What is the consumerization of B2B events, and what does it mean for your next marketing efforts? A recent study by Event Marketer and Sparks has shown that participants of B2B events want them to be more like B2C events. Meaning, they want to have an experience more like a normal person would have when attending an event with brand activations. This means creating personally enriching or entertaining activities that also help the participants to learn more about the services your business can provide.

Entertaining and Educational: Making B2B Fun

How do you achieve consumerization? Creativity is key. You have to create meaningful activities with tangible takeaways. This could include any number of team building ideas, including: a fitness class, a cooking tutorial, or a creative workshop. What sort of events would be relevant to the service your business provides, but also will be fun for the participants? People who attend these events are looking for dynamic activities that they will enjoy, and they want to report back to their team with something to share. Whatever activities you choose to include, the staff who execute your brand activation plan are a critical element of making it fun for the participants.

It takes a special skill set to represent a B2B business well at an event. Part teacher, part coach, part actor: it is a combination of things your staff will need to represent your business’ values. People have come to your event to both have an experience AND to learn something useful. This means that both the structure of your event and the people who run it will be more important than ever.

Maximizing Your Return on Experience

Participants may want a more consumer-like experience, but these are NOT your average event-going-folks. They are also attending the event to learn and take back something to the business that sent them in the first place. It is this combination of fun and educational that you will want to consider. When you get this mix right, you will be more likely to achieve social shares, recommendations and other positive feedback signals.

This is what Stefan Tauber talks about in his article: “Measuring brand activations in the digital age with ‘return on experience.’” By creating events that encourage social sharing and by focusing on the experience of the participants you help to determine the success of the event. The more positive the participants feel about their experience, the more likely they are to share on social and to recommend your service. Instead of just counting impressions you will want to make an impression on the participants.

The question is: how do you achieve the right balance?

Consumerization, Experience, and Interactivity

At one end of the spectrum is the idea of creating a party-like atmosphere, as recommended by Gary Vaynerchuck. It is no secret that good relationships are critical to successful business transactions. This might mean that the people you choose to staff your activation will need to have an it-factor. There are some things that you can’t measure about a person until you are at a table breaking bread and drinking wine with them. If you want to leave a lasting impression, you have to be sure that your people can curate a good time.

Marketing With Gen Z. In this age of entrepreneurs, the businesses you will want to court will likely be composed of different generations, and ALL of them are looking for a quality experience. When it comes to Gen Z, however, it is important to create events that allow them to participate in the process. This is what Jeff Fromm calls Storyliving. Instead of telling your story to the people you want to reach, you have to find a way to invite them into the narrative you are creating. B2B events can no longer afford to be merely informational; they also need to be interactive.

It is an exciting time for businesses trying to reach other businesses. Understanding what the people want, a consumerization of your events, will go a long way to ensuring that your next B2B activation has the impact that you want. In order to achieve the goal of making B2B events more consumer friendly you’re going to have to hire the right people. You likely will want to use a staffing agency with the experience to know who will be able to both educate and entertain your guests.

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