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Almost 9 in 10 event professionals in the US and Canada believe it will be a challenge this year to secure sponsors for their events, according to a survey from Eventbrite [download page]. The results show that many challenges are heightened this year, though budget concerns appear to be dropping.

Indeed, more than 9 in 10 said that insufficient budgets were among their biggest challenges in 2017, making budgets their largest difficulty overall. Yet this year fewer than three-quarters expect budgets to be a problem, putting them near the bottom of the list of concerns.

Instead, more respondents see issues ahead in securing sponsors (89%, up from 83% in 2017) and securing talent and speakers (89%, up from 75%). Marketing and promotion challenges abound, as many also believe it will be challenging this year to reach new (89%) and past (87%) attendees as well as engage in successful branding (80%).

Event professionals will be dedicating a large share of their budgets to marketing and promotions in an effort to confront those challenges. Indeed, marketing and promotion emerged as the largest overall expense for event creators, ahead of speakers/talent and printed materials.

Event Marketing Channels

The survey – conducted among professionals responsible for a wide range of events, ranging from conferences to festivals, fundraisers and music performances – found that email remains the workhorse in marketing activity.

Email was used by the largest proportion (86%) of event organizers last year, and will again see broad usage this year. Email outreach was also considered the most effective tactic last year.

Webinars, by contrast, were used by relatively few (16%), and considered the least effective. That could be due to a B2C skew in the survey sample, as other research has found more B2B-focused marketers considering webinars to be an effective content marketing tactic.

Meanwhile, almost two-thirds of event professionals surveyed reported using influencers to promote their events, with the vast majority happy with their performance.

As for social media, Facebook ads (57%) garnered far more adoption than LinkedIn ads (7%), potentially again due to this being a more B2C-focused study. Nonetheless, there was broad agreement among the sample that contests on social media are effective tools.

Looking ahead, and event professionals are enthusiastic about the use of emerging technologies: virtually all plan to live stream events this year, with interest in virtual reality (88%) and artificial intelligence (87%) also high.

Interestingly, B2C marketers engaged in influencer marketing are less likely to be adopting emerging technologies this year as part of their efforts.

The full Eventbrite study can be downloaded here.

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