B2B Marketing Blog

How to take on publishers in the battle for B2B event revenues – and win

how to take on publishers in the battle for b2b event revenues and winA clear trend is emerging: B2B publishers are becoming increasingly aware that events are a profitable opportunity not to be passed up. Simultaneously, event companies are realising that the industry needs to change. They must think more as publishers do in the battle to fight declining revenues and add value to both sponsors and attendees on a 365 basis.

The current sentiment on both sides is "yes we know we need to behave/think/act more like them", but nobody seems to know where event and publisher paths converge. Neither side knows how exactly how to get to this sweet spot, where to start, or who internally is best placed to drive the change.

Largely, the challenge lies in finding the employee who can be bothered to propel this internal shift in attitudes with different stakeholders, and get their buy in.

The actions publishers and events need to take are clear and they don't have to be complicated! Here's my rundown of where the covergence lies, and what kind of results each side can expect to achieve:

What publishers do very well (and events don't):

  • Base quality content at the heart of their business

  • Write a lot of content for various different sectors/segments/value groups

  • Think in stories, narratives and news pieces  ideally those that engage their audience

  • Compose content with a view to provoke opinion and inspire readers to react

  • Truly know their industry, and the people they serve, in great and granular detail

  • Acquire lots of data, ensure it is clean and keep it up-to-date

  • Know their database in all senses. How big it is, the segments, readers (how many of them) etc. Some publishers are drowning in data - can event marketers say the same?

  • Their websites are huge in terms of assets  they have plenty of content pages (an approach highly rewarded by Google, which gives them preference as news providers)

  • Nurture their community and readers with content – and lots of it  sometimes it’s hard to keep up!

What publishers can improve upon (and learn a thing or two about from events):

  • Leverage the enormous opportunities a live event offers for all stakeholders. These opportunities relate to financial/content/connections/insight/engagement benefits 

  • Sell hard and demonstrate value in their products, creating product offerings if needed

  • Engage high level decision makers

  • Repurpose content - event marketers understand that yesterday’s news isn't necessarly old news

  • Write content with a purpose (with a view to soliciting a specific desired action)

  • Write content for perpetuity: content written in a digital environment lasts forever, and every piece you create is an SEO soldier fighting your ranking battle

  • Create specific products for very specific value groups, sometimes far too niche

What events do very well (and publishers don't)

  • Think about the immediate financial return, not the mid or long term (not always a good thing)

  • Engage sponsors

  • Engage Senior Executives and get them to participate in their events

  • Create live experiences enjoyed and benefited from by all levels of the value chain, which also enable them to achieve their objectives

  • Sell hard and demonstrate value (where sometimes there isn't, due to very good sales people)

  • Unearth niche target audiences and make them profitable

  • Listen to their audiences (especially sponsors and exhibitors - the segments that give them money!)

  • See and sell the value of a face-to-face interactive opportunity

  • Build connections and networks

  • Generate leads from their marketing activities, and sell the concept to their stakeholders

  • Take a very formulaic approach to marketing their products

What events don't do too well (and publishers excel at)

  • Think like editors or content professionals

  • See their attendees + speakers + sponsors as a community that needs to be nurtured

  • Leverage the power these stakeholders have to influence peers in their own networks and communities

  • Listen to their audience more and their sponsors less

So how can you close the gap?

The path ahead is only long and hard if you struggle to change your mindset and attitude. If you want to drive the value of digital, realise the power of communities and develop a truly holistic approach you have to understand (and be able to demonstrate) the value first, and then get the commitment from stakeholders.

The following are realistic next steps if you're up for the challenge:

  • Hire professionals from each other's industries to add new perspectives to day-to-day tasks and decisions, and challenge the status quo

  • Work on and commit budget to pilot projects (in the shape of a full time employee and the systems they require)

  • Simply acknowlede that there might be different approaches to the same problem, and that existing methods no longer work

For us, the definition of insanity is trying to achieve better results, and B2B event revenues, without adopting a better approach. Is your company still working with tired methods? 

We first identified the convergence between publishers and events in our ebook. Download your free copy today to find out what else we forecasted. 

Eleven most talked about predictions for the conference and events industry


Image Credit: Mark Rowland

Topics: B2B Content Marketing Event Marketing Conference Marketing B2B Publishers