How to Host the Year’s Best B2B Marketing Events

Do you know who drove the movement to business casual office wear? It started in the mid-1980’s in Silicon Valley. But it wasn’t because employees were casual about their work. It was quite the opposite. They needed to be comfortable to put in 80-hour work weeks to completely change the world. More than 30 years later, Silicon Valley-led culture still reigns in the US. People work long hours and give tremendous amounts of time to their work, both inside and outside of technology. And their clothing is less business and more casual. We have Millennials – 35% of the workforce – driving the change, just as they have many others.

Following suit, office wear has also changed in many international locations. This includes the U.K., where anyone wearing a suit to work “would stick out like a sore thumb,” per a 2018 article. But the reason behind casual wear has shifted a bit. Now, more than 20% of British people prefer casual dress “to express their personality,” and 25% say it removes the pressure “to look good all the time.” These sentiments align with Millennials who “tend to be uncomfortable in rigid corporate structures” and desire “a flexible approach to work.” They also seek “similar things in an employee brand as they do in a consumer brand.” They want to wear and be what’s “authentically them.”

Smart organizations, like State Farm, help employees be their authentic selves, versus trying to fit them into a corporate mold. The company celebrates diversity and practices inclusion. Per Forbes, a State Farm program helps “employees connect, know each other on a more personal level…”. Like their clothing, this allows them to be more comfortable and express their personality. In a time when our personal and professional lives overlap more than ever, it only makes sense that these principles make their way into B2B marketing events as well.


Why B2B Marketing Must Be Different and Personal

Among five B2B marketing trends a Forbes article says to know for 2019, “personalization” sits at number one. It cautions, “Nobody wants to feel like an anybody, and your B2B buyers are no exception.” It advises to “make your audience feel recognized, understood and, most importantly, special.” Another Forbes article points out the inability of traditional B2B marketing to do the job. It calls it outdated and boring. Instead, the article recommends a more fun approach, looking to B2C marketing for “creative cues.” The article names B2B experiential marketing to be the path to follow. And, an AgencyEA study shows 75% of B2B brand marketers agree. They cite it their “most successful tactic.”

B2C marketers know there are many reasons consumers love experiential marketing. Among them are the ability to provide a personal approach – including exclusivity and VIP treatment – and authenticity that results in relationships. These are the same things that employees want. And it’s why the AgencyEA study predicts the biggest B2B marketing trend for 2019 to be “hyperpersonalized experiences that go beyond the convention center to connect with audiences in innovative ways.”

This year marketers will rely on tried-and-true avenues to meet with target audiences. The “most engaging onsite B2B experiences to invest in,” also per the study, are evening events and parties (63%), product showcases and demos (58%), and networking events (43%). Still, the brands that reinvent these B2B marketing events and get personal are those that find the most success.

3 Brands That Innovate to Provide Personal Experiences at B2B Marketing Events

Learn how three leading brands go different ways to ensure an intimate and meaningful experience at B2B marketing events. 

GE showcases its products in meaningful ways.

Healthcare is a serious matter. But the ways technology is revolutionizing the care are quite exciting and should be highlighted as so. B2B experiential marketing makes it possible. And GE’s Healthymagination initiative gives us a great example.

To show 700 professionals how its solutions work, particularly in developing countries, GE and its partners created three healthcare scenes. These were an emergency room, an urban clinic, and a rural African clinic. In each setting, doctors shared stories to demonstrate how GE technology made a difference in the impoverished areas. The activation not only showcased the company’s healthcare solutions in a positive light. It also served as cause marketing, giving attendees a look at what’s important to GE. This is key, as Millennials tend to choose brands based on their positive social impact. And, it gives all B2B brands a way to connect with target audiences using B2B experiential marketing.

IBM shows people a good time, while thinking beyond them.

The AgencyEA study says, “The success of more than 60% of B2B brand-side marketers’ events depends on event sponsorship and extending the event’s reach beyond the live experience.” IBM didn’t miss the opportunity to maximize its SXSW investment by incorporating social media in its brand activation.

Visitors enjoyed games on an interactive foosball table built by IBM. But the real entertainment came in personalized Tweets about players. These were sent from a campaign-specific Twitter account. Players could also log in via LinkedIn to get a game profile and share their wins. This was a great strategy since almost 80% of B2B marketers find LinkedIn an effective source for lead generation. Plus, the majority of Twitter users are Millennials. The activation not only allowed the brand to show off its technology’s capabilities to those at SXSW. It showed attendees’ friends, family, and colleagues all they were missing.

Google gives people a top personal experience with simple gestures.

With technology a staple in our everyday lives, companies miss out on opportunities to get personal. B2B marketing events often rely on event tech to automate processes for efficiency. And though Google is known for over-the-top brand activations, it also realizes the power of simple gestures to make personal connections.

For instance, Google hosts global training events to ensure familiarity with its offerings. But it also uses these events to make a mark on a personal level. That’s why it goes big on the human element, staffing ample teams of brand ambassadors.  Bilingual event staff welcome attendees, assist with registration, guide them, and answer questions. This allows the tech giant to interact with users and guarantee their satisfaction. And, its brand ambassadors bring an intentional and casual vibe to show authenticity that builds real relationships.

From brand ambassadors to product specialists and beyond, we have all the people you need for your B2B marketing events. Let us help reinvent your efforts and maximize the effort with our personal approach.

Author: Nick Riggall


Keys to Building a Hyper-Local Experiential Campaign (Elevate Connect)


3 Steps to Drive Experiential Marketing ROI (Elevate Connect)

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