BMA Chicago February Luncheon_2

The February Breakfast Seminar featured a panel of self-professed “technology geeks” including Chris Payne, vice president of business development at Resolution Productions Group; Andy Spyrison, CEO and founder of Populous; Jim Fiore, CEO and founder of Corporate Events Online; and moderator Doug Dome, CEO and founder of Core7, Inc. This group of experts shared their insights and experiences using engagement technology and digital best practices to build better engagements and measureable success.

Technology has extended its reach to every industry. Just last week,
“Modern Family” announced it filmed an entire episode using Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2 tablet. While most B2B companies are not filming corporate videos via tablet (yet), they can create more personal connections with buyers by integrating digital initiatives with face-to-face events.

The Winning Combination
Each panelist gave examples of companies they see mixing technology and in-person events to create the authentic buyer and employee connections every marketer aspires to achieve. Two of the best examples were Intel and Target.

    Intel Corporation — Intel’s booth at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show didn’t spotlight the company’s main product — microprocessors. Instead, Intel featured its business partners by showing consumers what these companies are creating with Intel products. Consumers flocked to the Intel booth to explore new technologies including wearables, robots, drones, 3D printing and a variety of new computers with “human-like sense.

    Target — The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a key technology topic for a while now. Target’s Cartwheel app uses that concept, along with beacon technology, to enhance their buyers’ in-store experience, all the while gathering actionable intelligence for business use. The app offers a more personalized buying experience for consumers by guiding them to new products based on previous purchases, while also encouraging the repurchase of products. Target collects an abundance of data that it can use to analyze overall buying habits. Based on that analysis, they can optimize their operations from stocking decisions to employee data to sale prices.

Beacons Go Beyond Retail
Throughout the panel, beacon technology was highlighted numerous times. Data collected using beacon technology or iBeacon can show how much time a prospect spent at a trade show booth looking at a product display, watching a video, etc. That data can be used to eliminate cold leads and help sales teams focus on the prospects that are most likely to buy. Is a sales rep more likely to sell to someone that spent two hours or two minutes at a trade show booth? An extended amount of time spent at one booth indicates more interest in the product.

Beacons also provide valuable data the prospect journey. If the data shows that a prospect spent two hours looking at a product, their journey can be customized with specific product content.

Think Before You Measure
Data, and lots of it, is readily available thanks to emerging technologies. This is why it’s important to define business goals before an in-person event. Ask yourself, “Which metrics determine success?” Those goals will influence what factors are collected and measured at an event. The possibilities, digital and analog, are endless. Attendance figures, retweets, location tracking and contact information for new-business leads are all potential metrics that can be used for post-event initiatives. Identifying the desired next steps and the data needed to create those engagements will lead to quantifiable success. Spyrison said it best when he reminded us to always define your business before making technology choices.

Embracing the integration of technology and face-to-face communications will allow marketers to create much deeper connections with their audience. As shown above, companies are already embracing data-driven personalization in big and small ways. This concept is still in its early stages for B2B, and the playing field is wide open for innovative players willing to experiment with new technologies.

Does your company integrate technology into live event planning? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Don’t forget to sign up for the March Marketing Innovators Luncheon featuring Diane Hund, vice president of marketing at United Stationers.