Businesses are moving from fast paced to hyper speed, and technology is a leading factor in this advancement. To keep up, CIOs and their teams rely on peers for best practices and advice on everything from successes to hiccups. In fact, the number one factor that creates trust in information is the recommendation of a peer. With 38% of IT decision-makers (ITDMs) preferring to receive advice in-person from their peers when making a strategic decision, one of the best ways for tech vendors to participate in these peer-to-peer conversations is at face-to-face events.
According to the 2017 IDG Enterprise Customer Engagement research study, 93% of technology decision-makers have attended at least one industry or job related event in the past 12 months. A common theme of why is the ability to interact with vendors – in fact the majority of ITMDs (83%) said they attend events where they have the opportunity to interact with vendors. On the benefits of attending events, the vendor theme continued with ITDMs sharing that they value seeing new products (64%), being introduced to new vendors and their solutions (57%), talking with and asking questions of current vendors (55%), meeting with industry experts (53%), connecting with IT colleagues of all levels (50%), and networking with peers at my level (50%). While ITDMs look for peer advice during strategic decisions, they also turn to events to explore opportunities and technologies with vendors.
With in-person events rated the most effective content marketing tactic by tech marketers, the next question is, what’s the best event format to reach your target?
Thinking about your target audience, should you go local or national? Given travel costs and time out of the office, research shows that regional events are more popular, with 18% of ITDMs planning to increase their attendance and 42% expect their attendance to remain at the same level, compared with national events which show 13% planning to increase attendance, and 34% maintaining existing levels. This does differ a bit by title with 24% of IT management titles planning to increase their attendance at regional events, and the fact that IT executives are more likely to attend national events than their team. So it’s important to dig into who you want to engage with.
When developing content it is worth exploring the best event format to share your thought-leadership through. Our research shows that tradeshows (59%), vendor-run roadshows (59%), and events produced by independent third-party (58%) are the top formats that ITDMs are increasing or maintaining their attendance at. Once again, it is important to dig into who you want to engage since format preference can shift by title, company size, and industry. For instance, within financial services circles 54% saying they attend tradeshows and that their participation is not changing (compared to 43% overall).
Events Favor Specific Types of Content
Product demos, vendor presentations and case studies are strong tools to engage customers at in-person events and they are highly valued in the purchase process. Sixty-two percent of enterprise ITDMs (1,000+ employees) have received the most value from in-person demonstrations of how a product works.
The importance of educating customers and prospects is highlighted by the fact that 87% of ITDMs are more likely to consider a tech vendor who educates them through each stage of the purchase process. While information needs shift during the purchase process, each stage offers opportunity to engage at events as well as provides post-event nurturing.
Additionally, different types of content resonate with ITDMs depending on their title or seniority-level and should be considered based on the tech persona you are trying to engage.
At the end of the day, positive and educational face-to-face engagements can lead to additional conversations – with new and existing customers. As ITDMs continue to be strapped for time, the ability to meet and learn about multiple solutions, and understand your value proposition, in a single period of time, proves valuable.
To set-up a meeting to dive deeper into the Customer Engagement research to better understand how to target your customers and prospects with events, complete the form below: