales, work that goal into your strategy. Have a specific target number in mind, and consider when and how you will measure whether you met that goal. This may also inform what engagements and features you include in your event, such as private meeting rooms or VIP areas, to facilitate those valuable sales conversations. 
  • Education – Educating attendees at your event about your products and how to use them properly can help build customer loyalty. If your brand has a lot of knowledge about a subject of interest to those in your industry, having educational sessions and resources at your event can help establish your organization as a thought leader. Allow your event marketing goals to inform what educational topics are important to your brand and your target audience.  
  • Building community – Growing your brand’s social media presence and email lists are common goals of brands hosting events. The community you build can become your supporters, prospects and eventually customers. 
  • Recruitment – Your ideal job candidate could be right in front of you at your next event, so don’t pass up the opportunity to scout them out. Use your event to attract talented potential future employees, and you could finish out your event with some excellent new colleagues! 

7 common types of event marketing

So, you’re looking to host a marketing event, but not sure what type of event is the best option to market your specific business. Here are the seven of the most common event marketing types. 

1. Trade Shows

The world of trade shows is far more extensive than most people realize. There is a trade show out there for everything you can imagine—from hot dog stands to farming equipment to the latest consumer electronics. At the core, a trade show is an industry event where companies gather to showcase their products and services, typically through the use of a booth or display. Attendees buy tickets to attend and learn more about the companies and their offerings. This creates a very focused and specific audience for event marketers to speak to when designing an exhibit or brand experience for the event.  

2. Conferences

A conference is a great option for the purpose of event marketing, as they are typically larger-scale events with higher numbers of attendees. Conferences typically focus on a specific topic or industry, so it can be a great opportunity to showcase your brand in front of guests who are already involved in the same industry and eager to keep up with emerging trends and technologies. 

3. B2B events

B2B event marketing is specifically for businesses looking to connect with other businesses, either for partnerships, sales opportunities, or other relationship building. B2B events are also a great place to share and gain knowledge about your industry through discussions with peers. These events will typically be attended by powerful decision-makers for the businesses invited, and being a vendor at a B2B event is a great opportunity to boost sales. Check out our guide to B2B event marketing to learn more about this strategy. 

4. Educational events

Educational event marketing includes any type of event that features instructional, informational, or hands-on learning sessions. These can include webinars, workshops, lunch and learns, internal training sessions, roundtable discussions, and more. If your organization is focused on thought leadership and is in a position to teach others about a topic, or even about the best ways to use your own products, educational event marketing could be a great fit. 

5. Brand Activations

Brand actvations involves hosting an event that appeals to your target demographic and is focused on creating an emotional connection between them and your brand. These types of events increase visibility, enhance awareness, build trust and relationships, reinforce your value proposition, and drive customer engagement. 

6. Charity events

Charity events are the perfect type of event marketing for non-profit organizations, but they can also be put on by for-profit organizations if partnering with a non-profit or charity that you support and aligns with your brand. These types of events can include fundraisers, galas, walk/run/ride for the cause, and more. 

7. Launch parties and celebrations

Whether you are launching a whole new brand, a new product, a new location, or a new service, launch parties and celebrations are a fun and effective way to leverage event marketing to help launch and promote something. In addition to your employees and key guests, these events are a great opportunity to invite local media and influencers to help generate some buzz around your launch. Don’t forget to keep your guests entertained and well-fed. 

To learn about even more event marketing types, check out our extended list of 44 event marketing examples and ideas. 

Event marketing ROI: how to measure event success

While you may have hosted an amazing event and executed everything according to plan, the only way to know if your event was truly successful is by establishing and analyzing key metrics to measure its success in a quantifiable way. Here are five ways you can measure the success of your event marketing efforts. 

1. Conversions

Post-event conversions could take the form of sales, new partnerships, email responses, and other interactions. All of these types of conversions should be tracked, measured, and analyzed to give your team insight into the success of your event, and also help plan for future events. 

2. Social media engagement and mentions

During and after your event, be sure to pay close attention to your social media notifications, specifically mentions and tags. This includes your brand’s accounts, any dedicated accounts for the event, and any hashtags associated with your event. Social listening tools can help you monitor and aggregate a variety of metrics across multiple social channels. 

3. Attendance rate

While you may have a large number of attendees registered for your event, it’s likely that not every person who has registered or RSVP’d will actually attend. Keep track of how many people actually attend your event, either through check-ins or ticket scans at the door. Knowing what percentage of registrants actually attend will help you plan more efficiently and sustainably for future events. By ensuring you have appropriately sized venues and services such as catering and printouts, you can prevent the waste of unused goods and materials. Or even worse, not enough of something which creates an inconsistent attendee experience. 

4. Audience engagement

An engaged audience is a marketer’s dream. It is important to track your attendee’s engagement as it tells you if your event is hitting the mark and if your attendees find value in the content. This report can include sponsor booth check ins, email registrations, content downloads, breakout session attendance, and more. 

5. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

To get an understanding of how your guests perceived your event, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) is an amazing tool to use which has become a widely-adopted market research metric. It asks your attendees to indicate how likely they would be to recommend your event or brand to their colleagues or friends, on a scale from 0 to 10. Those who give a rating from 0-6 are considered “detractors” who were unsatisfied with the experience, ratings 7-8 are “passive” or “neutral,” and those who give ratings of 9-10 are called “promoters.” Your final NPS is calculated by finding the difference between the number of promoters vs detractors, on a scale from -100 to 100. Learn how to calculate your event’s NPS here 

Event marketing jobs: how to break into the industry

If you’re looking to get involved in the event planning and marketing industry, here are a few tips to help you get started. 

Tip 1: Research by attending events

Attending plenty of events as an observer will give you a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to the attendee experience. Take notes on how the event is promoted beforehand, how the hosts keep their guests engaged, etc. You can even make conversation with those around you by asking questions about how they feel about the event, or what was their favorite/least favorite aspect of the event, as a way to do some informal consumer research. 

Tip 2: Complete formal training

To get a leg up on your competition when applying for event marketing positions, consider taking an online event planning course or getting a formal education in a related field. For example, project management training or a degree in accounting, public relations, or marketing could be a huge asset in these types of roles. Given the growth of experiential and event marketing, many degree programs focused specifically in those areas are now becoming available to students.  

Tip 3: Put together a portfolio

If you are a graphic, exhibit, event, or even interior designer looking to get into event production, put together a portfolio with examples of your work that you can show off to prospective employers so they can get an idea of your skill level and style. If you’ve run successful events as an event manager in the past, a portfolio showcasing the events you’ve managed with photos, quantifiable metrics, and testimonials will prove that you’ve been successful at this. You can put together a website to host your digital portfolio, and keep a printed hard copy to bring along to interviews. 

Tip 4: Networking

Get connected with others in the event industry by being active on social media, attending events, and speaking with industry experts at any opportunity. Interacting with relevant content  creators by commenting on their work and sharing your own ideas on your social platforms,  is a great way to start. When you have connections in the industry and people know of you and your work, you’ll have an easier time being hired by an agency or by brands as clients. 

Tip 5: Apply to an agency

When you’re an events professional who specializes in a specific area, such as account management, I&D, or event marketing strategies, signing with an agency is a great way to get experience working with a wider variety of clients in different industries. Being part of an agency will give you the opportunity to work alongside other professionals as a team, rather than having to run everything by yourself. If you’re looking for an awesome experiential marketing agency to work with, check out Impact XM’s job openings and apply today. 

Master event marketing management with key services

To strengthen your event marketing plan and strategy, there are lots of tools and services you can use. You could try using pre-made event marketing solutions and software, or work with an agency that can create and manage a complete event marketing plan specifically for your brand and ensure that plan is executed successfully. 

Impact XM delivers experiential marketing solutions for all kinds of events, including meetings and conferences, exhibits & trade shows, brand activations, and more. To learn how we can help you with your event marketing strategy, contact Impact XM today! 

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