Many companies are Many companies are currently planning their 2022 event schedule. Some have already kicked off some in-person events. As of today, it seems like everyone will be shooting for at least some in-person events this year, but what will that look like?

A significant number have already come to the conclusion that not everyone will be attending in-person as they did before. Our current data shows that about one-third (35%) will not be going to any in-person events for the foreseeable future. Of the remaining two-thirds, not all will be attending either. Most are reducing the number of in-person events that they attend. 

What this means is, if you only were to do in-person events, you would be missing out on a significant number of prospects (at least 35% to be exact).

Other trends that we see emerging are as follows:

  • Leveraging in-person events (pre and post) to combine them with private business meetings with their colleagues and partners at or close to these in-person venues. Not easy to gather at the office so events can work.
  • Looking at events as opportunities to recruit employees. Hiring top talent is difficult so you can network at events and see potential candidates in action.
  • Use these events as opportunities to create valuable digital content to feed their social media networks.

Many event attendees have used in person events to host their own private off-shoot events, meetings or parties. This “event-within-an-event” trend seems to be becoming the new normal.

Our events division, ChannelNext will be hosting many in-person events in 2022 starting in April. For now, it’s been scaled back to a one-day agenda with an extended stay option for those who wish to do more social networking but we can see the day where we will be back to hosting multi-day affairs complete with parties and other activities. From now on, all of our events shall be streamed live and recorded for on-demand viewing so everyone has every choice possible to ingest the content.

This format was tested last year and it worked very well. We discovered that once an event is posted for streaming, 85% of the views happen post event.

Ultimately, it comes down to a choice of attending in-person or viewing the content through livestream or on-demand. 

Streaming and On Demand Content

Virtual events have become the norm for creating high-value digital content, however, to increase the digital shelf-life, the broadcast production quality of content becomes paramount (we hosted an event a while back with a distributor JB&A to show how this can be done). The pro-broadcasting technologies continue to be improved. We have since built and now offer the full live streaming event services (contact ChannelNEXT).

Today, high quality, engaging and relevant digital content is becoming the new marketing currency. 

Every year there are more than  200 channel events happening across North America. So far, it seems like at least 100 will happen in 2022. If you wanted to, you could be on the road every day of the year working the industry event junket.

In 2022, we will be hosting 5 ChannelNEXT events, 2 Awards Galas, 1 20th Anniversary ChannelNEXT Party, 15 Virtual Joint Venture events and 26 MasterChat events. We will also attend about a dozen other third-party in-person and virtual events.

In-Person events are on the rise and we are on the frontlines to keep you informed.

You may have already noticed some vendors pooling their resources together to do joint events. Alone, they would not likely be able to generate enough interest, but combined it can attract channel partners. Some vendors resell exhibition space to other vendors looking to reach their network of partners. Clever way for a vendor to get their event subsidised by others. Typically, each participating exhibitor will also have to invite/bring their partners to the event. On one hand this makes sense, but only a small fraction of vendors can play this sort of game. Some platform type vendors have built large events to a point where it has become a profit centre for them. Think about that! Eventually this can become less effective with the same pack of vendors targeting the same group of channel partners. Just be careful when your competitors join the pack and start poaching your partners. 

Vendors have three basic playbooks when it comes to channel events.

  1. Independent channel events
  2. Private partner events 
  3. “Vendor-pack” events (as described above)

AAny event can generate ROI so having the right mix is the best plan. You will also want to consider how to target the larger audience who will not be attending in-person events.

Vendors typically have 7 goals in mind when it comes to doing channel events.

  1. Awareness
  2. Recruitment
  3. On-Boarding
  4. Training
  5. Empowerment
  6. Growth
  7. Loyalty 

I am sure there are others, but awareness and recruitment are at the top of the list. 

Are in-person events the best way to generate awareness and recruit new partners? 

The answer is probably not the best and it’s definitely not the most cost-effective way. Putting people on planes is not cheap. Events are The answer is probably not the best and it’s definitely not the most cost-effective way. Putting people on planes is not cheap. Events are definitely a good way, but other options like news media and social media are gaining far greater relevance in a digital-first market. Being creative to find smarter ways to drive sustainable awareness is key and doing a ton of in-person events alone will not do the job. 

What should your event strategy be in 2022?

Here is what we know vendors are doing for events this year.

  1. A variety of independent channel events especially those organised by news media brands (mainly because of its community reach and neutral stance). The extended news awareness to the wider channel community is hard to beat. Today over 57% of all channel partners learn from news media sources.
  2. More in-person regional events to go deeper and wider in the partnerships and relationships. Reduce the travel time and cost to partners. You could invite prospects, but be careful not to waterdown the effect of focusing on current partners.
  3. Participating in some vendor-packed events but without inviting your partners. This is what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine. Vendors are learning that these types of events have become poaching opportunities as their competitors get on the exhibitor floor.
  4. Virtual events for the primary purpose of creating high-value digital content that can be repurposed for all sorts of digital marketing activities. Leverage in-person events to generate more digital content.
  5. Support more partner-organised (in-person and virtual) events to help drive awareness and sales demand at end-user level.
  6. End-user targeted events (with or without partner involvement) to drive awareness and demand. 

Whatever your event strategy is in 2022, it is wise to ensure that your pre and post event activities are up to speed. Poor preparation and follow up is where the 10X ROI can be uncovered. Too often, the sales reps working the event junket are just not exploiting the opportunity properly and instead, just looking for very low-hanging fruit or just a good time.

We have a guide to help vendors measure ROI for events. Ask us if you want a free copy.

What is your event strategy going to be in 2022? See what ChannelNEXT is up to.