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B2B and B2C companies approach events with different goals in mind, though they do share some primary objectives, according to a report [download page] from Opus and Event Marketer. Both groups look to drive sales revenue as well as educate customers, prospects and attendees, but B2C companies are more focused than their B2B counterparts on raising brand awareness.

The survey, conducted among 305 brand marketers at large companies (62% with revenue of at least $1 billion), reveals that more than half of B2B companies (53%) use events for lead generation, compared to just one-third of B2C companies. That makes sense given that B2B marketers tend to see events as a strong source of qualified top-of-the-funnel leads.

By contrast, B2C marketers tend to use events more than their B2B counterparts in order to enhance customer satisfaction/loyalty (47% vs. 28%) and launch new products or services (32% vs. 17%).

Notably, marketers with a company-wide strategic event plan in place prioritize sales revenue at a higher rate than those without an event plan.

Event Strategies Scarce, but Useful

Overall, just one-third (34%) of respondents currently have a company-wide event portfolio strategy in place, with this figure higher among B2B (36%) than B2C (26%) respondents.

The existence of such portfolio strategies appears to be correlated with significantly greater use of data to inform event marketing plans. For example, respondents with a strategy in place are more than twice as likely as those without one to use social media monitoring to support their plans (64% and 25%, respectively). They’re also more apt to use data analytics, to have a post-event engagement plan, to research audience and customers, and to plan for audience acquisition. Or as the analysts simply put it, “brands with a company-wide event portfolio strategy are data-centric.”

Meanwhile, event strategies tend to be dictated by corporate marketing strategies. That’s the case for the majority (56%) of respondents, though that’s largely the result of how B2B marketers go about developing their strategies. Specifically, 60% of B2B marketers say that their event strategy is driven by marketing strategy, while just 44% of B2C marketers agree. Instead, almost half (47%) of B2C respondents indicate that their event strategies are developed separately from their corporate marketing strategies.

B2B Brands Include More Event Strategy Considerations

Most marketers consider a variety of elements when forming event strategies, per the report. Yet B2B respondents tend to be more likely to take into account various elements than their B2C counterparts, which is consistent with their greater focus on strategies.

For example, 70% of B2B respondents consider data collection, measurement and analysis strategy when forming strategic event plans, compared to 62% of B2C marketers. And B2B companies are considerably more likely than B2C companies to take into account analyses of attendees and/or partner feedback (64% and 47%, respectively).

Event Challenges Differ by Audience

The primary challenge for event marketers overall is quantifying the ROI of events, per the report. But this is a much greater problem for B2C marketers (68%) than for their B2B (43%) marketers. Instead, B2B respondents believe that the generation of new/innovative ideas and concepts that capture attention are their biggest challenge.

Somewhat surprisingly, B2B respondents are more challenged by strategic considerations than B2C companies, despite their greater reliance on strategies. They’re more likely to say that aligning events with overall corporate marketing strategy and goals is a problem, and they’re also more apt to say that setting event strategies that address needs of different internal divisions, brands, and markets is a problem.

Meanwhile, securing budgets (which has been previously seen as a top challenge for event marketers) appears to be a bigger obstacle for B2C (50%) than B2B (40%) marketers.

The executive summary of the report is available to download here.

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